Arabs, Israel Ask Palestine Debate at U.N. General Assembly

The Palestine question in all its ramifications will appear on the agenda of the forthcoming General Assembly of the United Nations as a result of weekend action by the Arab and Israel delegations.

The six Arab member states, in a communication to the Secretary General over the week-end asked that the provisional agenda include the item, “the Conciliation Commission for Palestine and its work in the light of the resolutions of the United Nations.”

Israel delegation chief Abba S. Eban, on being apprised of this development, immediately countered by calling for a “full and balanced discussion” of the Palestine issue rather than leave discussion to just those points the Arabs preferred to raise.

Mr. Eban asked the Secretary General for inclusion of the item, “violation by Arab States of their obligations under the Charter, United Nations resolutions and specific provisions of the general armistice agreements concluded with Israel, requiring them to desist from policies and practices of hostility and to seek agreement by negotiation for the establishment of peaceful relations with Israel. “

This request was made, the Israeli spokesman told the Secretary General, “in order to enable the General Assembly to consider this question on the basis of a balanced and comprehensive examination of the situation in all its aspects.”

DISCUSSION FORCED BY ARAB STATES’ ACTION

Until a series of closed meetings of the Arab delegations here last week, it had been hoped that for the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Palestine question would not be on a General Assembly agenda. It was pointed out that no useful purposed could be served by debating the Palestine issues all over again and reviving tension and bitterness at a time that was regarded as conducive to approaches for an Arab-Israel understanding.

When the Arabs moved, however, to force discussion of the Palestine issue and circulated a long memorandum violently attacking Israel, the Israelis had no recourse but to submit their own agenda item to ensure full discussion not restricted merely to the points the Arabs wanted to bring to public attention.

Israel’s reluctance to see the issue raised at this time was expressed here today by Gideon Raphael of the Israel delegation who, in reply to a question, said that “whenever there was a slight chance of a settlement, the intervention of the annual, traditional Palestine discussion brought it to naught.”

The Arabs, in submitting their agenda item, announced that they might have resolutions to introduce in the future. They accompanied their letter by a long memorandum repeating their standing charges against the “Israelite authorities” and alleging that certain powers, along with Israel, sought a solution of the Palestine problem outside the United Nations. The memorandum warned against the “illusion” that the Palestine problem is settled and warned against a policy of “condonement or indifference” to Israel’s “arrogant defiance of the international organization to which it owes its existence.”

This document was assailed in a statement by Israel Ambassador Eban who said that the Arabs, “having refused to settle any outstanding questions by negotiation and opposing every attempt at agreement or even contact, ” had put together a document designed to increase tension at a time when there was some slight chance of alleviation. He described Israel’s constant readiness to negotiate and her desire for peace and said that Israel would have been glad to allow tensions to subside and to pursue settlement by negotiation whenever the other side was ready.

That the discussion on Palestine issues may range far was indicated today by Mr. Raphael when, in reply to a question, he said that the question of Egypt’s blockade of Israel-bound shipping was not excluded under the agenda item submitted by Israel.

NEXT STORY