Middle East is Now a Powder Keg, Says Ben Gurion; Appeals to Egypt

Premier David Ben Gurion today told the Israel Parliament that “the entire Middle East is now a keg of explosives and any spark may set afire all the region.” This he emphasized, demands Israel’s uttermost preparedness.

At the same time, Mr. Ben Gurion stretched out a hand of peace to Egypt and declared that there is no reason for any conflict between the two countries. “There is no foundation for border disputes,” he said. “This is no territorial quarrel between Israel and Egypt. On the contrary, peace between the two countries would help Egypt to strengthen its international status.”

Israel, Premier Ben Gurion stressed, is not hostile to Egypt because of ancient times or even because of its recent invasion. “We did not dream of attacking Egypt when the former regime trembled and the new regime was not settled as yet,” he said. “We greet Egypt as far as her present government strives for peace. However, nobody can yet foretell whether the Egyptian regime now is for peace or for war. We must, therefore, be prepared, alert and wise.”

With regard to Syria, the Israel Premier pointed out that the Syrian military dictator Gen. Shishkali, who invaded Israel, was defeated and barely escaped to save his skin. However, now he threatens Israel “in a typical Hitlerite fashion.” “I shall not discuss now how such threats can be reconciled with Syria’s belonging to the United Nations, but from our defense viewpoint, we must rely only upon ourselves and not on external forces,” he declared.

DEMANDS INCREASE IN MILITARY SERVICE FOR ISRAELIS

Mr. Ben Gurion delivered his address in support of a government bill requesting that military service for Israelis be increased from the present 24 months to a 30 month period. He called vigorously for “relentless preparedness” emphasizing that Israel’s enemies “did not sit idly during the last four years and were preparing themselves” against the Jewish state.

“There is no doubt,” he said, “that there are many among the Arabs who desire peace with Israel. But their voice is seldom heard. Most nations of the world are interested in peace between Israel and the Arab countries, nevertheless there is no peace. The situation in the neighboring countries does not forecast stability and peace. The contrary is true. In the entire Middle East only Turkey and Israel are stabilized,” he pointed out.

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