UNITED NATIONS, N. Y. (Apr. 24)
The United Nations Security Council today decided to resume debate on the Suez Canal issue on Friday. The debate was suspended last October. Israel’s stake in freedom of shipping through the Suez Canal is expected to be brought up when the debate is resumed.
Israel, it is understood will ask to be heard before the Council to press for freedom of shipping under the resolution of September 1, 1951 and in accordance with the latest Council resolution on the subject, adopted last October 13. Both these resolutions, according to Israel’s interpretation, guarantee freedom of shipping through the Canal for all shipping “wherever bound.” A member of the French delegation assured the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that France will support Israel in the Council debate.
(Egypt today formally announced in Cairo its plan for operating the Suez Canal on a permanent basis, making known it will continue to bar all Israeli shipping. Egypt is interpreting the 1888 Suez Convention as authorizing the denial of Israel’s maritime rights.)
Hope that Israel’s stake in the Canal will not be overlooked was seen in two documents circulated to members of the Council today–one from the United States Government and the other in the form of a letter to Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold from Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Mahmoud Fawzi.
The United States document was a letter to Sir Pierson Dixon of Britain, this month’s president of the Council, from the head of the American delegation, Henry Cabot Lodge, asking that the Council be convened by tomorrow or as soon thereafter as possible. In that letter, Mr. Lodge made specific reference to the Council’s October 13 resolution which now forms one of the bases of Israel’s claims to freedom of passage through the Suez Canal.
The second reference to the October 13 resolution was in the letter from Dr. Fawzi who specifically “noted” his government’s awareness of that resolution. Dr. Fawzi did, however, imply that Egypt may bring up its own interpretations of that resolution.
Dr. Fawzi’s letter to Mr. Hammarskjold was a foreword to Egypt’s new “declaration on the Suez Canal and arrangements for its operation.” The declaration made a number of points that Israelis will examine closely. It speaks of “free navigation” through the Canal in line with the Constantinople Convention of 1888. However, Egypt is certain to insist that that Convention, which Israel also invokes, permits it to bar Israeli shipping under one clause referring to “a state of war.” Egypt insists it is still “at war” with Israel.
EGYPT PLEDGES TO ACCEPT WORLD COURT DECISION AS BINDING
One clause in the new declaration pledges Egypt “in no case to grant any vessel, company or other party any advantage not accorded to other vessels, companies or parties, ” and refers specifically to avoidance of “discrimination.”
Egypt expresses itself as willing to have any alleged violations of its declaration arbitrated. Arbitrators are to be chosen: One by Egypt, one by the complainant, and one by both; in case the two disagree, the third arbitrator is to be appointed by the President of the International Court of Justice.
Disputes or agreements arising out of differing interpretations of the 1888 Convention are also to be arbitrated, according to the Egyptian pledge. Here again, final resort will be to the International Court of Justice. Egypt pledges itself in cases of arbitration or International Court decisions to accept such decision as binding.
In his letter to Mr. Hammarskjold, Dr. Fawzi gave Egypt’s declaration the form of an international treaty which will be registered with the United Nations. That means that all member states who, then, agree to accept this declaration should be accorded equal rights under the instrument. That point, too, was seen as favoring Israel’s claims.