UNITED NATIONS, N.Y (Jul. 29)
The Algerian Government has ignored efforts by United Nations Secretary General U Thant to secure the release of the Israeli airliner held by Algeria since its highjacking a week ago and of the 12 Israeli citizens-seven crew members and five passengers still held captive. It was learned today.
Mr. Thant has received no word from the Algerian Government about its intentions with regard to the E1 A1 Boeing 707 airliner and the Israeli prisoners, and he received no elucidation today in a meeting with the Algerian Ambassador, Tewfik Bouattoura. about what his Government’s intentions were.
(Mr. Thant was reported to have cabled President Houari Boumedienne last week urgently asking for the release of the airliner and prisoners. According to information received in Washington, the Algerian Cabinet, after protracted argument, was now prepared to release the prisoners but could not agree on the timing of the action. Col. Boumedienne was described as wanting to hold the plane as booty and the passengers and crew as hostages on the grounds that Algeria is technically at war with Israel. Foreign Minister Abdel Haziz Bouteflika was said to be arguing for prompt release of plane and prisoners to allay international criticism of Algeria. He said Algeria was in no way involved with the hijacking of the plane.
(In London, a spokesman for the International Airline Pilots Association said that its two-man delegation in Algiers was to see members of the Government today on the release of the plane and the 12 Israeli prisoners but had not been given the interview requested with President Boumedienne. The delegation, composed of Capt. O.L.A. Forsberg and Capt. J.J. O’Grady. notified association headquarters that it intended to return to London on Wednesday.
(In Brussels, it was reported that pilots and engineers of Sabena, the Belgian airline, might be flown to Algiers to take the Israeli Boeing 707 back to Rome.)
Ambassador Yosef Tekoah of Israel had a long meeting today with Mr. Thant to discuss the situation. He conferred earlier with Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, the United Nations special envoy in the Middle East. Dr. Jarring’s report on his peace-making efforts, the first to be made public since he undertook his mission last December, will be released tomorrow.
Following his conference with the Secretary-General, Mr. Tekoah said that “time was running out” on the situation and that the Israel Government was considering various “contingent steps” to secure the release of the plane and the Israeli nationals. He said, in response to questions, that a request for an urgent meeting of the Security Council was one of the possibilities.
Ambassador Tekoah bluntly informed the Secretary-General that time was not working to ease the tension created by the plane seizure but was in fact, aggravating the situation. He said that Israel considered the plane’s seizure “a violation of international morality” and as an act “that must be considered by all international agencies and governments as outrageous and revolting and as a grave menace to the family of nations.”
The envoy said he had informed Mr. Thant of the protests by numerous international organizations and governments and their requests to Algeria to release the hijacked plane and the captive Israelis. He pointed out that Algeria was a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency, which had urged release of the plane. He said Mr. Thant was “fully aware” of the situation and of the various efforts being made to resolve it. He said the Secretary-General was doing all he could to secure the release of the plane and the Israelis.
Ambassador Tekoah said he had informed Mr. Thant that in six instances between 1954 and 1960 Israel had released Arab civilian and military planes which had landed on Israeli territory and had released Arab civil and military personnel who had been passengers on these planes and on Indian and Greek airliners, which had landed in Israel.