UNITED NATIONS, N.Y (Oct. 31)
The Security Council has been convened to meet Wednesday morning, at Israel’s “urgent” request, to consider again Israel’s old complaint against Egypt’s illegal blockade of the Suez Canal. And as preparations were being made for that session, a distinct possibility was seen here that the United Nations may be ready to dig deeply, at last, into all the standing conflicts between Israel and the Arab countries.
A suggestion that the Security Council stop “burying its head in the sand” on the Israel-Arab issues was made at the last meeting of the Council, October 14, by Dr. Francisco Urrutia, chief of the Colombian delegation here, currently a member of the Council. “I wonder,” Dr. Urrutia said, “whether the time has not come for the Security Council to consider the problem fully.” At that time–as at the session to be convened Wednesday–the immediate issue was Egypt’s seizure, on September 28, of the Israeli freighter “Bat Galim,” and the arrest of the “Bat Galim” captain and crew of nine Jewish sailors.
The Council on October 14 voted to postpone action on the matte until the Egypt-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission had completed its report on the “Bat Galim” incident. Egypt has charged that the Israeli ship had fired at two Egyptian fishing boats, causing the death of two Egyptians. Abba Eban, head of Israel’s delegation here, denounced that accusation as “fiction,” as an “invention” and as a “frivolous” effort to introduce “detective literature” into international relations.
Now it is well known here that United Nations investigators established facts showing that the “Bat Galim” did not attack any Egyptian boats or cause the loss of any Egyptian lives. Delegates know that the “Bat Galim” carried only one pistol – the gun belonging to the vessel’s captain – and that even that single pistol had not been fired.
Wednesday’s meeting of the Council on an Israel-Arab issue will be the forty-seventh of that nature in one year. The General Assembly currently has before it the Security Council’s report of activities between July 16, 1953 and July 15, 1954, showing how serious the Israeli-Arab conflict is. During that year of Security meetings, exactly 45, or almost three-quarters, had been devoted entirely to what the Council calls “The Palestine Question.”
It is high time, a number of diplomats here feel with Dr. Urrutia, that full exploration of the Israel-Arab issues is needed. Some delegates are hoping that Britain’s efforts to use its “good offices” to resolve Arab-Israel conflicts may produce some concrete results. Others have a feeling that Canada might act as mediator between Israel and the Arab countries. The Acting Chief of Canada’s delegation here, Paul Martin, has been asked whether his country would now be willing to mediate between the Israelis and the Arabs. He replied that Canada would always be willing to act in the best interest of the United Nations aims toward peace, This is precisely the answer Canada gave before, when reluctantly, it consented to act with Poland and India in the three-nation commission which tackled the Indo-China problem. Thus, Martin’s answer on Israel-Arab mediation takes on greater significance than some here have attributed to it.
Another possibility is that Colombia, as a Latin American neutral in the Arab Israel conflict, might be given the job of trying to end the tensions in the Middle East. The fact is recognized, however, that no matter which nation is given the job, someone has to make a start toward bringing together the Arab nations and Israel.