Former British War Minister Urges Building of Canal Through Israel

Lord Hore-Belisha, one-time War Minister of Britain, proposed today in the House of Lords that the British Government consider as an alternate to the Suez Canal a channel to be cut from the Gulf of Akaba through Israel territory to the Mediterranean Sea.

The former Jewish War Minister underlined the importance of a Middle East canal to maritime transportation, particularly to the movement of oil to Western Europe. He noted that the same alternate route had been discussed two years ago.

Lord Reading, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that only immediate aspects of the Suez Canal situation were being considered now and that when long-term measures were studied Lord Hore-Belisha’s proposal would be among them. Lord Hore-Belisha termed the reply “inadequate” and charged that there was not now an alternate route available because of similar attitudes by past governments. Lord Reading refused to be drawn into a discussion.

Several other Lords arranged themselves on either side of the question. One, Lord Birdwood, suggested that if the alternate route were ever discussed seriously the British Government should seek to internationalize the area through which the cut would be built. Otherwise, he said, Arab hostility to Israel would lead to their refusal to permit oil from their lands to travel through the Akaba canal.

Lord Winster opposed the plan on the grounds that the country through which the canal would have to be cut was too mountainnous and would present too formidable an engineering problem. In addition, he said, Egyptian and Jordanian hostility would make the plan politically hazardous.

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