LONDON (Apr. 17)
The Soviet Government today issued a statement clarifying its stand on the Arab-Israel situation and calling upon the Arab states and Israel to settle their conflicts on a basis acceptable to both sides. The statement was released by the Foreign Ministry in Moscow on the eve of the arrival in England of Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin and Communist Party chief Nikita Khrushchev for talks with British leaders.
Indicating a desire to have a stake in Middle East affairs, the Soviet Government offered to join other governments in an effort to reach a solution of Middle East turmoil and said she would support any United Nations action to “strengthen peace in Palestine.” She called on both Israel and the Arab states to refrain from border incidents along the UN-approved frontier and to improve the situation of the Arab refugees.
The following three major points were made in the statement:
“1. The Soviet Union considers that measures should be taken in the near future to lessen present tension in the area of Palestine without external intervention which contradicts the will of the Near Eastern states and the principles of the United Nations.
“2. The Soviet Union calls upon interested countries to refrain from any action capable of leading to a sharpening of the situation along the existing lines of demarcation established by the armistice agreement between the Arab countries and Israel and also to undertake the necessary efforts to improve the serious situation of hundreds of thousands of Arab refugees who have been deprived of their hearths and means of subsistence.
“3. The Soviet Union considers that it is necessary, in the interest of strengthening international peace and security, to work toward a stable peaceful settlement of the Palestine question on a mutually acceptable basis taking into consideration the just national interests of the interested sides. For its part, the Soviet Government expresses its readiness to assist, together with other states, a peaceful solution of unsettled problems.”
The preamble of today’s statement blamed increasing tension in the Middle East on the formation of pro-Western military blocs such as the Baghdad Pact, which it called an effort to restore colonialism. It called these blocs “contrary to the spirit of the United Nations.” However, it went out of its way to praise Britain and France for their post-war moves to assist the development and independence of the Near East region.
The statement mentioned all the newly-independent countries of the Near and Middle East, and then added: “The Soviet Government believes that military conflicts in the Near and Middle East can and should be avoided and it is in the interest of the entire Middle East not to enter into hostilities.” At the same time, the Soviet statement said it “considers it unjust and unlawful to attempt to use the Arab-Israeli conflict as an excuse to intervene in the internal affairs of the Arab countries and to establish bases on territory in the Middle East.”
MOLOTOV ATTENDS ISRAEL’S INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION IN MOSCOW
An indication of a possible change in the Soviet policy with regard to Israel was seen when Soviet Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan and Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov attended last night the celebration of Israel’s Independence Day held at the Israel Embassy in Moscow. This was the first time since Israel was established that top members of the Soviet Government attended such an Israel function.
The Israelis were surprised by the decision of the Soviet leaders to attend, a move which was made known to the Israel Ambassador Joseph Avidar only yesterday morning. It had been expected that Soviet leaders would pointedly stay away from the Israeli national day ceremonies and show up en masse today at the Syrian national day celebration to underline their sympathy for the Arab cause. The Soviet leaders drank toasts to Israel’s independence and confined their remarks to non-political subjects.
(Hope for good results from the talks in London between British Prime Minister Eden and the Soviet leaders soared in diplomatic circles in Washington in the wake of the statement released in Moscow today. Diplomats regard the statement as clearing the path for discussions in London on the subject of the Middle East–which has exploded into the world’s No. 1 international problem. The statement appeared to have the immediate effect of choking off any idea the Arab states might have had that they could count on automatic Soviet support in their struggle with Israel.)