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Israel Cabinet Meets on Situation in Iraq, Lebanon; Keeps Decisions Secret

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The Israel Cabinet held an extraordinary meeting today at which the implications of the Iraqi and Lebanese situations on Israel were discussed. Official circles refused to indicate the conclusions to which the Cabinet came. An official communique said tersely: “Premier (David) Ben Gurion reported on foreign and security matters.”

There was no information available whether the Cabinet discussed permitting transit through Israel of Western troops toward Jordan. Nor could any information be obtained on whether the Western Powers addressed such a request to Israel. It is assumed, however, that this question was raised–formally or informally–during the talks which diplomatic representatives of the Western Powers held here with Premier Ben Gurion.

While troops landed by the American Sixth Fleet, or any other units now in the Mediterranean, must cross Israel en route to Jordan, there are reports that British and American ships are steaming toward the Gulf of Akaba, on which Jordan has a port. Any Israel decision to permit passage of foreign military ships could create a new Cabinet crisis, since the left-wing Mapam members of the government are known to have in the past opposed any such permission.

Prime Minister David Ben Gurion called in American Ambassador Edward B. Lawson for urgent consultations. He also received this morning Miss Barbara Salt, the British Charge d’Affaires, at her request, and was reported to have had informal contact with French Ambassador Pierre Gilbert.

The Prime Minister, who makes a point each year of attending the Bastille Day celebration in the French Embassy, was conspicuous by his absence from the ceremony yesterday, as was Chief of Staff Chaim Laskov. The two Israel leaders were closeted in key consultations in the Prime Minister’s office.

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