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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr CASEY (Minister for External Affairs) - We have, of course, been in constant communication with London, Washington and other capitals on this subject. The view of the Australian Government remains as it was - that Israel has the same right as any other country for its shipping to pass through the canal. On the other hand, the attitude of Egypt on this matter, as expressed in that country's unilateral proposal for a de facto regime for the canal, is obviously carefully worded so as to enable Egypt, if she wishes to do so, to exclude Israel from the use of the canal. On this matter I refer to Egyptian propaganda by radio. The last report I had of it was about a week ago. Whether or not one can believe it reflects Egyptian Government policy I do not know. However, Egyptian radio propaganda is still to the effect that any Israeli ship that seeks to pass through the Suez Canal will be destroyed. If Egypt adopts her hitherto completely hostile attitude towards Israel in respect of the free use of the Suez Canal, and in respect of other matters also, she will be in defiance of the 1888 Convention and of the Security Council resolution of 1951, as well as of the six principles that were unanimously agreed upon by the Security Council a month or more ago. Therefore, I believe that the situation is clear and that the majority of countries would be against Egypt seeking to discriminate against Israeli shipping using the canal I do not think I can say more than that. There has certainly been constant consultation by telegram between ourselves, Great Britain and the United States of America. I should not like - and I do not think that the honorable member would like me - to deal with a hypothetical situation, or the action that might be taken if Egypt persisted in denying the use of the canal to Israel. The matter is now clearly on the plate of the United Nations, and I believe that any further action by Egypt to deny the canal to Israel must attract the immediate attention of the Security Council.

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