Policy Critics Ask Britain to Offer Israel Defense Pact
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Policy Critics Ask Britain to Offer Israel Defense Pact

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The British Government is prepared to support a plan in the United Nations to extend for a further five years the activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestine refugees in an effort to solve the Arab refugee problem, which Britain considers one of the most important aspects of the Arab-Israel dispute, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anthony Nutting declared today.

Mr. Nutting opened debate in Commons on Britain’s Middle East policy. He expressed no hope of an early settlement of the Arab-Israel situation, although he assured his listeners that he was “far from despairing.”

“It will require time and patience and above all restoration of peaceful conditions upon the Arab-Israeli frontier so that co-existence may grow into toleration and toleration into good neighborliness,” he stressed. Reporting an improvement on the Israel-Jordan frontier and Israel’s return to the Mixed Armistice Commission, Mr. Nutting welcomed “this progress towards more settled conditions.”

He reiterated the British Government’s offer of its good offices to the Arab states and Israel and said that Britain had already made some moves in that direction, but had not publicized them because it felt that the glare of publicity would not serve a useful purpose in this case.

The Minister of State asserted that there was nothing in the Anglo-Egyptian agreement on the Suez Canal which violated Britain’s obligations under the Tripartite Declaration. He said that arms for the legitimate defense needs of the various Middle East states and for the area as a whole would continue to be sent into the region, adding that there was no evidence that any country in the Middle East was planning aggression.


Mr. Nutting rejected any onus in connection with the British Government’s failure to insist on Egyptian guarantees to end its blockade against Israel-bound shipping, noting that since the issue had been brought to the UN. Britain bore no responsibility in the matter. He expressed hope that conclusion of the Anglo-Egyptian pact on the Suez Canal would make it easier to secure some improvement in the Arab-Israel situation.

Herbert Morrison, former Foreign Secretary and leader of the Labor opposition in the debate, expressed understanding of Israel’s apprehension over the sale of arms by Britain and the gift of arms by the United States to the Arabs. He warned that this placed Israel at a distinct military disadvantage and that the Jewish State “may be in real military danger.”

Clement Davies, leader of the Liberal Party, suggested that Britain conclude with Israel the sort of binding agreements it concludes with the Arab states. “If a definite agreement is made with Israel saying ‘if you’re attacked we’re with you, might it not have an affect on the Arab states?” he asked. If such a step were taken, Arab-Israel differences might be settled, Mr. Davies suggested.

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