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Israel Cabinet Defers Decision on Egyptian Seizure of Haifa Cargoes

The Israel Cabinet today discussed the question of Egypt’s seizure of Israel cargo from neutral ships passing through the Suez Canal. After hearing a report from Foreign Minister Golda Meir on the diplomatic activity which is going on in various capitals with regard to this issue, and in the United Nations, the Cabinet decided to defer taking a decision on the matter for the time being.

During the week-end, Egypt released the cargo from a Greek freighter detained at the Suez Canal, and permitted the freighter to proceed with the cargo to its destinations. The vessel carried 4,900 tons of Israeli cement for Hong Kong, and 4,609 tons of scrap metal for Japan. It was indicated here today that Israel will wait a few more days for the release of cargoes seized by the Egyptian authorities earlier from two ships, one flying the Liberian flag, and the other West German. Both sailed from Haifa, and were permitted to pass the Suez Canal only after their Israel cargoes were confiscated.

Israeli officials reiterated today that the release of Israel cargo on the third ship is not considered by the Israel Government as representing a basic change in the situation. They indicated that, if the cargoes of the other two ships are not released, and if no promise will be forthcoming from Cairo that such seizures would not recur, the matter may be brought by Israel before a United Nations Security Council meeting.

At its meeting today, the Cabinet approved Israel’s foreign currency budget for 1959-60, which will be sent for ratification to the finance committee of the Parliament. The budget envisages receipts from grants, German reparations, contributions and income from exports totalling $500,000,000.

The Cabinet also decided today to recognize the World Hebrew Union as an organization for the dissemination of the Hebrew language in countries outside Israel. As an arm of the World Zionist Organization, the Union will also receive cooperation on the part of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Education for the promotion of its activities in 12 countries on all continents.

The Government today requested Canada to take energetic steps for the release of three Tel Aviv girls who were arrested in Gaza and are imprisoned in a Cairo jail. The girls were transported to Gaza by Canadians serving on the United Nations Emergency Force, on the Israel-Egyptian frontier, and Israel expects the Canadian Government to effect their return to Israel.

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