Speaker Rejects Move for Commons Debate on Israeli A-bomb Reports
Menu JTA Search

Speaker Rejects Move for Commons Debate on Israeli A-bomb Reports

Download PDF for this date

The Speaker of the House of Commons rejected today a demand for an immediate debate on reports that Israel was making the atomic bomb, William Yates, a Conservative, interrupted a debate on the banning of atomic tests to call for debate on a matter of “great urgency” involving the Tripartite Declaration of which Britain is a signatory.

The Tory back-bencher told the House that France was “unilaterally” equipping the Israeli forces and was reportedly giving Israel the necessary technical aid to convert the reactor given it by the United States for peaceful purposes to the manufacture of atomic weapons. This, he asserted, was of concern to Britain because this country was a co-signatory to the agreement guaranteeing the status quo between Israel and the Arab States.

Israel’s alleged potential to manufacture atomic weapons figured earlier in the debate when Eric Fletcher, a Laborite, said the question of a ban on atomic tests had assumed new and serious urgency in view of reports that France was proposing to supply Israel with atomic weapons. “If atomic weapons are spread throughout the Middle East,” he warned, “the position will become increasingly grave.”


The London Daily Mail bannered a sensational report of a “secret get-together” of France and Israel to give President Nasser of the United Arab Republic “a lot more to think about.” The paper asserted that France was providing Israel with pitchblende or helping it to obtain it from other sources. Uranium is obtained from pitchblende. Further, the Mail reported, the French are giving Israel the know-how on building “cut-price” nuclear reactors and advice on how to “sieve out” explosive from non-explosive uranium.

The French and Israelis agreed to cooperate on a “Junior partner” basis last June during Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s visit to France, the paper said. The London Daily Express reported that France had offered Israel the use of its Sahara testing grounds in the Sahara desert to test its bomb.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund