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British Press Mixes Sympathy with Criticism of Israel

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Grave concern over the situation in the Middle East was-expressed editorially today by leading British newspapers. Most papers expressed sympathy with Israel in its dilemma but were critical of a course of action which the Times of London said could “touch off the spark which could ignite the Middle East.”

The Times described the plight of Israel encircled by hostile powers and noted Premier Ben Gurion’s recent warning to his people that the greatest danger came from Egypt. “To wait passively under this threat,” it declared,” and to watch it being backed by increasing supplies of the most modern arms may have proved beyond the patience of either the people or the Government of Israel. For them, it is a matter of life and death.”

The editorial then added, “but when all this is said, Israel’s action is of such a nature as to touch off the spark which could ignite the Middle East. It must be judged as a warlike act. The three powers have their obligations under the Tripartite Declaration and these are still valid.”

The Manchester Guardian warned the “Israel is playing with fire and the fighting could develop into a war which it is to Israel’s interest to avoid. A fortnight ago Mr. Ben Gurion declared to the world that Israel would never start a preventive war. If he is to retain his credit in the eyes of the West, he must restrain in the next few days what he has set afoot.”

The Daily Sketch declared that “a war in the Middle East whether started by the Arabs or the Jews is not to be tolerated.” It called for an imposed solution by the “great free powers.”

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