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Tuesday, 19 March 1957

Mr CASEY - Replying in general to the various matters inherent in the honorable member's question: Yes, I believe that the honorable member's assumptions are generally correct. Israel has been denied passage for her ships through the Suez Canal by Egypt for a number of years - six, seven or eight years. This is, in the first place, in contravention of the Israeli-Egyptian armistice agreement. Secondly, it is in contravention of the Constantinople Convention of 1888. If rights of passage are still denied to Israel by Egypt in the future, that denial will also be in contravention of a more recent instrument - the resolution of the United Nations Security Council last October, which was accepted unanimously, and which laid down the so-called " six principles ", including the freedom, and the right, of any country, and all countries, to passage through the Suez Canal. There was also the fact that, as the honorable gentleman has said, the question of the Egyptian-Israeli relationship was before the United Nations Security Council in, I think, 1951, and that Egypt was directed to cease her attitude of belligerency towards Israel. That resolution of the Security Council was adopted unanimously. That was before Russia had espoused the cause of the Arab nations in the Middle East. Egypt took no notice whatsoever of that instruction, so I think that, generally, it can be said that Egypt has been flouting not one, but a number of authorities and international engagements over a period of recent years. The reaction of Israel in recent times is, as I ventured to express publicly, in my opinion entirely understandable.

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