Israel ‘freezes’ Programs with Ceylon; Response to Ceylon’s Break with Israel

Israel announced today that it was “freezing” all development cooperation programs with the government of Ceylon in response to the latter’s decision to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel until it withdraws from all Arab territories occupied in the June, 1967 Six-Day War. The Israeli move will effect about a half dozen Israeli experts currently engaged In planning two regional settlement projects is Ceylon. They will be withdrawn, but Ceylonese trainees now in Israel will not be asked to leave prior to completion of their training according to schedule. The Israelis now in Ceylon started their work six months ago and were supposed to remain there for several years. The Foreign Ministry statement announcing the suspension said it was taken with “regret.” The statement observed that Israel did not make its technical development aid dependent upon the policies of the recipient countries. However, in a case where the country suspends diplomatic relations, Israel has no alternative. The statement noted that Israel did not react when Ceylon took positions unfriendly to Israel in the past but these had always stopped short of breaking diplomatic relations.

The Israeli statement emphasized that Israel “has no obligation under the terms of the Security Council resolution or international law to alter the cease-fire lines in default of the establishment of a permanent peace.” It said further that the Ceylonese step would “serve no positive purpose and certainly not the cause of peace.” Ceylon, the Foreign Ministry asserted, “would have done better to use its relations with the Arab states to influence them to respect the cease-fire in accordance with the Security Council resolution and to achieve an agreement between the parties on the establishment of a Just and lasting peace.” Ceylon, an island nation just south of the Indian sub-continent, is a member of the British Commonwealth that received independence in 1946. The majority religions are Buddhist and Hindu. Only seven percent of its 12 million population professes the Moslem faith.

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