UNITED NATIONS, N. Y. (Oct. 11)
Israel today was the beneficiary of a deep impression made here, on friends, foes and neutrals alike, as a result of the offer made yesterday by Golda Meir, the Jewish State’s Foreign Minister, for immediate, unconditional peace talks between her Government’s Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and the rulers of the Arab states.
On the one hand, many West European, Latin American, Asian and African delegates expressed open, if unofficial, approval of what many called “Israel’s forthright stand.” They were impressed not only by Mrs. Meir’s formal statement that her Government is willing to talk peace “without preconditions,” but also by her plea for “at least a non-aggression pact” between Israel and the Arab states. Many of the delegates also endorsed Mrs. Meir’s expressed hope for regional disarmament in the Middle East.
The Arab spokesmen reacted to these favorable impressions by being, if anything, more bitterly anti-Israel than usual. One of the Arab spokesmen here who could always be counted upon to attack Israel most violently lived up to expectations by openly accusing Israel today, from the Assembly podium, of having committed “Nazi atrocities.” This, delegate, Ahmed Shukairy, of Saudi Arabia, exercising his “right of reply” this morning, used the word “Nazi” a dozen times, speaking of “Nazi Zionism” and charging that Israel was guilty of “a Nazi war of aggression.”
Michael S. Comay, Israel’s permanent representative, told the Assembly immediately after Shukairy concluded, that Israel has no intention to reply to Shukair’s speech, saying “the Assembly has long been accustomed to the type of remarks made by the Saudi Arabian representative.” He added: “We want only to register a sense of disgust at anyone here comparing any peoples with Nazis.” Mr. Comay was applauded loudly after his brief intervention, the delegation of France leading the applause, as it did yesterday when Mrs. Meir spoke.
The Arab reaction came swiftly yesterday as soon as Mrs. Meir concluded her address before the plenary session of the Assembly. Since she had aimed her peace challenge directly at United Arab Republic President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the first open reply was given the Assembly by Egypt’s permanent representative, Omar Loutfi.
Mrs. Meir’s address, he said, had been “designed to confuse public opinion with insidious propaganda.” Israel, he reiterated, has violated “hundreds” of UN resolutions and has demonstrated “nothing but aggressive and belligerent conduct in the Middle East.”
Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Musa Naser, told correspondents there was “nothing new” in Mrs. Meir’s peace proposal, saying her speech was “full of distortions.”
Qassim Hassan, Iraqi Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, and a member of his government’s delegation to this year’s Assembly, took a leaf out of the book of Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev by pounding his desk violently after Mrs. Meir’s address was concluded. On the other hand, the applause for her speech was loud and prolonged. She had been greeted by applause when she mounted the rostrum, and she was interrupted by applause a number of times.
Members of various delegations sought out Israeli and other Jewish correspondents, both last night and today, to express approval of Mrs. Meir’s peace offer. “She really challenged Nasser this time to make good on his own professions of good faith,” one prominent Asian told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Another, a West European, said: “Mrs. Meir’s authorized offer of peace talks without any preconditions whatever. and immediately, is about as reasonable a proposal as I have heard here in a long time. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.”