Menu JTA Search

Israel Lodges Protest with U.N. Chief on Egypt’s Seizure of Ship

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir lodged a strong protest yesterday with United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammerskjold against Egypt’s “piratical” seizure of the 70 ton Israeli fishing trawler Doron. The protest was made during a special visit Mrs. Meir paid to Mr. Hammarskjold.

Following the meeting with Mr. Hammarskjold, the Israel Foreign Minister held a press conference at which Mrs. Meir and Ambassador Abba Eban denounced Egypt not only for the seizure of the Doron but also for a past record of illegal actions concerning Israeli marine activities. They hinted that unless the Egyptians resolve this issue very soon to Israel’s satisfaction. Israel may bring the matter to the Security Council.

Mrs. Meir revealed at the press conference that Israel had lodged a protest about the Doron’s seizure. She said Israel has attempted to obtain information about the six fishermen through the International Red Cross, but was informed by that organization that the Cairo Government contends that since Egypt does not recognize Israel, the Geneva Convention underlying operations of the Red Cross is not considered valid in the Doron case

“Such a claim is not new on the part of the Egyptian Government, Mrs. Meir noted. “The Egyptians made a similar claim when they seized the Israeli ship Bat Galim several years ago.

“The Secretary General,” Mrs. Meir continued, “is using his good offices to try to obtain a solution, and we are hoping very soon to have some answer. We may receive an answer from the Secretary General probably today.” Mrs. Meir said she knows the Secretary General has been in touch with the Egyptian Government, but she does not know whether he contacted Cairo directly or worked through Egyptian channels here. Dr. Mahmoud Fawzi, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, is presently at the United Nations.

INSISTS ON IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF SHIP, CREW AND EQUIPMENT IN GOOD ORDER

Emphasizing that the Doron was equipped only for deep sea fishing and therefore was believed to be at least 30 miles out on the Mediterranean Sea, Mrs, Meir said Israel insists on data as to the whereabouts and condition of the crew, the ship itself and its equipment. Secondly, Israel insists on the immediate release of men, ship and equipment in good order.

“Reports that we received previously on how Egypt had mistreated Israeli prisoners in the past–as in the instances of the Bat Galim and of the Israeli sailor illegally taken off a ship passing through the Suez Canal more recently–do not reassure us about the entire matter. “Mrs. Meir continued. “This is a very grave situation when fishermen cannot go out on the open seas, Egypt should obey the law of the seas. All fishermen on the high seas should be free of danger, arrest and piracy. This law applies to us, it applies to Egyptian vessels, it applies to everybody.”

Mr. Eban recalled at the press conference that in the case of the Bat Galim, Egypt had followed “false procedures, had made false charges which were absolutely disproved” Against this background of “bad Egyptian maritime practice.” Mr. Eban pointed out Israel could not but be concerned.

Asked whether Israel expects units of its navy to accompany its fishing fleet, Mrs. Meir said what is needed is not destroyers to accompany each trawler but simple observance of international law and decency.” In response to a query whether Israel would appeal to the Security Council, she said “We shall try every other avenue first–but resort to the Security Council is not being ruled out. If we do not hear very soon about this matter we shall have to take other steps.”

The Israeli government’s stand on human rights was outlined today in the General Assembly’s Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Committee by Mrs. Tamar Shoham-Sharon. The Israeli delegate gave the committee a short survey of her country’s social policies, covering health, housing and national insurance. The Israel Government, she declared, is exploring the possibility of conducting a seminar for women under the United Nations program of advisory services in human rights.

NEXT STORY