Israel Will Not Permit Arabia to Land Forces on Strait of Tiran Island, Eshkol Says

Israel will not permit Saudi Arabia to land forces on the Island of Sanapir in the Strait of Tiran which Egypt leased from Saudi Arabia and used as a military base during the June, 1967 Six-Day War, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol stated in the Knesset (Parliament) today. Mr. Eshkol, who spoke in reply to questions disclosed that the subject of the island had been raised in his talks with President Johnson in Texas last January.

Replying to a question by Uri Avneri of the Haolam Hazeh faction on the nuclear non-proliferation pact, Mr. Eshkol said that it might be a matter of weeks or a matter of years before Israel signed the draft treaty, depending on many factors. He refused to elucidate but confirmed a statement attributed to him several weeks ago that there was no need for Israel to “rush” into signing the treaty. Israel has been reported under considerable pressure from the United States to ratify the pact, an action which the U.S. Congress has yet to take. According to some reports, Israel’s compliance is a condition of the sale of 50 F-4 Phantom jet supersonic fighter-bombers.

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan told the Knesset that Israel has warned the Lebanese Government that it will be held responsible for preventing infiltration into Israel territory of armed saboteurs and terrorists. Gen. Dayan said 10 acts of sabotage or shootings occurred along the Lebanese border during the last three months. He said many of the saboteurs came from Syria but some are based in Lebanon.

Concerning Sanapir Island, Mr. Eshkol said that Israel has not gone into the question of ownership but maintains control of it by means of regular landings and patrols. The island was occupied by Israeli forces during the Six-Day War. Later Saudi Arabia approached the U.S. to pressure Israel into returning it.

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