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Thursday, 11 April 1957


Mr CLAREY (Bendigo; [9.6].) (I confess that the remarks made by the honorable member for GwydirMr. Ian Allan) greatly disappointed me. I would point out to him that the question of raising living standards is referred to not only in the preamble to the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, but also in the preamble to the United Nations Charter, in which it is a vital principle. I think it is very clear that the danger from communism is least in those countries in which the people enjoy the highest standard of living, and that in countries such as those to which the honorable member referred, where the standard of living is low, the danger is greatest. May I remind Government supporters, as they have so often reminded the Opposition, that living standards can be improved only by increasing production. It is only by improving the productive capacity of the nations of Asia and the Pacific area that we have any chance of increasing food supplies and raising living standards as we desire. Dams are necessary to make arid lands productive; agricultural machinery of all kinds is necessary to enable the land to be properly cultivated; and railway rollingstock is needed for the improvement of transport services. All those things are essential if living standards are to be improved.

However, Mr. Speaker, I desire to direct my remarks this evening more to world affairs generally. The present world situation is both grim and frightening. There is tension between India and Pakistan, between Indonesia and the Netherlands, between the Arabs and the Israelis, between Hungary and Soviet Russia, and between mainland China and Formosa China, and there are internal troubles in Algeria, Cyprus, and Indonesia, to say nothing of the dispute over the Suez Canal. All of this makes a picture that is far from pretty. I suggest that of all these troubled areas the Middle East presents by far the most explosive situation. Indeed, the position there has been made much more explosive recently as a consequence of statements made by President Eisenhower and Marshal

Bulganin, the Soviet Premier. On the one land, President Eisenhower has stated that, t any of the Arab States is attacked by a Communist country, the United States will go to its aid. On the other hand, Russia has advised the Arab States that, if they are attacked by a country other than an Arab nation, Russia will go to their aid. I think the first question we must ask ourselves is: Why has such attention been shown by the two big nations of the world, Russia and the United States of America, to the Middle East? My leader, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), in addressing the House on this question, indicated that in his opinion the whole trouble was associated with the oil reserves of the area. I hope in the few minutes at my disposal to be able to show that the causes of the difficulties and tensions in the Middle East are much deeper than has been stated in the House or realized by honorable members as a whole.

Of course, we are used to trouble between the Arabs and the Israelis because there has been tension between Israel and the neighbouring Arab states for a period of some seven or eight years. The tendency has been to look upon the whole trouble as being racial, as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) put it, on the part of the Arabs on the one hand and Israel on the other, but there are some facts in connexion with the position in the Middle East which, I think, should be studied. When Israel was established by the United Nations in 1947 the vote in that body was almost unanimous. However, the Arab nations opposed it and indicated that they intended to resist the creation of Israel by force, but the Soviet at that time was friendly towards Israel and voted for the establishment of Israel. It is the remarkable change of attitude in that respect on the part of the Soviet in recent years, and the reasons why that change has taken place, that I particularly desire to stress here (his evening.

Tension between Israel and the Arab States has continued since the war of liberation ended. Since then, the Western nations have been supplying arms to the Arab States and Israel, and in the supplying of those arms the attitude taken by France. Great Britain and the United States has been that the distribution of arms in the

Middle East should be on a basis that did not give the Arab States greater military strength than Israel but would maintain a balance in the armed strength of the striving nations in that area. However, some four or five years ago the previous friendliness of the Soviet towards Israel suddenly disappeared and we found, in the first place, that the Soviet refused to grant visas to the trickle of Jewish people who desired to leave Russia and journey to Palestine. That was followed by a successful attempt to break up Jewish communities in the Soviet itself. Following that, the satellite countries also declined to permit Jewish people to leave particular areas in order to journey to Israel.

In the meantime, the tension between the Arabs and the Israelis was growing. Russia then commenced to move into the Middle East. The first thing it did was to make an agreement with Syria and Egypt for the supply of arms, with the result that the Arab States very soon had a superiority of armament over Israel. As we know from documents which were captured during the expedition on the part of Israel into the Sinai Desert, preparations had been made for an early invasion of Israel this year. In addition to the supply of arms, technicians, military experts and political advisers were also sent to both Egypt and Syria.

