LONDON (Jan. 15)
The people of Israel have absolute confidence in their economic future and in their ability to withstand renewed Arab attacks, Ian Mikardo, Labor M.P., declared today upon his return from a three-week visit to Israel. Speaking to a press conference, he stressed that the “marked increase of British goodwill toward Israel in recent months has been outmatched by the growth of Israel goodwill towards Britain.”
Mr. Mikardo expressed the opinion that although Israel’s foreign policy is officially one of “non-identification” with either power bloc, the policy would have to be modified in the event of an emergency. Asked whether he had discussed the question of Israel granting Britain a military base in the Negev–a suggestion he had made in an article just before he left for Israel–the Laborite said that he had not discussed it.
(In Israel, the diplomatic correspondent of the Jerusalem Post recently wrote: “It is believed in London that should the international situation worsen, new British bases on the Jordan side of the frontier would not be unwelcome to Israel, especially as there would appear to be no chance of any substantial American arms or other military aid appearing in the Middle East.”)
Mr. Mikardo added, however, that he had been queried about his article and that Mapam leaders had expressed hostility to his idea. But, he insisted, Mapam leaders believe “less and less in their own line” that leasing a base to Britain would make “Israel a British vessel.” He also disagreed with a fellow Labor M.P., Richard Crossman–currently a guest of President Weizmann–who has asserted that there is antipathy in Israel toward Americans. The Israelis, Mikardo said, are more impressed by the British attitude in international affairs than by the American, which he characterized as more explosive than the British.