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Israel Welcomes U.S. Affirmation of Free Passage Through Akaba Gulf

The United States affirmation of the right of “free and innocent passage” of ships through the Gulf of Akaba, and the notice given by the U.S. to captains of American ships reminding them that any interference with this right should be reported to the nearest American diplomatic mission, was warmly welcomed by an Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman today. However, he expressed regret that the United States Government had not taken this opportunity to declare its opposition to Arab League boycott regulations as far as the gulf was concerned.

The advice regarding the gulf and the Strait of Tiran leading to it has again placed the authority of the United States on the de facto situation in the gulf, the spokesman said, pointing out that ships of many nations now use the gulf. The spokesman further noted that the State Department advisory had left to shippers’ discretion whether they complied with a long standing Egyptian demand that Alexandria or Port Said be notified 72 hours in advance of a contemplated entrance through the strait.

“While I would not interpret this as an encouragement to submit to illegal practices of the boycott office, we rather expected the United States to take on this occasion, too, a firm stand against the Arab League’s economic warfare,” the spokesman said. Israeli sources, meanwhile, said that American, Dutch, Italian, Panamanian and Venezuelan vessels have arrived at Elath since the Sinai campaign.

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