Eshkol Warns Israel Will Not Tolerate ‘indefinite’ Talks with Syria

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol told the regular Cabinet meeting today that Israel was opposed to an “indefinite” extension of talks with Syria during the current extraordinary session of the Israeli-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission if the Syrians persisted in bringing up matters not on the agreed-upon agenda. The fourth session is scheduled to be held Thursday.

The agenda has one item — consideration of land cultivation rights in the demilitarized zones on the Israeli-Syrian frontiers. In the three meetings of the session held to date, Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, who is presiding, has been unable to induce the Syrians to refrain from discussing other issues while avoiding talks on the agenda issue.

The third meeting of the MAC session ended last Thursday after only an hour, when the Syrian delegates ignored Gen. Bull’s appeals to stick to the agenda. The session was arranged on the initiative of U.N. Secretary-General U Thant after repeated Arab guerrilla incursions into Israeli territory from Syrian bases brought border tensions to a dangerous pitch.

CABINET, EBAN CALL FOR ‘PATIENCE’ AS LONG AS BORDER IS QUIET

The Premier told the Cabinet that, if it appeared the Syrians had no intention of using the MAC meetings for anything but propaganda, Israel would suggest to the United Nations that the session be discontinued.

It was learned that, while most Cabinet members agreed with the Premier, the view was voiced that quiet on the border also was important, and that Israel’s participation in the talks could not be harmful as long as the Syrians did not resume acts of sabotage.

Israel’s concern over the lack of productivity of the MAC talks was voiced previously by Foreign Minister Abba Eban, who told a meeting in Tel Aviv Friday that he had asked the Israeli delegation to be “very patient” because “as long as quiet continues, Israel will not do anything to jeopardize the meeting” but that, if the meeting continued on present lines, “it is possible that we may suggest to the Secretary-General that we shall return to the meeting when and if the Syrians have something to say on the agreed agenda.”

The Syrians have submitted a proposal that Israel move out of parts of the demilitarized zones and that Arab farmers be allowed to return to the zones. Such a proposal aims at Israel’s sovereignty. One element of that proposal stated that Syria’s views on cultivations of the border tracts — the lone item on the MAC meeting agenda — would be stated by the Syrians “in due course.”

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