Israeli Govt. Preparing to Operate Haifa Refineries; British Owners to Get Ultimatum

The Israel Government has prepared a plan to operate the British-owned refineries at Haifa, processing crude oil brought from non-Middle Eastern sources, it was learned here today. An ultimatum, reportedly with a three-month time limit, will be presented to the refineries’ owner, Consolidated Refineries Ltd., to get the plants into operation or the government will run them.

There is no intention of expropriating the plant, as the left-wing opposition has been demanding, or of rescinding the original concession granted the refinery owners by the British Mandatory Government. Israel Government plans call only for temporary operation, until such time as the owners are willing and able to resume normal functions themselves. The Government plan also includes consideration of some form of compensation to the owners for the period of state operation.

There has been much pressure on the Government in the past few months to put the refineries, one of Israel’s major economic assets, into operation regardless of the wishes of the owners. The apparent failure of the British to work out an agreement with Iraq to permit the flow of oil over the pipeline from the Kirkuk fields to Haifa is believed to have contributed to the government’s decision to take over and operate the plant.

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