Israel-arab Issue Discussed in House of Lords Debate

The Israel-Arab situation and the role which Britain might play in smoothing out relations between parties were discussed in the House of Lords today in a debate which followed delivery of the Queen’s message.

Lord Jewitt, Lord Chancellor in the late Labor Government, appealed to the government to take action to end the Arab-Israel conflict. Lord Jewitt, who recently toured the Near East, spoke glowingly of the achievements of Israel, which he said “stagger the imagination,” but sadly described the plight of the Arab refugees.

He criticized the British Government for concluding with Egypt an agreement on the Suez Canal which did not guarantee Israel freedom of navigation through the waterway, and for promising Egypt arms despite the constant stream of threats against Israel, emanating from Cairo. He said that if the government arms one side, it must give equal supplies to the other, but suggested that neither be given arms. Tractors and irrigation equipment would make gifts to both sides, he suggested.

On the Tripartite Declaration, he commented that if Israel, like Jordan, would agree to Britain’s garrisoning troops on her soil it would be a guarantee to Israel and a reminder of Britain’s position, which would do an “immense amount of good.” He suggested that payment of compensation by Israel to Arab refugees, granting Jordan a free port at Haifa and adjusting minor boundary problems would contribute to better relations between Israel and Jordan. He thought that the internationalization of Jerusalem was no longer practical.

Lord Samuel, who followed Viscount Jewitt, stressed that Israel has offered compensation for lands left by the Arab refugees, but the Arab states refuse to discuss it. He said it was impossible to internationalize Jerusalem but felt that both the Israelis and Jordanians would respect international control of the Holy Places.

The Archbishop of York called on the UN, which had created Israel, to take a stronger role in settling the Arab-Israel situation. He said that Israel’s development had been speeded by outside assistance such as had never been given the Arabs.

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