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Eban and Dayan Differ on Action Against Nasser Blockade of Suez

July 27, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Sharp differences of opinion developed publicly today between Abba Eban, former Israel Ambassador to the United States, and Moshe Dayan, former Israel Army Chief of Staff, as a result of the latter’s urging Israel to adopt a policy of returning “hostility for hostility” against the United Arab Republic blockade of the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping.

Expressing opposition to Mr. Dayan’s view, Mr. Eban said that fewer people now shared the idea of turning to hostilities than before the Sinai campaign, Israel’s foreign policy makers, he declared, would hardly find it possible to adopt any other policy than that which they followed today.

Mr. Dayan made his “hostility for hostility” proposal in an article which appeared simultaneously in the Hebrew newspaper Davar, organ of the Histadrut, and in the Jerusalem Post. His article appeared a day after the United Arab Republic made a display of its military power in a three-hour parade in Cairo at which the Egyptian Field Marshall Abdel Hakim Amir delivered a threatening speech against Israel.

Mr. Dayan, in offering his policy proposal, contended that slogans like “taking diplomatic steps” in dealing with UAR hostility were “foggy” and would not serve any purpose. He added that getting agreement with the UAR by political means “is conditioned by our capability to get the same agreement by economic and military pressure.”

He asserted that a repetition of Israel’s 1956 Sinai campaign would be “impractical” unless it was carried out in accord with a worldwide policy of seeking a change in the political structure of the Middle East while following the UAR practice “of robbing ships and confiscating goods. ” The policy of “hostility for hostility,” he contended, would deter the UAR from continuing the present hostility policy against Israel. “Even if we cannot bring about a complete reversal of her policy, we can at least exact a high price for any attack on us which would make any attack on us more difficult, ” he added.

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