Britain Stirred by Israel’s Views on British Assertion on Arms
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Britain Stirred by Israel’s Views on British Assertion on Arms

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The “battle of arguments” between British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd and Israel Ambassador Eliahu Elath over the former’s assertion that the balance of arms in the Middle East still favors Israel is attracting serious attention in the British press today following a press conference by the Israel Ambassador this week-end at which he outlined Israel’s views on Secretary Lloyd’s statement.

The Ambassador stressed the fact that Israel is gravely concerned over Mr. Lloyd’s statement. It sees in the statement a confirmation of the situation wherein Britain is enabled not to carry out one of the most important parts of the Tripartite Declaration–that relating to the maintenance of the balance of armed strength. This was not only of concern to Israel perse, Mr. Elath explained, but also because of its relation to other parts of the Declaration, such as that promising assistance in case of attack.

Israel’s armaments, Mr. Elath stressed, were no secret to the Arabs and Mr. Lloyd’s assertion that the balance was in her favor would indicate to them that Britain had no interest in the safety of the Jewish State and would encourage them to seek more Western arms.

Ambassador Elath added that Israel’s requests for arms from the Western Powers were, in fact, aimed at obtaining for Israel the minimum of arms supplies that would enable the Government of Israel to feel that the absolute minimum security needs of Israel were safe guarded in the face of the rapid progress of arms supplies to Arab countries. Even such supplies, while representing an absolute minimum from the point of view of Israel’s security, would not, in fact, come anywhere near restoring fully the balance of arms in the Middle East, he pointed out.

The Ambassador indicated that to date most of the items in the lists submitted by Israel to the Western Powers have been refused. Britain has maintained her refusal to provide Israel with even a single Centurion tank to match those sent to Egypt and has refused to provide her with other major items–including a small number of Canberra bombers to match the Soviet Ilyushin bombers, anti-aircraft equipment and even, over the past twelve months, lightly armored vehicles in the form of half-tracks.


The arguments advanced by the Israel Ambassador at his press conference were strengthened by data contained in a document issued afterwards by the Israel Embassy here revealing that since December Israel has been able to obtain some light tanks from France but has nothing to compare with the Centurion or Stalin Tanks supplied Egypt.

Compared with nearly two hundred Russian fighters and bombers supplied the Egyptian airforce, Israel has obtained only 24 Mystere jets from France and a small number of British Meteors and French Ouragans, the document established. With the exception of the Mysteres, the other jet types are inferior to both the MIGS and Ilyushins supplied Egypt. By way of bomber forces, Israel has nothing more modern than the Mosquito fighter bomber which the RAF has just discarded as being out of date, the document showed.

Egypt has purchased two destroyers from Britain over and above the destroyer type frigates already acquired. From Eastern Europe Egypt obtained two destroyers. There are also persistent rumors that in addition, the Egyptians have received submarines. Israel obtained two destroyers from Britain, similar to those sold Egypt, and a number of light naval anti-aircraft guns.

Syria is also obtaining arms from Czechoslovakia which, according to reliable information quoted by the Embassy, includes 50 light tanks of a German model, fifty heavy Stalin tanks, twenty-five MIG fighter, fifty pieces of heavy artillery and one hundred armored vehicles. Apart from these arms deals between Egypt. Syria and Czechoslovakia, shipments of heavy arms have gone to Iraq from Britain under the Baghdad Fact. Saudi Arabia has received western tanks and it apparels also to have received certain equipment from Eastern Europe through Egypt, the Israel Embassy stressed.

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