UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Nov. 23)
In a surprise move on the eve of the expected UN Security Council vote on the Big Three resolution censuring Israel for the Kibya attack, the Government of Israel today invoked Article XII of the Israel-Jordan armistice agreement and requested UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold to call immediately a meeting between Israeli and Jordan representatives, as provided for in the armistice pact.
Article XII states that “either of the parties may call upon the Secretary General of the United Nations to convoke a conference of representatives of the two parties for purposes of reviewing, revising or suspending” most of the provisions of the armistice agreement. The article says that “participation in such conference shall be obligatory upon the parties.”
In presenting the request of the Israel Government to the U.N. Secretary General, Israel’s Ambassador Abba Eban emphasized that “to avoid further peril to a precarious security situation, it is urgently necessary to review the Israel-Jordan agreement in order to attain the implementation of all its provisions and objectives.”
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At his press conference this afternoon, Mr. Eban spoke of being on the eve of a conference between Israel and Jordan and said that “reticence and restraint” should be exercised with “reference to specific issues.”
Mr. Eban seemed to imply that he would ask that the three-power resolution condemning Israel for the Kibya raid be shelved until after the meeting with Jordan had taken place.
He said that Israel had failed to obtain a voluntary meeting which it had requested, and now was forced to invoke the compulsory clause of the armistice agreement. “We have taken the first formal step.” Mr. Eban said, “to make progress from the armistice to more stable relations in our region.”
The bold and constructive step which the Israel Government has initiated was taken at one o’clock this afternoon when Mr. Eban presented the letter invoking Article XII to the UN Secretary General. In his letter, the Israel diplomat pointed out that he had proposed in his speech to the Security Council a meeting with Jordan. However, the representative of Jordan had indicated his “non-acceptance ” of the proposal.
“In view of the acute tension on the Israel-Jordan frontier,” the letter continued, ” It is necessary to act swiftly to prevent the further impairment of peace and security in the area affected by this agreement.” For that reason, he stressed, the Israel Government felt it necessary to invoke Article XII of the armistice pact.
When asked whether it was mandatory on the Secretary General to call such a conference, Mr. Eban said that the wording of the armistice agreement says that he shall call such a conference. As to the question of time and place, Mr. Eban said he would discuss with the Secretary General the details at another meeting later in the day. (For later developments see page 3.)