Britain Assures Israel on Suez Pact; Says It Will Lessen Tension

The British Government recognizes Israel’s concern over the Anglo-Egyptian pact on the Suez Canal, but is convinced that the agreement will result in a general easing of tension in the Middle East, Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden told Israel Ambassador Eliahu Elath in a letter handed the Israel diplomat last Tuesday.

The letter, published here today, said that in the agreement both governments have pledged that the pact has no aggressive purpose, that no great amount of armaments will be surrendered with the bases, and that the cornerstone of Britain’s Middle East policy remains the Tripartite Declaration.

After noting Britain’s recognition of Israel’s concern, Sir Anthony declared that the British Government is convinced, however, that the Anglo-Egyptian agreement “will result in a general lessening of tension in the Middle East. By increasing confidence between the Arab states and the West it should facilitate a solution of the major problems in the area.”

In this connection, Secretary Eden underlined that in signing the “Heads of Agreement” last July–preliminary to this week’s signing of the full pact–”both governments declared that the proposed agreement had no aggressive purpose and was designed to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security, which was the objective of both governments.”

“The agreement will contain a clause in which both parties agree to respect the Suez Canal Convention of 1888 in relation to freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal, ” Sir Anthony’s letter continued. It then pointed out that Egypt claims to be entitled to take the measures it is taking against Israel under Article X of that convention. The British Government, the letter added, “continues to desire a settlement of this question in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council.”

BRITAIN WILL NOT HAND OVER LARGE QUANTITIES OF ARMS TO EGYPT

In reference to the Israeli objections to the British handing the largest and one of the best equipped military bases in the world to the Egyptians, Sir Anthony repeated the “assurance given your Charge d’affaires by Selwynn Lloyd on the 12th of July, that there is no question of handing over large quantities of armaments.”

The Middle East policy of Britain “is governed by the Tripartite Declaration of 1950, particularly as regards the opposition of the signatory governments to the use or threat of force between the Middle East states as principles governing the supply of arms to these states.” The Israel Government may rest assured that the British Government “remains determined to give effect with all means in their power to the Tripartite Declaration.” Sir Anthony stressed.

He also underlined the fact that Britain attaches “particular importance to the avoidance of incidents on the frontier which might exacerbate Israel-Arab relations,” expressed happiness that there had been no serious incidents in the last few weeks, and added the hope that this situation would continue. He also expressed satisfaction with the Israel Government’s decision to rejoin the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission and hoped that Israel’s agreement to release blocked accounts of Arab refugees would contribute to a lowering of tension.

STRESSES READINESS TO HELP BRING ABOUT ARAB-ISRAEL PEACE

The British Government, Sir Anthony emphasized, attaches “great importance to friendly relations with Israel, as with all countries of the Middle East,” and is prepared to do all in its power, “in cooperation with the United Nations and like minded governments, to help bring about a peaceful settlement of the tragic disputes between Israel and the Arab states. Such a settlement is essential” the letter continued, “if the countries of the Middle East are to develop their full prosperity and be able to defend themselves against any threat of aggression from the outside.”

The Israel Government can count on the “sympathy” of the British Government in its efforts to promote the peaceful progress and welfare of the Israel people. The British Government, the letter concluded, “remains willing to cooperate in all measures designed to end the present state of tension with Israel’s neighbors and to help them pave the way for a wider settlement.”

NEXT STORY