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Britain Clarifies Stand on Declaration Guaranteeing Israel’s Borders

The British Government still considers the 1950 Tripartite Declaration between Britain, France, and the United States, concerning the inviolability of the Arab-Israeli-borders, as “valid,” but regards the United Nations as primarily responsible for the maintenance of peace in the Middle East, R. A. Butler, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, told the House of Commons here today.

Mr. Butler made that answer when he was questioned in the House, by members of his own Conservative Party as well as by Laborite members.

Gilbert Longden, a Conservative, started the barrage of questioning on the Arab-Israeli issue by asking Mr. Butler whether, in view of Soviet rearming of Egypt, Britain still supports the Tripartite Declaration. “Are you satisfied,” Mr. Longden asked, “that President Nasser, who loses no opportunity of telling the world that war with Israel is inevitable, knows what the consequences will be?”

Mr. Butler referred the questioner to a statement made by former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in May, 1963, “when he endorsed the views of the American President of what likely action would be in the event of trouble,” Emanuel Shinwell, a leading member of the Labor Party, then asked: “Will you define what is meant by Government support for the Tripartite Declaration? Does it mean that, in the event of any attack by Israel or by the United Arab Republic, those who sponsor the 1950 agreement will intervene to bring a conflict to an earlier end?”

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“We regard the United Nations,” replied Mr. Butler, “as primarily responsible for the maintenance of peace in this area. If any threat to the peace arises, we would consult the United Nations immediately and take whatever action we feel would be required.” Questioned further, he asserted: “The Government regards the Tripartite Agreement as still valid. “

Another Conservative, John Biggs Davidson, tried to pin Mr. Butler down by asking: “Having regard for President Nasser’s declaration on July 1, of the Egyptian Government’s policy regarding the inevitability of war with Israel, will in that event Her Majesty’s Government seek through the United Nations Security Council or diplomatic channels, or both, an Arab-Israel conciliation conference, or other appropriate meeting and, meanwhile, take steps, whether by reaffirmation of the Tripartite Declaration or otherwise, to make clear to Egypt and other powers the consequences of aggression in the Middle East?”

“President Nasser,” replied Mr. Butler, “has endorsed Mr. Khrushchev’s proposal that force should be renounced in the settlement of regional differences and border disputes. As Mr. Macmillan had said in 1963, we will consult immediately with the United Nations if any threat to the peace arises in the Middle East, and will take whatever action we thought may be required. Meanwhile, Her Majesty’s Government supports the efforts of the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission to achieve a settlement of the dispute between the Arab states and Israel.”

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