October 16, 1976 Middle East: U. S., Israel Discuss Oil Dispute

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Issue Date: October 16, 1976

Middle East:
U.S., Israel Discuss Oil Dispute

Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Malcolm Toon, U.S. ambassador to Israel, met in Jerusalem September 8 and 13 to discuss the dispute concerning Amoco's oil-prospecting rights in the Israeli-controlled half of the Gulf of Suez. Israel had forced the American firm to stop operating in the area in a series of actions taken in August and September. [See 1976 Middle East: U.S., Israel Dispute Suez Gulf Oil]

Meanwhile, Rabin September 29 ordered an investigation into the leak to an Israeli newspaper of a secret Foreign Ministry document that contained a preliminary opinion on the contract between Amoco and the Egyptian government. The Foreign Ministry document, according to the September 28 edition of Haaretz, disclosed that the joint company created by Egypt and Amoco to do the oil-drilling "does not have the status of a private firm, but one identical to the status of an Egyptian corporation." The significance of this was that the U.S. government was intervening on behalf of an Egyptian company rather than on behalf of an American firm, the document stressed.

The Foreign Ministry further revealed that the Amoco-Egyptian government agreement carried an anti-Israeli boycott clause, which stated that oil taken out of the Gulf of Suez should not be sold to any country "with whom the Egyptian government publicly forbids its citizens or representatives to maintain trade connections."

Several Israeli officials, including Shlomo Avineri, director general of the Foreign Ministry, had been given lie-detector tests to determine if they were responsible for the document leak.
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