GENEVA (Apr. 28)
The 87-nation international maritime conference concluded its conference early this morning following the adoption of a regulation which upheld, in effect, Israel’s right to use the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Akaba which give its port of Elath access to the Red Sea.
By a vote of 62 to 1, with the Arab states abstaining and Haifa apparently voting against the regulation by mistake, the conference permitted innocent passage of shipping through straits connecting the high seas with national or international waters. The regulation was worded in general terms and did not mention the Akaba situation.
Immediately after the vote an Israeli spokesman called it a “clear-cut decision” affecting access to Elath. On the other hand, an Arab spokesman, Ahrned Shukairy of Saudi Arabia, said that the Arab states would not recognize the legality of the rule which he charged had been “tailored” by Britain and the United States to fit a specific case.
The conference adjourned without having taken any action on the breadth of the territorial sea, a measure which might have affected Israel’s rights to fish in rich coastal waters in the Mediterranean Sea. The Arabs have also attempted to force recognition of a 12-mile limit of the territorial sea and this bar the entire narrow Gulf of Akaba to Israeli-bound shipping.