TEL AVIV (Apr. 8)
Quiet prevailed today on the Syrian-Israeli border while the reclamation work in the Huleh area–which precipitated the armed conflict last week between the two states–proceeded undisturbed. An Israeli military spokesman said he is unable to specify whether Syrian troops were still in the Israel part of the demilitarized zone near Hamma. However, he emphasized that Syrian forces actually dominate this strip of land from their positions adjoining the boundary.
Acting on instructions from the State Department in Washington, U.S. Ambassador Monett Davis today called at the Foreign Ministry to ask for information on the abolitions by Israeli units of a number of houses in the Huleh area. He was told that the houses had been used as snipers’ hideouts against Israeli police and United Nations observers. The French Minister in Israel similarly called at the Foreign Ministry here for information on the Israeli-Syrian border situation.
Political circles here believe that the Israeli-Syrian conflict is now being shifted from the military to the diplomatic field. All indications point to the fact that there is determination to utilize the three-day calm on the border to restore the Syrian-Israeli contacts through the United Nations. The Syrian Government has so far not complained to the Mixed Armistice Commission against the demolition by the Israeli units of the houses which allegedly had been used by Syrian snipers.
An Israeli military spokesman said today that Israel is prepared to resume talks with Syria through the Mixed Armistice Commission. He revealed that the Israeli authorities have approached Col. Bennet de Ridder, Acting U.N. Truce Chief of Staff, with a proposal to this effect. Informal talks between Israeli and Syrian officials–the first since the outbreak of the conflict last week–way start tomorrow in the presence of a United Nations observer at Rosh Pinah, an Israeli settlement on the Syrian frontier.
The spokesman said that the bombing last week by Israeli planes of Syrian military position does not signify that Israel proposes to declare war. “We were forced to show the Syrians the limits of our patience,” he stated, adding that it was impossible for Israel to remain inactive after the Syrian attack at Hamma and the killing there by Syrian troops of seven Israeli civilian policemen. A similar statement was made during the week-end by Premier David Ben Gurion, who added that Israel will not permit the Syrians to block the marsh-draining work in the demilitarized zone in the Huleh area.
Syria’s aggressiveness is the “outcome of the intolerable situation emerging from the armistice agreement and the fruits of the Israel Government’s persistent appeasement policy towards every deliberate, aggressive act committed by the Syrian authorities in the last two years,” the national convention of the Herut party resolved today.