JERUSALEM (Jul. 22)
“For once there is a Mideast crisis without Israel.” This was the reaction of many Israelis toward the events going on in nearby Cyprus. But is this true? Many observers here doubt it. The Cyprus crisis was brought up at the Cabinet meeting yesterday although it chiefly centered on a short review by Foreign Minister Yigal Allon of the efforts being made to evacuate Israelis from the beleaguered island.
Meanwhile, most Israeli public opinion appears to be in sympathy with Turkey for several reasons: the Greek military regime is not popular here; there is a feeling that the Greeks asked for the Turkish invasion by inciting the coup d’etat which overthrew Archbishop Makarios; and because of Makarios’ friendship with the Arab states.
CYPRUS STRUGGLE HAS LESSON FOR ISRAEL
Although Turkey is Moslem she is considered more friendly to Israel than is Cyprus. There are charges d’affaires in Israel and Turkey. There is an Israeli Embassy in Cyprus, but no Cypriot representation in Jerusalem. Turkish presence in Cyprus means. Israelis hope, less Soviet and Arab influence on that island. Finally — as long as the Cyprus crisis is in the headlines, the world spotlight turns away from Israel and the pressure on Israel for a quick decision may be somewhat loosened.
The Likud Knesset faction has asked for an urgent motion to be placed on the agenda, claiming the Cyprus crisis has a lesson for Israel — that a country cannot depend on the United Nations to secure agreements made between two parties.
Can the situation affect Israel militarily? The army spokesman reacted with “no comment” to the question and would not say whether Israel has reinforced its lines following the Turkish invasion. However, military experts were quoted as saying that due to the belligerent atmosphere in the area, and reports of seven Soviet divisions placed on alert, the Israeli army should be on increased alert. “Israel should now keep a close watch on the movements of the Arab armies,” the experts said.
Both the Turkish Charge d’Affaires and the Greek diplomatic representative called on the Foreign Ministry and explained their governments’ stand in the issue.
ISRAEL WAS WORLD COMMUNICATIONS CENTER
One satisfaction Israelis bad from the situation was the fact that Israel had turned during the weekend into a world communications center. The telephone line between the Jerusalem radio newsroom and the Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia was the only link between newsmen in the besieged hotel and the outside world. Thus, dozens of Israeli and foreign newsmen could send their reports via Jerusalem to all parts of the world.
The telephone contact operated only from Jerusalem to Nicosia and not vice-versa. Thus, it was only at 10 a.m. Saturday that Israel Radio could contact the hotel, which is situated on the border between the Greek and Turkish quarters of Nicosia. From then on the telephone lines between the hotel and the radio station was kept open almost constantly.
One Israeli reporter, Ron Ben Yishai of Israel Television, found himself in the middle of the fighting. He was standing on the hotel’s roof, watching the fighting, when a bazooka rocket hit the building and killed a Greek soldier standing only 60 feet away from the Israeli reporter.