Foreign Ministry Raps Thant, Says He ‘dramatized’ Situation Along Suez Canal

A Foreign Ministry spokesman has condemned United Nations Secretary General U Thant for “dramatizing” the situation along the Suez Canal and equating Egyptian “aggression” and Israeli “defense measures.” The spokesman referred to Mr. Thant’s warning in a report to the Security Council last week that “open warfare” is raging along the Suez Canal and that the situation there was worse than at any time since the June, 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The spokesman did not refer to Mr. Thant’s assertion that he may have to withdraw the 90-95 UN ceasefire observers because they had become “defenseless targets in a shooting gallery.”

The Israeli spokesman said the danger along the Suez Canal did not stem from the threat of a new war but from Egypt’s declared policy of “heating up” the area. He said the Egyptians openly proclaim this policy and obviously do not wish to change a war-like situation to one of peace. He said Mr. Thant’s fears should have been addressed only to Egypt because Israel does not initiate incidents and is ready to honor the cease-fire agreements fully. “While there is cause for concern over preservation of the cease-fire, there is no cause to dramatize the situation or to cover up Egypt’s sole responsibility for incidents,” the spokesman said.

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