TEL AVIV (Mar. 1)
Abraham Nathan, the Tel Aviv restaurant owner, who, as a trained pilot, flew yesterday on a self-appointed “peace mission” from Israel to Egypt, returned to Israel today on his plane after being deported by the Egyptian authorities, following his landing at an Egyptian airfield in Port Said.
He was arrested upon his landing at the small Israel airfield near Herzliah on charges of leaving Israel illegally, but was freed immediately on bail and was cheered by a crowd of Israelis welcoming him as a hero. He went immediately to the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv where he was taken to the royal suite to which he had been invited as a free guest of honor by the hotel management. Hundreds of spectators cheered him as he entered the hotel.
Speaking at a press conference at the hotel, Mr. Nathan said the Egyptian authorities had treated him well. He said that the Governor of Port Said had told him he had been “authorized to inform me, on behalf of the Egyptian Government, that there was no point in President Nasser receiving me.” He also said he had given the Port Said Governor the Bible he had carried from Israel for Nasser. He added that he had intended to fly on to Lebanon but did not do so because of technical shortcomings of his plane.
Prior to his return, Israelis had signed petitions in several cities asking the Government not to try him for flying from Israel. Thousands gathered last night outside his restaurant debating the pros and cons of his flight. The crowd was so large that people spilled into the street and caused traffic slowdowns at one of Tel Aviv’s busiest streets.