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Britain Clarifies Its Stand on Helping Jordan Against Israel

October 25, 1956
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Britain will not go to Jordan’s support against Israel unless there is a “clear case of aggression, “Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd told Commons today during a debate on Middle East policy.

Secretary Lloyd had been asked for a statement on the present Israel-Jordan border situation, but had refused to reply until the United Nations Security Council had completed its current consideration of that matter.

Thereupon, Laborite Arthur Henderson asked: “In view of the statement of the Commander-in-Chief of the Jordan Army that British forces were on call at an hour’s notice, will you give an assurance that this country will not be involved in any action under the Anglo-Jordan Treaty unless a clear case of major aggression is established, based on reports of the United Nations observation commission stationed in that area?”

Mr. Lloyd replied: “I do not think that the provisions of the Anglo-Jordan Treaty could come into effect unless there had been a clear-cut case of aggression.”

(During the Israeli reprisal raid on the Qualqilya police fortress two weeks ago, the Jordan commander reportedly asked that Royal Air Force units stationed in Jordan be used against the Israelis. Despite the welter of reports dealing with this request, it has never been clearly established whether the commander of the British air units had decided to act or had been in consultation with London. At any rate, the raid ended before British planes could become involved.)

The debate today was opened by Sir Leslie A. Plummer, Labor, who asked that the Foreign Secretary make available to Members of Parliament information concerning weapons which Israel had requested of the British Government and which the latter had refused to furnish. Mr. Lloyd said simply: “No, sir.”

Plummer returned to the attack, pointing out that it was difficult for Member of Parliament to evaluate the “government’s constant statement that they are trying to maintain a balance of arms between Israel and the Arab countries unless (we) have this information.” He coupled this remark with a request for information concerning military articles which the Arab states had asked for and received.

Again the Foreign Secretary refused, this time stating: “I can see your difficulty, but the government have to have in mind the public interest and peace in the Middle East.”


At another point in the debate, Plummer demanded to know by what authority a spokesman for the British Embassy in Syria had denied information to the effect that the Western countries would start a campaign against the Arab states to combat their economic boycott of Israel.

To this A. D. Dodds-Parker, Joint Parliamentary Under Secretary, replied: “In July certain Syrian newspapers reported allegations of a Western campaign to paralyze the Arab boycott of Israel and of the opening in London of an Israeli office which was supported by Foreign Office officials, Since both of these allegations were untrue, the British Ambassador in Pamascus was authorized to deny them.”

At this point, Laborite John Dugdale asked the government to do something more than just protest. “Would you consider, for example, having some kind of boycott against the Arab states which are in fact boycotting us?” Mr. Dodds-Parkers reply was that “two wrongs don’t make a right in this case.”

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