Bennike Seeks to Clear Jordan of Jerusalem Shelling, Israel Says

Major Gen. Vagn Bennike, head of the United Nations truce commission, was severely criticized here today by a spokesman of the Israel Army for indicating in advance that he does not intend to condemn either Jordan or Israel for the three-day shooting that took place last week in Jerusalem when the Jordanians shelled from their positions in the Old City the Jewish section of the city.

Gen. Bennike gave this indication at today’s meeting of the Israel-Jordan Armistice Commission which took place under his chairmanship. He said that it cannot be established whether Israel or Jordan fired the first shot and it would, therefore, be hopeless to try to prove who began the firing. He suggested that the Armistice Commission should not adopt resolutions, but should rather reach an agreement on measures to be taken to make recurrences of such clashes in the future impossible.

The Israel representatives at today’s meeting insisted that it is the duty of the Armistice Commission to establish who started the “small war” in Jerusalem and who broke the cease-fire. The Israel delegation brought proof to the meeting to show that the Jordanians began the shooting and that the Israelis replied only when the situation became very serious and when there were no less than eight Jewish casualties.

The Israel delegation also brought proof to show that the Jordanian attack in Jerusalem was planned in advance and that Arab reinforcements were brought to the Jerusalem positions two days before the attack was started. The Israelis pointed out that it is most important to establish who is responsible for the three-day fighting in Jerusalem and who started shooting first, in order to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the future.

The Israeli military spokesman expressed surprise over Gen. Bennike’s statement at today’s meeting of the Armistice Commission. He said that the statement of the UN truce chief amounts to pronouncing the verdict on the Jerusalem case, and implies clear bias in favor of Jordan. The Commission adjourned its meeting until tomorrow, when the Jordanians are to state their case.

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