JERUSALEM (Aug. 22)
Ambassador Ernesto Thalmann, the Swiss diplomat appointed by United Nations Secretary-General U Thant as his special fact-finding emissary regarding Jerusalem, held his first conference here today with Foreign Minister Abba Eban.
Mr. Thalmann arrived last night. In greeting him, Mr. Eban said: “I welcome you in Israel’s capital, the city of eternal peace,” The Ambassador is here officially for a two-week visit, the aim of which is “to provide information for the Secretary-General’s report to the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly and Security Council on the situation in Jerusalem.”
In his greeting, Mr. Eban stressed the importance of the unification of the City of Jerusalem and “the liberty accorded to all its inhabitants.” He also stressed Israel’s protection of all places of worship in the city and free access to these places of worship.
Ambassador Thalmann declared upon his arrival at Lydda Airport last night that he intends to perform his mission with complete objectivity, stating that his visit was “entirely fact-finding in character,” He expressed his “sincere gratitude to the Israeli authorities who received me so kindly and offered their assistance.” He was scheduled to confer with various Jewish and Moslem personalities here tonight and tomorrow, Wednesday morning, he will meet with Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Issar Yehudah Unterman.
TWO JEWISH GROUPS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST U.N ENVOY AT AIRPORT
Two Jewish groups of demonstrators met the Swiss diplomat at the airport, carrying posters urging the United Nations to “keep hands off Jerusalem.” One group, including a number of members of Israel’s Knesset (Parliament), had been organized by the Free Center faction of Parliament, made up of members who had recently broken away from the Herut Party. The other group consisted of faculty members of Bar-Ilan University, an Orthodox institution near Tel Aviv.
While high officials of Israel’s Foreign Ministry greeted the ambassador cordially, and a special police escort formed a guard of honor as he was taken to the airport’s VIP room, the demonstrators picketed with banners proclaiming, among other slogans, “Thalmann, go home; Jerusalem is Israel just as Berne is Swiss.” Another sign stated: “Where was the United Nations when Hussein (King of Jordan) desecrated cemeteries, using tombstones as material for paving army camps?”
Meanwhile, reenforced Israeli army and police units quickly suppressed another attempt at a general strike by Arabs in East Jerusalem- the former Old City. Army and police units went from shop to shop, owned by Arabs, warning the Arab owners against plans to close their businesses permanently. The closures had been planned by some Arabs as a demonstration intended to influence Mr. Thalmann. Seven shops were found closed, and the fronts of these stores were marked by police. It was expected by Israeli authorities that some shops will be closed during Mr. Thalmann’s visit here.