U.N. Assembly Opens; U Thant Advocates Direct Arab-israel Peace Talks
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U.N. Assembly Opens; U Thant Advocates Direct Arab-israel Peace Talks

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The 21st annual General Assembly of the United Nations opened here today with a report before it by Secrerary-General U Thant in which he appealed to the Arab states and Israel to enter into direct peace talks. The appeal was contained in an evaluation of the world situation — including the Middle East situation — made by the Secretary-General.

Warning that “dangerous tensions” continue to exist in the Middle East, Mr. Thant asked all other members of the United Nations to obtain a settlement of international conflicts, but pointed out that only the parties involved can transform conflicts into peace. “Although Vietnam represents the most serious manifestation of the unsatisfactory state of international affairs, it is not the only point of open danger. The situation in the Middle East has shown no improvement, and dangerous tensions persist,” he warned.

Noting the ‘U.N.’s involvement in the search for peaceful solutions in Yemen and in Aden, Mr. Thant stated: “Beyond these questions lies the long-standing conflict between Israel and the Arab states, and the continuing need for passions to be restrained and the terms of the armistice agreements to be observed by all concerned. ” The four armistice agreements, signed in 1949 by Israel on the one hand and Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan on the other, all specify that the pacts must form only the first step toward peace treaties between the states involved.


The use of direct talks between the Arab states and Israel to transform the armistice pacts into peace treaties was touched upon by Mr. Thant in his mention of the United Nations Emergency Force. Noting in today’s document that, in the Middle East, the U.N. is committed not only through UNEF which guards the Israeli-Egyptian borders along the Gaza Strip and on the shores of the Gulf of Akaba — but also through the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, Mr. Thant declared:

“The crux of the matter from the standpoint of the United Nations is the continuing absence of any resolve on the part of the parties directly involved in a dispute to seek a reasonable way out of it. Indeed, at times it seems, and it may actually be the case, that they tend to take the attitude that the very United Nations presence frees them from any pressing obligation to exert a really serious effort towards a settlement of their differences.

“It may well be true that the existence of the United Nations peace-keeping operation and the feeling of security that grows with its effectiveness reduce the sense of danger and urgency about the continuing dispute, thus relieving the pressure on the parties to seek a settlement, ” the Secretary-General stated. He then told the Assembly that there was no way “out of the dilemma” except for the U.N. to maintain its peacekeeping force and, at the same time, to intensify peace-making efforts, “seeking always to find new and better means of inducing states to settle their disputes peaceably and of helping them to do so.”

He reminded the U.N. members that the Assembly and the Security Council could help toward peace. He told the U.N. that all members “could play an important role in helping to find a settlement of the political problems that lie at the root of international conflicts.” But, he stated, “in the last analysis,” peace is up to “the parties directly concerned in the conflicts.”

The principal items on this year’s Assembly agenda affecting Israel directly are reports dealing with the Arab refugee problem and with the United Nations Emergency Force, Other agenda items of general concern to Jews all over the world will deal with various phases of human rights, including further efforts to put through a United Nations Convention banning all forms of religious intolerance.

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