UNITED NATIONS, N. Y (Apr. 5)
France today insisted that the Security Council currently debating Syrian and Israel charges and counter-charges of aggression, must not condemn Israel because “the guilt was largely shared and the actions of both parties are equally regrettable.” Britain, however, charged Israel with having “undertaken deliberately a military operation” which cannot be excused or justified under “any cause or pretext.”
As a result of the split by its two western allies, the United States gave up efforts to introduce a resolution today evidently intended to censure Israel severely for its March 17 raid against the Syrian gunposts overlooking Lake Tiberias. Britain was to have cosponsor ed the proposed American draft.
The addresses by France and Britain at today’s two sessions of the Security Council were the highlights of the open proceedings, with Armand Berard, of France, taking up the cudgels on behalf of Israel while Sir Patrick Dean, of Britain, argued for condemnation of Israel. But the day’s decisive activities revolved around a closed-door meeting held after the Council had adjourned in the afternoon and had scheduled another meeting tomorrow morning. It was at that closed meeting where members of the American delegation, closeted with two members of the Syrian delegation tried and failed to work out a resolution which would be acceptable to the Arabs without French opposition. At the end of the closed meeting, Charles W. Yost, a member of the American delegation, who had earlier promised to circulate the resolution “momentarily” said “we are still consulting.”
Britain’s Sir Patrick had told the Council in his speech that his Government was interested primarily in bringing about “a lasting settlement between Israel and her neighbors.” But first, he said, tensions must be lowered on Israel’s borders. He mentioned Syria’s verbal threats against Israel, which, he said, “seemed to be contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Charter.”
He referred to the Syrian attack against Israel boats on Lake Tiberias on March 8. Then he declared that his delegation “must repeat what we have been obliged to say before, and what this Council has formally declared in earlier resolutions–the whole principle of armed retaliation is wrong, morally and politically. Israel must heed this injunction; and indeed, it is in its own interests to do so.”
“My delegation,” continued Sir Patrick, “would most seriously urge Israel to consider that the law of the United Nations is a stronger defense of peace in the Middle East, and of Israel’s independence, than her own armed forces.”
FRANCE RECALLS SYRIAN ATTACKS IN PAST; ASSERTS ‘ISRAEL HERE TO STAY’
Ambassador Berard, the first speaker this morning, told the Council that it must take into account not only the Israel raid of March 17, but also Syrian “provocations,” some of which he traced back through the entire eight-year period from 1954 to March of this year.
Expressing regret that in Israel’s “reaction” to Syrian provocations “Israel did not adopt the procedures provided in the Armistice Agreement,” and voicing the hope that in the future Israel will observe such procedures, M. Berard said that in evaluating the events of March 17 “we cannot neglect provocations.” He advised the Syrians that it would be well to remember that “Israel is here to stay; Israel is a fact.”
The French representative began by expressing his Government’s “regret” over the recent incidents which, he said, were “indeed dangerous.” He pointed out that “France for many years has had links of friendship” with both Syria and Israel and noted that this friendship is “not exclusive.”
After recalling the fact that Israel staged a reprisal raid against Syria in December 1955 and noting that in January 1956, the Security Council adopted a resolution which condemned both provocations and reprisals, he said that the March 17 Israeli action must be judged against the background of Israeli-Syrian hostilities. He noted that Syria had voiced objections this year to Israel’s Jordan River project and that there had been Syrian attacks on at least three dates–March 8, 15 and 16 prior to Israel’s March 17 “reaction.”