UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Jan. 30)
Fears were expressed by diplomats here today that Secretary-General U Thant’s efforts to bring tranquility to the Syrian-Israeli borders through his summons of an extraordinary session of the dormant Israeli-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission may fall far short of the hoped-for results.
The Commission has held two meetings thus far, last Wednesday and yesterday. A third session has been set for Thursday by Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, chief of staff of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, who originally urged Mr. Thant to summon such a parley. Gen. Bull set the next meeting — to be held on the Syrian side of the frontier — after Syria had failed at yesterday’s meeting to make any practical proposal regarding farm-land cultivation in the demilitarized zone between the two countries.
The pessimism noted by diplomats here today — although the United Nations itself has made no comment whatever on the latest developments — followed Syria’s official report on what its chief delegate had said at yesterday’s ISMAC meeting.
According to Radio Damascus, Syria’s delegation chairman, Capt. Adam Abdullah, had told Israel it must pull out its “armed forces” from the demilitarized zones and “remove its fortifications” there if Syria was expected to observe the cease-fire between the two countries negotiated by the UNTSO. He also called for the return of former Arab inhabitants to their properties in the disputed areas. Additionally, Capt. Abdullah objected to Israel’s reference to the ISMAC meetings as “a direct contact between the Syrian and Israeli Governments. He charged Israel with efforts to “mislead” world public opinion.
The ISMAC’s sole agenda item is limited to a discussion of land cultivation rights in the demilitarized zones. The Syrian statement yesterday dealt with the very reason for Israel’s boycott of ISMAC since 1958, due to Syria’s challenge of Israel’s sovereignty over the demilitarized zones.