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LBJ Welcomes Israeli Premier to Washington

June 1, 1964 - President Johnson warmly welcomed Premier Levi Eshkol of Israel to the United States today, declaring it was “not only possible but imperative” for Israel and her Arab neighbors to resolve their disputes peacefully. The President told the Israeli leader the U.S. had been proud to help in Israel’s development and was prepared to continue technical aid to Israel. Eshkol, who arrived by helicopter from Philadelphia, is paying the first official visit by an Israeli Premier to the U.S. He was accorded full military honors and a 19-gun salute in a colorful ceremony on the south lawn of the White House. Johnson and Acting Secretary of State George Ball, toasting Mr. Eshkol at a State Department luncheon, dwelt on the fact that the Israeli Premier’s visit was the first of its kind since Israel was founded in 1948.

This was interpreted as a demonstration of U.S. support for Israel in the face of continuing Arab pressure.

Eshkol’s presence drew criticism from the press attachés of 13 Arab embassies, who issued a statement saying that Eshkol’s visit might have “serious implications for the future of Arab-American relations.”

In a combined statement, the press attachés said Eshkol was here to “ask the U.S. for arms and the conclusion of a bilateral security treaty.” Their statement asserted that Israel was already a threat to regional and consequently world peace and had no need for such arms.

Israeli and U.S. officials declined to comment on the Arab statement, but indicated that neither arms nor a bilateral security treaty had come up during the conversations between Johnson and Eshkol at the White House this morning.

“Today, Israel is a vital, prosperous land, a symbol of the courage and strength of her people,” the President told Eshkol during the welcoming ceremonies.

“The United States is proud to have assisted in this high enterprise,” Johnson said. “We are prepared to continue our contributions to technical advancement in Israel, particularly in the field of desalinization of water.”

The 68-year-old Israeli leader praised the President as a man of peace and thanked him for “the aid and sympathy tendered to us by successive United States Governments.”

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