Israel Will Be Asked to Give Definite Answer on Middle East Command

The Western Powers will shortly make a direct approach to Israel and the Arab states of the Middle East asking for a “yes” or “no” reply to an invitation to join a Middle East defense command, it was reported here today following the release yesterday of an 11-point declaration of policy on a Middle East command by the United States, Britain, France and Turkey. On the basis of these replies, it was stated, the four powers will begin drafting concrete plans of a strategic and training nature.

The press here today emphasized the fact that the four-power declaration pledges non-interference in the problems and disputes within the Middle East. It specifies that the command organization would not interfere with existing armistice arrangements nor with the tripartite declaration of May, 1950, in which the U.S., Britain and France guaranteed Israel and the Arab countries against aggression from each other.

(The New York Times, in a cable from Tel Aviv, today stated that “after careful consideration” the Israelis have come to the conclusion that the Middle East Command, which is to include Israel and the Arab countries, would not work, or at least would not serve its real purpose of strengthening the defense of the entire area. “The Israelis are deeply anxious that their economic and military concerns be taken into account by such a command, whether they are in or out. For the time being, however, they are inclined to think this might be better done if they remain outside,” the cable said.)

It is believed here that the first commander of the set-up will be British, but that changes may be made later. Turkey is understood to favor a commander from among the nations in the area, rather than an “outsider.” The plan of command calls for an integrated rather than a national alliance with military representatives of the nations involved meeting on a basis of equality through a liaison organization. It is believed that the headquarters of the command will be established on Cyprus, or perhaps, in Turkey.

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