When I saw Mr Sharett this morning I said I was distressed to find that so many people (including, according to some reports, the Prime Minister), appeared to believe that our real motive in urging Israel to make territorial concessions was to obtain a corridor across the Negev, or a large expanse of territory in the Negev, for our own strategic purposes.
2. Mr Sharett replied that it was an exaggeration to say that the people seriously believed this though it was undoubtedly true that many of them suspected it. The suspicion was one of the reasons, though not by any means the chief one, why the Israeli Government felt that Her Majesty’s Government were not qualified to act as mediator.
3. I said that suspicion seemed to me singularly ill founded. If we ever wished to move troops across the Negev it could only be
(a) in circumstances where we and Israel were equally threatened by a Russian attack, in which case we should not need a corridor under our own control or
(b) if we were at war with Israel, in which case the possibility of transit would depend upon our relative strength and not on anyone’s title to a corridor.
4. As regards bases, I said that to the best of my knowledge, the question had never been considered.
5. Mr Sharett seemed a good deal relieved by these explanations, and I do not think any further action is called for.
SOURCE: Nicholls to FO, December 30, 1955, tgm.557, TNA FO371/115887 VR1076/531G.