Israel Clarifies Stand on Its Rights in Demilitarized Zone; Insists on Sovereignty

A statement clarifying Israel’s attitude with regard to its rights in the demilitarized zone questioned by Syria was issued here today by Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett. The statement aims to make Israel’s views clear prior to the meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday at which the Israeli-Syrian conflict will be taken up for discussion.

“Israel’s position with regard to its sovereignty over the demilitarized area adjacent to the Syrian border is clear and unassailable,” Mr. Sharett said in his statement issued to the press. “The area in question did not start its existence as no man’s land. It was always part and parcel of the British mandated territory. On May 14, 1948 it automatically came under Israel’s sovereignty”

“This territory was subsequently invaded by Syrian forces, but the invasion terminated with the armistice agreement and the area automatically reverted to Israel’s sovereignty. Whoever disputes this basic position has to produce proof to the contrary and cannot involve the armistice pact which avowedly refrained from entering into the whole question of sovereignty,” Mr. Sharett pointed out.

SAYS FAITHFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF ARMISTICE PACT IS THE ONLY WAY TO PEACE

Emphasizing that the Israel Government wishes to affirm to Syria her strict adherence to the Israeli-Syrian armistice agreement, Mr. Sharett continued: “As long as the agreement is valid, the government will pursue with equal determination the fulfillment of Israel’s rights and interests guaranteed by this agreement. Faithful implementation of all concerned under the aegis of the U.N. armistice provisions both in letter and in spirit is the only way to restoring peace in the troubled area and maintaining stable conditions of undisturbed security without detriment for the requirements of normal progress.”

The Foreign Minister then stressed the fact that Israel is prepared to examine the entire issue with the U.N. Security Council, and is also ready to cooperate fully with the mixed armistice commission for the settlement of such disputes as may arise from the implementation of the Israeli-Syrian armistice agreement.” The Israel Government accepted the four conditions presented by the U.N. representative, Col. Bennet de Ridder, as preliminary to the convening of the armistice commission with a view to using every endeavor to settle matters of disagreement by peaceful means. We expect in expression of the same readiness also from the Syrian Government,” Mr. Sharett said.

The Israeli Minister cited letters addressed by Dr. Ralph Bunche, U.N. mediator, to Israel and Syria substantiating Israel’s administrative authority over the demilitarized zone and the legitimacy of the drainage by Israel of the Huleh swamps in that one. He emphasized that the drainage work proceeded for many months without any protest on the part of Syria until the middle of March “when the Syrians suddenly decided to take the law into their own hands.”

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