WASHINGTON (Aug. 2)
The impending solution of the Anglo-Egyptian conflict over the Suez Canal affords Britain and the United States an unprecedented opportunity to lay the foundations for peace between the Arab states and Israel, officials of the Israel Embassy here declared today.
“Egypt’s greatly enchanced prestige and strength now enable her to become a powerful force in the Middle East,” the officials said. “Whether this potentiality will be used for stability and peace, or for hostility and destruction, depends to a large extent on the immediate policies of the major Western powers.”
In the meantime, the Israeli officials emphasized, the preliminary Anglo-Egyptian agreement on the withdrawal of the British troops from the Suez Canal zone “is creating a new situation is the Middle East which is of serious concern to Israel.” They pointed out that Israel’s national interests require primarily security from outside attack and protection from unlawful interference with Israel’s legitimate economic and commercial activities. “Both objectives are now being threatened by the increased military and political power of an Egyptian government which still claims to be at war with Israel,” they said.
OUTLINE HOW ANGLO-EGYPTIAN PACT AFFECTS ISRAEL
Analyzing how the new situation, precipitated by the Anglo-Egyptian pact, is affecting Israel and jeopardizing regional security in the Middle East, the Israeli officials stressed the following facts:
1. British evacuation of Sues will leave Egypt in the possession of one of the great military bases is the world. Once in Egyptian hands, the stores, equipment and vast military installations of the base will bring Egypt’s powerfully increased military strength right up to Israel’s southern borders. This fact alone seriously jeopardizes the already shaky security situation in the Middle East.
2. If, as reported by American and Egyptian spokesmen, Egypt will now also receive free grants of arms from the United States, the delicate balance in the area is likely to be further disturbed.
3. Israel’s apprehensions with regard to Egypt’s war-like designs were confirmed, practically on the eve of the preliminary Anglo-Egyptian agreement, when the Egyptian Minister of National Guidance, Salah Salem, and Premier Gamal-Abdel Nasser publicly renewed their threats against Israel. Such menacing statements, coupled with the advantages which Egypt will derive from the impending agreement, give Israel every reason for anxiety.
4. A paper repetition of the 1950 Tri-Power Declaration affirming the status quo in the area cannot reassure Israel as to its security in face of the greatly strengthened power of the Arab states. This feeling has been strengthened by the fact that the existing Declaration lost much of its validity when the United States decided to grant arms to Iraq without equally strengthening Israel.
5. The stability of the area requires, therefore, that Israel’s defensive power be strengthened proportionately to that of the Arab countries. Anything less would inevitably be interpreted by Egypt and her Arab partners as an open invitation to renew their full-scale armed aggression against Israel.
ISRAEL READY TO HELP IN THE DEFENSE OF THE MIDDLE EAST
The Israeli officials emphasized that Israel has repeatedly expressed its readiness to help in the defense of the Middle East as a whole. At the same time they drew attention to the fact that despite the resolution of the United Nations Security Council, of September 1,1951, condemning Egypt’s blockade of Israel-bound shipping, Egypt has continued this practice in recent months.
The blockade” the Israelis stated is a severe burden on Israel’s economy, forcing her to import oil, for “example, at great cost from Venezuela, though the natural source of supply is much nearer. As a result Israel must expend considerable sums of foreign currency or: unnecessary transport charges instead of using them productively for economic development.”
The embassy officials pointed out that the text of the preliminary Anglo-Egyptian agreement includes a pledge “to uphold the 1888 Convention guaranteeing the freedom of navigation of the canal,” Egypt claims that its blockade is not inconsistent with the 1888 Convention. Its pledge, therefore, in no way assures Israel that Egyptian authorities will now cease their illegal blockade practices.
“Any final agreement between Britain and Egypt must include an unequivocal guarantee of the right of all nations–including Israel–to use the Suez Canal for legitimate maritime traffic, including the shipment of oil and oil products,” the Israelis suggested.