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Israel and Egypt Trade Statements at U. N. on Suez Canal Blockade

July 12, 1956
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel Ambassador Abba Eban indicated at a press conference here today that Israel may take the matter of the intensified Egyptian obstruction of free passage through the Suez Canal to the United Nations Security Council.

Mr. Eban conferred on this subject in Washington yesterday with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and today with Arkady A. Sobolev, chief of the Soviet delegation to the United Nations. He said he hopes he will have seen all members of the Security Council by the end of this week.

Mr. Eban referred specifically to the question of the detention of the Greek ship Pennegia, bound for the Israeli port of Elath with a cargo of cement. He cited this case as an example of intensification of Egyptian interference since similar shipments had been permitted in the past.

The Egyptian delegation at the UN immediately issued a statement declaring that the Egyptian authorities did not refuse permission to the Pennegia to pass through the Suez Canal. The statement claimed that “the cargo of cement of the ship was no confiscated and on the contrary permission was given to the captain to proceed through the Suez Canal.” The statement also alleged that the ship has never been detained at Port Said, and if it is still there it “is due to the captain’s arrangement with the headquarters of his company.”

Replying to the Egyptian statement, a spokesman for the Israel delegation pointed out that the Pennegia arrived at Port Said on May 25, whereas today, July 11, Egypt admitted that the ship is still in Port Said. “Even in the statement issued by Egypt today it was not said that the ship had been allowed to continue to its destination, the port of Elath,” the spokesman said. He added that if the implications of the statement issued by the delegation of Egypt today are the sign of a new development which means that the ship will be allowed to continue to Elath, Israel will follow it with interest.


At his press conference today, Ambassador Eban referred to the increased tension on the Israel-Jordanian border and cited 99 Jordanian violations of the armistice pact since April 26. He recalled that when he directed the Security Council’s attention early in May to three or four Jordanian violations, the representative of Jordan made no reply. His review of the situation also took note of the change in the chairmanship of the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission.

The Israeli diplomat declared that Israel welcomed the proposed visit of Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold scheduled for next week and would take the opportunity to acquaint him with its views on the deterioration of Israel-Arab relations. He stressed that the situation had declined since the negotiations of the cease-fire by the Secretary General on April 26. Mr. Eban also stressed his agreement with the reported views of Mr. Hammarskjold that any settlement must be reached by agreement and could not be prescribed or dictated.

In his overall review of the situation, Mr. Eban noted that while he was stressing two respects–the Jordanian border and Suez Canal questions-which had worsened, the overall problem had remained unresolved in all its fundamental features. He added that while Israel would have preferred a more dynamic move in the direction of a peace settlement in the first instance. the very least that could be expected was full compliance with the armistice agreements.

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