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General Assembly, in Fourth Week, Hears Restatement of Middle East Views

As the current session of the General Assembly enters its fourth week tomorrow, the Israeli-Arab issue continues in the forefront of the Assembly’s concern. Weekend statements in the Assembly indicated little change in past attitudes on the Middle East question. Representatives of the Soviet and Arab blocs continued to demand Israel’s unconditional withdrawal from occupied Arab territories, taking no account of Israel’s calls for an end to Arab belligerence and for direct peace negotiations. The spokesman for a government that had heretofore supported the Soviet-Arab position. Defense Minister Sardar Swaran Singh of India, did add to the demand for Israel’s withdrawal a call for “respect by all states for the territorial integrity and political independence of one another, and settlement of all outstanding problems in the region exclusively through peaceful means.”

The Austrian Foreign Minister Dr. Lujo Toncid Sorinj, stressed that among the steps necessary for solution of the Middle East crisis were not only Israel’s troop withdrawal and an end to Arab belligerence but also the freedom of navigation “through international waterways.” Senator Attillio Piccioni of Italy carried the demand for freedom of shipping one step further by mentioning specifically “the right of all states to free and peaceful passage through the Strait of Tiran and the Suez Canal.”

Similar attitudes were taken by Norway’s Foreign Minister John Lyng, and Iceland’s Foreign Minister Emil Jonsson. The latter listed five principles to be observed in the U.N. efforts toward a settlement of the Middle East crisis.

Mr. Lyng also told the Assembly that one way to bring an end to the present Middle East deadlock might be the appointment of a special United Nations representative in the area. As that move seemed to gain momentum here, the United Nations announced that Secretary-General U Thant was consulting all 15 members of the Security Council about the resumption of Council debate of the Middle East crisis and the dispatch there of a special U.N, representative to act as “a channel of communication.”

Dispatches from Beirut this week reported that King Hussein of Jordan had his own plan for a Middle East solution through the use of Mr. Thant’s “good offices.” This plan reportedly had the backing of the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Arabs and Israelis exchanged more charges here this weekend. Ambassador Mohamed Awad El-Kony of Egypt stated in a letter to the Security Council that Israel was “systematically destroying Suez Canal facilities” to hamper use of the waterway when it is reopened. The canal has been closed since Egypt blocked it at the outbreak of last June’s Six-Day War, Mr. Thant reported this weekend that the number of U.N. military observers watching the Israeli-Egyptian cease-fire agreement in the canal area now totals 46, and will cost the United Nations $295,000 by the end of 1967.

Israel accused Syria, in a letter to Mr. Thant this weekend of using regular and irregular military forces to perpetrate “acts of terrorism, sabotage, murder and armed intervention against Israeli civilians.” According to Ambassador Gideon Rafael of Israel, Israel has the names of Syrian military officers in charge of “subversive missions” sent into Israel.

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