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Israel Envoy Confers with U.N. Secretary-general Prior to His Departure

Israel’s Ambassador Gideon Rafael held a 45-minute meeting here today with Secretary-General U Thant, on the eve of Mr. Thant’s scheduled departure for Cairo later today and discussed with him many of the critical problems involved in the current Israel-Arab situation. Following the meeting, Ambassador Rafael said:

“I had this morning a substantive and lengthy discussion with the Secretary-General before his departure for Cairo. I brought to his attention the viewpoint of the Government of Israel on the crisis caused by the recent Syrian incursions into Israel, the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force and the massing of forces on Israel’s borders. I reiterated Israel’s desire for the restoration of peaceful conditions and for non-belligerancy and Israel’s desire that no hostile acts be committed. I also stressed Israel’s determination to exercise its right of self defense in case of aggression.”

In answer to questions, Mr. Rafael said that the matter of a possible visit of Mr. Thant to Israel did not come up at the conference “because Mr. Thant stated earlier that he was going to Cairo.” The Israeli diplomat also said that, “Israel is not yet contemplating calling for a meeting of the Security Council.”

Asked whether he thought the situation in the Middle East was serious, he replied: “Yes, it is serious.” When asked whether the Israel Government would permit the stationing of a U.N. peace force on Israel’s side of the borders with the Gaza Strip and Egypt, he replied:

“I would not see the purpose of that. We are not threatening anybody. We have no terrorists, UNEF was withdrawn after having been deployed for 10 years on the Egyptian side. Egypt has made it clear that it wanted UNEF out of the way of Egyptian forces. Egypt’s request for withdrawal of UNEF was connected directly with Egypt’s aggressive designs. UNEF was stationed where it carried out a useful purpose; it was suddenly evicted, creating an ominous situation.” Mr. Rafael added that he felt that, at this point, Secretary-General U Thant “ought to be free to pursue his peaceful aims.”

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