Israel Requests U.N. Security Council to Act on Egyptian Blockade of Suez Canal

Israel today formally requested the Security Council to convene on its complaint against the Egyptian blockade of Israel ground goods at the Suez Canal. The request was made in a letter addressed to the current President of the Security Council, Sir Gladwyn Jebb of Britain, by Abba Eban, Israel’s permanent delegate to the United Nations. Mr. Eban asked that the item, Restrictions Imposed By Egypt on the Passage of Ships Through the Suez Canal,” be placed on the Council’s agenda “for urgent discussion.”

Egyptian blockade, Mr. Eban said, was in contravention of international law, of the Suez Canal Convention of 1888 and of the Egyptian-Israel General Armistice Agreement. He said the boycott had been carried out for over two years in defiance of specific appeals and requests of U.N. representatives and alluded to statements by Dr. Ralph Bunche in 1949, a Security Council warning in 1950, and to a declaration by General William E. Riley of last June, all establishing the fact that the Egyptian action was in violation of the armistice agreements.

“Accordingly,” Mr. Eban asserted in his letter to Jebb, ”the Government of Israel now brings the question before the Security Council as a matter jeopardizing the armistice agreement and endangering the peace and security of the Middle East.” He emphasized that ”if the Security Council were not to act, injury would be done to the strength and equity of the armistice system.” He also pointed out that action by the Security Council is necessary ”in order to make clear that the United Nations does not acquiesce in this flagrant violation of international law.” He also asked that Israel be permitted to participate without vote in the Council debate.

At a press conference, in which Mr. Eban disclosed dispatch of the letter, the Israel delegate noted that the most serious consequence of the Egyptian blockade was the halting of tanker traffic bringing crude oil to the Haifa refinery. He said he understood that the Egyptians had blacklisted 52 tankers and also had a list of contraband articles. He called this a piratical act, and revealed that ten maritime nations had made individual protests to Egypt: Australia, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and South Africa.

Before making his request to the Council, Mr. Eban said, the Israel delegation had consulted all members of the Security Council and other interested delegations. A meeting of the Security Council on the Suez issue will probably take place next week.

NEXT STORY