The Israel Cabinet today again discussed the crisis that has arisen in connection with the refusal by the United Arab Republic to permit the passage through the Suez Canal of the Danish freighter Inge Toft, with Israeli cargo destined for the Far East. The ship has been halted by the Egyptian authorities at the entrance to the Suez Canal for more than three weeks because of the captain’s refusal to unload the Israeli cargo which Egypt wants to confiscate.
Following today’s meeting, the Cabinet issued a communique stating that “additional steps to prevent piracy” were discussed. However, observers here are doubtful whether the Cabinet would take any steps against Egypt before the United Nations Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold, gets his “last chance” to settle the conflict during his forthcoming visit to Cairo. Mr. Hammarskjold announced last week that he intends to proceed to Cairo for this purpose.
It is generally believed here that Israel can do little except to take retaliatory action against Egypt, if the Inge Toft is not permitted to continue her voyage through the Suez Canal with Israeli cargo aboard. At the same time, the opinion prevails here that the Israel Government would be hesitant to take such drastic measures. On the other hand it is considered likely that utter frustration, combined with potential domestic implications in the present election year, may force the government to take came drastic action.
Meanwhile, Israeli circles indicated today dissatisfaction over the fact that Mr. Hammarskjold is personally proceeding to Cairo to intervene with President Nasser there for the passage of Inge Toft and the Israel Cargo. They pointed out that the fact that the Secretary General “must rush to see Nasser, every time the dictator starts mischief” certainly does not add to the prestige of the United Nations. They also resented the fact that Hammarskjold’s trip is not scheduled until the end of this month, or early in July, whereas the Inge Toft has been held up for more than three weeks now, and Israel considers the case one of great urgency.
An army spokesman today described as “routine” the intensive night exercises of the Israel Navy’s flotilla of torpedo boats. The exercises, which included surprise attacks on floating targets, were completed Thursday night. The spokesman denied any connection between the exercise and Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s recent statement that Egyptian seizure of Israel cargoes in transit in the Suez Canal would not remain a one-sided action.