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Hammarskjold Reports on Deterioration of Israel-arab Cease-fire

The need for establishing “freedom of navigation for Israeli ships in the Suez Canal,” was stressed by United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold in a report he submitted this week-end to the UN Security Council. The report emphasized that Egypt continues to ignore the resolution adopted by the Security Council exactly five years ago.

Mr. Hammarskjold devoted his report to the “unsatisfactory implementation” by Israel and the Arab states of the cease-fire agreements which he obtained during his visits to these countries. He did not ask for a Security Council meeting to act on the situation, nor did he offer new recommendations for improving conditions in the area. However, in more forceful terms than ever before, he took the Arab governments and Israel to task for not checking border violence, and for not forestalling frontier incidents.

“If the cease-fire is permitted continuously to be challenged by the actual events, he told the Council, “it will lose its sanctity and become a dead letter which is not respected by any of the parties although still existing as a legal obligation. This will happen even when these events cannot be interpreted as indicating an intention of a government to repudiate its cease-fire assurance, for example, because the government contends that it has acted in self-defense.” He made it plain that by “self-defense” he meant the policy of retaliation pursued by Israel.

While affixing no blame to either side, the report touched on many specific points in apparent answer to Israeli contentions. The Secretary General countered Israel’s arguments for the “indivisibility” of the armistice agreements. The specific aspect of the latter point he touched on was Israel’s contention that Egypt’s Suez blockade justified Israel’s unwillingness to invoke Articles 7 and 8 of the Israel-Egyptian Armistice Agreement, with their references to the Nitzana demilitarized zone, where the Israel-Egyptian Mixed Armistice Commission is supposed to have its headquarters and the lack of which headquarters has further led to the suspension of MAC meetings.

Also countered was Israel contention that border police in that area could not be pulled back because they were needed to protect farmers and that Israeli fortifications at two points near the Syrian border were justified by the receipt by the Syrians of quantities of offensive arms. The Secretary General closed his lengthy report with a statement that the possibilities for peace “are still there, and the United Nations must continue to impress on the governments in the region their serious duty to use them.”

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