LONDON (Feb. 5)
British diplomatic circles indicated here today that they expected a new campaign by the so-called unaligned states in the United Nations to revive a formula for peace in the Middle East which was rejected in UN debate last spring. The formula, in its baldest terms, would require Israel to withdraw to its pre-June borders in exchange for an Arab declaration of non-belligerency and a Big Power guarantee of Israel’s security.
President Josef Broz Tito of Yugoslavia has been taking the initiative in pressing this solution. He has raised it in recent weeks during his extensive travels with the heads of regimes in India. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, South Yemen and Ethiopia. In talks with Emperor Haile Sellassie. President Tito arrived at a formula coupling Israeli withdrawal with a declaration of “the right to independent existence of all countries in the region.”
According to The Guardian today, President Nasser of Egypt is enthusiastically backing Marshal Tito’s initiative. The paper said that “Nasser clearly believes that the Suez Canal shootings of last Tuesday have greatly strengthened his chances of obtaining a settlement.” It said that Egypt has been ‘lobbying intensively” for international support on the canal issue and to make Israel the scapegoat for the failure to release the 15 merchant ships blocked in the canal.
The British Government indicated today that it still entertains hopes that the 15 merchant ships stranded in the Suez Canal since last June will be freed. Goronwy Roberts, Joint Minister of State, said this in a written reply to a question in the House of Commons. The question was asked by George Curry, Conservative MP, who wanted to know if the Government had made representations to Israel concerning the “prevention by Israeli forces of the clearance of obstructions in the Suez Canal by employees of the Government of the United Arab Republic.”
Mr. Roberts replied: “The Foreign Secretary is in touch with both the Israel and UAR governments and very much hopes that arrangements can still be made to secure release of the ships blocked in the canal. But the observance of the cease-fire in the canal area, is of course, a matter for the United Nations.”
Yeshayahu Anug, Minister at the Israeli Embassy here, said in a speech before the British section of the World Jewish Congress that Israel regarded the current impasse over the canal as an issue separate and apart from the rest of the Middle East dispute. He said the canal issue could be settled only if Israel received free passage through the canal like every other nation.
Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, the special United Nations envoy in the Middle East, completed another visit to Amman, the Jordanian capital today, and was expected in Jerusalem shortly. Speaking on the Israel Radio last night. Foreign Minister Abba S. Eban dismissed reports that the Jarring peace mission had failed. He said the envoy’s assignment was not “a short or easy task” and that his efforts had not reached the stage at which they could be said either to have failed or succeeded.