TEL AVIV (Aug. 27)
More than 1,200 delegates, representing 90,000 members of the Mapai Party, dominant element in the Israel Government coalition, began intensive debate in their national convention today on this country’s security, political and economic situation in the light of the grave report presented to the convention last night by Premier David Ben Gurion, leader of the party.
Mr. Ben Gurion declared that “our enemies threaten our very physical existence, following Hitler’s methods, “but he warned that “by the nature of things, it is impossible to achieve a final victory which will ensure that there will not be a second, third or fourth round, although we are certain of victory if a second round comes.”
He said that Israel must make every effort to preserve peace. “All impatient advice to start a preventive war is misleading,” he declared. “A war that was not forced upon us would not solve any of our problems, even if it should end with victory, since there is no certainty that such war brings victory, for there are great forces outside the Arab world who are liable to deploy their forces against us.”
Mr. Ben Gurion stressed that “just as it is our duty to preserve peace, it is also our duty to maintain a constant increasing military preparedness, to improve the training and equipment of our defense forces to which the at most capacity and efforts of the appropriate authorities have been devoted with no little success.”
HITS BRITISH ON HANDLING OF SUEZ CANAL QUESTION
An important section of the prime minister’s speech was devoted to the Suez Canal situation. Mr. Ben Gurion reviewed the history of the Egyptian blockade of Israel shipping and charged that the United Nations had not “lifted a finger when Egypt refused to obey the Security Council’s decision that Israel should have freedom of passage through the Suez Canal. He pointed out that Egypt was still disregarding this decision and was obstructing passage of Israel ships and ships of other nations sailing to or from Israel ports.
Mr. Ben Gurion sharply criticized British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden for his handling of the Suez. Canal situation. Sir Anthony, he said, had told the 22-nation conference in London that he had not brought the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company to the United Nations because Egypt had disobeyed the Security Council’s decision on. Israel shipping. “But,” said Mr. Ben Gurion, “he forgot that he himself had never at tempted to bring this violation by Egypt either before the Security Council or the United Nations General Assembly, nor did he demand compliance with the Security Council’s decision. He did not even invite Israel to participate in the London conference despite the Egyptian dictator’s announcement that he would maintain freedom of navigation for all except Israel.”
Mr. Ben Gurion declared that even if international freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal were effectively ensured, this would not mean that Israel’s freedom of navigation would be automatically assured. He pointed out that it was not only a question of free passage of the Suez Canal, but also of freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and of free access to Elat, Israel’s outlet to the East on the northernmost tip of the Gulf of Akaba.
As long as Israel is not assured of complete freedom of navigation on the Red Sea and Suez Canal, he declared, then security and peace will not be established in the Middle East.
Turning to the overall political situation, the Israel premier stressed the need for unremitting efforts for peace and understanding with Israel’s neighbors. He expressed the belief that “this peace, although it be delayed, will surely come, for it is a world necessity and a historical necessity for both sides.
The premier also called for efforts to obtain the friendship of the liberated and about-to-be liberated peoples of Asia and Africa.
INCREASED EXPORTS NEEDED FOR ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE
Turning to the home front, Mr. Ben Gurion reminded his followers of the serious trade balance gap. He pointed out that last year, Israel’s foreign trade deficit amounted to $167 for the year for each resident of Israel. He expressed appreciation for the economic aid tendered by the United States and by the Jewish communities of the world but he warned that unless Israel goods could compete in the world market, there would be no increase in Israel exports and Israel would not attain economic independence.
Mr. Ben Gurion told the Mapai delegates that there must be no increase in the Israel standard of living and no wage increases unless they were accompanied by an increase in production. He said the working hours of civil servants should be increased to 47 weekly and of teachers to 32. He demanded an increase in exports and a lowering 21 prices of commodities for domestic consumption.
Addressing today’s session, Finance Minister Levi Eshkol said that a four year development plan would see Israel with a population of two millions and with more 500 additional settlements. He forecast an intensive development of roads and of a communications system and told the conference to expect “progress in the exploiting of the hitherto neglected energy in the difference in height between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea.”
In a review of the achievements since Israel won statehood, Mr. Eshkol declared that 3,000 million pounds ($1,666 millions) had been invested in Israel exclusive of expenditures on arms and absorption of the first wave of immigrants. More than 400 new settlements had been established, he said, and 35,000 farm units Israel’s agree culture today meets 70 per cent of domestic consumption, he declared, after provide exports to the value of $40 millions annually.