974.5301/2–852: Telegram

No. 399
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Egypt1


1198. 1. Dept appreciates delicacy any approach Egypt this time re SC res on freedom transit Suez Canal including vessels bound for Israel but PriMin Maher has himself informed Secy (para 1, Dept’s 3682, Feb 5 to London)2 he appreciates fully importance free passage of Canal. Notwithstanding US advice Gadel 853 to [Page 893] Paris,3 Israel appears determined (Tel Aviv Embtel 799 Feb 6)4 raise this issue in relatively near future, as least with US and UK. Public discussion matter might constitute new emotional element which wld work against overall solution of problems with Egypt since US and others who voted for res wld be compelled reaffirm position they took in SC if pressed on this matter. We continue believe present time highly inappropriate for Israel to air this question and will so inform Israel reps Wash. Emb Tel Aviv authd reiterate to Israel Govt Dept position as stated Gadel 853.

2. Request comment missions concerned re desirability making fol approach Egypt Govt:

Ideal solution for this problem wld be for it to quietly disappear through Egyptian action as part of gen lowering of temperatures. Maher Govt did not institute restrictions on Israel-bound ships. On sound basis of Egypt’s internal responsibilities vis-à-vis Canal, Egypt Govt cld quietly lift these restrictions. If this were done we wld strongly urge Israel in its own interest not to crow about it as victory over Arabs. If Maher Govt is taking new and realistic look at Egypt’s internatl position we wld think that restrictions on ships bound for Israel through Canal wld be one of first things it wld wish to rectify.

  1. Repeated to London, Paris, Ankara, Tel Aviv, Jidda, Beirut, Amman, Baghdad, and Damascus.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Document 394.
  4. Not printed.