WASHINGTON (Apr. 9)
State Department spokesman Lincoln White stressed today that the voyage of the U.S. oil tanker; Kern Hills to Elath was not an official U.S. Government-sponsored deliberate test of the Arab blockade.
Mr. White said the visit of the freighter should be regarded instead as a logical application of U.S. policy to regard the Gulf as an international waterway. He said the State Department did not get word about the ship until last Friday when the Israel Embassy advised the State Department. The Embassy was said to have then informed the United States that the ship would dock on the following day.
According to Mr. White, it should be recalled that the ship was under charter of the Israel Government. The State Department spokesman quoted Secretary of State Dulles as saying that no ship would be instructed to call at Elath, but that a U.S. ship might go there in the course of normal commerce. He conceded that the United States could have stopped the Kern Hills if the voyage was felt unwise.
The American tanker Kern Hills left the port of Elath this morning after unloading its cargo of 16, 000 tons of crude oil and ships fuel. The next tanker is scheduled to arrive at Elath early in May.
Testing of the new Elath-Beersheba oil pipeline will be started Friday. There is a good possibility that a new asphalt road between Elathand Beersheba, scheduled to be completed in a year, may be ready by this Fall, Mordecai Namir, Minister of Labor told the Knesset in Jerusalem today.
Israel Finance Minister Levi Eshkol, in a cable addressed to Israel Bond leaders in New York, revealed today that the bulk of the $7, 700, 000 for the construction of the Elath-Beersheba pipeline was derived from Israel bonds. The Finance Minister stressed the importance of the “historic day when the first oil tanker has made its way to King Solomon’s port on the Red Sea. The cargo of this tanker, flying the flag of your great country, will initiate the trial operation of the Elath-Beersheba oil pipeline, which is a notable stride towards economic independence, ” he stated in his message.”
“Our joy on seeing freedom of navigation established for ships of all nations through the Gulf at Elath may well be matched by your satisfaction in seeing your efforts for Israel Bonds in action, creating the charnel through which petroleum will flow to turn the lathes of our industry and power the irrigation pumps of our agriculture, “Mr. Eshkol continued. “The call of the hour is for increased efforts on behalf of Israel Bonds to enable us to create on this hallowed soil a nation dedicated to the ideals of liberty and construction, free politically and strong economically, devoted to democracy for all.
Israel Ambassador Abba Eban told a Georgetown University audience here tonight that developments in the Gulf of Akaba “may well mark a profound change in Israel’s geopolitical stature.”
He said development of Elath port by maintenance of free navigation in the Strait of Isiran “offers great advantages not only to Israel but also to the rest of the world. He suggested that the Elath route provided an alternative to the Egyptian-dominated Suez Canal. He claimed that “an additional gain” of recent weeks was “that the U.S. has assumed a deep moral responsibility for helping assure tranquillity in our area.”
“The United Nations has taken up a special responsibility in Gaza, ” Mr. Eban told his audience. “Whether that responsibility is exercised well or not, it nevertheless exists. Time will show whether the UN can effectively express the desire of the world community to see Gaza lose its previous character as a springboard for Egyptian violence against Israel.”
A revolution had taken place in world opinion as a consequence of Israel’s recent struggle, the Israel Ambassador said. “Never has Israel stood higher in the trust and affection of multitudes throughout the world, ” he declared. But he added that it must also be recorded that the fundamental causes of tension have not been removed. He also warned that Nasser may yet prove victorious over the West on the Suez question.