Israel Tells U.N. It is Not Responsible for Events Along Suez Canal

Israel today firmly rejected Egyptian attempts to place upon it responsibility “for events along the Suez Canal or for their consequences.” In a letter to the president of the Security Council, Ambassador Gideon Rafael said that “United Arab Republic authorities have only themselves to blame for the incidents which have caused so much death, injury, suffering and damage.”

“It is highly regrettable,” Ambassador Rafael’s letter stated, “that UAR authorities chose not only to initiate these incidents but to do so from gun emplacements located in populated areas and in the immediate vicinity of hospitals, schools and other civilian institutions. When fire is opened on Israeli forces near the cease-fire area by Egyptian forces, the Israeli forces are compelled, for self defense, to return the fire in order to silence the Egyptian guns. It is with utmost restraint that Israel forces react in face of attack and harassment.”

The Israeli envoy denounced as “completely unfounded” the allegation that the Israel Government was motivated by a policy of “selective” shelling. Israel’s policy, he stated, “is to respect the cease-fire on the understanding that the UAR will also act in complete reciprocity. It is noteworthy that the UAR has not given any similar assurances that its policy is likewise based upon the complete and reciprocal observance of the cease-fire. On the contrary, UAR official statements corroborate the well-known fact that they are in utter violation of the obligations undertaken by the UAR’s acceptance of the cease-fire.”

In a related development concerning the canal, Uzi Nedivi, Israel’s representative on the General Assembly’s economic committee, said today, in reply to Arab charges, that, as far as Israel is concerned, “the Suez Canal can be reopened as soon as possible to the passage of ships of all nations without discrimination.”

“We did not close it,” said Mr. Nedivi, “nor are we preventing its reopening. In the same way, Israel neither interrupted the shipments of oil nor interfered with the flow of oil through pipelines. It is certainly not responsible for tourists staying away from Cairo and other Middle Eastern capitals. It is the intransigence of the Arab countries which account for their losses.”

In the Assembly’s plenary meeting, where the general debate continued today, anti-Israeli statements were made by Iraq’s representative, Dr. Adnan Pachachi and Algeria’s delegate, Tewfik Bouttoura.

Dr. Okoy Aripko, Foreign Minister of Nigeria, told the 122-member body that he favored the proposals voiced here for the appointment of a special U.N. representative to act as what Secretary-General U Thant has called a “channel of communication” on the Middle East crisis. While holding that no country — meaning Israel — “should be allowed to achieve territorial gains by military conquest,” he added a call for the Assembly to “help create a political climate in the Middle East in which all the inhabitants of that area will live here after in reasonable peace and security.”

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