Transportation Minister Gad Yaacobi indicated today that Israel is about to test the right of passage for its car-goes through the Suez Canal, The test may come within the next few days according to the Minister who confirmed on a radio interview that a Liberian vessel carrying 12,000 tons of sugar for Israel will attempt to pass through the waterway which the Egyptians officially reopened today. Yaacobi and other Israeli leaders have repeatedly stressed in recent days that passage for Israeli cargoes through the canal was an understanding of the January 1974 Israeli-Egyptian disengagement accord.
Premier Yitzhak Rabin said on a television interview yesterday that if Cairo refuses to allow Israeli cargoes through the canal, Israel will bring the matter up at the next stage of political negotiations.
Israeli maritime circles said this morning that the Liberian-flag ship Truxt Airens was enroute to Gaza with 12,000 tons of sugar from South Korea consigned to Israel and the administered territories. They said that the ship, which apparently has been underway for some time, was originally scheduled to discharge its cargo at Israel’s Red Sea port of Eilat but was subsequently ordered to Gaza on the Mediterranean. It was due to arrive there June 17 but the date has since been advanced to June 10, indicating that the vessel was making for the Suez Canal rather than taking the long route around Africa and through the Straits of Gibraltar.
Yaacobi said today, “I hope very much the cargo (of sugar) will go through. It will be a very sweet cargo for our relations with Egypt for the future.” He said that Egypt’s commitment to allow Israeli cargoes through the Suez Canal was not written into the disengagement accords but was conveyed in writing to the United States by Egypt at the time.
PREDICTS PERIOD OF CALM
Israel’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Mordechai Gur, predicted today that the reopening of the Suez Canal will usher in a period of calm in the Middle East. Addressing Hebrew University students, Gen. Gur said the reopening of the canal strengthened the views of those who believe that a political settlement is possible with Egypt rather than a military one. He observed that Egypt was not likely to go to war while the canal was open to navigation and that Syria and Jordan would not go to war on their own without the participation of Egypt.
In his television interview yesterday, Rabin said he didn’t expect that Israel’s decision to thin out its forces in Sinai would be sufficient to make Egypt disengage itself from its state of belligerency. “I would like to believe so, but I doubt it, “the Premier said, “I would like to integrate, into the bargaining, a commitment toward Israel to undertake a more moderate course toward peace,” he added, Rabin said an interim agreement with Egypt was possible but cautioned that the period between such an agreement and an overall settlement might run into years.
He was less optimistic over the possibilities of an interim agreement with Syria and said there might be no way for Israel to reach such a stage with that country. He said the possibilities for territorial maneuver on the Golan Heights were very limited and it was unrealistic to believe that Syria would be satisfied by an agreement that would grant her only small concessions, Nevertheless Rabin said, if a second-stage agreement is reached with Egypt, negotiations might be resumed with Syria at a later stage. He said his meeting with President Ford in Washington next week would not deal with any one specific point but would attempt to establish a common policy that would deal with more than one aspect of the Middle East problem.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.