PARIS (Nov. 15)
Before a crowded session of the General Assembly’s Political Committee, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok rejected tonight the report of Count Folke Bernadotte as a basis for discussion and claimed the whole of the Negev, including the Gulf of Aqaba, for Israel.
“The Negev is Israel’s future,” he said. Because the Bernadotte proposals would amputate this vital area awarded to Israel by the General Assembly in its Nov. 29, 1947 resolution, Israel could not discuss a settlement on the basis of the Bernadotte report, he said. He also claimed the new city of Jerusalem and a corridor linking it to the body of the Jewish state and the whole of Galilee. He rejected a suggestion that Arab refugees be returned to Israel and urged that Israel be admitted to United Nations membership.
After asserting that Israel stood at the portals of the United Nations asking for rightful admission into the family of nations, Shertok devoted the greater part of a 90-minute plea to establishing Israel’s claim to the entire Negev.
He based his case on the three-fold plea that the Negev held the “decisive future of Jewish immigration to Israel,” that the Negev area gave the Jews access to the Dead Sea which was Israel’s main source of mineral wealth, and its development was entirely dependent on Israeli initiative, and that control of the Negev afford Israel access to the Gulf of Aqaba. The Gulf, he said, is Israel’s gateway to the East and offers great promise of future trade and maritime activities.
Shertok underlined that the Arabs had left Palestine under the instigation of their leaders and it was unthinkable that they should return while the war continued. Israel’s government must maintain its refusal to allow their return but would be prepared to negotiate regarding their future at a general peace conference. Prolongation of the truce and Arab refusal to negotiate were mainly responsible for the continued misery of the refugees, he said.
Concluding, Shertok asked whether the Middle East was so small that it had no room for little Israel. He voiced the hope that Israel would yet live in peace with its neighbors. He suggested that the proposed conciliation committee should become a good offices committee to “prevail upon the parties to meet each other for peace negotiations.” But Israel was a reality, he insisted, and appealed once more to the U.N. member states to approve Israel’s admission when a formal request was made.
Earlier, the Political Committee sidestepped a concerted Arab effort to have the Arab Higher Committee seated in the capacity of a “Gaza Palestine Government.” After objections had been made by New Zealand, the United States and Russia, the Committee voted 48 to zero to seat the Arab Higher Committee only. The five Arab states abstained. The New Zealand delegate asked whether a government of Gaza existed and if so in what part of Palestine it had its seat.