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Passage of British Troops over Israel to Jordan Discussed in Commons

The question whether the Israel Government had consented to British troop-carrying planes crossing Israel territory to Jordan was asked in the House of Commons today by Hugh Gaitskell, leader of the British Labor Party. He claimed that the Government of Israel had protested against passage of British troops by air over Israel en route from Cyprus to Jordan. Mr. Gaitskell appealed to the British Government to call a “summit conference” to settle the Middle East problems.

London newspapers reported today that British forces landing in Jordan from Cyprus have evidently been flown over Israeli territory. They emphasized that Israel had not been expected to object to British military aircraft flying over her territory to Jordan inasmuch as Israel allegedly favors Western intervention in Lebanon and Jordan. “It is plain that the British intervention has the approval of the Israeli Government,” the Evening Standard wrote.

Meanwhile, in the foreign policy debate in Commons, Laborite friends of Israel, including Richard Crossman, expressed the view that it would not be against Israel’s interests to see a united Arab world. Mr. Crossman asserted that Israel can have peace only by coming to terms with united Arab states.

“Nasser may hate Israel,” he continued, “but the Egyptian dictator is a realist who has come to understand that Israel is here to stay.” The Labor MP warned that linking Israel to the West would mean digging its grave, as Israel’s future depends on living with the Arabs.

Conservative Sir Robert Boothby urged, in the cause of Middle East stability, that Britain and the United States give Israel unequivocal guarantees. He expressed the view that Israel, though strong and vigilant, would not act in the current crisis without consultations with the West. He called a “mistake” the West’s holding back Israel in the Sinai operation, asserting that in another three days Israel would have “finished” the Suez campaign.

In its analysis of the results of American intervention in Lebann, the British press–Labor and Conservative alike–feels, as the Manchester Guardian expressed it, that the action will “hearten the Governments of Israel, Turkey and Persia.”

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