UK feared Israel would use nukes, archives reveal

Cable from 1980 shows British officials’ concern over ‘Israel’s dangerous mood of isolation and defiance;’ Thatcher exasperated by Begin.

December 31, 2010 04:52
1 minute read.
Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

British officials were concerned Israel would use its nuclear weapons in a potential war against its Arab adversaries, secret documents from 1980 released from the British National Archives revealed, AFP reported on Wednesday.

A diplomatic cable from the UK Embassy in Tel Aviv, dated May 4, 1980, warned “the situation in the region is deteriorating and with it Israel’s dangerous mood of isolation and defiance will grow. If they are to be destroyed they will go down fighting this time.

They will be ready to use their atomic weapon.

Because they cannot sustain a long war, they would have to use it early.”

Documents released from the British National Archives also show then prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s frustration with her Israeli counterpart at the time, Menachem Begin.

Thatcher said of Begin that she “had never had a more difficult man to deal with.”

When she told Begin that his West Bank settlement building policy was “unrealistic” and “absurd,” his reply was “Judea and Samaria had been Jewish in biblical times and that they should therefore be so today.”

Thatcher relayed the conversation with Begin to then-French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

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