JERUSALEM (May. 21)
The Cabinet today approved measures taken over the weekend by the Government in reaction to the withdrawal from the Gaza strip border of the United Nations Emergency Force and the massive troop build-up by Egyptian forces along the Israeli border. The Cabinet approved the measures, which included a partial call-up of the reserves, after the Ministers heard briefings on the tense security situation from Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin.
During the three-hour session, Acting Labor Minister I. Galili presented to the Cabinet a decree empowering the Government to call up and retain civilians for essential jobs and services to keep the economy of the nation running normally if a massive mobilization should be required. No such civilians have yet been ordered to essential jobs under the decree. No other details of the lengthy Cabinet session were disclosed by the Government spokesman.
Mr. Eban sent special messages today to the foreign ministers of all major powers, stressing the dangers inherent in Egypt’s build-up of its military forces in the Sinai Peninsula. In his messages, Mr. Eban stressed that Israel is doing and will do all in her power to maintain peace in the Middle East area, but emphasized also that a situation might arise when Israel would be compelled to act in self-defense.
A spokesman for the Israeli army officially confirmed here last night that Israel has called up into active service part of its army reserves. The spokesman said this was done “in view of the large-scale build-up of the Egyptian army in the Sinai, coupled with the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force.” Declining to reveal the extent of Israel’s reserve call-up, the spokesman said only that the call was limited.
There has been no cessation of Arab terrorism along Israel’s borders. The army spokesman said that, yesterday afternoon, two charges of explosives were discovered under a bridge on the Beersheba-Arad road. The charges were diffused by the Israeli patrol that discovered them, and no damage resulted. Footprints of two men were found leading to the nearby Jordanian border, the spokesman added.
ISRAELIS SATISFIED WITH STAND OF U.S., BRITAIN AND CANADA
In general, Israeli sources noted here today, Israel is satisfied with the positions taken publicly regarding the UNEF’s withdrawal by the United States, Canada and Britain, all of whose leading diplomats have expressed dissatisfaction with the U.N.’s hasty agreement to Egypt’s request for UNEF’s withdrawal. Some sources here said they could not understand why France has, so far, remained silent on this issue, but it was understood here that the Paris Government, considered Israel’s staunchest ally, is working behind the scenes to help pacify the Middle East situation.
For the time being, except for alertness regarding the Middle East military situation, it was felt that the crisis is more political, rather than military. U Thant’s forthcoming visit to Cairo is going to be observed here with great care. There was just some likelihood, it was said here, that the U.N. Secretary-General might find it possible to visit also Israel after he had concluded his talks with Nasser and other Egyptian leaders in Cairo.
Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, was believed to have been told by Israel today that Israel would not resume its participation in the Egyptian-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission. This became known here after Gen. Bull conferred with Israeli officials at the Israel Foreign Ministry this afternoon.
The proposal that Israel resume its participation in the EIMAC was made yesterday by U.N. Thant in his report on the current Middle East critical situation to the Security Council. It was the only positive recommendation made in that lengthy report by the U.N. chief. Israel has been boycotting the EIMAC since 1956, when during the Sinai campaign, it denounced its 1949 armistice agreement with Egypt. The Commission still maintains headquarters at Gaza, in the Egyptian-controlled area, but has no office on the Israeli side.