Israeli Ex-pilot Crash-lands in Egypt; Was Bent on ‘private Peace Flight’

An Israeli restaurant owner, Abraham Nathan, of Tel Aviv, flew to Egypt today aboard a 40-year old biplane which he named “Shalom,” bent on what he called “a peace mission” designed to convince Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser that peace talks should be held between Egypt and Israel.

(Three hours after Nathan’s take-off, press dispatches reported from Port Said that, having run out of fuel, Nathan crash-landed near the Port Said Airport. There, the dispatches stated, he was met by Port Said Governor Mohamed Saeef Talal, who said he would turn the Israeli over to Government authorities in Cairo. Nathan was reportedly uninjured in the crash landing. Later he was ordered deported from Egypt.)

Nathan, who is 38, was born in Persia. He had been a pilot in the British Royal Air Force and later flew for the E1 A1 Israel Air Lines. In last November’s general elections in Israel, he ran as an independent candidate for the Knesset (Parliament), promising that, if elected, he would fly to Cairo to request Nasser to open peace talks with Israel. He was badly beaten in the election campaign.

Several weeks ago, Nathan announced that he was seeking signatures from Israelis to back his peace appeal. He said that if he received 100,000 signatures by March 8, he would attempt his peace mission.

This morning, Nathan arrived at the small Israeli airport near Herzliah where he had parked his two-seater steerman aircraft. He told newsmen, some of whom had accompanied him to the airport, that he had received 70,000 signatures to his peace petition from Israelis, and that he had also received letters approving his campaign from various outstanding world personalities, including Lord Bertrand Russell of Britain and Premier Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya.

OBTAINS CLEARANCE IN ISRAEL FOR A FOUR-HOUR ‘TRAINING FLIGHT’

At the airport, Nathan requested and obtained clearance for what he called a “training flight.” He said he had sufficient fuel to last him four hours. He issued a statement to Nasser, declaring that he was unarmed and did not even carry a radio in his plane, as a sign of peaceful intentions. In his appeal to Nasser, he stated: “Please ensure my safe landing at Port Said.”

He told newsmen at the airport that he had left a will with his attorney in Tel Aviv, to make sure that payments due for the airplane are met, and that he had also willed some paintings that he owns to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. “I have a clear plan,” he stated, “for bringing peace between Israel and the Arabs. All that has to be done is to open negotiations. The rest should be left to the leaders of the different countries.”

As Nathan’s small plane took off in a general southerly direction, Israeli fighter planes took to the air and followed him a short distance, but did not try to force him down. His announced peace mission to Nasser had not been given much credence in Israel until he actually flew off toward Port Said.

NEXT STORY