Thursday, July 14, 2016

52 - John Slade-Baker, Notes of Interviews with Yosef Tekoah and Moshe Sharett, April 19, 1955

My first appointment was with a Mr TEKOAH - Director of Armistice Affairs of the Foreign Office, who drew a distinction between hostile action on the frontiers by Regular forces & infiltrators but said that it was difficult to differentiate in the case of incidents such as has just occurred at ZAKARIA. He deplored them, saying that they created excitement, tension & resentment. These constant raids are having an adverse effect upon ISRAELI economy in that they frighten away foreign investors who might otherwise bring foreign capital into the country.
            He thinks it should be possible to move forward gradually to a calm atmosphere in which negotiations for a settlement could be started. A solution to the JORDAN Valley scheme would be a step forward. The Arab States much however refrain from violence & a deliberate policy of hostility e.g. the passage of the Suez Canal. ISRAEL is prepared to make certain minor rectifications of the frontiers to iron out anomalies - but she will make no major concessions. On the question of compensation of the refugees, he told me that “we are working on different ideas as to how compensation could be affected.” I asked him if it had ever been worked out what the value of the Arab property is. He said that he thought it had been put at £100 million but that ISRAEL would accept a U.N.O. figure as a basis for negotiations.
            He made a strong plea for an Anglo-Israel Pact or Treaty to counterbalance the TURKO-IRAQ Pact & said that such a Treaty would not only not hamper our own & American efforts to persuade the Arab States to join in a Middle East Defense Organization - but would probably induce them to join the West as soon as possible. [My own view is that this is sheer wishful thinking. It is not a question of logic or reason or strategical considerations, it is purely a question of emotion.]
            Leaving Mr TEKOAH I was the taken by ARNON, who insisted on accompanying me, to MOSHE SHARETT’s office & after waiting for a few minutes he came out, shook hands with me & I went in.
            I asked him if he thought it sound policy for me to say that the refugees will never see their homes again & he replied that he did & added “Some operations are painful but they are often the only way of saving the patient’s life. The sooner these people’s thoughts are directed to opportunities for settlement which are or may become available in surrounding countries[,] the more tangible the hope of their renewing their lives upon solid foundations with with good prospects for the future. It may take time, it may take a long time but the starting point must be the acceptance by the Arab States of ISRAEL as she is today. ISRAEL claims no territory from neighbouring countries & they should claim none from her. To reintroduce hundred of thousands of refugees would be to create an internal security problem in the acutest form imaginable & would saddle the Govt of ISRAEL with an insoluble economic problem. From a purely theoretical standpoint it means pressing people into an area where the density of the population & cost of resettlement are the highest when compared with neighbouring territories. To revert to the Partition Plan [of 1947] is outside the realm of practical politics. No ISRAELI representative would ever look at such a proposal and as for trying to force ISRAEL - this will mean war. Short of war the present frontiers of ISRAEL are unalterable - though this does no rule out minor & mutual rectification of frontiers.”
            On the question of the TURKO-IRAQ Pact and the CAIRO-RIAD Axis, SHARETT said that the Pact had “tilted the scales against us. It has greatly strengthened the position, within the Middle East, of a State which is professing violent hostility to ISRAEL - witness FADHLI [sic] JAMALI’s speech at BANDOENG yesterday.” The impact of the TURKO-IRAQ Pact upon ISRAEL is that (1) if the present situation continues for a long time & (2) if the Arab States get stronger & stronger & (3) if ISRAEL does not grow stronger in proportion - then the time may come when the Arabs may decide to take a chance & attack ISRAEL. All these trends are present in the Pact. Iraq is hostile to ISRAEL but this has not disqualified her from becoming an important ally of the Western world. Moreover[,] rather than Turkey influencing Iraq to become more moderate[,] Iraq has managed to get Turkey’s support for Arab intransigeance. The Pact has set back the clock of peace. It opens the way to rearm Iraq.
            Israel wants a Treaty with us which would put her in a corresponding relationship as that now enjoyed by Iraq as a result of the TURKO-IRAQ Pact.

Types of settlements - KIBBUTZ - communal
                                    - MOSHAV - non communal & these outnumber the kibbutzim by about 3/1.

SOURCE: Slade-Baker Diary, vol.5, pp. 807-09, Private Papers Collection, Middle East Centre, St Antony’s College. Capitalizations as original in this handwritten diary.