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Israel’s Shipping Rights Loom High in Commons Debate on Suez Issue

September 14, 1956
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The right of Israel shipping to pass through the Suez Canal occupied a prominent place today in the Commons debate which followed Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden’s announcement yesterday that the Western Big Three proposed to head an association of nations to operate the Suez Canal with or without Egyptian consent.

Richard Crossman, Laborite and old friend of Israel, called for guaranteeing Israel’s right to use the waterway in any settlement negotiated with Egypt. “It would be ridiculous,” he insisted, “for us to end up with Egypt still having the right to blockade Israel and no one else. This government, which stands on principle, has consistently failed to mention the only case of blockade where Col. Nasser broke international law. On this issue there can no longer be a settlement where one nation can blockade another nation and then say the canal is free.”

A Conservative MP, J. E. Simon, suggested that Israel be invited by Britain to pass some of its tanker shipping through the canal and thus test the value of Nasser’s assurances that the waterway would be open to the shipping of all nations. Kenneth Younger, a member of the late Labor Government, cited the blockade of Israel shipping as evidence that Egypt could and would interfere with shipping regardless of who nominally owned or operated the cut.

Other MP’s warned that Egypt would make an attempt to destroy Israel, if allowed to get away with the Suez company nationalization. Conservative F. A. Burden, whose feared that Israel could not resist an attack by all the Arab states armed with modern Soviet weapons, called for British and French troops–if not Americans–to be stationed in Israel “at the earliest possible moment” to help defend the Jewish State. He also suggested that Israel be invited to join the British Commonwealth.

In the House of Lords, government spokesman Lord Chancellor Kilmuir, formerly Sir David Maxwell-Fyffe, British prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials, cited Egypt’s treatment of Israeli shipping as a horrible example of what could occur if Egypt had unfettered control of the Suez Canal. Lord Rathcaven suggested a closer link with Israel, possibly an alliance.

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