JERUSALEM (Jul. 27)
Top-level talks to determine an Israel Government line of action on the United Arab Republic blockade of the Suez Canal to Israel shipping are due this week with the return of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion from his vacation and Foreign Ministers Mrs. Golda Meir from her Latin American tour, informed sources indicated today.
These sources said there were four possible courses of action: First, an appeal to the United Nations Security Council on the detention by the UAR of the Danish ship Inge Toft, with its Israel cargo, at Port Said since May 21; second, raising the entire issue of the Suez Canal blockade at the next UN General Assembly; third, continuation of the “quiet diplomacy reportedly urged on Israel by the major Western Powers, and fourth, some other action within or outside the UN.
(In Alexandria, President Nasser of the UAR delivered yesterday the most threatening speech against Israel. He said he wanted a decisive battle with Israel and “this time we will exterminate Israel.” He described Israel as “a crime established in the midst of the Arab nations by treachery and imperialism” and said that the Suez Canal belongs to Egypt. “Israel will not be able to impose its will upon us,” he asserted.)
Several developments were cited as making a prompt Israel decision imperative. One was that the World Bank has already prepared plans for granting a loan of several million dollars to the UAR for widening the Canal. Eugene Black, World Bank president, reportedly with strong support from the U.S. States Department, was known to be pressing for quick approval of the loan and it may come up for a vote at a meeting of the World Bank’s board of directors in September.
An Israel appeal to the Security Council would focus attention on the UAR’s violation of Security Council rulings requiring free passage for all peaceful ships through the Canal, and would presumably make more difficult the World Bank loan, particularly if Israel managed to obtain support of American public opinion for its position. Another consideration was the fact that an appeal to the Security Council in August would be at a time when the French representative is Security Council chairman.
As a factor in favor of continuation of the “quiet diplomacy” approach, Western nations reportedly have been telling Israel that this would bring more “concessions” from President Nasser of the UAR to ease the “conditions” he presented to United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold when the two held conversations recently in Cairo.