JERUSALEM (Feb. 12)
Joseph Tekoah, director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, asserted here last night that the “failure” of the United Nations and the major powers to act to discourage Syrian aggression was contributing to current Middle East tensions.
Mr. Tekoah, who is chief adviser to Israel’s delegation to the current extraordinary session of the Israeli-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission, made the charge in a speech at the Commercial Club. The MAC session, the first in eight years, was arranged at the initiative of U.N. Secretary-General U Thant, who stepped in when Syrian-Israeli border tensions reached a dangerous level last month. The fourth meeting of the MAC session, scheduled for February 9, was postponed until February 16 at the request of Syria.
Mr. Tekoah declared that, as long as the U.N. was unable to guarantee Israel’s rights in accordance with the U.N. Charter and prevent Arab attacks, the U.N. was not entitled, either morally or juridically, to criticize Israel’s actions in defense of its independence and territorial integrity.
The Foreign Ministry official also expressed the belief that U.N. resolutions with an anti-Israel character might be contrary to the U.N. Charter, which guarantees equal rights to all member states. He expressed “deep regret” that the major powers, particularly those with close links to Syria, were not using those ties to counsel the Syrian regime to moderation in its attitude toward Israel. By such lack of action, he declared, these powers indirectly contributed to Arab aggression and border tension.
TALKS SEEN AS IMPORTANT, RESULTING IN SOME BORDER TRANQUILITY
He declared that the MAC talks, even though they may not ultimately reach a successful conclusion, have nevertheless been highly important. He said that, at first, the talks had shown that the Syrian regime was capable, if and when it wished to do so, to control its border with Israel to halt infiltrations by Arab guerrillas. He noted that the talks also had brought about a joint Israel-Syrian declaration, at the first meeting, on January 25, in which both countries reasserted their desire to respect the general armistice agreements.
He said the situation was not all bad, declaring that so far, Israel had managed “to convince three neighbors that it is preferable to respect peace with Israel and we hope eventually to convince the fourth.” He referred to Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon as the three Arab countries, and to Syria as the fourth.
Israeli circles noted here today that Syria had used the period during which the MAC talks were under way to penetrate into the demilitarized zone at the northern tip of Lake Tiberias, over which Israel has complete sovereignty. They noted that U.N. observers arrived in the locale only after Syrian farmers had completed their cultivation work in the disputed zone, but that Israel has deliberately refrained from taking any action against this Syrian incursion while the MAC discussions were under way.