JERUSALEM (Aug. 12)
The Israel Government today suspended all flights by El Al Israel Airlines to London, until the matter of flying Dr. Robert A. Soblen from London to New York is resolved. The decision was voted unanimously by Israel’s Cabinet, at a special meeting.
The Cabinet move, in effect, superceded an earlier decision adopted by the body, which had ordered that, if Britain insisted that El Al remove Dr. Soblen from England, the fugitive psychiatrist must be flown by El Al to Israel only –and not to New York, as Britain had demanded.
A spokesman for El Al here said today that, if a proposal in the American Congress for banning El Al flights to the United States were enacted, such sanctions would violate the international civil aviation agreement. “In order to abrogate the air agreement and landing rights of a national carrier, ” the spokesman said, “either party to the agreement must give 12 months’ notice. ” Any other action, he declared, would amount to a breach of contract.
BEN-GURION EXPLAINS ISRAEL’S STAND TO U.S. JEWISH LEADERS
Meanwhile, it was learned here, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion has replied to a number of American Jewish leaders, who had requested that Israel fly Dr. Soblen to New York, by reiterating that Israel was not in position to flout its own laws. He stressed that a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State had said, on June 28, that the United States was not asking Israel to violate its own laws by returning Dr. Soblen.
“Our attitude toward Soblen,” Mr. Ben-Gurion stated in his reply to the American Jewish leaders, “is no different than yours. Already in early July, I told Israel’s Parliament that Soblen was expelled because he had entered Israel fraudulently, and that our Law of Return does not apply to a criminal of his category.”
There are two reasons why Israel cannot extradite Dr. Soblen to the United States, Mr. Ben-Gurion’s letter pointed out. First, the proposed Israel-American extradition treaty has not yet been ratified. Secondly, even if the treaty were in effect, it would not provide for extradition of a political prisoner — and Dr. Soblen’s crime of espionage is a political crime.