Israel Cabinet Discusses Suez Issue; Ceylon May Drop Frigate Deal
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Israel Cabinet Discusses Suez Issue; Ceylon May Drop Frigate Deal

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Two issues involving Israel’s insistence on freedom of innocent shipping through international waterway were discussed here today at a meeting of the Cabinet, under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Golda Meir. Prime Minister David Ben Gurion is on vacation.

The issues concerned are: 1. The one of the Danish freighter Inge Toft, tied to a dock at Port Said since May 2. The case of the two frigates which Israel has sold to Ceylon and which Ceyon has not yet taken over, due to pressure on the part of the United Arab Republic.

Regarding the Inge Toft, halted by the Egyptians at the entrance to the Suez Canal, as it was carrying Israeli cargo from Haifa to the Far East, Israel observers noted that no progress whatever has been achieved, despite the intervention of United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold with UAR President Nasser.

As to the frigates, the possibility was seen here today that Ceylon may cancel the purchase. Ceylon made a large, cash down payment for the frigates–the Miznak and Mivtochwhich are now in the harbor of Eilat, in the Gulf of Akaba. Ceylon sent a crew of 100 sailors to man the first of the ships, these men sailing aboard a Ceylonese minesweeper, the Parakram. The minesweeper, however, is docked in the Protectorate of Aden awaiting the UAR’s acquiescence to the Israeli-Ceylonese deal.

Ceylon’s government at Colomb, had asked the UAR for assurance that the Parakram and the frigates would not be molested passing from the Gulf of Akaba through the Straits of Tiran into the Red Sea. So far, the UAR has not acknowledged the Ceylonese note.


It is understood here that the Ceylonese first became concerned about the frigate deal when Colombo’s envoy at Cairo notified his home government that Cairo was voicing strong threats against Ceylon if the deal were to be consummated.

Some observers here blame the United Nations Secretariat for the snafu. They declare that Ceylon had notified the United Nations Emergency Force about its planned passage through the Straits of Tiran, since UNEF forces guard the Straits at Sharm el-Sheik. Instead of merely acknowledging the notification, the sources here say, UNEF replied. Ceylon in a legalistic note which seemed to confuse the issue, hinting that Saudi Arabia and the UAR may have something to say on the subject.

Saudi Arabian and Egyptian shores line the Straits of Tiran, but Israel has held right along–and has been supported in that view by most maritime powers–that the Straits of Tiran form an international waterway which is not subject to the jurisdiction of any nation claiming riparian rights along the shores.

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