Israel Complains to U.N. Against Egypt’s Renewed Suez Blockade
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Israel Complains to U.N. Against Egypt’s Renewed Suez Blockade

Abba Eban, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, lodged a formal complaint today against the United Arab Republic for “flagrant violations” of a Security Council resolution and various other international commitments in the UAR seizure of the cargoes of two ships attempting passage through the Suez Canal.

Mr. Eban’s complaint, addressed to Sir Pearson Dixon of Britain, this month’s president of the Security Council, demanded “immediate release of the cargoes.”

The ships are the S. S. Capetan Manolis, flying the Liberian flag and the S. S. Leglott, flying the flag of the West Germany. The Capetan Manolis was underway from Haifa, carrying 400 tons of potash, five tons of fruit juices and 1120 tons of cement. The Leglott carried 6300 tons of Israel cement. Both cargoes were ordered unloaded by the UAR authorities at Port Said.

These acts, Mr. Eban stated in his letter, constitute “flagrant violations” of an 1888 convention regarding freedom of passage through the Suez Canal, the United Nations charter and a Security Council resolution adopted here September 1, 1951, which called on Egypt “to terminate the restrictions on the passage of international commercial shipping and goods through the Suez Ganal wherever bound.” The 1951 resolution had been adopted in response to an Israel complaint at that time.

Reserving Israel’s right to take further action, and asking that the letter be circulated to all members of the United Nations, Mr. Eban declared that “persistence in these illicit acts would gravely impair peace and security. Nothing short of an immediate release of the cargoes can remedy the situation. It is equally necessary to ensure that these grossly illegally interceptions do not occur again.”


The gravity with which Israel viewed these interferences with Suez shipping–the first since the period prior to the Sinai campaign of 1956–was emphasized by Mr. Eban at a press conference held later today to elaborate on the Israel Government’s complaint. At the press conference Mr. Eban publicly accused the United Arab Republic twice of having “stolen” cargos belonging to nations other than Israel. In demanding the immediate release of the seized cargoes Mr. Eban charged the United Arab Republic with “comprehensive, unreserved and unconditional” violation of international law by “plundering cargoes of foreign nations being carried from Israeli ports.”

Making it clear that the Israel Government feels that its protests to date have not exhausted the possibilities of further Israeli action–possibly including a call for a Security Council meeting on this issue–Mr. Eban pointed out at his press conference that Egypt has been accused five separate times since 1951 of violating a Security Council resolution, adopted Sept. 1 of that year, specifically enjoining Egypt from restricting the passage of international commercial shipping going through the Suez Canal “wherever bound.”

Mr. Eban called attention to the fact that on Feb. 20,1957, at the time Israel was being urged to withdraw its armed forces from the Sinai Peninsula, President Eisenhower had made this statement: “We should not assume that, if Israel withdraws, Egypt will prevent Israeli shipping from using the Suez Canal or the Gulf of Akaba. If, unhappily Egypt does hereafter violate the Armistice agreement or other international obligations then this should be dealt with firmly by the society of nations.”

In answer to a question, Mr. Eban said that he knows that Israel’s complaint with regards to these seizures is “not the only one.” He did not identify what other members of the United Nations have entered complaints against these seizures, but he pointed out that in effect “the power in the territory through which the Suez Canal passes, has stolen goods belonging to Ceylon–payment having already been made for these goods prior to the act of piratical assault.”

Arab correspondents were present at the press conference but asked no questions However, in answer to an American correspondent’s questions as to whether any statement on the seizures had been made by the UAR, Mr. Eban said that evidently “nothing has been said on the Egyptian side because there is nothing to say. The action is indefensible in law and flouts the United Nations own position in regard to the Suez Canal.

After complaining to Sir Pearson in the formal letter, Mr. Eban conferred personally with the British representative and then made contact with Henry Cabot Lodge, chairman of the U. S. delegation and set in motion a series of other conferences which will include within the next 24-48 hours all other members of the eleven-nation council.