British Government Outlines Its Position on Defensive Arms for Israel
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British Government Outlines Its Position on Defensive Arms for Israel

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The British Government accepts the principle that Israel should have a sufficient quantity of arms for its own defense, Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd told Commons today on the second day of a major foreign policy debate But, the Foreign Secretary continued, Britain believes that Israel is currently in a position to defend itself.

The statement that the military balance is in Israel’s favor takes into account, he said, its unified command, internal communications, technical skill and training and the capacity to use and maintain the arms it possesses. Asked how these factors could be used against Russian bombers, the Foreign Secretary said: “One has to take into account the fighter resources which may be available to Israel at the time the bombers are capable of offensive capacity.”

He asserted that if United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold is able to procure full compliance with the Arab-Israel armistice agreements, the next step will be to “try to reach an agreement for either the settlement of one or more major problems or to see a comprehensive settlement.” He said he believed that it was unwise for Israel to feel that her safety depended on arms alone. He noted too, that the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 guaranteed that Israel would be in a position to defend itself.

The Secretary opposed all suggestions for the imposition of a general arms embargo on the Middle East because, among other reasons, Britain had treaty commitments to supply Iraq and Jordan with weapons. “The policy of the government to urge restraint in the delivery of arms to this area is the current one. If it is followed, as I hope it will be followed by other countries, I think it is the best hope for avoiding an arms race.”


Labor Party leader Hugh Gaitskell, who made only a passing reference to the Middle East urged the overwhelming need for discussion of policy for the area by the countries of Western Europe. He also said there was a need for United Nations initiative in the area.

Godfrey Nicholson, a Conservative, called for a solution imposed on Israel and the Arab states by the United Nations. He insisted that the only reasonable settlement was one which would be imposed, despite the fact that neither party would like it.

Mr. Nicholson, who recently toured Israel and Jordan, called on Israel to renew its offer to take back 100,000 Arab refugees and compensate the remainder. He estimated the cost at 200,000,000 to 300,000,000 pounds sterling, a price he considered reasonable for the Western Powers to raise as an alternative to another world war. He urged the Arabs to accept Israel as a nation, to accept compensation and to assist the UN and Israel in resettling the 100,000 refugees.

M. Philips Price, a Laborite who often favors the Arab view, expressed the opinion that Soviet Foreign Minister Dmitri Shepilov was not encouraging Arab intransigence toward Israel. “It looks as if he were giving a hint to the Arab world that it had better regard Israel as something which is here to stay,” Mr. Price said.

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