Israel Uneasy over Talks on Fate of Suez Canal

Israel asked the British Government to obtain guarantees that Israel shipping would not be locked out of the Suez Canal and to dismantic and remove the weapons and other equipment at 17 airfields and ten military camps in the Suez area before Britain makes a final agreement with Egypt on the fate of the Suez Canal area, the newspaper Maariv reported last night. A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Jerusalem refused today to comment on the report.

The newspaper said that Israel approached the British Government as early as April of this year asking that it be consulted on the Suez situation, especially on matters affecting Israel’s security. The Jewish State also approached the other Western Powers and asked for backing of its demands on Britain.

The British Government refused, nevertheless, to consult Israel. A spokesman for the British Foreign Office and Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared publicly and privately that the British were keeping Israel’s interests in mind. Israel remained uneasy and the dissatisfaction deepened when it was learned that no clause guaranteeing freedom of shipping was included in the projected pact and that Britain was planning to turn the bases over to Egypt intact, Maariv reported.

Israel pointed out emphatically to the British Government that the installations being left in Egyptian hands could detect planes as far away as Tulkarm and Nathanya, hampering Israel’s defense plans. It was also pointed out that the Suez area, once granted to Egypt, would connect Egypt with the Gaza strip, now separated, in one continuous land mass, adding considerably to its military value and to Israel’s danger, Maariv said.

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