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Security Council Starts Meeting on Suez; Israel Seeks Participation

September 27, 1956
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The United Nations Security Council today started deliberations on the Suez Canal issue. The opening session was marked by a strong stand in favor of Egypt taken by the Soviet delegate, who blasted Britain and France charging the two democratic powers with using “crude pressure” against Egypt and threatening Egypt with military action and economic sanctions. He was interrupted by the president of the Council who urged him to limit himself to procedural matters.

It was announced at the opening of the meeting that Israel has requested permission to participate in the proceedings of the Security Council, although she is not a member of the Council. Prior to the opening of today’s session, Israeli circles made it clear today that Israel’s case with reference to the discussions would be confined to one central theme–that Israel has the right to pass through the Suez Canal in accordance with international conventions and international law, as do all nations. Israel, it was indicated, will not enter the question of seizure of the canal by Egypt.

Ambassador Abba Eban, chief of the Israel delegation, in presenting his request today to be given the opportunity to participate in the Security Council discussions, emphasized that his request was made because of “the restrictions imposed by Egypt on the passage of Israeli goods and shipping through the Suez Canal, which violate the central principle of the international convention under which the canal is operated.” The Israeli letter added that the Security Council had taken cognizance of this matter in its resolution of 1 September 1951, which Egypt had disregarded, and in subsequent discussions in 1954 and 1955.

Attended by an unprecedented number of diplomats as onlookers, the Security Council meeting was opened today with a statement by the president of the Council, Dr. Emilio Nunez-Portuondo of Cuba, announcing that Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold had sent him a note this morning reporting the “unfortunate events” which have taken place on the Jordan-Israel border “during the last few days.” This note, he said, was distributed by him to all members of the Council this afternoon. As president of the Council, he voiced his sorrow over the loss of life and expressed concern over the developments.

The fact that he did not single out the Israel-Jordan clash of last night, but spoke in general terms of the events of the week, is considered indicative of the mood in which the Security Council is starting its meeting. The meeting is expected to last several weeks. The general sentiment at the opening meeting today was to avoid blaming Israel for last night’s raid but to consider the event as part and parcel of the general tension prevailing along the Arab-Israel borders.

Delegates of Britain, France and the United States spoke on procedure and proposed that discussion of the basic issue–Egypt’s seizure of the Suez Canal–be postponed until the middle of next week to enable the Foreign Ministers who wish to lead their delegations in the debate, to come to New York. The British delegate took note of Israel’s request to be given a seat at the Council table during the debate and said that he reserved the right to speak on this subject later. (See page 3 for Secretary of State Dulles’ views of Israel rights in Suez Canal.)

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