JERUSALEM (Jul. 24)
British Shell, one of the two British oil companies which announced yesterday that they are pulling out of operations in Israel, has assured the Jewish State that oil supplies will continue to be maintained until the end of 1957 and that there will be no change in operations of the Shell gasoline sales organization in this country until at least that date. Authoritative sources here also stated today that company spokesmen had admitted that they were being subjected to strong Arab pressure to discontinue operations in Israel.
Although the Israel Government, which is continuing negotiations on the question on commercial and diplomatic levels in London, has avoided publicity on the matter, reports from Beirut and London confirm the conviction that the British oil companies are sacrificing their Israel business to ingratiate themselves with the Arabs.
(In financial circles in London the Shell claim that it was abandoning operations in Israel because they were unprofitable was termed “poppycock.” It was pointed out the oil companies “were doing well” in Israel. Nor was there any acceptance in London of the statement by the British Government that the companies had acted on their own, since it is unthinkable that drastic action of this sort would be taken in an area so important to British political position without prior consultation with the government.)
Although diplomatic circles in Israel do not fully accept the simple view that the sole reason for the action is to improve relations with the Arab states, they are amazed that Britain is knuckling under to Arab boycott threats. These circles note that past experience has taught Britain that the profits of appeasing the Arabs are short-lived, that failure to heed the boycott demands rarely brings reprisal from the Arab states, and that in strengthening the boycott weapon Britain is teaching the Arabs to use it against her.