Golda Meir Appeals to Arabs for Peace at U. N. Assembly; Challenges Russia
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Golda Meir Appeals to Arabs for Peace at U. N. Assembly; Challenges Russia

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Combining firmness toward the Arab states with pleas for Arab-Israeli peace, Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, today challenged Israel’s Middle East neighbors to adopt a realistic attitude and concede that the Jewish State is here to stay. She enunciated her government’s foreign policies in her first formal address to the General Assembly this session.

“Israel is here, growing, developing, progressing,” Mrs. Meir declared. “We are an old, tenacious people and, as our history has proved, not easily destroyed.”

Addressing the Arab delegates directly, Mrs. Meir said: “Like you, we have regained our national independence and as with you, so with us, nothing will cause us to give it up We are here to stay. Israel will exist and flourish even without peace, but surely a future of peace would be better both for Israel and for her neighbors. We have not the slightest doubt that eventually there will be peace and cooperation between us. We are prepared, we are anxious to bring it about now.”

Mrs. Meir also challenged the Soviet Union on its Middle East policy and specifically named Russia’s Foreign Minister, Andrei A. Gromyko. Citing the fact that Mr. Gromyko has already told the General Assembly that the USSR places “much emphasis” on peaceful co-existence between states, Mrs. Meir said that Israel stands committed to co-existence “with all its heart and soul.”

“But,” Mrs. Meir asked, “is the massive and uninterrupted inflow of weapons of destruction into our region, to states that deny the right of existence to a neighbor state, remotely likely to bring about the desirable end? We believe that is a question which answers itself, and we feel entitled to ask Mr. Gromyko whether the principle he has adumbrated for all does not apply also to our part of the world.”


Declaring that there is “a deadly spiral” in the Middle East through the provision of arms to the Arab states, not only by the Soviet Union but also by “other” countries, Mrs Meir quoted Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to prove her contention that the armaments race in the Middle East is “risky business.”

Mrs. Meir pleaded with the Arab states to shift from an armaments race to economic developments. She pointed out that Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Egypt have been spending relatively small amounts for health and education but their “defense” budgets have amounted to at least $930, 000, 000 in the last three years.

On behalf of Israel, she assured the Assembly that the Jewish State is as much interested in global and regional disarmament as are all other countries. However, she pointed out, violations of the UN Charter in the Middle East constitute a “basic factor in the unrest and tension in our area.” Egypt, she continued, is operating the Suez Canal “under an illegal system of discrimination,” disregarding not only a Security Council decision of 1951 providing for freedom of passage through the waterway, but flagrantly violating principles adopted by the Council only a year ago.

She pointed out that “Arab political terrorism and obstruction” and “the ramified boycott operations of the Arab League against Israel” affect even the work of the UN specialized agencies in the fields of health, education and agriculture.

Mrs. Meir reminded the Assembly that Israel has addressed, through Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, questions regarding Egypt’s and Syria’s insistence on maintenance of a state of war with Israel.” The Secretary General has received no reply from either Arab country, Mrs. Meir said.

Alluding to the vituperative call issued in the Assembly last week by Saudi Arabia s spokesman who called for the liquidation of Israel, the Israeli Foreign Minister said that the Saudi Arabian statement “was perhaps too ludicrous to be worthy of notice.”

One of the basic questions regarding the Middle East, Mrs. Meir said, is whether the Arab states “are ready to change their outlook and policy and to bring them into conformity with charter principles–especially those which concern the independence and integrity of each member state.”

The position of Israel has been stated on many previous occasions and remains exchanged. It seeks peace above all. It remains ever ready to defend itself if attacked, but it has never had and has now no aggressive intentions or designs against the integrity or independence of any of its neighbors.” As a preliminary to peace in the area, Mrs. Meir went on, “it might be useful to conclude agreements committing the parties to policies of non-aggression and specific settlement.”


Dr. Yusuf Haikal, chairman of the Jordanian delegation to the United Nations, preceded Mrs. Meir at today’s Assembly session and proposed that the Assembly undertakes four – point program for solution of the “Palestine problem.”

Dr. Haikal’s program proposed: 1. United Nations action to stop “unrestricted Zionist immigration” into Israel. 2. Creation of a United Nations committee for custody of Arab properties in Israel and the collection and distribution of these properties “for the benefit of their rightful owners, the Palestine Arab refugees.” 3. The return to the Arabs of the territory “which Israel unlawfully occupies from the part of Palestine that the United Nations decided should remain Arab.” 4. The return of all the Arab refugees “to their homes in Palestine and the compensation of their losses.”

The halting of Jewish immigration into Israel is “most imperative,” Dr. Haikal said. This immigration, he declared, poses “a most real and immediate danger to the area, and should be stopped even regardless of sovereign rights.” Placing Jewish immigration into Israel under international control, he said, “would allay some of the deeper fears responsible for the rapid deterioration of the situation.” The Jordanian delegate warned the Assembly that “time is running short in the Near East.”


Replying to Dr. Haikal directly, Mrs. Meir told the Assembly “the only area in the Middle East in danger of Israel expansionism is the desert within Israel. We intend to go deeper into that desert and make it more fruitful than ever.” As for Dr. Haikal’s call for international control of Jewish immigration into Israel, the Israeli Foreign Minister stated with firm emphasis: “Immigration is a purely internal matter. Israel and Israel alone will determine that policy. And that policy is very well known: the doors remain and will always remain open.”

Salah el-Din Bitar, Foreign Minister of Syria, told the General Assembly that the only reason Syria “was under the necessity to buy arms for its own self-defense” was because of “the great quantities of arms given to Israel from Western Powers.” Like the Jordanian spokesman who addressed the Assembly earlier, Mr. Bitar condemned wide scale immigration into Israel. “The continuous influx of immigrants into Israel constitutes one of the imperatives of the interconnection among colonialism, imperialism and Zionism,” he said.

Assailing Secretary of State Dulles for his “unjust and unjustified attacks against Syria. Mr. Bitar told the Assembly that it must remember that the United States actually constitutes the principal center of Zionist activity in the world.” The spokesman for the Damascus Government accused the United States of interfering in the Middle East and said that Israel was the vanguard of imperialist and colonial policies in the region.

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