UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (May. 28)
The United Nations Security Council will resume discussions tomorrow afternoon on the Arab-Israel crisis in the light of a report submitted yesterday by Secretary-General U Thant, following his return from Cairo after talks with Egyptian President Nasser. Mr. Thant called the situation “menacing” in his report, and recommended that the Security Council remind the Arab countries and Israel that, under an existing U.N. resolution, the Council could use blockade or other measures to suppress violations of the existing Arab-Israel armistice agreements.
China’s Ambassador Liu Chieh, this month’s President of the Security Council, placed on the agenda for tomorrow’s session an Egyptian request for urgent action, filed yesterday, as well as the demand for an urgent meeting filed jointly last week by Canada and Denmark. The Canadian-Danish request has already been embodied in a draft resolution in which the two governments express full support for Mr. Thant’s efforts to “pacify the situation.” The draft resolution also requests “all member states to refrain from any steps which might worsen the situation.”
There were indications here today that the Canadian-Danish draft resolution may be revised before tomorrow’s session convenes. Denmark’s Ambassador Hans Tabor, one of the co-sponsors of the draft, held a lengthy meeting here last night with about 30 delegations, including representatives of many countries that are not members of the 15-member Council. A spokesman for the United States delegation, which attended the caucus called by Mr. Tabor, would say today only that “consultations are continuing.”
In his report, resulting from his quick journey to Cairo, Mr. Thant told the Council “it would be useful” to recall at the present stage a resolution adopted by the Council in August of 1949, following the conclusion of Israel’s four armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, in which the Council had asserted that “the armistice agreements constitute an important step towards the establishment of permanent peace in Palestine.”
Mr. Thant requested also reaffirmation of the clause in that resolution which had called on “all governments and authorities concerned to observe an unconditional cease-fire and, bearing in mind that the several armistice agreements include firm pledges against further acts of hostility between the parties, and also provide for their supervision by the parties themselves relies upon the parties to ensure the continued application and observance of these agreements.”
U THANT SAYS GAINING OF TIME IS ESSENTIAL IN ORDER TO PREVENT WAR
Mr. Thant told the Council in his report that, at the present moment, the most essential need to ensure that the current Israeli-Arab crisis does not explode into further danger, threatening not only the peace in the Middle East region but potentially endangering also the peace of the world, is “to try to gain time in order to lay the basis for a detente.
“In my view,” he declared, “a peaceful outcome of the present crisis will depend upon a breathing spell, which will allow tension to subside from its present explosive level.”
Mr. Thant also explained his reasons for his precipitate action last week in ordering the United Nations Emergency Force to withdraw from the Egyptian side of the Gaza Strip border with Israel and from Sharm el-Sheikh, overlooking the Strait of Tiran and guarding Israel’s freedom of shipping to and from its port of Eilat. He identified two principle areas of possible conflict. These, he saw, were the situation in the Strait of Tiran, now blockaded by Egypt; and the situation along the Israeli-Syrian border.
The Secretary-General reported that the “principal aim” of Egypt now, as outlined to him by Mr. Nasser and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad, was “a return to the conditions prevailing prior to 1956.” Under those pre-1956 conditions, which Israel had altered through its Sinai campaign in 1956-1957, shipping to and from Israel through the Strait of Tiran had been forbidden by Egypt.
Israel, he reported, regarded free passage through the Strait as an issue “most vital” to here interests. “The Government of Israel,” he stated, “has further declared that Israel will regard the closing of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships and any restriction of cargo of ships of other flags proceeding to Israel as a casus belli.” He added that he had discussed with the Egyptian Government “the dangerous consequences” likely from restrictions of innocent passage in the strait and that he had expressed his “deep concern” and his hope that “no precipitate action would be taken.”
“In view of the conflicting stands taken by the United Arab Republic and Israel, the situation in the Strait of Tiran represents a very serious potential threat to peace,” Mr. Thant emphasized, “I greatly fear that a clash between the United Arab Republic and Israel over this issue, in the present circumstances, will inevitably set off a general conflict in the Near East.”
Mr. Thant then stated that “the freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran is not, however, the only immediate issue endangering peace in the Near East. Other problems, such as sabotage and terrorist activities and rights of cultivation in disputed areas in the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria will, unless controlled, almost surely lead to further serious fighting.”