WASHINGTON (Jan. 24)
Seventy Democratic Congressmen today expressed concern in a letter to Secretary of State Dulles that pressure is being brought on Israel to withdraw from the Straits of Tiran before a commitment is obtained from Egypt to desist from establishing a new blockade of the Gulf of Akaba.
The Democrats, all members of the House of Representatives, asked Mr. Dulles for “assurance that we are not returning to the conditions which obtained on October 29 and which precipitated the hostilities.” Secretary Dulles was told that many Congressmen “fear that Colonel Nasser of Egypt is dictating the terms and conditions of the implementation of the November 2 resolution and that the UN force is merely clearing the way for the return of Egyptian forces.”
The Congressmen took note of the Administration’s proposed Eisenhower Doctrine against Communism, but said: “It is a futile enterprise to erect defenses against external Soviet aggression if we ignore the danger that a Communist-armed or Communist-inspired power is in a position, at any time it wishes, to close this major waterway.” (Suez). Accordingly, the Congressmen stressed the importance of the Akaba-Mediterranean route across Israel as an alternate to the Suez Canal.
“We understand that Israel has no desire to this area or to remain there permanently, but that it wants guarantees that if it does withdraw, the Egyptians will not be permitted to return to the area and reestablish their blockade,” they said. “We can understand the reasons for the concern of the Israel Government in view of the fact that the United Nations failed to carry out the September 1, 1951, resolution ordering Egypt to desist from its blockades of Suez and Akaba,” said the Congressmen.
They suggested that the United States “insist on guarantees for free passage for all shipping at Akaba before the area is prematurely abandoned by the Israel forces.” It was also suggested that Col. Nasser be asked for a commitment to keep the Suez Canal open to ships of all nations without discrimination.