LONDON (Oct. 31)
Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden told the House of Commons today that Israel should not be required to withdraw from Egyptian territory without first being given guarantees that its security would be safeguarded.
Facing cheering supporters and a hostile Opposition, Sir Anthony said the British Government thought that the demand for withdrawal contained in the American resolution, which Britain and France had vetoed in the Security Council last night, seemed in the light of immediate events to be a “harsh demand, if it is to stand alone.” It could not, he continued, be said to meet in any way the guarantees for Israel’s security which had been asked by several members in last night’s Council debate.
With official reports of Anglo-French bombing of major military installations and cities in Egypt fresh in the minds of his listeners, Sir Anthony again offered the Egyptian Government an opportunity to halt hostilities and withdraw to a point ten miles from the Suez Canal. He conveyed to the House reports that Israel forces were close to the Canal.
It was the intention of the French and British Governments that their projected separation of the belligerents should result in a settlement which will prevent such a situation from arising periodically in the future, the Prime Minister declared. There is no current Middle East problem that could not have been “settled or bettered but for the hostility and irresponsible policies of Egypt,” he continued, and there is no hope of a general settlement as long as Egyptian propaganda and policy continue along its present line.
“What would the future of the Middle East have been if, while denouncing Israel, we had done nothing to check Egyptian actions?” Sir Anthony asked. “The only result would have been warfare spreading over the whole area and a great increase in strength and influence of the dictator’s powers.”
He explained that in taking up positions along the Suez Canal, the British and French were not only protecting the waterway but taking up the only practicable line between the combatants, the armistice line being too irregular and too much of a problem for a small force to hold.