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Israel Occupies Secondary Place Among Issues at British Parley on Middle East

Preliminary discussions prior to British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin’s conference on the Middle East, which opens here Thursday, reveal that top priority is being given on the conference agenda to the question of Britain’s future Arab alignments rather than to the policy on Israel.

The conference, the first gathering of all British mission chiefs in the Middle East since 1945, will review Britain’s position in the Middle East, its policies and procedures. It had been generally believed that the problems posed by Israel’s emergence as a Middle East state would be the major issue.

The main surprise in the conference preliminaries has been that Israel does not by any means rank as high in the talks as advance comment had indicated. The real problem which the Foreign Office must urgently face is its Arab orientation–whether to side with the Hashemite group (King Abdullah of Transjordan and Iraq) or abandon them in favor of the Egyptian-Syrian alliance.