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Middle East Security

Volume 530: debated on Wednesday 21 July 1954

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33, 34 and 35.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) what negotiations or discussions have taken place with the Israeli Government concerning the security of the Middle East;

(2) what consultations have taken place between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Israel concerning the negotiations with Egypt;

(3) what discussions have taken place with the Israeli Government concerning defensive arrangements for the Middle East following the evacuation of British troops from Egyptian territory.

No formal negotiations or discussions have taken place on these subjects with the Israel Government, but Her Majesty's Government have kept interested Governments, including the Israel Government, generally informed of the progress of our discussions with Egypt.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that if the defence of the Suez Canal area had to be moved further east, as seems logical, all lines of communication would of necessity pass through Israel? Is it not therefore absolutely vital that Israel should be considered? Secondly, will he bear in mind that it is a trifle illogical to treat those who dislike us intensely with greater consideration than those who are prepared to like us?

As I stated during the foreign affairs debate, relations between Israel and the Arab States are one of the factors which we have taken into account in this matter.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman make it clear that the obligations we undertook in our joint guarantee in 1950, with respect to Israel's frontiers, will be carried out irrespective of what may or may not happen to our base in Suez?

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that Israel is one of our best friends in the Middle East and has a very valuable contribution to make to the defence of that area?

Our object is to seek to achieve good relations with all countries in the Middle East.

In view of the fact that we, with others in the United Nations, are parties to the Resolution for the cessation of hostilities between the Arab States and Israel earlier on, is it not time that we took an active part in trying to get proper discussions between the Arab States and Israel, with a view to effecting peace, instead of continuing this armistice, which has existed for five or six years?

There is a difference between an active part and a public part. Her Majesty's Government are certainly seeking to get an alleviation of the situation in the area.

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say whether he has any information that the Israeli Government would be or are prepared to take a closer interest in the defence of the Middle East than he has indicated today?

I am generally in sympathy with the negotiations which are now going on with Egypt, and am hopeful of a satisfactory and constructive result, but will the right hon. and learned Gentleman nevertheless bear in mind that they will apparently involve leaving in Egyptian hands very powerful military installations at strategic points? Are any precautions being taken to see that those military installations are not used for mischievous purposes after we leave them?

The hon. Gentleman would not expect me to deal with details of the negotiations, but I can assure him that that is a matter which we have very much in mind.