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Britain Watches Israel’s Expansion of Oil Pipeline As Alternative to Suez Canal

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British financial and oil circles today viewed Israel’s plans to replace its eight-inch oil pipeline between Elath and Beersheba with a 16-inch line as a possible practical alternative to the Suez Canal. Nonetheless, British oil companies are not expected to take any action in this direction, though it would partially free the West of the threat of blackmail by the oil-producing Arab states.

These same financial circles here noted that simultaneously with the announcement of Israel’s plans yesterday, a subcommittee of the Arab League’s economic council, meeting in Cairo, pointed up the urgency of alternatives to Arab controlled petroleum distribution facilities. That subcommittee recommended that all pipelines carrying oil from wells in Arab countries or which pass through Arab territory should be nationalized and sold to an all-Arab company.

In a further blow at the West, the Arab League unit recommended that the concession of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline Company be cancelled. Trans-Arabian facilities carry oil from American-owned wells in Saudi Arabia across Jordan and Syria to the port of Sidon in Lebanon. Measures to prevent Arab oil from reaching Israel and a secret Arab report on Middle East oil facilities are reported to be on the agenda of the Arab League subcommittee.

Meanwhile, it was learned here that prospective investors in a new company to finance the pipeline construction include the Bank Leumi Israel, the Israel state bank, and several Geneva banks and private investors.

(In Paris today, the Israel Embassy denied reports that Lord Rothschild or any other members of the family are involved in the agreement to enlarge the pipeline facilities or that negotiations continue with members of the family. it is understood that the Rothschild, particularly Baron Edmond de Rothschild, of the French branch of the family, had been approached together with a large number of other possible investors. However, nothing came of the contact and such negotiations remain in a state of suspension.)

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