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Britain Offers to Mediate Talks Between Israel and Arab States

The British Government is “gravely concerned” over the Israel-Arab border situation and is offering its good offices in promoting talks which would either discuss lessening of tension as a preliminary to adjusting the major differences between the parties or immediate broader talks of the major issues, the Foreign Office announced today. (See Israel reaction on page 3.)

The offer was made today by Minister of State Selwyn Lloyd to the diplomatic envoys of eight Arab League states who last Friday handed him an aide memoire demanding Western Powers action against Israel. The Foreign Office said that Mr. Lloyd met with the Arab diplomats today and made the following points to them:

1. The British Government is gravely concerned over the Arab-Israel border situation. The government, which has consistently supported United Nations efforts to bring about peace between the parties, attaches great importance to the effective working of the UN truce organization. It hopes that Israel will return to the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission and that the Israel-Jordan local commanders’ agreement to handle many tension-provoking incidents on lower levels would be revived.

2. The British Government believes that an atmosphere for a settlement can only be created if there is a more peaceful situation along Israel’s borders. That will require further avoidance of frontier incidents and the cessation of reprisal raids, the consequences of which cannot be predicted. The British Government has not hesitated to publicly condemn these reprisal raids.

3. The British Government believes that a discussion of the differences between the parties would help. This can either be done directly or through third parties. There can either be a preliminary discussion designed to create more peaceful conditions on the border leading to a wider discussion of all outstanding differences, or a more general discussion straight away. In either case the British Government is willing to offer its good offices.

4. The timing of such discussions would, of course, be important. The best preliminary would be a reduction of tension, cessation of incidents and a more conciliatory attitude by both sides. In the meantime, British policy will continue to be based on existing treaties and obligations, among them the treaty of alliance with Jordan and the Tripartite Declaration guaranteeing the present Arab-Israel borders.

5. The Arab Governments can “rest assured” of the British Government’s “keen interest” in all Middle East problems and of its desire to further develop friendly relations between the Arab states and the West.

6. The British Government has, for a long time, desired to add to the strength of the Middle East, which is an area where the defenses of the free world are not yet strong enough. The government also believes that economic development and reform are strong weapons for resisting Communist infiltration and subversion. It welcomes any measures likely to enable the Arab countries to develop their resources and improve the conditions of their people.

7. The government has the lot of the Palestine Arab refugees constantly in mind. In addition to large financial contributions which it has made, the government is seeking to encourage plans for making the refugees self-sufficient.

A plea to the British Government to make “some effort to bring reason and tolerance” into the Arab-Israel situation was voiced here by R.N. Carvalho, president of the Anglo-Jewish Association, at a meeting of the AJA Council last night. He expressed regret that during the negotiations for evacuation of the Canal bases Britain had not seized the opportunity to lessen tension between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

The AJA president voiced support of Israel’s efforts to prevent the delivery of arms to the Middle East, in the present circumstances, adding that the present “non-constructive policy of allowing both sides to arm as quickly as possible could not solve anything. ” He also expressed concern for the safety of the Jewish communities in the various Arab states in the event of war.

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