JERUSALEM (Jan. 31)
Gen. Odd Bull, Chief of Staff of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, assured Israel last night that the next meeting of the Israeli-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission, to be held Thursday, would not depart from the agreed agenda and would not consider other issues that may be raised by Syria. This assurance was given by Gen. Bull to Israel Foreign Minister Abba Eban, at the Ministry, Eban stressed Israel’s objection to Syria’s attempt, at the last session of the commission, to raise such questions as the occupation of the demilitarized zone.
When Israel and Syria agreed to the extraordinary session of the dormant Israeli-Syria Mixed Armistice Commission, first proposed by Gen. Bull and subsequently summoned formally by United Nations Secretary-General U Thant, a strict, one-item agenda was drawn up for the talks. Under that agenda, both sides were to discuss only land cultivation and cultivation rights in the demilitarized zones between the two countries. However, at the last meeting, on Sunday — the second of the series, thus far — Syria raised various other issues, all affecting Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed areas.
The agenda was based largely on the so-called Von Horn line of 1961, in which the then UNTSO chief of staff outlined cultivation limits between the two countries. Syrian border gunners regularly shoot at Israeli farmers cultivating in the area. Israel’s position was a willingness to allow Syrian farmers to enter the zones and work some plots, as long as full Israeli sovereignty over the areas was recognized. Syria has refused on grounds that this would amount to recognition of Israel.
Lt. Gen. Bull was slated to leave today for Damascus to be near the site of the next meeting, which will be held at the Syrian end of the B’not Yaakov bridge. He was also expected to discuss the meeting with Syrian leaders.