British Commander Welcomed in Israel with Military Honors

Admiral Mountbatten, British Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean area, arrived this morning at the port of Tel Aviv aboard, the H.M.S. Surprise and was received with full military honors.

A 21-gun salute was fired by the Admiral’s flagship as she entered the port and a similar reply was given by the shore batteries. Upon his landing, Mountbatten was received by a delegation representing the Israel Government and the Navy. An Israel Army band played “Rule Britannia.” Hundreds of port laborers watched the ceremony, but none demonstrated against the British commander despite the fact that a majority of the port workers are members of the Mapam Party, which has called for anti-Mountbatten demonstrations.

In Tel Aviv the British commander visited Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett and Acting President Joseph Sprinzak, after which he proceeded to Rehovoth to visit ailing President Weizmann. Later in the day he travelled to Jerusalem and was received by Premier David Ben Gurion. At the Israel Army headquarters in Tel Aviv the British officer conferred with Israel Chief of Staff Gen. Yigal Yadin and inspected a paratroop guard of honor assigned to him.

Addressing a press conference here, the Earl declared that his visit was a “token of goodwill by the British Government toward Israel.” He stressed that the British policy in the Middle East area is to preserve peace and harmony. He thanked the Israel public for its enthusiastic welcome of himself and a party of 50 officers and men of the Surprise who are touring Israel, but refused to be drawn into any political comments by the reporters. “The less officers make political statements,” he told them, “the better it is for peace.”

In Haifa where the Communist Party had made preparations for a huge “go home” demonstration, the rally dissolved when it was learned that the British commander had landed at Tel Aviv. At the end only several hundred people participated in the anti-Mountbatten meeting.

Al Hamishmar, organ of the Mapam, editorially called today for Admiral Mountbatten’s return to England “since he is not wanted in Israel.” The paper said that “the purpose of Mountbatten’s visit is to turn Israel and the whole Middle East into an aggressive base.” Kol Haam, organ of the Communist Party also urged demonstrations to tell the British commander “to return to England.”

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