Israel’s Move in Sinai Watched in World’s Capitals with Amazement
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Israel’s Move in Sinai Watched in World’s Capitals with Amazement

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The Israel Army’s advance into the Sinai Peninsula yesterday took the world completely by surprise. Some developments had been anticipated ever since Premier Ben Gurion ordered large scale Israel mobilization Sunday but it had been expected that any ensuing action would be directed against Jordan territory.

The reaction in most circles was one of bewilderment and amazement. Fears were expressed that the incursion would lead to a general Middle East war. Exchanges in New York and elsewhere reacted quickly to the news. On the New York Stock Exchange, the threat of war wiped out early advances, with international oils most seriously affected.

In every capital there was concern as to how far the Israelis intended to go and the possible effect of their action on the peace of the world. First Jerusalem announcements indicated that the action was a reprisal raid aimed at cleaning out the fedayeen (commando) nests in the Sinai Peninsula, but the depth of the Israel penetration into Egyptian territory indicated a much wider action. There was a general impression that the Israel objective was seizure of the Suez Canal itself and fears were widely held that this could precipitate war beyond the borders of the Middle East.

In the United States, there was general agreement that the Israeli move would have repercussions on the Presidential elections but no one could foretell what nature these repercussions would have. President Eisenhower, it was expected would have to cancel a number of scheduled campaign appearances to remain in Washington to deal with the developing situation. Republican officials weighed the effect on Jewish voters of stern measures the United States might take against Israel.

Adlai E. Stevenson, the Democratic candidate, referred to the new developments in a speech last night in which he denounced the failure of American policy in the Middle East and accused the Eisenhower Administration of telling the people “tragically less than the truth” about the international situation.


The paramount need to restore order in the Middle East and to prevent the Israel attack on Egypt from becoming an all-out war was stressed today in editorials in the American press. Most newspaper comments expressed understanding of Israel’s plight and recognized the provocation, but insisted that all measures must be taken to end the present threat to the peace.

The New York Times, while conceding that preventive war “is not the purpose of the present action,” warned however, that “it could jeopardize the armistice system that ended the war in 1948.”

The New York Herald Tribune declared that the Israel action “goes beyond the grim sequence of raids and reprisals” and “might be described as an act of war.” It noted that the Israeli Government “cites no special, urgent provocation for its action” and warned Israel that it runs “the risk of alienating world sympathy, of invoking international sanctions and in sum, precipitating all the dangers which Israel has seen on its horizon for many months past.”

The New York Post editorially declared that “we cannot condone the course Israel’s government has chosen in seeking to end the dangerous stalemate and force world opinion to face the cruel facts of Middle Eastern life.” It described the action as “the desperate move of a besieged, lonely republic which had decided that it must strike now or risk extinction…” The paper declared that “the free nations share moral responsibility for the events that preceded the crisis.”

The New York World-Telegram and Sun declared editorially that “Israel’s invasion of Egypt seems to be a clear-cut case of aggression.” It added that “Israel has violated the Egyptian frontier. It is now up to the three great Western powers to induce the Israelis to get back behind their own borders.”

The Washington Post and Times Herald said today that it could be argued that the current Middle East crisis might have been prevented by a more affirmative American policy and if the United States had given “stronger reassurances to Israel at the proper time.” The editorial called American policy in the Middle East since 1950 “a succession of poultice treatments” but, it said “no amount of provocation can justify Israel aggression against Egypt.” It warned Israel that the action might lose it “the sympathy of the free world.” If Israel does not withdraw, the editorial declared, “there will be no honorable alternative but for the President to summon Congress and request authority to act. This is a matter beyond the concern of partisan politics. Aggression is an offense against society, wherever it originates.”

The Baltimore Sun, after analyzing the factors preceding the Israel action, condemned it editorially as “rash and irresponsible in the extreme, dangerous not only to the peace of the Middle East but to the peace of the world.”

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