LONDON (Mar. 22)
If United Arab Republic President Gamal Abdel Nasser continues his policy of confiscating Israel-originated cargoes in the Suez Canal, Israel may be forced to take military action, the Sunday Dispatch here said in an editorial today.
“Prime Minister David Ben Gurion,” stated the editorial, “may hold his hand for the moment. But, if there are further incidents of this kind, he may have to send the Israeli Army against Nasser. And that might well be the beginning of a big conflagration, with Russia intervening.”
Nasser is “now trying to regain face by attacking Israel,” declares the newspaper. The Dispatch holds that Nasser is taking these steps because he has “lost most of the cards in his pack” by “involving himself in a dispute with Khrushchev, the patron of Iraq’s Kassem.”
(A report from Cairo quoted “informed sources” there as stating that the United Arab Republic will continue to seize Israeli cargoes shipped through the Suez Canal. Israel protested last week to the United Nations Security Council against the detainment of two ships carrying cargo from Israel, and against the confiscation of these cargoes by Egyptian authorities.)
The Times of London unequivocally yesterday supported Israel, and condemned the United Arab Republic’s recent confiscation of cargoes passing through the Suez Canal in bottoms owned by nations other than Israel. In an analysis of the latest UAR action and Israel’s complaint against that action, The Times went one step further, and condemned the UAR’s contention that a state of belligerence exists between the UAR and Israel.
“Even if a state of war exists, and the regulations (concerning freedom of shipping through the Suez) are valid,” wrote The Times, “these regulations should not be held to include the exports of cement which have been confiscated recently.” However, The Times pointed out, a resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council has ruled that “neither party, Egypt nor Israel, can reasonably assert that it is actively a belligerent.”
Egypt’s confiscation of the Israel-originated cargoes as “contraband” is “ludicrously wide” of the mark, said The Times. The newspaper cited the Constantinople Convention of 1888, one of the basic international treaties concerning the Suez Canal, in support of its contention that Egypt “shall not interfere with the free use of the Canal.”
The UAR action, declared The Times, “may yet have far-reaching consequences.” The newspaper reported in full the statement made several days ago at Elath, Israel, by Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, who warned that Israel “is ready to fight for its rights to freedom of navigation” into and out of the Red Sea.