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British Leaders Pledge Support for Israel on Independence Day

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Both Britain’s Labor Government and the opposition Conservative Party pledged support for Israel and called for Arab-Israeli peace at a mass celebration of Israel’s Independence Day, held here last night at Albert Hall. The guest of honor was Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s former Foreign Minister. The event, conducted by the Zionist Federation of Great Britain, was opened by Harold Miller, chairman of the Federation. Sir Barnett Janner, a Labor member of Parliament, presided.

The pledge on behalf of the Government was voiced by Herbert Bowden, leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council. He told the large audience that crowded the hall to capacity: “Israel and Britain share the interest in peace with the Middle East. Britain wants good relations with all Middle East countries, and desires to expand her trade with them. We want to restore and improve relations where necessary. But this will not be done at the expense of Israel, with whom Britain has always enjoyed good relations.”

Quintin Hogg, a Conservative member of Parliament, who is a member of the “shadow cabinet,” said: “Israel is an internationally recognized state guaranteed by the United Nations by virtue of its membership in the U.N. Indeed, this ability to guard the independence of small states is the test of the value of the United Nations.”

Mrs. Meir, in her address, also alluded to the role of the United Nations in regard to peace in the Middle East. “With all due respect to the United Nations,” she declared, “peace in the Middle East is due only, perhaps, to the fact that we are not weak. It is not the U.N. Charter that keeps the peace there but the fact that the Arabs know we are not weak. We now have comparative peace. There are incidents here and there, but no war. We would like to have permanent and lasting peace with our neighbors. Our neighbors seem to know how to settle all problems — except how to live in peace with us.”

In addition to the rally at Albert Ball, other Israel Independence Day meetings and religious services were conducted by the Mizrachi Federation, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and at the Sephardic Synagogue. Among the principal participants in these events were Dr. Israel Brodie, Britain’s chief rabbi-emeritus; Dr. Solomon Gaon, the Sephardic chief rabbi here; and Brig. Gen. Shlomo Goren, chief chaplain of the Israeli defense forces.

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