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Security Council Sends ‘bat Galim’ Complaint Back to Mixed Unit

After a brief twenty-minute meeting on Israel’s complaint about Egypt’s seizure of the freighter Bat Galim, the Security Council today requested Maj. Gen. E. L. M. Burns, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine, to “stint no effort” to hasten a report on the incident, if possible “before the end of this month.”

The request was worded by Henri Hoppenot, of France, this month’s president of the Council, and was adopted without comment, either by the ten other members of the Security Council, or by the representatives of Israel and Egypt who were present at the Council table.

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As the Council convened this morning, its members had copies of a new report issued only an hour earlier, in which Gen. Burns informed Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold that the Bat Galim issue is at the very bottom of a long agenda facing the Israel-Egypt Mixed Armistice Commission. In the report, Burns told Hammarskjold that unless Egypt agrees to move the Bat Galim incident to the top of the agenda, he cannot even estimate the date on which the case is likely to be discussed in the MAC. There are 48 other items before this case on the MAC agenda, Gen. Burns reported.

After today’s session got under way, M. Hoppenot summarized the remarks made at the last Council meeting by the representatives of New Zealand, Great Britain, the United States, Colombia and Brazil. “It seems to be the general feeling,” said Hoppenot, “that it is up to the chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission to decide the order of importance of items on his agenda and to determine their priority. The Security Council feels,” M. Hoppenot said further, “that the chairman of the MAC should give priority to the Bat Galim incident, should stint no effort to hasten the report with the least delay, if possible before the end of this month. The Security Council hopes that the members of the Mixed Armistice Commission will help the chairman and that the latter will communicate again with the Council as quickly as possible.”

In his report Gen. Burns reviewed various Egyptian and Israeli moves in relation to the MAC agenda, which ended in a deadlock with the Egyptians insisting that the agenda be cleared of all complaints, including the Bat Galim incident, in the order in which they were placed before the body. This past Tuesday the MAC disposed of 26 non-investigated complaints, Israel and Egypt between them withdrew three others, and six were considered and settled at the meeting.

This left 48 complaints before the Bat Galim matter and the first agreed date for a meeting was November 15. It was because of this uneven handling of agenda items, plus various difficulties in setting meeting dates, that Gen. Burns refused to estimate the date on which the MAC might get to the Bat Galim case.

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