President Nasser announces blockade of Straits of Tiran
Excerpt from a speech delivered by President Nasser to his troops in Sinai on May 23, 1967, announcing the new blockade:
... Yesterday the armed forces [of Egypt] occupied Sharm el-Sheikh. What does this mean? It is an affirmation of our rights, of our sovereignty over the Gulf of Aqaba, which constitutes Egyptian territorial waters. Under no circumstances can we permit the Israeli flag to pass through the Gulf of Aqaba. The Jews threaten war. We say that they are welcome to war, we are ready for war, our armed forces, our people, all of us are ready for war, but under no circumstances shall we abandon our rights. These are our waters ...
Prime Minister Eshkol Responds to blockade
Excerpt from a speech delivered by Prime Minister Eshkol to the Knesset on May 23, 1967 after Nasser announced the blockade of the Straits of Tiran:
This morning a statement by the Egyptian President was published declaring his intention to block the international waterway which passes through the Straits of Tiran and joins the Gulf of Eilat with the Red Sea to the passage of Israeli flagships and ships of other flags whose cargoes are of a strategic character.
Members of the Knesset:
Any inference with freedom of passage in the Gulf and the Straits constitutes a gross violation of international law, a blow at the sovereign rights of other nations and an act of aggression against Israel.
As the Knesset is aware, a number of Governments, including the major maritime Powers, have publicly stated, since 1957, their intention of exercising their rights to free passage through the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Eilat.
During the past few days, the Government of Israel has been in close touch with the Governments that have proclaimed and exercised the principle of free passage in these waters since 1957. After these exchanges, I can say that international support for these rights is serious and widespread.
President Johnson Responds to Mideast tensions and Egyptian blockade
Excerpt from a speech delivered by President Johnson on May 23, 1967 after Nasser announced the blockade of the Straits of Tiran:
The danger, and it is a very grave danger, lies in some miscalculation arising from a misunderstanding of the intentions and actions of others.
The Government of the United States is deeply concerned, in particular, with three potentially explosive aspects of the present confrontation.
First, we regret that the General Armistice Agreements have failed to prevent warlike acts from the territory of one against another government or against civilians or territory under control of another government.
Second, we are dismayed at the hurried withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force from Gaza and Sinai after more than 10 years of steadfast and effective service in keeping the peace, without action by either the General Assembly or the Security Council of the United Nations. We continue to regard the presence of the United Nations in the area as a matter of fundamental importance. We intend to support its continuance with all possible vigor.
Third, we deplore the recent build-up of military forces and believe it a matter of urgent importance to reduce troop concentrations. The status of sensitive areas, as the Secretary-General emphasized in his report to the Security Council, such as the Gaza Strip and the Gulf of Aqaba, is a particularly important aspect of the situation.
In this connection I want to add that the purported closing of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping has brought a new and very grave dimension to the crisis. The United States considers the gulf to be an international waterway and feels that a blockade of Israeli shipping is illegal and potentially disastrous to the cause of peace. The right of free and innocent passage of the international waterway is a vital interest of the entire international community.
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