Arab Leaders Attack Israel at Belgrade ‘neutralist’ Conference
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Arab Leaders Attack Israel at Belgrade ‘neutralist’ Conference

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The “Palestine issue” is figuring very prominently at the conference of the “neutral” nations which is taking place here. However, doubt was expressed today whether the final document to be issued by the conference would include any mention of this issue.

Assaults on Israel were made in the course of their addresses at the conference by President Nasser of the United Arab Republic; Saeb Salam, Premier of Lebanon; Ibrahim Sowayel, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia; Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hashim Jawad; President Bourguiba of Tunisia; the representative of Sudan; and King Hassan of Morocco.

In his address today, King Hassan said; “We wonder if one can repair injustice towards Jews persecuted by Nazis by worse injustices toward the innocent people of Palestine. Is it right to allow imperialism to violate human conscience by creating, to the detriment of a whole people, a state constituting defiance to the Arab world and a source of agitation and conflict?” Jewish observers here evaluated Hassan’s speech as the most moderate of Arab statements on Palestine.

Nasser, in his one-hour speech, charged that Israel’s emergence in 1948 was a result of “the imperialist powers” resorting to “a nation’s partitioning and establishment of bases on its territory, a base for aggression as we have experienced during the Suez war. Further, ” he added, “these powers resorted to these bases for purposes of deep infiltration. ” The Casablanca conference, he said, had “proved this fact when it branded Israel the bridgehead of neo-colonialism in Africa and tool of its ambition.”

Asserting that “matters reach such a point that resolutions in certain circumstances have no more life than is permitted by the policies of the major powers, ” Nasser said: There could be no better evidence of this than the UN resolutions concerning the rights of the people of Palestine which, after so many years, have remained no more than scraps of paper because the policy of certain major powers in our area wished to bolster Israel in defiance of every law and justice.

“The tragedy appears in its real dimensions,” he continued, “if we recall the facts of history in 1948, which show that the UN and the truce it imposed on Palestine were a veil behind which aggression infiltrated to achieve its ends and occupy the land it usurped from its legitimate owners.”


President Bourguiba of Tumsia said: “The case of bruised Arab Palestine must be the object of support of our governments. A hasty decision dictated by circumstances, and which showed an inhuman character, transformed itself within the international order into a denial of justice, leaving without a homeland thousands of human beings. We must not fear in this respect to recommend a just solution. “

The Sudan representative, Ibrahim Abbud, president of the Sudan Supreme Military Council, called Israel “the cancer in the Arab world.”

Lebanese Premier Saeb Salam told the conference that the events in Palestine constituted an example of violation of human rights. He said land was usurped and homes and farms had been occupied by “Zionists” from all over the world. Describing Israel as a “bridgehead of imperialism in Arab lands and in Asia, ” the Lebanese Premier said that imperialism was penetrating into Africa through Israel’s economy.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Ibrahim Sowayel said that imperialism had made the Palestine problem the “tragedy of the Twentieth Century.” He described the plight of the “cave-dwelling” refugees, which, he said, should besiege human conscience the world over. While the world repeatedly recognized their rights, Mr. Sowayel declared, nothing was done about it. The Saudi Arabian was the only Arab representative who placed the Palestine issue first on the list of imperialist evils, others giving priority to Algeria, Bizerte or Angola.

Foreign Minister Hashim Jawad, of Iraq, said that the partition of Palestine was an example of imperialist policies. Defining Israel as an artificial state with an “illegitimate existence, ” Mr. Jawad said that partition constituted an imperialist violation of international. law and the United Nations Charter, and infringed on human justice since, he said, it deprived more than a million men of human rights.

Despite the verbal assaults on Israel, the Tunisian Minister of Information, Mohammed Masmoudi, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent here today that no reference to the “Palestine issue” will probably be made in the final statements which will be issued by the conference. However, he indicated that the issue would certainly be discussed in full during closed door commission meetings scheduled to start today.


India’s Prime Minister Jawcharlal Nehru said at a press conference today that, in his opinion, the conference should issue only a “very general declaration” on Arab-Israeli problems, without mentioning any specific issues as, presumably, most of the Arab delegations would like to see adopted. “We must not commit ourselves in a world already heavily committed. We must attempt to decommit the world, ” Mr. Nehru said.

Concerning India’s relations with Israel, the Indian leader said that, prior to the Suez-Sinai crisis of 1956. India and Israel had maintained consulates in each other’s countries, “although no diplomatic relations were established.” After that crisis had developed, however, he stated, “I personally felt terribly frustrated. ” Now, he said, “it is utterly difficult to lend Israel any recognition whatever.”

Mr. Nehru said he saw no immediate prospects for a solution of the Arab-Israeli problem “except the insulation of the issue by the United Nations and UN guarding against fresh outbreaks of hostilities,” He referred to the presence of the United Nations Emergency Force on the Gaza-Israel border as “better than no troops. “

It was noted here that neither President Tito of Yugoslavia, nor Archbishop Makarios, who heads the Government of Cyprus, mentioned the Arab-Israeli conflicts in their addresses, in which they evaluated the crucial dangers facing the world at present.


Nine Israeli journalists who had been barred, under Arab pressure, from covering the meeting, had their press cards returned with expressions of “regret” for a “misunderstanding” and a request for their cooperation to avoid “future difficulties.”

The incident began when five of the journalists came to the conference building Friday morning and stood with other correspondents awaiting the arrival of delegation heads. Suddenly a Yugoslav security officer asked all correspondents to show their press cards. When the Israeli cards where in his possession, he put them in his pocket and told the Israeli newsmen “You go to the police officer and stay there. ” Cards of other Israeli correspondents were withdrawn as soon as officials examined them.

When Israelis questioned conference press service chief Novikovic, he admitted frankly that the conference sponsors had been under Arab pressure, particularly that of the United Arab Republic. The Arabs, he said, had asked why the Israelis had been accredited and had been told that Yugoslavia had diplomatic relations with Israel, and that any foreign correspondent was entitled to accreditation on the principle of freedom of the press.

He added that the Yugoslavs were compelled to yield to Arab pressure on the issue when “certain Arab delegations raised security reasons.” He said the delegations had said they did not want Israeli correspondents “to get near their heads of state.”

The barred correspondents promptly-got in touch with the Israel Ambassador, who was sitting with the rest of the diplomatic corps. The Israeli correspondents were then offered special press cards allowing them entrance to the press building but this offer was flatly rejected. Later, they were summoned by Novikovic, who handed back their regular press cards. Israeli diplomatic and press circles expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

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