Israel Challenges Arabs at U.N. to Enter into Immediate Peace Talks

Arthur Lourie, chairman of Israel’s delegation here, today made an offer to enter into immediate peace talks with the Arab states, “without any preconditions.”

Mr. Lourie addressed the General Assembly, after Dr. Mahmoud Fawzi, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Republic, delivered a sharp, anti-Israel attack in which he accused “political Zionists or Zionizing politicians” of “manufacturing” a case out of Israel’s grievance against the UAR’s blockade of the Suez Canal. In his attack, Dr. Fawzi specifically named Mrs. Golda Meir and Selwyn Lloyd, respectively Israel’s and Britain’s foreign ministers, for bringing the “made in Israel” Suez issue before the Assembly.

Answering Dr. Fawzi’s insistence that the Suez issue was part of the so-called “Palestine Question,” Mr. Lourie directed at the Egyptian the question: “Is his country willing to negotiate with us a settlement of these differences?”

“I can declare here,” the Israeli representative continued, “in the name of my Government, that we are prepared to enter into immediate negotiations for a full and final settlement of all outstanding Israel-Arab problems, at any time and place the Arab leaders may wish–and without any preconditions.”

Mr. Lourie pointed out that in this year’s Assembly, “more than 20 countries from various continents” have supported Israel’s insistence on freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal. “Significantly,” he stated, “not one single non-Arab country has come forward in support of the claims of the United Arab Republic.”

Mr. Lourie recalled that the current Israeli-Arab difficulties originated in Arab rejection of the UN Palestine Partition plan in 1947. “Had the Arab states accepted that decision,” he said, “both great Semitic peoples could have benefited.” The Israeli concluded his speech by asserting:

“The people of Israel bear the Arab people no grudge. Our sincerest desire is to live and let live–to work with the many others for a better and happier world. Our profound-est hope still lies in the principles of equality and the brotherhood of man. Our hand remain outstretched in peace to our neighbors. It is our hope that the time will not be long delayed when it will be grasped in peace for the benefit of the region and all mankind.”

Dr. Fawzi, in his address, had asserted that the UAR was living up to all international commitments regarding freedom of shipping through the Suez Canal, including the Constantinople Convention of 1888 and United Nations declarations and resolutions. He coupled the Canal issue with the problem of the Arab refugees and asserted that Egypt is willing to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice on the Suez problem.

Iceland today added its voice to the more than 25 member states supporting Israel’s case against the United Arab Republic’s blockade of the Suez Canal. Thor Thors, chairman of the Icelandic delegation, told the General Assembly that his Government hopes “we can see the freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal re-established according to international law and the Suez Canal Convention of 1888.”

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