UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Jun. 27)
Israel rejected today Syrian charges that it was “colonizing” the occupied Golan Heights without regard for “international norms of conduct.” Ambassador Yosef Tekoah, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, declared in a letter to Secretary-General U Thant that the “colonization” referred to in the Syrian complaint was a legitimate defense move “undertaken with the assistance of the Nahal units of the Israel Defense Force to ensure the maintenance of the cease-fire and to protect Israel from the danger of Syrian attacks.” Nahal is a para-military organization whose members establish security settlements in Israel’s border regions.
Today’s letter from Mr. Tekoah was a supplement to a letter he sent the Secretary-General on April 24 in reply to the Syrian charges originally made on April 19 by Ambassador George J. Tomeh, the permanent representative of Syria. Mr. Tomeh reiterated his charges last week and claimed that they were proved by the brevity of Ambassador Tekoah’s April 24 reply. In today’s letter, Mr. Tekoah noted that even among the Arab states at war with Israel, “Syria has distinguished itself by the ferocity and viciousness of its belligerency.” He recalled that “in the years preceding the June, 1967 hostilities, Syria had subjected Israeli villages to frequent bombardment from artillery positions in the Golan Heights (and)… pursued a relentless campaign of armed incursions and raids against Israel.” He also cited numerous threats by Syrian leaders to annihilate Israel and slaughter its population. Mr. Tekoah said further that Syrian allegations of Israeli maltreatment of the civilian population in the occupied area “are a thinly veiled attempt to cover up for Syria’s refusal to allow an investigation by the United Nations of the tragic plight of Syria’s Jewish community subjected since June, 1967 to ever growing oppression.” Mr. Tekoah requested that his letter be circulated as an official document of the General Assembly and the Security Council.