British Parliament Debates Refusal to Make Oil Loan to Israel

Labor M.P. ‘s today precipitated a debate of the British Government’s refusal to make Israel a 5, 000, 000-pound loan for the purchase of crude oul stocks. However, despite persistent questioning by several Laborites, Prime Minister Winston Churchill refused to change his decision.

Meanwhile, the British Overseas Airways Corporation has announced that owing to the fuel shortage in Israel all incoming flights from Lydda have been cancelled.

Responding to a question from Laborite Woodrow Wyatt, Prime Minister Churchill revealed that President Weizmann had sent him a message asking the British Government to advance 5, 000, 000 pounds to finance Israeli oil purchases for the next six months. The British Government gave the request its “most careful and sympathetic consideration, ” the Prime Minister declared, but “despite our understanding of the difficulties with which Israel is faced, we felt compelled to inform the President that the gravity of our own economic situation precluded us from making the loan.”

Mr. Wyatt then asked for reconsideration of the refusal, pointing out that Israel played an extremely important part in Middle Eastern affairs and Britain should maintain its influence there. He also noted that Israel had offered to repay one-quarter of the loan in dollars, which would make the deal attractive from a commercial point of view.

The Prime Minister again expressed his regret over the situation, and Emanuel Shinwell, former Cabinet member in the last Labor Government, took up the questioning. He said that little had been done to help Israel by the British Government’s opening up of the Haifa refinery and assisting Israel in obtaining supplies of oil. He asked whether Mr. Churchill would reconsider in the light of the defense aspects involved in Israel’s situation.

Mr. Churchill then stated that for a long time he had “considered this matter to be of utmost importance, but every step has to be taken by the government with great care in order not to complicate still further the situation in the Middle East. Mr. Shinwell tried once more, pointing out that the United States had recently granted aid to Persia, “apparently without consulting the British Government and if the United States could render assistance to Persia in the face of the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute, “surely His Majesty’s Government could render some assistance to Israel, ” he pressed. Mr. Churchill ended the discussion by stating that “all these matters” would be kept in mind.

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