TEL AVIV (Jul. 21)
The Persian Gulf War allies have agreed to a plan that will facilitate the passage of ships to the port of Eilat, which have been intercepted by U.N. forces responsible for enforcing the naval blockade of Iraq.
Under the new procedure, Israel will give U.N. forces five days’ notice for cargo ships passing through the Straits of Tiran that weigh over 8,000 tons, and the vessels will then be permitted free passage to Eilat.
Smaller ships would still be inspected.
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department informed the Israeli Embassy in Washington that the plan had been accepted by the other nations participating in the U.S.-led naval blockade: Australia, Britain, Canada and France.
The five countries are part of the coalition assembled under the auspices of the U.N. Security Council after Iraq’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the Persian Gulf War.
The allies agreed that it was “unjust and absurd” to halt Israeli ships bound for Eilat on the pretext that they might be smuggling military contraband to Iraq, Israel’s archenemy.
With the new plan, Eilat is expected to receive a new lease on life.