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Knesset Debates Premier Eshkol’s Talks with Johnson and De Gaulle

July 16, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Premier Levi Eshkol told Israel’s Parliament today that his talks with President Johnson in the United States last month and with President Charles de Gaulle in France this month had encouraged him in his belief that Israel did not stand alone in its struggle with a hostile Arab world. “Nevertheless,” he added, “we must rely on our independent strength to stand our ground on any day of trial.”

He emphasized cooperation with both countries in the field of scientific research and he reported that plans for United States-Israeli cooperation in the applicability of nuclear energy to desalting sea water had been “favorably appreciated in France as well.”

He said his visit to France had provided a clear demonstration that the “relations of friendship and cooperation between France and Israel are not likely to be affected by France’s relations with any other country, including the Arab states.” He stressed that during his visit to France, he had found that French-Israeli friendship was not merely a matter of individuals or of a friendly French leadership, bit that it was “deeply rooted among many strata of the French people.”

He reported that, in his talks with President de Gaulle, he had told the French leader about the problems confronting Israel and that he had stressed the “gravity of the encouragement which aggressive rulers may draw from the attitude of those powers who do not throw their weight into the balance on the side of peace.” This was assumed to be a reference to Soviet support of President Nasser of Egypt, particularly during Premier Khrushchev’s visit to Cairo last May.


The Premier added that he had found President de Gaulle “extremely well-informed and fully appreciative of our great development work and of our readiness to cooperate with young developing countries.” He said his meetings with other French statesmen were also conducted “in a practical, candid and friendly atmosphere.”

Describing his meetings with the French Jewish community and with a delegation of Jews from North Africa, who had settled in France, he said that, though there were some indications of readiness among the youth for emigration to Israel, there was not yet any hoped-for drive for that objective. He also reported that such youth were not taking advantage of opportunities to study Hebrew offered by French colleges, and that the number of Jews learning Hebrew was much smaller than non-Jews doing so.

In debate following the Premier’s statement, Menahem Beigin, leader of the Herut Party, criticized a statement made by the Premier in the United States to the effect that statements by Premier Khrushchev during his visit to Cairo were moderate. The Herut leader also criticized the Premier’s “failure” to raise during his talks with American officials the issue of West German scientists working on advanced weapons in Cairo for the Nasser regime. He also sharply criticized the Israel Government’s policy concerning West Germany.


Ishar Harari, of the Liberal Party, defended the Premier’s statements on Khrushchev as correct, asserting that a foreign country was no place to attack the Soviet Union. He urged extension of Israel’s relations with African countries.

David Hacohen, of Mapai, voiced regret that the communiqued issued by the White House on the Johnson-Eshkol talks did not include a specific stipulation about the preservation of Israel’s territorial integrity. He noted that only Israel’s integrity was openly threatened in the Middle East. He also said he regretted the absence from that communique of assurances of strengthening Israel’s deterrent forces because the balance of military strength in the area had been upset.

Mr. Hacohen also voiced the hope that the Premier’s visit in Washington would bring a change of view among those in the United States who consider Nasser a stabilizing force in the area, and who believe that the Egyptian president wants peace.

During the session, the Knesset referred to committee motions by the Liberal and Herut parties which asserted there was a shortage of scientific and technological manpower in Israel. The motions charged that Israel’s institutions of higher learning had room for only about one-third of applicants in the sciences.

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