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British Cabinet Express Concerns Over Mideast Arms

(November 24, 1954; March 7 & 15, 1955)

Excerpts from a British cabinet meeting during which concern was expressed about the likely sale of French Mystere aircraft to Israel. British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden feared this would give Israel air superiority and would force the U.S. to sell Sabres to the Arabs and the British to honor an Egyptian request for Vampire aircraft they had previously ordered.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill briefly commented that he had no objection to Israel buying warships because it would not affect Britain's naval strength in the Mediterranean. The excerpts also show some speculation that Israel might have been interested in giving up independence to become part of the British Commonwealth.

The cabinet also discusses an Israeli operation in Gaza and concern about a possible return to power of Ben-Gurion, who would be “bellicose.”

Click HERE to read the documents.


Sources: British National Archives