WASHINGTON (Feb. 19)
Secretary of State Dulles made known to a press conference today that the question of sanctions against Israel will be considered tomorrow when President Eisenhower meets with Congressional leaders. He said that the United States would go to the United Nations with a program to meet Israel’s refusal to withdraw from Egyptian territory. But, he added, perhaps the United States would study proposals of other countries.
Mr. Dulles was asked pointblank if the United States would support sanctions it Israel stands firm. He said it was a matter to be discussed tomorrow and he would not want to anticipate the exchange of views between Mr. Eisenhower and Congressional leaders.
Commenting on whether Congressional opinion could affect Administration executive action, he said it would depend on the kind of sanctions to be imposed. He said some would require Congressional approval while others would not. There were economic sanctions, military sanctions, and other kinds but he was not in a position to be specific on the issue at this time, he said.
Secretary Dulles said he did not expect American ships to be barred by Egypt from passage through the Strait of Tiran. He made clear that the United States Navy could not guarantee protection to ships flying the Israel flag. He did not anticipate such a contingency as using American armed forces to guarantee free maritime passage. He thought it “improbable” that Egypt would restore a blockade against Israel shipping in the strait.
He said he was not without hope Israel would come to the conclusion to withdraw and rely on previous assurances. It was revealed by the Secretary that the United States has not negotiated with Egypt on the question of Akaba passage. The matter is being handled by UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, Mr. Dulles said. He added that there was no reason to believe Egypt would not honor principles calling for free passage of all ships, including those of Israel, through the Suez Canal when it is re-opened.
U.S. HAS NO ASSURANCES FROM EGYPT ON FREE NAVIGATION
Mr. Dulles made known the United States had no new assurances from Egypt that the straits would be regarded as an international waterway. He cited a communication of January 28, 1950, from Egypt to the United States on the subject. Subsequently, he said there occurred reassertion of certain belligerent rights. He was hopeful there would be a cessation of belligerency and that there was an increasing recognition by the International community of a need for this.
Secretary Dulles doubted Egypt would search American ships for “contraband” unless Egypt was suspicious of the cargoes. He said he could not give the precise meaning of the phrase “innocent passage” in the February 11 U.S. aide memoire to Israel. He stressed that the phrase was first used by Egypt in its 1950 communication and that he could not give all the implications. Authorities might differ on the precise meaning, he said.
The secretary of State said the entrance to the Gulf of Akaba was technically Egyptian territorial waters and not an international waterway because it was less than six miles wide. But passage cannot be properly restricted, he said, provided such passage is “innocent passage” as defined by international law. Generally, the right of access to such straits under law cannot be denied to any littoral state involved.