TEL AVIV (Feb. 24)
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok greeted the signature of the Israeli-Egyptian armistice today as a momentous event in the Middle East and the first fruit of Jewish statehood.
The Foreign Minister recalled that the agreement was the first Arab-Jewish ac-cord signed since that reached by Dr. Chaim Weizmann and the Emir Feisal more than two decades ago for the implementation of the Balfour Declaration. He paid tribute to the “realism of the Egyptian Government” which made the agreement signed on Rhodes today possible, and said Israel was confident Egypt would not have cause to regret her initiative in ending hostilities. The entire Middle East, he added, would soon become aware of its indebtedness to Egypt for taking a new course.
The efforts of the Israeli delegation at Rhodes, Shertok said, had been aimed |at upholding and safeguarding Israel’s national security end territorial integrity and to explore every possibility of a compromise that would achieve an effective armistice as a prelude to permanent peace.
He pointed out that Israel, under the armistice, has “unimpaired control of the entire territory of the Negev” with particular freedom of action in the Eastern part. Israel, however, made the sacrifice of agreeing that the invading forces temporarily occupy an important strip of Palestine territory and that the Israeli forces evacuate some of the areas occupied by them during the war.
“The wisdom of these concessions, which will arouse criticism, will be vindicated if the armistice leads to a lasting peace,” the Foreign Minister commented. “They do not constitute a commitment regarding the eventual peace settlement.” He warmly praised Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, U.N. acting mediator, and Brig. Gen. William Riley, his chief of staff, and said their contribution to the cause of peace was now “concrete and decisive.”
Replying to correspondents’ questions, Shertok said he understood that in the future Egypt will not interfere with Israel-bound traffic going through the Suez Canal or Israel-bound ships making calls at Egyptian ports.
The Israeli delegation to the forthcoming Transjordan-Israeli armistice negotiations has not yet been named, Shertok said, adding that the Trans Jordanians would have to provide credentials to prove they also represent Iraq.