UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Dec. 6)
Egypt announced today in a letter to the Security Council that it is ready to release the crew of the Israel freighter Bat Galim “as soon as the necessary formalities have been concluded.”
From the contents of the letter, addressed to Dr. Charles Malik of Lebanon, president of the Security Council this month, by Omar Loutfy, acting chairman of the Egyptian delegation here, it was evident that the Egyptians intend for the time being to detain the ship itself. At the same time, the letter was an obvious effort to influence the Security Council, which meets tomorrow at Israel’s request to consider the Jewish State’s long-standing grievance against Egypt for blockading the Suez Canal.
Unofficial comment here from Israel sources indicated that no change in Israel’s stand before the Council has been necessitated by the letter. It was pointed out that Israel had mentioned the Bat Galim incident only as the most recent illustration of its Suez complaint against Egypt, Israel’s grievance as it stands on the Security Council agenda at the moment concerns freedom of shipping through the Suez Canal regardless of the fate of the Bat Galim.
Israel will insist firmly before tomorrow’s Council session upon the immediate release of the Bat Galim so that it might proceed through the Suez Canal to Haifa, its original port of destination.
The Egyptian letter today declares: “The Egyptian judicial authorities have set aside, owing to insufficient evidence, the charges of murder, attempted murder and unlawful carrying of weapons, brought against the members of the crew of the Bat Galim. The seamen will be released as soon as the necessary formalities have been completed. The Egyptian Government is prepared to release the seized cargo immediately.”