WASHINGTON (Dec. 26)
Considerable improvement in the relations between the United States and Israel took place during 1957, it was pointed out here today in a year-end analysis. This was attributed to the growing realization in Washington that Israel is strongly pro-Western while Soviet Russia is gaining more and more ground in the Arab countries.
Last winter Israel-American relations were at their lowest ebb. Pressures were exerted to force Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. A system of assurances and guarantees was gradually evolved. The blockade of the Akaba Gulf was ended. American tankers for the first time brought oil to Elath. The United Nations Emergency Force was installed at strategic Sharmel Sheikh and in the Gaza Strip. Frontier friction eased, although Egypt continued to bar Israeli passage in the Suez Canal.
Gradually, Israel-American rapport was restored. International attention shifted to continuing Communist penetration of the region. The Eisenhower Doctrine was formulated, guaranteeing U.S. support against outright Communist aggression. Ambassador James P. Richards toured the area to promote Western interests and to enlist support for the new doctrine.
But an openly pro-Soviet regime emerged in Syria. Jordan tottered on the brink of collapse. U.S. arms shipments to Jordan only aggravated the situation. Egypt extended its identification with the Communist bloc. America officially feted King Saud of Saudi Arabia despite the King’s extreme anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bias. The United States was motivated by a desire to improve relations with Arab regimes “friendly” to the West. But when the Soviet-inspired Turkish-Syrian crisis flared, King Saud and other “friends” of the West failed to support the United States. They expressed publicly their backing of pro-Communist Syria.
Quietly, Israel and America grew closer. Economic aid was resumed. Israel was authorized to purchase at bargain prices up to $35,000, 000 in surplus American agricultural commodities. But at year’s end an Israeli application for a $75, 000, 000 Export-Import Bank loan for irrigation remained pending.
Israeli diplomats indicated gratification when the United States stood aloof from an Arab diplomatic campaign to force Israel back to its 1947 United Nations partition boundaries. This month’s NATO conference saw failure of this Arab attempt to reduce Israel. The Arabs sought to exact this from the west as a price for their “support” against Communism.
The NATO conference went on record in favor of preserving the “independence and sovereignty” of Middle Eastern states. Meanwhile, there emerged growing and encouraging talk of greater economic assistance to the Middle Eastern area to strengthen it against Communism by elevating living standards.