Presidents Conference Calls for Release of Hijacked Plane, Israeli Nationals

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations urged in a statement today, the immediate release of the hijacked El Al airliner and of the 12 Israeli nationals still held in Algeria. In the statement, Rabbi Herschel Schachter, conference president, expressed “the deep concern of American Jewry over this barbaric threat to the. political and economic security of Israel and its national civilian airline, as well as to the safety of all international air travel.”

The $6,000,000 jetliner was hijacked en route from Rome to Lydda Airport on July 23 by three Arab terrorists and forced to land at Algiers Airport. The Algerian Government released, in two actions, all non-Israeli passengers and five Israeli women and three children.

Rabbi Schachter deplored the fact that the Algerian Government had failed to respond to requests to free the detainees and plane from United Nations Secretary-General U Thant and the International Civil Aviation Organization and added that “Algeria dare not allow itself to continue to appear in the eyes of the world in partnership with this uncivilized act of air piracy.”

In a related development, Trans-World Airlines rejected a proposal by the United Zionist Revisionists of America that the airline cease its weekly flights to Algeria “in view of the act of piracy committed against a civilian Israeli airplane with the collaboration of the Algerian Government.” The New York office of Air France, responding to the same appeal, told the Revisionist organization that such matters were handled only in the airline firm’s Paris office.

Charles C. Tillinghast, Jr., TWA president, condemned the hijacking in his reply, but added that TWA flights to Algeria were authorized by the United States Government as “a means of keeping channels of communications open and we feel no good purpose would be served in discontinuing these flights as long as they are permissible and authorized by our Government.” Henri Marescot, general manager of the Air France New York office, said the Revisionist appeal had been forwarded to the Paris headquarters, He called the hijacking an act of piracy.

(In Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Abba Eban said Israelis were relieved to learn that the passengers and crew were being correctly treated during their detention. He said this had intensified Israel’s hope that principles of international morality would be applied by Algerian authorities in solution of the problem by the immediate release of the plane and the remaining detained passengers and crew members.)

(In Rio de Janeiro, Jose Pinto, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, denounced the hijacking. He said, “I condemn the capture of the crew, passengers and airplane in Algeria,” and he expressed the hope that the remaining Israelis would soon be released. The Brazilian press widely denounced the hijacking and demanded release of the plane and the Israelis.)

NEXT STORY