L0ND0N (Jan. 4)
Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin today told a Cabinet meeting that Israeli forces have occupied two major Egyptian air bases on the ?inai Peninsula.
The airfields are understood to be at Rafah, on the Israeli-Egyptian border, and at El Arish, about 30 miles inside Egypt on the road to the Suez Canal, which is about 100 miles away. El Arish was the main operating base and headquarters of the Egyptian air force operating in Palestine. It figured in recent talks concerning a few Anglo-Egyptian treaty when the British asked for it as a base for their troops.
It is understood that Bevin’s information will be communicated at once to the State Department and will be laid before the U.N. Security Council when it resumes its sessions at Lake Success. Among the steps Bevin is believed to have proposed today is that the British Government should take unilateral action to aid Egypt if the U.S. and the Security Council fail to restrain Israel. Meanwhile, certain dispositions are reported to have been taken in the Suez zone.
Foreign Office sources are unwilling to disclose whether the British Government has received a copy of the alleged warning by President Truman to Israel not to invade Egypt. However, sources close to the American Embassy here expressed the opinion that no such note has been sent and that if representations were made to Israel they were made orally in Tel Aviv.
The Evening News has published a scathing attack on Bevin’s “obstinacy” over Palestine, warning that if Britain continues her present hostile role, the Jewish state may seek “other friends.” The recent handling of the Israel situation, which has led to rumors of possible war between Britain and Israel, has cost Britain her prestige in the Middle East, the newspaper said. It added that Bevin’s “unrealistic” thinking concerning Israel may have been possible in May, 1948, but not in January, 1949.