UNITED NATIONS, N. Y. (May. 21)
There have been many recent overflights by Israel and Arab airplanes over the airspace of both sides, Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold declared here today. He added that there have been more Israeli overflights over Arab airspace than Arab flights over Israeli areas.
The UN Chief made these points in answer to the very first question at a general press conference this morning. Asked specifically about this week’s incident of Israeli military jet fighters forcing down a Lebanese plane, carrying United Nations Emergency Force soldiers for a vacation in Beirut, Mr. Hammarskjold replied:
“I have no complete details in regard to the recent story about the UNEF troops on their way to Beirut. But I find it difficult to understand the situation. Overflights have been fairly frequent by both sides, although the number of Israel overflights far outnumber the Arab overflights. That’s all I can say about it.”
Asked what he intended to do about the overflights, he stated: “Our representatives in the area are doing what they can. They are doing what they can, step by step. Even if the overflights are not intentional, there is a danger there, a serious hazard. For that reason, our representatives are doing what they can, and I hope they receive the cooperation of both sides.”
ISRAEL STRESSES EGYPTIAN OVERFLIGHTS; CITES REPEATED COMPLAINTS
Commenting later on Mr. Hammarskjold’s assertion that there have been more Israeli overflights over Arab airspace than Arab flights over Israeli areas, a spokesman for the Israel Mission at the United Nations said:
“As the Israel-Egyptian Armistice Agreement had been violated by Egypt, and consequently Israel is not taking part in the Israel-Egypt Mixed Armistice Commission, no complaints by Israel against the numerous Egyptian overflights were submitted, and the statistical picture must, therefore, of necessity, be quite incomplete.
“However, the numerous Egyptian air incursions deep into Israel territory were, for the last year, the subject of repeated Israel approaches, both with the Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations Emergency Force and at United Nations Headquarters in New York.”
Mr. Hammarskjold was also asked at his press conference about the recent tour of Middle East capitals, including Cairo and Jerusalem, by his Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Dr. Ralph J. Bunche. The questioner sought comment on what was called “the failure” of Dr. Bunche to solve the issue of Israel’s protests against United Arab Republic interference with Israel-originated shipping attempting transit through the Suez Canal in foreign ships. Mr. Hammarskjold replied:
“Failure is a word applied too hastily. Actually, Dr. Bunche had no mandate or special instructions on this issue. But the word ‘failure’ is premature.” Mr. Hammarskjold also refused to reveal whether he had discussed that issue at his recent conference at Lausanne, Switzerland, with the UAR Foreign Minister, Dr. Mahmoud Fawzi.