UNITED NATIONS, N. Y. (May. 20)
Israel’s stake in freedom of shipping through the Suez Canal was brought forcefully to the front in the Security Council here today by Christian Pineau, Foreign Minister of France.
M. Pineau, at whose request the Council convened this afternoon to resume debate on the Suez issue, told the 11-member body that Egypt’s unilateral declaration on operation of the canal, filed here April 24, threatens “a readiness” to forget that the Security Council in 1951 ordered Egypt to keep the canal open to all ships wherever bound. The 1951 resolution was adopted in response to a request from Israel.
Before the debate got under way, Arkady A. Sobolev, Soviet delegate, told the Council that the USSR is opposed to a renewal of the debate on the Suez issue because Egypt has already offered to settle the Suez question in a “reasonable and just manner.”
In a relatively mild speech, M. Pineau called for the opening of new negotiations as soon as possible for definitive settlement of the Suez Canal question. Egypt’s April declaration, he maintained, overlooks the six basic principles adopted by the Council on October 13 last as requirements for operation of the canal.
M. Pineau, in enumerating the six principles, underscored two of the requirements which concern Israel: 1. That there should be free and open passage through the canal “without discrimination, overt or covert”; 2. That the operation of the canal should be “insulated from the politics of any country.”
The French Foreign Minister told the Council that he has no intention “to gloss over the Israeli-Egyptian conflict” of last fall or the Franco-British “involvement” in the Suez campaign. However, he declared, “we lost the opportunity at that time of reaching a settlement of the canal affair that would have been fair and satisfactory to all. “
M. Pineau said that the principal issue to decide was whether the rules of the UN Charter “are valid for all and must be applied by all without any discrimination. “
Dr. Omar Loufti, head of the Egyptian delegation at the UN, told the Security Council that his government is “prepared to recognize the jurisdiction” of the International Court of Justice on the Suez Canal issue. He upbraided France for its part in the Suez campaign last fail and, by implication, for aiding Israel. However, Dr. Loutfi did not mention Israel specifically during his address.
Britain will support Israel in the United Nations in the Jewish State’s efforts to nail down her rights to freedom of passage through the Suez Canal, Commander A. H. P. Noble, Minister of State, told questioners in Commons today.
However, he made it quite clear that the decision on whether or not to send a “test ship” through the canal is one for the Israel Government alone. If Egypt, as it has threatened, acts to halt such an Israeli move, Commander Noble Said, it is still Israel’s decision whether to take the matter to the United Nations or the International Court.
The Minister reiterated once again the British Government’s view that Israel shipping shares the right of all nations to transverse the waterway. Britain, he added, sands by the Security Council resolution of September 1951 and the six principles adopted by the Council last October–both of which call for equality of all nations to use the channel.
He revealed that Britain had been considering throwing the question of the Gulf of Akaba’s status as in international waterway into the International Court. However, he continued, British ships are freely using the gulf and the straits into it, thereby exercising the rights of innocent passage. “In general the present position seems reasonably satisfactory, ” he concluded.
Maj. Gen. E. L. M. Burns, commander of the United Nations Emergency Force, denied last night charges by Egypt that Israeli “infiltrators” had penetrated the Gaza Strip and blown up two huts in the Gaza refugee camp. In a statement issued in the Old City, Gen. Burns said that tracks from the scene of the incident did not lead in the direction of the Israel border. Several Arab refugees were wounded when the two homes, near Khan Yunis, blew up.
Meanwhile, Gen. Burns revealed that he had again approached Israel and Egypt with suggestions that the Israel-Egyptian armistice agreement be revived. Egypt, he said, had agreed, but Israel had declined. The Israeli position, stated on numerous occasions in recent months, is that Egyptian hostilities have killed the pact and that it is useless to consider resurrecting it while Egypt maintains claims of belligerency.