PARIS (Oct. 31)
A new avenue to possible peace in Palestine was opened here this week-end by Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, acting United Nations Mediator on Palestine. Bunche circulated among the five members of the U.N. Security Council’s sub-committee which is drafting a compromise of the British-Chinese demand for sanctions against Israel, a rough draft of a resolution which would have the effect of putting Security Council authority behind the request to the Israeli and the Arabs that they sit down together and negotiate a permanent peace.
It was learned late today that several hours after Bunche presented his plan to the sub-committee, the Syrians indicated that under no circumstances would the Arabs accept his suggestion to negotiate with the Jews. The Syrians remain adamant on their demand that sanctions be imposed on Israel to enforce withdrawal of its troops to positions held before the Negev battle.
From sources on the mediator’s staff it was learned earlier that Bunche had discussed the plan with both Jews and Arabs. While not revealing what the preliminary reactions were, one staff member said the plan encountered favorable in unexpected places. While all indications here point to the fact that the Political Committee may postpone consideration of a permanent solution of the Palestine problem not only until after the November 2 elections in the United States but until sometime after the present session of the General Assembly closes, it was learned that the sub-committee will consider the sanctions proposal on Tuesday. It is expected that the group will present its formal report to the Security Council Wednesday. France is still opposed to sanctions and the U.S.S.R. is unofficially reported to be prepared to use a veto to halt them.
MEDIATOR SUGGESTS DIRECT NEGOTIATIONS AND REPORTS TO COUNCIL ON PROGRESS
The draft sponsored by Dr. Bunche calls for these steps: immediate negotiations among the warring countries, either directly or through the acting mediator, aimed at settling all outstanding problems of the truce in all sectors of Palestine; conclusion of an armistice either through the withdrawal or demobilization of the armies or, alternatively, a separation of the armies to create demilitarized zones under U.N. supervision; replacement of the truce by a permanent peace, the parties pledging not to resort to armed force to resolve political problems. The draft also charges the parties and the mediator with the responsibility of reporting to the Security Council on the progress of negotiations.
A U.N. spokesman emphasized that while Bunche was sponsoring the idea of peace talks and had taken the opportunity to set down his thoughts on paper, the mediator had no authority to initiate proposals before the Security Council or any U.N. committee. Bunche was said to be hopeful that some member state would take up his idea and formally propose it.
The mediator decided to take this step after repeated postponements of the Palestine debate by the Political Committee. The series of delays and deferments persuaded him that the better course would be to press for negotiations through the Security Council. He is known to feel that direct peace talks under the sponsorship of the Council offer the only immediate prospect of achieving a constructive step while fighting 10 in progress on the north front and tension is straining the truce in all sectors.
When the Arab refusal became known here, a second Israeli spokesman said that the whole plan was becoming “academic.” He said the only positive aspect of the plan was the call for direct negotiations. “No frontier of October 14 exist for us,” he declared, “only the frontier of May 14 and sanctions will not make us retreat from them.”
A member of the Israeli delegation said that he was favorably impressed by Bunche’s suggestion, although he had not seen the text. He emphasized that Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok had repeatedly offered to negotiate a peace settlement with the Arabs. Aubrey S. Eban, chief Israeli representative at the U.N., has declared that action along this line was the most constructive contribution that the U.N. could make to peace in Palestine, he added.
BRITISH SPONSOR NEW PLAN FOR “NEUTRAL ZONE” IN NEGEV
Meanwhile, a new British plan has taken shape proposing a solution of the Negev issue. The project is designed to prepare the ground among the U.N. delegation for acceptance of the Bernadotte report by the Assembly. It was worked out in conjunction with Bunche and aims at the establishment of a neutral zone in the Negev in the area now occupied by Israeli forces.
All the Egyptian forces would be asked under the plan to quit the area within a rough square formed by the northern boundary line west to east from Majdal to a point south of Hebron and by the southern boundary line running Southeast from Gaza to a point slightly south of Beersheba. France and China also sponsor this proposal and it is supported by Canada and Belgium.
The Israeli delegation yesterday charged that “the United Kingdom persists in pressing for sanctions never previously employed in the history of the United Nations against a little state that was forced into battle with foreign invaders for reopening its own internal communications. The same power vigorously opposed sanctions when its allies invaded Palestine in May.” It accused Britain of promoting a “political settlement which would sever the Negev from Israel.”
Addressing the members of an audience at a concert by a Jewish singer here today, Eban reiterated that the Jews stand on the partition decision and demand that the frontiers be the lines held on May 14, not October 14. “What our soldiers have defended with their blood shall not be surrendered at the conference table,” he pledged.
The International Childrens Emergency Fund executive has voted, under strong British and U.S. pressure, to authorize the turning over of $6,000,000 remaining in an U.N.R.R.A. fund, for the relief of children and pregnant mothers among the Arab refugees. The decision was strongly opposed by Australia, Canada, Switzerland and the Soviet bloc.