Egyptian’s Collapse Halts Security Council Debate on Suez

Security Council consideration of Israel’s complaint against Egypt in the Bat Galim case was ended abruptly tonight when the Egyptian spokesman, Dr. Mahmoud Azmi, collapsed while in the midst of a speech and was carried out of the Council chamber in a coma.

Council President Henri Hoppenot had specified that today’s discussion was to be confined to procedural matters only. Before the Council was a report from Maj. Gen. E.L.M. Burns, head of the U.N. truce supervision organization in Palestine, stating that the Israel-Egypt Mixed Armistice Commission was snarled in its effort to investigate the Bat Galim case.

The Colombian delegate demanded that the Security Council go into the Arab-Israel conflict as a whole and warned that Colombia, with the backing of other Latin American states, may bring before the Council the question of Israel’s use of Jerusalem as its capital.

Abba S. Eban, the Israel representative, addressing the Council at its morning session, cited the MAC report as substantiation of Israel’s denial of Egyptian charges that the Bat Galim, a 500-ton freighter, was armed and had fired on Egyptians at the entrance to the Suez Canal. He described Egyptian maneuvers in the armistice commission as a filibuster aimed at preventing investigation of the Bat Galim case and action on Israel’s complaint. He called for Council action to secure immediate release of the Bat Galim and its crew.

Dr. Azmi charged that the attempt to send the Bat Galim through the Suez Canal was a “provocation” by Israel, and accused Israel of making a “theatrical” matter out of the Bat Galim issue. The Egyptian asserted that Israel seemed to be working under the shadow of an unjustified fear. “We have no aggressive intent” against Israel, he said, adding, “we will not make war on you. But we are not discussing peace.”

A proposal that the armistice commission be given until the end of the month to report on the incident to the Council was advanced by Leslie Knox Munro of New Zealand and supported by Britain, the United States, Colombia and Brazil.

But the session was interrupted suddenly and dramatically before it could take formal action on this proposal, when Dr. Azmi collapsed as he was preparing to answer French criticism.

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