Thursday, August 4, 2016

95 - FM Sharett to PM Ben-Gurion, February 20, 1956

                                                                        Jerusalem, 20 February 1956
To the Prime Minister
From the Foreign Minister                                 

            In my report to the Cabinet FADC yesterday I mentioned that in addition to the Americans, the British too asked us for permission to host one of their warships in our ports. After the meeting I saw the letter we had received regarding this matter and I attach its copy. You will certainly note the term “operational,” but I assume that we would be able to agree with the British to a “courtesy visit” the same as we agreed with the Americans.
            At the same time, questions arise:         
            A) Is it not advisable to ask the British to postpone their ship's visit for some time in order to prevent the impression of a united demonstration of the United States and Britain's forces in Israeli ports? It seems to me that this is desirable vis-à-vis both the Soviet Union and France.
            B) Is it not desirable to ask for a possibility of a reciprocal visit of our Marine corps' ships in British ports? Such a visit would put off the impression in the Arab countries that the visits in our ports are aimed at threatening Israel. It would also be valuable for England's Jews just as it was regarding our warships' visit to the United States and South Africa. The question is, of course, whether we have the necessary resources at our disposal.
            I think that a negative reply is impossible, first of all in view of the special sensitivity in England to any disrespect towards its navy, which would be shared by our friends there as well.
            I would like to have your opinion in all urgency, if possible today or tomorrow morning, for the British Ambassador is going to visit me tomorrow afternoon.

                                                            Moshe Sharett