LONDON (Oct. 25)
Great Britain’s Minister of State, Anthony Nutting, faced a barrage of questions in the British Parliament today regarding guarantees of Israel’s safety following the Anglo-Egyptian accord on the Suez Canal. Mr. Nutting had signed the agreement on behalf of the British Government.
Clement Attlee, former Prime Minister and head of the Opposition, asked what steps were being taken to reassure “the Government of Palestine” who had considered it an important point that there should be British troops in Egypt. Now that the troops were being taken away, he went on to ask, had the Government considered giving any guarantee to “Palestine” such as those she had given to Iraq and “Transjordan.”
In reply, Mr. Nutting stated: “The Foreign Secretary has been in communication with the Israel Ambassador to London and has handed him a memorandum giving him full assurances regarding the agreement with Egypt.” He added his own reassurances, stating; “This agreement cannot disturb or alter unfavorably for Israel the balance of power in the Middle East, and no weapons or arms of any kind will be left behind by British forces upon their withdrawal from the Canal Zone.”
Emanuel Shinwell, Labor M.P., asked whether the Canal would be made free to the shipping of all nations. Mr. Nutting recalled, in his reply, that the Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden had made it clear in debate on the accord that the government hoped that the agreement, when signed, would lead to a gradual improvement of British relations and general Middle Eastern relations.
“We cannot negotiate all these things at once,” he added. “I hope that as a result of the agreement, the climate will improve and the general situation in the Middle East will improve, so that we may also improve in this respect.” When Mr. Shinwell asked for more definite assurances about freedom of passage, he was told by the Minister of State that the agreement was about the Canal Zone Base, and not about the Canal.
Clement Davies, Liberal Party leader, said: “While appreciating the limitations of this agreement, had not the government asked for some guarantees that this international highway would be kept open for all international shipping without any interference by the Egyptian Government?”
Mr. Nutting answered him: “I understood the feeling of the House in this matter, but this agreement is essentially limited to the future of the Canal Zone and it is in that respect that we have obtained certain undertakings and guarantees. The situation to which you refer arose from the war between the Arab states and Israel, and not from the former British occupation of military installations in the Canal Zone.”