Israel Concerned over Increase in Egypt’s Military Strength

The signing of the Anglo-Egyptian treaty for the British evacuation of the Suez Canal zone has created a situation which requires Israel to be watchful and prepared, an Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman declared last night just after the pact was signed in Cairo.

The spokesman stressed that Israel must maintain a “constant effort to consolidate her strength” in the face of this increase in the military strength of hostile Egypt. “It is difficult for Israel to join without reserve in the chorus of congratulations on the occasion of the signature of the Suez agreement,” he said. He noted that it was not the treaty itself, but the circumstances surrounding it which imposes the reservations.

“Israel,” he continued, “is far from begrudging Egypt the fulfilment of its national aspirations, achieved after a prolonged struggle. But in view of Egypt’s constant hostility toward Israel and Egypt’s claims that she is still at war with Israel, despite the armistice, Israel cannot help viewing with concern the important accretion of strength Egypt obtained overnight” when the Canal and its extensive military bases were handed over by Britain.”

This alters the military and strategic balance to Egypt’s advantage, without any demand on Egypt to modify its attitude toward Israel or make any “real attempt to allay Israel’s well-founded apprehensions,” the Israeli spokesman declared. He underlined that Egypt had once again expressed its “utter disregard for elementary international obligations” by the recent seizure of the Israeli merchant vessel Bat Galim in Suez waters and “inventing fantastic accusations against her crew.”

He also stressed that “at this turning point in Middle Eastern history it is more essential than ever that Egypt be urged to respect her international obligations and abjure her policy of hostility and violence toward Israel.” In conclusion, the spokesman asserted that the “quality” of the treaty signed yesterday would be judged by whether it has “any contribution to make to the welfare of the area or whether it opens the way to excesses which nobody in the world can possibly wish to see. “

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