WASHINGTON (Sep. 4)
Israel’s one interest in the Suez Canal situation is to see international law reestablished, guaranteeing freedom of passage for the ships of all nations, including Israel, Ambassador Abba S. Eban told a national audience last night.
Replying to a barrage of questions on the CBS “Capital Cloakroom” program, the Israel envoy repeatedly stressed this position and declared that the maritime powers must get it into their heads that no nation has any more right than Israel to free navigation. He said there must be “no distinction between the rights of Israel and ships of any other country.” He emphasized that so long as the maritime powers permit Egypt to continue to violate international law by denying Israel freedom of navigation, they could have no guarantee of free passage. Egypt, he warned, does not recognize the absolute and unchallenged right to free passage provided by the Constantinople Convention and international law.
Pressed whether Israel would not take advantage of Egypt’s difficulties, Mr. Eban affirmed that Israel hopes for a solution of the Suez and all other Middle East problems in accordance with international law. He said that Israel saw nothing in Egypt’s present situation which permitted any relaxation of vigilance.
He refused to speculate on Israel’s course in the event of a breakdown of the Cairo talks on Suez.
The Israel Ambassador said Israel needed more arms to offset Egypt’s “massive rearmament” and to secure these defensive weapons, he said, Israel has “assailed the world’s conscience.” He stressed that there was no substitute for defensive strength and said Israel’s primary and paramount interest was to restore the balance of power upset by the “lack of equilibrium” in the policy of many nations and the massive shipments from Russia to Egypt.
He said Israel has “not completely solved” the arms problem “nor have we failed in all our substantive efforts.”