Dulles, Eban Condemn Suez Blockade As Security Council Adjourns
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Dulles, Eban Condemn Suez Blockade As Security Council Adjourns

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Israel’s stake in freedom of passage through the Suez Canal remained more sharply than ever in focus here today as the Security Council stood for the time being adjourned but still formally “seized” of the crisis arising from Egypt’s expropriation of the international waterway.

On the record before the Council, as it ended its extraordinary session at midnight, were two important documents emphasizing Israel’s grievance against Egypt’s Suez blockade. These were:

1. A formal statement by United States Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who officially voiced the Council’s concern over Egypt’s continuance of the blockade;

2. A long memorandum from Israel’s delegation chairman, Abba S. Eban, who spelled out Israel’s legal case against the Egyptian blockade, pointing up the fact that this blockade affects all the maritime nations in the world. “It is surely,” Mr. Eban reminded the maritime powers, “their legal and moral duty” to exercise their rights of freedom of passage through the Canal “and to lay upon Egypt the responsibility for any consequences which would arise.”

Mr. Dulles’ mention of the Israel case against Egypt was part of his introduction of a proposal that Mr. Eban be permitted to introduce into the formal record a written statement of Israel’s case. Earlier, Israel had requested to be heard on the issue. Seven Arab states–in addition to Egypt, which had already been given a voice in the Council deliberations–also asked to be heard. Mr. Dulles proposed that the Council receive written statements from the Arab representatives as well as from Israel’s and this proposal was adopted unanimously.


Legally, Mr. Eban based Israel’s grievance on the Constantinople Convention of 1888, which guarantees freedom of the Suez Canal passage for all ships “in peace as in war,” and on the council’s own resolution of 1951. That resolution ordered Egypt to keep the Canal open to all shipping “wherever bound, “after Israel had complained of the blockade instituted by the Cairo authorities in 1948.

After documenting Egypt’s violations by detailing many instances of the stoppage of Israel shipping, and the blacklisting of foreign shipping for having traded with Israel, Mr. Eban told the Council:

“As a result of these illicit enactments on the maritime powers, some 90 percent of the trade which would have normally flowed through the Canal to or from Israel in the past eight years has been effectively obstructed.”

Israel tied its claims against Egypt to the very set of six principles which the Council finally adopted, forming the basis for further Suez negotiations between the West and Egypt. Those principles, Mr. Eban pointed out, Included these provisions: “There shall be free and open transit through the Canal without discrimination overt or covert; the operation of the Canal shall be insulated from the politics of any country.

“These formulations,” the Israel memorandum stated, “cannot possibly be reconciled with the continuation, for a single day, of Egypt’s overt discrimination against Israel in pursuance of a purely national policy condemned by the international community.”

If the set of principles adopted by the Council “does not mean the immediate end of discrimination against israel in the Suez Canal.” Israel’s memorandum concluded, “it means nothing at all.”

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