U.N. Secretary General Reports on Sinai; Insists on Israel’s Withdrawal
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U.N. Secretary General Reports on Sinai; Insists on Israel’s Withdrawal

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Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold’s report on the state of the withdrawal of Israeli, British and French forces from Egyptian territory, awaited with a considerable amount of trepidations, was issued today and turned out to be comparatively favorable to Israel.

While insisting that all Israeli forces must withdraw behind the old demarcation lines, Mr. Hammarskjold recognized that “the international significance of the Gulf of Akabe may be considered to justify the right of innocent passage through the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf in accordance with recognized rules of international law.

However, he pointed out that he has not considered a discussion of this point because it does not “fall within the mandate “established for him in the General Assembly resolution of November 4, 1956 calling for “withdrawal forthwith.” At the same time, he declared that “withdrawal is a preliminary and essential phase in a development through which a stable basis ray be laid for peaceful conditions in the area.”

The Secretary General’s definition of the United Nations Emergency Force’s role was also considered significant and as holding out hope that he favored and would back a prolonged stationing of UNEF forces at Sharm El Sheikh commanding the Gulf of Akaba and from which Egypt had maintained its blockade of Israel shipping, and perhaps also the Gaza Strip. He said that the basic function of UNEF, “to help maintain quiet, ” gives the force “great value as a background for efforts toward resolving such pending problems, although it is not in itself a means to an end.”

It would be difficult to see how the international force could be such a “background” if it did not exist in the areas where it is needed for such a task most, as in the Akaba and Gaza sections. In this connection, an influential Latin American. delegate, Francisco Urrutia of Colombia, is suggesting the General Assembly adopt a resolution authorizing Mr. Hammarskjold to station UNEF forces in the two areas. The importance of Sr. Urrutia’s suggestion lies in the fact that he is a member of Mr. Hammarskjold’s advisory commission on the Middle East and a member of the Security Council.


The Secretary General in his report also recognized that withdrawal, like the ceasefire, would solve nothing permanently, and called attention to the fact that the Assembly, in resolving these two matters, did not disregard “all the other aims which must be achieved in order to create more satisfactory conditions than those prevailing during the period preceding the crisis.” Some of these aims, he said, were mentioned in the Assembly. “Others were to be found in previous decisions of the United Nations, All of them call for urgent attention,” he stated.

But while the great majority of the decisions and resolution’s taken in the past concerning the perennial “Palestine question” have been against tie Arab states, including that calling for an end of the Suez blockade, the danger lies in the certainty that the Arab states will take this to mean that Mr. Hammarskjoid was backing a return to the original partition resolution, along with the call for the internationalization of Jerusalem and the solution of the refugee problem–the three preconditions the Arabs insist upon for peace talks with Israel.

The report notes that as of January 14, Israel had agreed to evacuate by January 22 all of the territory it was holding with the exception of Sharm El Sheikh and the Gaza Strip. As to the former, Mr. Hammarskjold said that Israel was prepared to enter into conversations with the Secretary General and the UNEF commander with the Israel Chief of Staff concerning the Akarea under consideration. As to Gaza, he said that Israel’s intentions have not yet been made known to him.


The Secretary General made it plain again that he considers Gaza as in front of the armistice lines established between Egypt and Israel, and that the Jewish State must withdraw from the Strip. “Further discussions with the representatives of Israel are required on this point,” he said.

The Hammarskjold report reflects the results of Israel’s constant reminders of fedayeen activities and the fear of their renewal in force. It calls for “a general” observance” of both the Assembly resolution demanding an end to them and the armistice agreement which was supposed to outlaw these incursions. It calls for all parties to cooperate with the UN Truce Supervisory Organization in efforts to prevent raids, and looks forward to liaison between UNTSA and UNEF when the two UN forces meet after withdrawal is completed. It is hinted in the report that Mr. Hammarskjold would like to see some UNTSA ‘s responsibilities transferred to UNEF.

Mr Hammarskjoid said he would like to see Israel and Egypt reconfirm “their undertakings to desist from raids and to take active steps to prevent incursions” and that the reaffirmations should be solicited from them when withdrawal is completed.

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