Israel Issues Dominate U. N. Plans for International Police Force
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Israel Issues Dominate U. N. Plans for International Police Force

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Plans for the formation of the United Nations international police force “to secure and supervise” the end of hostilities between Israel and Egypt progressed rapidly here today but two big questions dominated the atmosphere here.

These questions were: 1. Will Israel withdraw its military forces from the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza and go back to the old armistice demarcation lines? 2. If Israel refuses to withdraw its troops behind the old armistice lines, will the UN command take military action against Israel’s forces?

Pressure in the direction of forcing Israel’s troop withdrawal was seen in a Franco-British announcement that the British and French troops in the Suez area have ordered a cease fire but want assurance from the UN that the new international force will be competent to “secure and supervise the attainment of the objectives” spelled out in one of the important resolutions adopted last night. That resolution spoke specifically of a ceasefire–which has already been attained–and of Israel’s troop withdrawal.

Plans for the UN’s police force were placed before the United Nations today by Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, preparing the groundwork for efforts to obtain answers to the two important questions facing the Assembly.

Mr. Hammarskjold announced that seven countries have so far offered to contribute troops to the UN command. These are: Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Pakistan and Finland. Maj. Gen. E. L. M. Burns, until now chief of the UN Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine, has already been appointed to head the UN command. He is understood to have asked for a force of between 7,000 and 10,000 men. Nowhere near that number seems to have been offered by the seven countries who have volunteered to participate so far.

Mr. Hammarskjold made an effort in his report to the Assembly to define the jurisdiction of the new UN command. However, in some of the more important instances, his vague diplomatic language lent itself to contradictory interpretations.


Mr. Hammarskjold did make one point clear. The UN command cannot be stationed upon or operate in “the territory of the given country without the consent of the government of that country.” That was one of the important points of clarification requested from the Assembly several nights ago by Ambassador Abba Eban of Israel. Mr. Hammarskjold declared in his report that the UN command’s functions “can be assumed to cover an area extending roughly from the Suez Canal to the armistice demarcation lines, established in the armistice agreement between Egypt and Israel.”

In another section of his report, however, Mr. Hammarskjold declared: “There is an obvious difference between establishing the force in order to secure the cessation of hostilities with a withdrawal of forces, and establishing such a force with a view to enforcing a withdrawal of forces. It follows that while the force is different in that, as in many other respects, from the observers of the truce supervision organization it is although para-military in nature, not a force with military objectives.”

Thus Mr. Hammarskjold seemed to leave to further interpretation the real functions of the police force as a possible military arm which could be employed physically to press Israel’s armies back to the old armistice lines.

Mr. Hammarskjold made it clear in his report that Egypt has already given consent to permit the forces of the UN command in its territory. But again the question of withdrawal figured when the Secretary General added in that same context that Egyptian consent was given “in order to maintain quiet during and after the withdrawal of non-Egyptian troops.”

The UN General Assembly will meet tonight, and it is expected that Vassily Kuznetsov. First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, will follow through with the Soviet effort which was badly defeated at an emergency meeting of the Security Council last night to get UN authorization for a joint Middle East force to be formed by the Soviet Union and the United States. The U. S. made it clear that she wants no role in the proposed partnership and helped defeat the Soviet move at its very inception. A Soviet-sponsored draft resolution collapsed when the USSR could not muster the necessary seven votes in the 11-member Security Council to place its draft on the agenda.

While Israel’s position regarding withdrawal of forces remained the central concern here, talk about the possible achievement of a permanent peace between Egypt and Israel was also lacking here. That thinking was advanced here this afternoon by a spokesman for the British delegation when referring to an address in the House of Commons today by Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden.

The British Prime Minister said: “The next step should be the most rapid possible agreement on the setting up of an international force to keep the peace and on the steps to be taken toward a general settlement of the problems in the Middle East.” Asked whether the British Government saw the possibility now of propelling negotiations to ward permanent peace between Israel and Egypt, specifically, the spokesman for the British delegation replied: “Well that is certainly one of the problems in the Middle East at this time.”

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