LONDON (Aug. 1)
The inadequacy of safeguards for Israel’s interests in the Anglo-Egyptian agreement on evacuation and surrender of the Suez Canal zone by Britain was one of the major aspects raised this week-end in Commons and the House of Lords, as critics of the Churchill government’s pact rose to attack the agreement, which was later approved by a majority of votes.
Clement R. Attlee, head of the Labor Party and former Prime Minister, hit out sharply at the agreement and at Sir Winston. He termed “curious” the fact that the question of Palestine had been left out of the pact, particularly “because the Prime Minister has always been a strong Zionist. ” He noted that Britain had certain duties to Israel as well to to the Arab states and Turkey, and demanded to know what plans had been adopted for security in the Middle East.
A number of other critics, including Richard Crossman, raised similar issues. Mr. Crossman and some other MP’s raised the possibility of British bases in Israel to replace the Suez bases being surrendered. Mr. Crossman insisted that the future of the entire Middle East depended on tearing asunder the “curtain of hatred” dividing the Israelis and the Arabs.
Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, defending the government’s policy, noted that all critics about Egypt’s handling of Suez traffic hit only one point – the blockade against Israel, This, he pointed out, was a policy of all the Arab states, not just Egypt alone.
“If the House wants to see an end to hostilities between Israel and the Arab states,” he insisted, “the only hope is for Britain to create better relations with both sides and use these relations to help end the tension and try to bring about peace. I do not believe it is possible to do anything effective in this particular situation unless we can reduce the tension.”
The Foreign Secretary denied that the British Government was forgetting its obligations to Israel. He reaffirmed the British Government’s adherence to the 1950 Tripartite Declaration which guarantees the borders of the Middle East states against aggression.
In the House of Lords, Laborite Lord Jewett raised the question of Israel’s concern over the Anglo-Egyptian pact, and he suggested the government act to allay Arab-Israel hostility, possibly by first contributing to a solution of the Arab refugee problem. Lord Reading, the government spokesman, reiterated Mr. Eden’s statements, to the effect that Britain had reaffirmed the Tripartite Declaration and the Sues blockade was an all-Arab project, not just an Egyptian device. He pointed out that the Sues blockade had occupied the attention of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council many times, and said the government did not want to raise this question in the present agreement.