Suez Transit Denied to Ship Without Cargo Under Israel Charter

Israeli Government circles awaited today receipt of further information on the refusal by the Egyptian authorities to permit the German freighter Lealott transit through the Suez Canal.

The German freighter, under Israel charter, was proceeding from Haifa to East Africa without cargo. The “conditions” which President Nasser gave United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold for Israel use of the international waterway were that ships to and from Israel should either pass through the canal empty or with the cargo belonging to the non-Israeli party in the transaction. Israel refused to accept these conditions which Nasser himself has now apparently violated.

The Egyptians based their refusal to permit the ship’s transit on the grounds that the skipper of the freighter wanted to pay the transit tolls in cash instead of with a bank draft. Payment in this form was necessary because Nasser had ordered Egyptian shipping agents, who usually pay the transit fees, not to represent shipping companies doing business with Israel. Ships belonging to these companies, consequently, have no other means of payment except cash. The Egyptians originally wanted cash payments but now these are being refused.

Israelis are anxious to learn whether the payment question was really the cause for holding up the ship and, if so, whether some solution can be found to this before this case, too, becomes a matter of principle like the Danish freighter, Inge Toft, detained by the Egyptians since May 21.

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