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Israel Rejects Proposal for U.N. Patrol Boats on Suez Canal

Israel has rejected proposals by the United Nations cease-fire observers stationed in the Suez Canal area that patrol boats manned by United Nations personnel be permitted to ply the waterway, it was learned today. At present, under an Israeli-Egyptian agreement, neither side is permitted to use the canal except for Egyptian launches carrying supplies to foreign freighters stranded in the canal since the June war.

The Israelis are concerned that the principle of “mutuality” which, they argue, is the basis of the agreement on use of the canal, be maintained and insist that its bipartite character be preserved. To make the U.N. a third party to the agreement, they hold, would be to dilute the character of the agreement and weaken Israel’s future position.

The observers’ request for the right to maintain water patrols followed the incident last week in which Egypt attempted to send eight launches carrying soldiers through the canal. Israeli forces challenged the invaders and sank three of the launches. U.N. observers were said here to have reported that the vessels were not intercepted in the canal but in international waters. Israeli sources deny this and say that the three launches sunk in the canal are evidence of the Egyptian violation of the no-passage agreement.

Israeli sources reported further incidents from the canal area Friday when the Egyptians in positions south of Port Said used mortars to lob shells over the waterway at Israeli forces on the east bank. There were no casualties.

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