TEL AVIV (Dec. 27)
General E. L. M. Burns, outgoing commander of the United Nations Emergency Force, termed a “distortion” an Arab press report that he had called “illegal” Israel plans to divert Jordan River water for Negev irrigation.
General Burns declared here that what he did say at a Cairo press conference was that General Vagn Bennike, his predecessor as chief of the United Nations Truce Supervision organization, had ruled that work within a demilitarized zone might give Israel strategic advantages. The project calls for development in a demilitarized zone on the Syrian-Israel border.
Noting that the distorted version had been reprinted in the Israel press, General Bums said he was not competent to comment on the water question since it was within the jurisdiction of General Carl C. von Horn, the present chief of UNTSO.
General Burns made the denial at a meeting with General Chaim Laskov, Israel Chief of Staff. The occasion was Gen, Burns’ final meeting with Gen. Laskov as UNEF commander and the presentation to the Israel officer of Maj. Gen. P. S. Gyani, the new UNEF commander.
Gen. Laskov presented Gen. Burns with a silver-covered Bible on behalf of the Israel Chief of State. Gen. Burns also remarked that the border situation was quiet.