Britain Weighs International Action on Suez Blockade

The British Government is considering what international action it should take in connection with extension by Egypt of its blockade restrictions on Israel-bound shipping passing through the Suez Canal, Selwyn Lloyd, Minister of State, announced in the House of Commons.

Mr. Lloyd, replying to questions, said that the Egyptians had renewed the blockade of ships of all nations passing through the canal with freight for Israel, and the ships were being delayed or turned back and their cargoes confiscated. As many as 40 British ships had been delayed or turned back by the Egyptians, he admitted.

(At Cairo yesterday, the Egyptian authorities announced drastic new measures to control shipping in the Gulf of Akaba in order to prevent ships proceeding to the Israeli port of Eilath.)

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During the past few weeks, Mr. Lloyd told the House, the Egyptians have shown their intention to extend the blockade which, he noted, “is getting far beyond chemicals or arms.” He rejected demands by former Secretary of War Emanuel Shinwell that Britain raise the issue in direct talks with Gen. Mohammed Naguib, Egyptian dictator, declaring that it was for all maritime powers to act in concert on this. He declared that the question of breach of the Security Council resolution on the Suez Canal blockade was not under consideration.

When Clement R. Attlee, Opposition leader, suggested recourse to the International Court, Mr. Lloyd replied that the government was presently considering what international action it should take.

The diplomatic correspondent of the Manchester Guardian reported today the British Government is “exploring different methods for promoting international action to counteract Egyptian interference with Suez Canal shipping.”

He commented that “the quickest method of pressing Egypt on this matter might be for the Israeli Government, if it were willing, to ask for prompt consideration of its case by the Security Council.”

An editorial in the newspaper today asked “would it be possible for Britain, even if all other difficulties in agreeing with Egypt were out of the way, to conclude a settlement about the (canal) zone until the blockade is lifted and the right of free passage through the canal recognized and guaranteed?”

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