CHAPTER XLV
THE HOARE-LAVAL PLAN

Before the new House of Commons began its discussions, Mrs. Anne O'Hare McCormick was in a position to cable from Rome to the New York Times (2.xii) that the French had suggested that all the southern Ethiopian territory below the eighth parallel be ceded to Italy. Augur followed suit from London (3.xii) with the announcement that Laval "had communicated to the Italian ambassador the principal points" of a settlement as a basis for immediate diplomatic negotiations.

" Italy would receive the strip of Tigré Province already conquered with the lowlands between a line running from Adigrat to Makallé and the present border of Eritrea. Ethiopia would obtain in exchange a belt of territory along the border of French Somaliland abutting the Eritrean port of Assab, thus giving direct and free access to the sea, with the right to construct either a railroad or motor road to Addis Ababa. In the south Italy would receive virtually the whole of Ogaden Province and a large chunk of Harar Province, but without an unbroken territorial link with Eritrea. Ethiopia thus would remain independent, but control and assistance by the League of Nations are proposed to introduce necessary reforms in administration."

Mussolini was asked to make his choice: either to negotiate or to submit to sanctions which might go even further than the embargo on oil. Augur suspected that trouble would come not from him but from Haile Selassie, who might take an independent line of action. In this case "diplomatic cynics" foresaw a day when "the Emperor, not Mussolini, would become Enemy No. 1 of international tranquillity".

In the House of Commons Attlee asked what the Government meant by the statement that the peace had to be acceptable to all three parties in the dispute, Italy, Ethiopia, and the League of Nations?

"Can we imagine a situation in which the Home Secretary would get up and would deplore an outbreak of housebreaking but say he hoped that he would shortly come to a settlement which would be equally agreeable to the housebreaker, the victim, and the Home Secretary?" (December 3).

Another Labour M.P., H. Dalton, raised the oil question. "Stop Mussolini's oil and you will stop Mussolini's war, and he knows it." What was the policy of the Government on this point? Was it true that Italian planes flying regularly between Italian Somaliland and

-385-

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