LONDON (Oct. 21)
Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden’s letter to Israel Ambassador Eliahu Elath attempting to allay Israel’s concern over the consequences of the British surrender of the Suez Canal and its military bases to the Egyptians was welcomed today by Israeli diplomatic circles here as an important and positive landmark in the development of Anglo-Israeli relations.
It is believed that the letter opens avenues for further, friendly discussion of the issues which continue to give Israel cause for concern, particularly in view of Anglo-American plans for arming the Arab states and the issue of free passage through the Suez Canal.
Although Sir Anthony’s letter stated that there is no question of handing over large quantities of armaments to Egypt, it was pointed out that what Britain might not consider large quantities might considerably strengthen the Egyptian armed forces and overweight the balance of power in the Middle East.
There is a feeling that responsibility has been placed indirectly on the Arab states for the future direction of Middle East developments. In this connection, Israel diplomatic circles welcome Britain’s affirmation of her intention to continue efforts to bring about a peaceful settlement.
While the Foreign Secretary’s reference to the Suez Canal was rather vaguer than Israel might have hoped, the restatement of Britain’s views on this matter are considered timely in view of the impending debate in the Security Council.
The letter, taken as a whole–and particularly the friendly reference to Britain’s interest in the progress of the Jewish State–is seen as an heartening response to the efforts of the Israel Government and Israel diplomacy to further strengthen friendly relations with Britain. While it cannot be said that Israel’s fears have been calmed, it is felt that further discussions and representations will be received with sympathy.