External Forces Fan Middle East Tensions, Ben Gurion Tells Knesset
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External Forces Fan Middle East Tensions, Ben Gurion Tells Knesset

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Premier David Ben Gurion opened the winter session of the Israel Parliament today with a long review of the Middle East situation and of Israel’s foreign policy in which he carefully avoided any strictures on pro-Soviet Syria and was relatively mild in his references to the Soviet Union. Observers described this avoidance of extremes as a crystallization of Israel’s posture today in foreign affairs.

Mr. Ben Gurion’s speech made seven major points: first, there is no change in Israel’s foreign policy; second, Israel’s intentions are peaceful; third, military victories are insufficient to achieve a solution in the Middle East, fourth, Israel’s primary task is the internal social and economic consolidation of the country; fifth, the importance of developing closer relations between Israel and the countries of Asia and Africa; sixth, the time is not far off when Israel will use the atom for agricultural and industrial purposes, and seventh, arms in Arab lands, whether from the Communists or from the West, are actually aimed at Israel.


Mr. Ben Gurion spoke before a packed house and a distinguished group of spectators including President Itzhak Ben Zvi. His speech will be followed tomorrow by a report from Mrs. Golda Meir, the Foreign Minister, on the United Nations, and on her talks in Washington and Rome, after which the Knesset will begin its debate on foreign policy.

Mr. Ben Gurion congratulated “Russian science and the people” on the successful dispatch into space of an earth satellite but noted that “our joy over this scientific and technological milestone has, however, been overshadowed to no little extent by the resultant increase in world tension which is associated with the artificial satellite either as a cause or consequence.”

He said Israel could not help but be concerned by the increase in tension in the world and in the Middle East whether or not it was connected with the satellite. “The Middle East has been a focal point of tension between East and West for more than two years, since the beginning of the copious flow of arms from the Soviet bloc to Egypt,” he declared. “Israel has been aware,” since the rise of the state, that it lives in two spheres, the regional which comprises itself and its Arab neighbors, and the greater world sphere which devotes considerable attention to the affairs of this region for historical and geopolitical reasons.

“The events of the last ten years,” said Mr. Ben Gurion, “have proven that a military campaign cannot, by itself, be decisive, because the Middle Eastern sphere is involved, perhaps more than any other area, in the world sphere where the balance of power differs from the local military balance.”


The Israel Premier expressed regret that there had been no improvement in Soviet-Israel relations “despite all our efforts to improve our relations with this mighty power which contains some three million Jews and is one of the decisive factors in world policy.” He described the Soviet Unions early attitude of friendship to Israel and noted that “since the Egyptian dictator opened the gate of the Middle East to the Soviet Union, there has been a very clear and surprising deterioration in this Great Power’s attitude to Israel and this attitude, of course, has not been weakened with the growing influence of the Soviet Union in Syria.”

“The change that has now come about in the Middle East, continued Mr. Ben Gurion, is that it is no longer local forces but powerful external forces that aggravate the tension in the region and only parallel and complementary world forces can reduce this tension.”

Mr. Ben Gurion expressed belief that the day would come when the Arab states recognized the existence of Israel. He noted increased understanding and support of Israel’s aims by many countries and expressed regret that Premier Nehru’s government in India which, he said, stood for the strengthening of peace with all nations regardless of their regimes, continued to discriminate against Israel and seemed to ignore its existence.

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