Four-power Resolution at U.N. Demands Israel Halt Drainage of Huleh Swamps
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Four-power Resolution at U.N. Demands Israel Halt Drainage of Huleh Swamps

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The United States introduced a four-power resolution in the U.N. Security Council today calling upon Israel to halt its Huleh development project until an agreement for its continuance is arranged through the chairman of the Syrian-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission.

The resolution also rebukes Israel for its “aerial action” on April 5 against Syrian army posts, but avoids any direct rebuke to Syria for its military action against Israel.

It is expected the resolution will be bitterly criticized by Abba Eban. It was backed by France, Britain and Turkey in addition to the United States. The resolution was, in fact, aimed chiefly at Israel throughout. Its additional provisions called for faithful observance by both sides of their armistice agreement, for acceptance of the Mixed Armistice Commission’s interpretation of the agreement in the case of any dispute.

The resolution insists that all decisions of the Mixed Armistice Commission be considered final, instructs both parties not to boycott the Mixed Armistice Commission meetings and endorses the view of U.N. Truce Supervisor Maj. General William E. Riley, which is opposed to that of Israel, that the U.N. truce organization has ultimate ### supervision over the civilian administration and policing of the demilitarized zone.

The resolution, finally, calls upon Israel to allow “forthwith” all Arab civilians removed from the demilitarized zone for the work project to return to their homes. It instructs that no transfer of persons be undertaken without the approval of the chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission. The resolution requires Gen. Riley to submit a report on compliance with it and allows for the enlargement of Riley’s staff in Palestine.


In introducing the resolution, Ambassador Warren Austin of the United States emphasized that the purpose of the resolution was to throw the Israel-Syrian problem back to the Mixed Armistice Commission and to strengthen the authority and the responsibility of the U.N. set-up in the field in doing so. He made clear that the members of the Security Council had given great weight in arriving at their decision as embodied in the resolution to the reports from Acting Truce Chief Col. Bennet de Ridder and to the statement by Gen. Riley before the Council last week.

Mr. Austin said he considered the basic cause of the trouble was the conflict of views over the rights and responsibilities of de Ridder in the demilitarized zone, and the resolution was clearly aimed at affirming the supremacy of the position of the Mixed Armistice Commission chairman in all disputes in the zone, including, obviously the question of the Huleh drainage project itself.

The U.S. delegate pointed out that he saw no reason why the present difficult could not be solved as effectively as the Mt. Scopus and El Auja situation. He said also that the United Nations could be expected to accept any solution that was agreed upon by both parties.

The one recognition given by Mr. Austin to a point of view frequently expressed by Israel was in his statement that permanent peace could only come in the area through “decisive negotiations directly between the parties, especially when avenues of direct negotiation exist.” He apparently referred to the Palestine Conciliation Commission.


The most unequivocal blow to continuance of the Huleh project was struck by Sir Gladwyn Jebb of Britain. He stated flatly that the United Kingdom regarded the question of sovereignty in the demilitarized zone as being “perfectly clear,” namely Neither government exercises sovereignty in the demilitarized zone.”

Although Israel has been vigorously contending that the armistice agreement called for no such commitments, the British delegate asserted that his interpretain was that of an interpretive note of June 26, 1949 of Dr. Relph Bunch which he said was formally accepted by both Israel and Syria. Jebb went to some length to sties that the truce supervision organization, the Mixed Armistice Commission, should have and be considered by all parties to have paramount authority on all question between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Prior to the introduction of the four-power resolution, the Security Council this afternoon received a report from Col. de Ridder stating that Israel had agreed to withdraw all military and paramilitary forces from the demilitarized zone, but no formal agreement on this matter had been received as yet from the Syrian Government. Col. de Ridder also informed the Security Council that he had directed the Israel land Development Company to cease immediately all drainage work in the area of lake Huleh and the River Jordan “until such time as agreement can be reached under supervision of the chairman or through directives or resolutions of higher authority.”

(At the time the Bulletin went to press no vote had been taken on the resolution, nor had Ambassador Eban yet commented on the proposal.)

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