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Tuesday, 19 March 1957

Dr EVATT - 1 desire to ask a question of the Minister for External Affairs, in relation to the situation in the Middle East which, according to all accounts, is becoming increasingly dangerous. I draw the attention of the Minister to certain suggestions I made some two months ago to the effect that the Australian Government should endeavour to see to it that consideration of the dispute betwen Egypt, on the one hand, and, broadly speaking, the user nations, including Australia, on the other - one of two series of disputes - was resumed at the point at which it was left when the United Nations' decision was given in respect of the military operations in con- * nexion with the Suez Canal. As I pointed out to the right honorable gentleman, there has been informal talk about the matter but it has not been brought officially to the attention of the United Nations through the Security Council. That body adopted certain principles concerning which nothing has been done. Secondly - and this is equally important and in some respects more urgent - there is the dispute between Israel and Egypt in connexion with the free use by the ships of all nations of the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba. This dispute is affected by the question of whether there is a state of war among these nations, and it also relates to the use of the Suez Canal. There are two series of disputes. I hear a Government supporter interject that my question is too long. I am sorry that it is so long, but it may become more understandable to the honorable gentleman if he listens. I am asking the Minister whether he will examine that matter, and see whether the Australian Government can do something to bring these nations together and, if that fails, bring' the subject again to the attention of the United Nations, which has jurisdiction in the matter.

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