JERUSALEM (Feb. 17)
The Israel Cabinet discussed today the latest proposals made in Washington yesterday by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to Israel Ambassador Abba Eban in connection with the American offer to support Israel’s demand for free navigation through the Gulf of Akaba in return for Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza and Akaba areas.
An announcement made after the meeting said that the government will make a foreign policy statement in Parliament this week, (In Washington, Ambassador Eban conferred today again with Secretary Dulles at the latter’s residence. At the United Nations it was announced today that a meeting of the UN General Assembly on the Gaza-AF aba issue scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed till Tuesday).
Although no information on the nature of today’s Cabinet discussion was available here, Israeli officials intimated that no material change in Israel’s insistence on effective guarantees of freedom of navigation and Israeli civilian administration of the Gaza Strip before Israeli withdrawal, had come from the current exchanges between Secretary of State Dulles and Ambassador Abba Ebanin Washington.
The officials expressed “appreciation” of United States recognition of the Gulf of Akaba as an international waterway and claimed a “considerable proximity of views between Israel and the United States” on this subject. At the same time, they stated that of three solutions which Israel had termed acceptable “role had been offered by the United States approach. “
The three acceptable alternatives, the Israeli officials said, are: 1. A United Nations order stationing UN Emergency Force troops along the west coast of the Gulf of Akaba to prevent a blockade; 2. An agreement among Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel–all bordering on the Gulf–on non-interference with shipping into and through the Gulf, and 3. A declaration by the United States or other powers to the effect that they will not permit any interference with shipping in this international waterway.
ISRAEL WANTS U.S. TO GO “THE WHOLE WAY,” OFFICIALS DECLARE
“Israel is seeking clarification in Washington, ” the officials said, whether the United States is prepared to go the whole way by offering one of these free solutions to enable Israel to withdraw forces from the Gulf of Akaba.
“While fully appreciative of the spirit of the United States approach in trying to solve the problem on the basis of international law, Israel feels that in view of Egypt’s continued defiance of the Security Council, the United Nations Charter and its own undertakings both in Suez and in Iran, Israel’s withdrawal without guarantees would again create conditions in defiance of international law, ” the officials stated. The United States approach is “a declaration of policy, highly appreciated–but not a guarantee, “they added.
The Gulf of Akaba is Israel’s essential link with Asia and Africa and Israel cannot forego itself or the basis of a declaration alone, the officials elaborated. They noted that while Egypt may not interfere with American ships, Egyptian officials have announced their intention of reinstating the blockade of Israel shipping.
As far as Gaza is concerned, the Israeli officials said, Israel is willing to discuss its future in the light of three basic issues: Israel’s security, economic progress for the local population and a solution of the refugee situation. In the light of these three principle. , they indicated, Israel is ready to absorb a part of the Gaza refugees in Israel and withdraw its military units from the territory immediately after negotiations on this basis start between Israel and the UN.
(The Columbia Broadcasting System reported today that it has received reliable information that Egypt is sending naval units, including frogmen, to Saudi Arabia near the Strait of Tiran with orders to reimpose a blockade on Israeli shipping as soon as Israel forces withdraw from their present positions. CBS said also that the Suez Canal might again be barred to Israel shipping and that it had a report that Israel would send a test ship through the canal as soon as it is reopened.)