Security Council Orders Immediate Cease-fire in Negev; Asks Jews and Arabs to Negotiate
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Security Council Orders Immediate Cease-fire in Negev; Asks Jews and Arabs to Negotiate

The Security Council today ordered an “immediate and effective cease-fire” in the Negev. The vote was unanimous.

The Council also ordered the Israelis and Egyptians to negotiate on three specific points raised by acting mediator Dr. Ralph Bunche in a report to the Council released here late last night. The vote in this case was nine for, none against and two abstentions–the U.S.S.R. and the Ukraine. The issues which must be negotiated under the Council order are:

1. The withdrawal of both parties from positions not held prior to the latest outbreak of fighting in the Negev; 2. Acceptance of conditions set forth in a U.N. truce supervisory order of last month, which provided that the Jews and the Egyptians would each have six hours daily use of specific roads into the Negev which were partially controlled by both parties; and, 3. Settlement of the outstanding problems in the Negev and the permanent stationing of U.N. observers throughout the area. The last point may be negotiated either directly or through a U.N. intermediary.

The Council also adopted a resolution, offered previously by the British and Chinese, to facilitate the work of the truce commission. However, before it was voted, its authors accepted two amendments: The first, sponsored by the Soviet Union, “advised the mediator on the advisability of an equal distribution of (truce supervision) personnel through the territories of both parties;” the second, suggested by Israeli representative Aubrey Eban, that a request for a report on the investigation into the assassination of Count Folks Bernadotte be omitted since Eban had already reported on progress thus far and since judicial proceedings were in progress in Israel.


Meanwhile, Israeli circles here today expressed indignation that Dr. Bunche’s report to the Council tended to place responsibility on the Israelis for the situation which led to the Negev outbreak. These same circles pointed out that the Israeli convoys which were attacked by the Egyptians on Oct. 15 moved in accordance with the U.N. decision opening the roads to the Jews for six hours.

The acting mediator’s report asserted that the Jews refused to either submit their air supply convoys to U.N. inspection or halt them, as demanded by the Arabs, until the land convoy system was in effect. This state of affairs, Dr. Bunche insisted, gave the Egyptians a legalistic excuse for refusing to honor the U.N. ruling and left the U.N. observers in a “helpless and ineffective position” when the Jews informed them that their convoys would proceed toward the Negev settlements Oct. 15. In addition, Dr. Bunche accused the Jews of limiting the movement of U.N. observers in the Gaza area. He also urged that both parties open negotiations for the return of Arabs dislocated from their Negev homes and permit their return to harvest crops.


Following the reading of Bunche’s report, Israeli representative to the U.N. Aubrey S. Eban told the Security Council that the acting mediator had misrepresented the entire situation in the Negev. “There would have been no need for any Israeli air lifts to the Negev if the Egyptians had allowed Jewish convoys to pass through as agreed upon and as ordered by the late mediator Count Folke Bernadotte,” he stated.

“The whole situation developed because, for a period of many weeks, there was an intolerable situation in the Negev,” Eban declared. “Jewish settlements could not be supplied and there was no other way for Israel but to extend its own air route.” Israel had on many occasions stated very clearly that it would comply with all decisions as ruled by the U.N., he added.

The Israeli representative asserted that the present attack in the southern desert, and the accusations against the government of Israel, are coinciding very strangely at a time when certain U.N. officials are trying to persuade the Israeli Government that it should–of its own free will–let the Negev drop.

“This is an impossible situation,” Eban said. “Israel regards the Negev as Israeli territory and those things are regarded by Israel as a political maneuver which is bound to fail. Exactly as hitherto, Israel is ready to comply with general conditions of the truce supervision board in the Negev. However, as long as Israel will not have free passage in order to supply its own settlements, Israel does not see any possibility to stop the air convoys out there.

“As to the rest, naturally Israel agrees to the cease-fire and Israel is ready to have direct or indirect negotiations with the Egyptians to comply with the letter and spirit of previous decisions taken by the supervision board as regards the general situation in the Negev,” Eban pointed out.

The Egyptian and Syrian representatives, addressing the Council, demanded amid great agitation that the Jews order an immediate cease-fire. Apparently, they had had news that the military situation in the Negev favored the Israelis. Following the Arabs’ speeches, the Council adopted the resolutions demanding immediate cease-fire.

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