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Israel Reserves Judgment on Syrian-egyptian Merger; Watches Move

The implications which the unification of Egypt and Syria into a United Arab Republic may hold for Israel were reviewed here today at the regular weekly meeting of the Israel Cabinet. Israel is watching Syrian-Egyptian developments closely, though political observers feel that unification of the two Arab states is at least of as much concern to the other Arab states and to the Western Powers as to Israel.

Asked about Israel’s official reaction to the formation of a joint state by Egypt and Syria, a Foreign Office spokesman here today said that the Israel Government is reserving judgment. “Our reaction,” he stated, “will be based on developments as they actually relate to Israel matters.”

The spokesman pointed out that from Israel’s point of view no practical steps have taken place in the Egyptian-Syrian merger. Many questions remain to be answered before Israel can react to the merger, including the question of whether Egypt and Syria will have one or two votes in the United Nations. Also whether one of the merged countries will accept international obligations incurred by the other. Israel considers that the obligations entered into by Syria, including its armistice pact with Israel, still exist, the Foreign Office spokesman said.

Israeli circles were, meanwhile, speculating today on the ultimate effect of the Syrian-Egyptian merger on Israel’s security. The general opinion here is that while the merger is unlikely to increase immediately the danger of aggression against Israel, the long-term prospects are less hopeful. Since common factors ensuring a lasting value for the merger are few, it is considered possible that the government of the merger states will try to make up for the union’s weakness by aggression against Israel.

For Israel the unification of Syria and Egypt into one country presents a technical problem of armistice relations. While Israel maintains a limited contact with Syria through the Israel-Syrian Armistice Commission, the Government of Israel declared the Israel-Egyptian armistice pact is null and void during the Sinai campaign. With the merger of Egyptian and Syrian armies now, the status of Israel-Syrian armistice arises. However, government circles here indicate that Israel will continue Israel-Syrian relations for the time being on the basis of the armistice agreement signed by the two countries.

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