Only one thing unites the Arab nation - and that is their general hatred of Israel In respect of all other questions the Arab nations will be found to be divided, even in the councils of the United Nations; but on the question of the destruction of Israel the Arab States are united. Because the Soviet had provided them with additional arms, Russia came to be regarded as the great friend of the Arab nations, and 1 have no doubt that in the course of the troubles that have taken place in the Middle East during the last twelve months the Arab States have been very closely guided, counselled and advised by representatives of the Soviet, which had a particular axe of its own to grind. This is the point I want to make clear. Why should the Soviet be so anxious to secure the friendship and goodwill of the Arab States? The answer is clear. In the Arab States is to be found the greatest proportion of the oil reserves of the world. Over 50 per cent, of the world's oil reserve supplies come from the

Middle East and, as one of my colleagues pointed out to-night, the oil which is being produced there to-day is owned by the United States of America, France and Great Britain.

The reason why the Soviet has become so friendly with the Arab nations is because the oil resources in Russia itself are dwindling. Its supplies came mainly from Roumania and the southern portion of Russia and it is essential that the Russian people should have access to outside sources, and, if possible, secure control of those sources. For that reason, the Soviet has been exercising considerable influence in the Middle East. It has deliberately pursued the cold war in that area and has done its level best to drive a wedge between the Western nations and the Arab nations in the hope that the turn of events will enable it eventually to have access to these fields and, I believe, in the end to control them. In saying these things, Mr. Speaker, I do not desire it to be thought for one moment that I acknowledge that the action of France and Great Britain in sending armed forces into the Suez Canal zone was right. I believe that action was wrong; it was against the principles of the United Nations, and both those countries, as founders and supporters of the United Nations, should not have taken such a step.

I do not deny the right of Egypt to nationalize the Suez Canal. The canal goes through its territory, and it had a perfect right to nationalize it if it so desired. What I wish to point out, however, is that, difficult indeed as was the position of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France in respect of their oil supplies, the action taken by Great Britain and France has made their position infinitely worse because, to-day, both Great Britain and France are regarded as the arch enemies of the peoples of the Middle East with the exception of Israel. The United States is almost in the same position; but Soviet Russia is regarded as the real friend of the Arab peoples. The action that was taken, instead of being able, as it were, to counteract the growing influence of the Soviet Government, has enhanced its reputation and made the position, from the Western countries' point of view, still more difficult. I. have no doubt that when the canal eventually comes under the control of Egypt it will be used in the same political way, and that Egypt will prevent Israeli ships from going through it. From time to time, when Egypt has a dispute with some other power, it will use the Suez Canal to further its own interests. That was a position that the Western nations had to face in any event because by the terms of the Treaty of Constantinople the canal would have become the possession of the Government of Egypt in 1968. Egypt would no doubt have done then what it is doing now. 1 stress that there is no possibility of getting reasonably peaceful conditions in the Middle East unless the United Nations exerts upon the Arab States, now and in the future, the pressure which it has exerted upon Israel, Great Britain and France in the last few months. A policy that is good for some nations must be good for all nations. The United Nations must ensure that the 1951 resolution calling upon Egypt to give Israel the right to use the canal for its ships is put into operation. That resolution was re-affirmed in 1954, and again in 1956. The United Nations must exert pressure to ensure that once the people's international forum has spoken its decision will be obeyed, whether the country concerned is a member of the United Nations or not. That is the only way in which we will ever get peace in the Middle East, but if the United Nations cannot, by exerting pressure, persuade Egypt to adopt a reasonable approach in the control of this great international waterway an alternative method must be found. What I shall suggest is not new. It was suggested by Lord Hore-Belisha some twenty years ago, and it is the only way in which to break a monopoly power that is being exercised in a tyrannous manner. If Egypt is not prepared to guarantee that the Suez Canal will be open to the ships of all nations, the United Nations should, in conjunction with other nations, see that a new canal is constructed from the Gulf of Aqaba across Israel to Haifa, thus making two international waterways available to the shipping of the world. Once Egypt's monopoly is broken there will be a chance of obtaining peace in the Middle East and probably for the first time some of the Arab nations will be prepared to listen to reason.

Mankind desires peace. The creation of the League of Nations after World War I. was the first international effort towards the attainment of peace. Before the end of World War II., the nations associated with the democratic cause created the United Nations organization. Its object is to mobilize world opinion against armed conflict, and provide machinery to enable international disputes to be settled by negotiation. It may be that the United Nations is not perfect. It may be that it has made mistakes. It does, however, represent an earnest effort by the nations of the world to promote peace and prevent war. It endeavours to see that international disputes are settled on the basis of justice and reason, rather than on the basis that might is right. To succeed, the United Nations must have the whole-hearted and determined support of member nations. It must, through unanimous and unqualified loyalty, exert such pressure that its decisions are obeyed. Any weakening of this attitude must end in disaster to the human race. In this atomic age the world has but two alternatives. The first is the application of the law of reason and the settlement of international disputes through the United Nations. The second is to resort to force, the consequences of which might well be the annihilation of the human race.







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