Ben Gurion Pledges Israel to Peace, Observance of Armistice Pacts
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Ben Gurion Pledges Israel to Peace, Observance of Armistice Pacts

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Premier David Ben Gurion and his government were pledged today to a policy of peace and observance of the armistice agreements as far as they are observed by their Arab signatories while observers predicted that Israel foreign policy would be made tougher and more forceful following the resignation of Moshe Sharett as Foreign Minister.

(The Times of London, in a report from Jerusalem, said today that in Premier Ben Gurion’s view it may be difficult to maintain Israel’s stand on the armistice agreements and might bring the state into conflict with important powers. The avoidance of any such conflict, the newspaper said, was one of Mr. Sharett’s chief aims. The Christian Science Monitor reported from Jerusalem that “more audacious foreign and defense policies are expected to be pursued by the Israeli Government” following the Sharett resignation.)

Premier Ben Gurion won handily in a series of three votes in the Knesset following a warm debate last night on the Sharett resignation. Two non-confidence motions calling for resignation of the entire Cabinet, introduced by the Heruth and General Zionist Parties, were defeated by votes of 65 to 20 with six abstentions. A Government motion voting Mordechai Namir as Minister of Labor, filling Mrs. Golda Myerson’s former post, was carried by 65 to 24, with six abstentions, No vote was required on Mrs. Myerson’s resignation as Foreign Minister.

Speakers for three government parties described Mr. Sharett’s resignation as a protest against the failure of the Western Powers to recognize his policy of moderation and to respond to it by providing Israel with defensive arms. The Mizrachi speaker called the resignation “an open, vigorous protest by a peace-loving statesman who felt betrayed by the Great Powers”

Meir Argoy, of Mapai, chairman of the Knesset Committee on Security and Foreign Affairs, replying to Menachem Beigin, Herut Party leader who opened the debate, denied his assertions that the country was unprepared, declared that in past months, the country had “received arms and equipment which radically changed the position of the Army.”

In opening the debate, Mr. Beigin accused the Premier of withholding the real reason for the Sharett resignation and called for the resignation of the entire Cabinet.

In his reply Premier Ben Gurion reaffirmed the policy of the Government and said that the Sharett resignation did not result from any policy changes. He reiterated opposition to a “preventive war” which he characterized as “sheer madness” but made it clear that he would not hesitate to rally all the country’s forces against any Arab aggressor. He assailed Opposition demands for action against Jordan which, he pointed out, would mean war against Britain. War against the Great Powers, he advised, would be the “sheerest folly.”


The Premier said that recently the situation had become so grave and the dangers in foreign affairs had become such as to demand a complete identity of views between the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. He said he had recognized the need for a change in leadership of the Foreign Ministry as most useful to the government, but insisted that this did not mean change in security policy or foreign affairs.

Mr. Ben Gurion indicated that the decision to make a change in the Foreign Ministry was crystallized after the recent sessions of the United Nations Security Council. He stressed that Israel’s policy, after that meeting, was that the armistice agreements would be respected to the degree that the Arabs respected them and he left little doubt that Israel would not permit persistent border violations to go unchallenged.

The Premier described the attitude of the Great Powers in the Security Council as strange behavior, and accused them of submitting to verbal terrorization by the Arabs in agreeing to delete the “peace phrase” from the British draft resolution. He warned that this surrender had impaired the moral status of the Security Council.

The Premier also voiced criticism of Secretary General Dag Hammarskjoid for failing to include in his report to the Security Council on his Middle East pacification mission Israel’s declared intention to observe the letter and the spirit of the armistice agreements only so long as the other side equally observed them.

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