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British Government Says It Must Remain Neutral in Middle East Dispute

March 28, 1968
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The British Government must remain neutral in the Arab-Israel dispute if it is to be of any help in reaching a solution to that conflict, a Government spokesman said in the House of Commons today. Goronwy Roberts, Minister of State for foreign affairs spoke in reply to Labor MP Raymond Fletcher who declared that he found it “totally impossible” to adopt a neutral attitude in the Middle East “where we have the only democracy, and the only social democracy as well in the Middle East, surrounded on all sides by hostile Arab neighbors.” He asked, “how can the Government say it is neutral in such circumstances?”

Mr. Roberts replied that “in a situation like this, where passions are inflamed, no outside country will be able to do very much to help resolve the conflict if it is considered to be partisan to one side or the other.” He stressed the Government’s view that a Middle East settlement can be achieved only by the international community acting together in the interests of peace. “It is for this reason that the Government has, since the Six Day War, laid so much importance on working through the United Nations,” he said.

Mr. Fletcher charged that Arab propagandists, many of them ex-Nazi Germans, have made clear their intention not only to destroy the state of Israel but to liquidate its people. “I can’t be neutral in any kind of conflict between the state of Israel and the Arab states which seems to have taken upon their shoulders the mantle of the late Dr. Goebbels,” he said.

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