UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Jul. 11)
The Israel Government told the United Nations today it was confident that “world opinion will welcome the new prospect” of a Jerusalem thriving “in unity, peace and spiritual elevation,” and gave no indication that it intended to comply with a General Assembly demand that it rescind its legislation which made the formerly Jordan-held Old City part of the municipality of Jerusalem.
The Israeli reply to the letter addressed to Foreign Minister Abba S. Eban last week by Secretary-General U Thant “as a matter of urgency” was delivered to the Secretary-General by Ambassador Gideon Rafael yesterday and was made public today. Mr. Thant made no comment on the reply nor did he give any evaluation of it. A U.N. spokesman said that that would be the function of the General Assembly. The emergency session of the Assembly will resume tomorrow after a week’s recess. Mr. Eban will head the Israeli delegation at the meeting.
Mr. Eban reported that the changes in the life of Jerusalem resulting from the Israeli Government’s measures could be summarized in the following:
“Where there was hostile separation, there is now harmonious civic union. Where there was a constant threat of violence, there is now peace. Where there was once an assertion of exclusive and unilateral control over the holy places, exercised in sacrilegious discrimination, there is now a will- ingness to work out arrangements with the world’s religious bodies–Christian, Moslem and Jewish–which will ensure the universal religious character of the holy places.”
NO FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO HOLY PLACES UNDER JORDAN RULE
Mr. Eban reviewed the status of Jerusalem for the past 19 years when it was governed “by a regime which refused to give due acknowledgement to universal religious concern. The city was divided by military demarcation lines. Houses of worship were destroyed and desecrated in acts of vandalism. Instead of peace and security, there was hostility and frequent bloodshed. The principle of freedom of access to the holy places of all the three monotheistic religions was violated with regard to Jews, but not to them alone.”
Referring to the Pakistan resolution, Mr. Eban said “the term ‘annexation’ used by supporters of the resolution is out of place. The measures adopted relate to the integration of Jerusalem in the administrative and municipal spheres and furnish a legal basis for the protection of the holy places in Jerusalem.”
Mr. Eban then outlined the Israeli laws and regulations for the protection of the holy places and “the new mingling of Arabs and Jews in free and constant association.” He described the measures taken by the Jerusalem municipality to improve conditions in the Old City.
As to the holy places, Mr. Eban said that Israel does not doubt her own will and capacity “to secure the respect of universal spiritual interests. It has forthwith ensured that the holy places of Judaism, Christianity and Islam be administered under the responsibility of the religions which hold them sacred.”
He said the Israel Government was currently engaged in “a constructive and detailed dialogue with representatives of universal religious interests” to assure “the universal character of the holy places.”