NEW YORK (Feb. 19)
Israel’s request for specific guarantees to protect her right of navigation through the Akaba waterway and to security against raids from the Gaza Strip received sympathetic support today in the New York press.
The New York Times, commenting editorially on the Dulles aide memoire and the Eisenhower declaration at Thomasville, Ga., noted that “what the United States has thus far failed to do is to give the Israelis a real guarantee that we will oppose with every means in our power any effort of another state to obstruct ‘the right of free and innocent passage’ as Egypt had obstructed it prior to the recent hostilities. Such a guarantee, the Times continued, “would surely induce an Israeli withdrawal from the area.”
Espousing the idea of a UN border force occupying the Gaza Strip, the Times asserted that this would offer a greater hope of a permanent settlement than a return to Egyptian rule or a continuation of Israeli control. “For one thing.” the editorial said, “it would offer time; and for another it would be in the spirit of a peaceful solution, protecting Israel from border raids without rewarding her for her military action.”
The Herald Tribune, which called the Dulles plan “imaginative and constructive,” underlined that Israel has not yet received any response to its “basic demand for an Egyptian renunciation of belligerency.” The newspaper supported this demand, which it said should include a restoration of Israel’s right to use both the Gulf of Akaba and the Suez Canal and Egypt’s disavowal of fedayeen raids.
Pointing out that there has been “no overt pressure” on Egypt for a commitment that “would assist to build up a peace”, the Herald Tribune said that “under these circumstances, the Israeli reluctance to accept the Dulles plan immediately and unconditionally can be understood.” It urged that the Dulles plan be pursued, “preferably without the running fire of State Department comment that, without documentation by the texts of the pertinent material, has produced more confusion than clarity.”
The World Telegram and Sun editorially called the President’s Thomasville statement a “friendly warning.” If Israel does not heed it.” the newspaper continued, “she will complete the isolation which endangers her.” The editorial further suggested that Israel “is wrecking her own case by ignoring the UN evacuation order.” Espousing the “strongest possible assurances for Israel security”, the World Telegram and Sun asserted however, that these assurances will not be given nor will the problem of a peace settlement be advanced “as long as Israel defies the UN.”
The New York Post, in an editorial, insisted that “it is unclear at the moment whether President Eisenhower has addressed a reassurance or an ultimatum to Israel.” It noted that the Israelis have “understandably asked for further elaboration of the U.S. position” in the light of threats in Cairo to restore the blockade. The “time has come,’ the Post declared, “for the President to address himself to Col. Nasser as well as Ben Gurion.”