Monday, May 30, 2016

30 - Ambassador Evans Report on PM Sharett’s Press Conference, September 24, 1954

The official [Israeli] view of the [Selwyn Lloyd] statement was given by the Prime Minister at a press conference on the 24th of September, when he announced that Israel would welcome assistance from Her Majesty’s Government in bringing about a meeting between Israel and the Arab States to explore the possibility of adjusting differences, of establishing normal international relations, and of bringing peace to the Middle East. Israel believed that meetings with individual countries would be more effective, but was not definitely opposed to a collective conference. Mr Sharett thought it too early to predict whether any real progress might now be made, but he was not optimistic. Commenting on the Arab démarche, the Prime Minister said that it might well have been an attempt to neutralise the effects of Israel’s public effort to expose the negative aspects of the policy of arming the Arab countries. Such a policy was harmful to regional stability and to the security of Israel. As regards the underlying meaning of the statement by Mr Selwyn Lloyd, Mr Sharett thought it possible that it signified recognition of the fact that regional defence was not possible without peace inside the region.
The next move, it is felt, now rests with the Arab States. The position of Israel is clear and her readiness to enter into negotiations can no longer be in doubt. The hope is that, should the Arab States respond favourably to the offer of good offices, Her Majesty’s Government will not let matters rest there, but will take active and strenuous steps to bring the Arab States, either individually or collectively, to the conference table alongside Israel.

SOURCE: Evans to Eden, September 30, 1954, desp.171 (1031/294/54), TNA FO371/111075 VR1072/218.