LONDON (Jun. 24)
The British Government was criticized in Parliament today for failing to take more vigorous action on behalf of Israel’s right to freedom of shipping through the Suez Canal.
Aneuran Bevan, leader of the British Labor Party, who is often called the “Shadow Premier, ” asked that the Foreign Office inform the House as to which United Nations channels have taken up the question of Egypt’s forbidding the passage of Israeli cargoes through the Suez Canal. David Ormsby-Gore, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, replied that the United Nations Secretary General himself was “actively engaged” in dealing with the problem.
“This is an exceedingly unsatisfactory situation, ” responded Mr. Bevan. “Didn’t the Security Council declare that Egypt had no business, in peace or in war, to obstruct the passage of ships through the Suez Canal? Ought we not to take up the matter with very much more urgency, rather than to see this interference with Israeli shipping all the time?”
Mr. Ormsby-Gore said he thought that the important thing to do was to carry out those procedures which were most likely to bring about a result. The Israeli Government, he pointed out, had taken up this matter with the United Nations, and the Secretary General was leaving for Cairo shortly to pursue the matter.
“Isn’t this a slow-moving business?” insisted Mr. Bevan. “Over and over again, we are having instances of this sort, and apparently we are able to bring no pressure at all on Egypt.” Another Labor M. P. , Sydney Silverman, asked whether it was not true that the Government’s “inability to do anything effective” is the result of the Government’s years-long policy regarding the Suez Canal.
“The Government, ” charged Mr. Silverman, “had failed to make any adequate representations during seven years when the Canal was closed to Israeli shipping. Are not the Egyptians likely, now, to refuse to take the Government very seriously, in view of their misconduct in the past?” The Minister of State merely reiterated: “I don’t know about that. In any case, we are not taking any unilateral action. “
Heathcot Amory, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in Commons that the World Bank was still considering the question of a loan to the United Arab Republic for widening the Suez Canal but that no proposal for such a loan had as yet been presented to the bank’s executive board. He said that when such a loan comes under active consideration, the British Government’s position would be determined “in the light of all relevant factors prevailing at the time. “
He made this statement in reply to a query from A. Lindsay, Conservative M. P., as to whether the British representative to the World Bank would be instructed to oppose a loan while the United Arab Republic was “defaulting” on its commitment to permit passage of shipping through the Canal to all nations.
Reports that negotiations are underway for an extradition treaty between Britain and Israel were confirmed today by a British Foreign Office spokesman. The present negotiations began soon after Britain received a request for the talks from Israel.