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Thant Preparing Report on Issue of Sending New ‘humanitarian’ Emissary to Mideast

Secretary-General U Thant was preparing today to issue a report on the issue of sending a second special United Nations representative to probe the situation of civilians in the Middle East war zone, including Jews in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. And Israel’s Ambassador Yosef Tekoah renewed today his insistence that the status of Jews in Arab lands be Investigated by the UN. Mr. Thant announced several months ago that he planned to send a special representative to the Middle East to probe the situation of civilians, under General Assembly and Security Council humanitarian resolutions. The UN legal division has reportedly provided Mr. Thant with an opinion that the Council and Assembly resolutions were not intended to cover Jewish communities in Arab lands.

On July 25, Syria’s Ambassador here, George Tomeh submitted a lengthy complaint against Israel declaring among other things that “Syria welcomed (last year) the (first) representative (Nils Gussing) within the clear terms of the two humanitarian resolutions.” He added at that time that, “As to the Jewish community in Syria, we maintain that Jews, Christians and Moslems are equal citizens of Syria and that no discrimination exists because of faith or any other basis.” He criticized Israel for refusing to accept a second representative of Mr. Thant.

In his letter, Mr. Tomeh made other charges against Israel including one in which he declared that Israel had been “colonizing” occupied areas in Syria through establishment of a Nahal corps (a para-military unit that has military and agricultural functions). (In a letter on July 18 to Mr. Thant, the Jordanian Charge d’Affaires here, Anton A, Naber, alleged that Israel circulated a map at the World Zionist Congress in June depicting some 35 new Jewish settlements, “the majority of these paramilitary…settlements” in occupied territories. Mr. Tekoah replied July 29 that, of the 35 cited, “only 14 are in areas that have come under Israeli control since the cease-fire of June. 1967 and nearly all of them have been in existence for some time.)

In his letter today, Mr. Tekoah denied various charges made by Tomeh, Including one alleging that Arab citizens of Israel are “living in concentration camps.” Mr. Tekoah also declared, “In any event Syria’s right to speak up for human rights is questionable. The continued oppression of Syrian Jews and the disabilities imposed on other minorities in Syria deprive the Government of Syria of any standing in such matters. The Syrian letter cannot draw the curtain on Syria’s refusal to allow a representative of the Secretary-General to investigate the tragic situation of Jews in Syria…”

In a second letter to Mr. Thant today – this one made in reply to a previous Jordanian letter – Mr. Tekoah informed Mr. Thant that “with regard to the projected humanitarian mission by a representative of the Secretary-General, the delay in its execution is caused solely by Arab obstruction and refusal to allow him to look into the tragic plight of the Jewish communities in the Arab states. No humanitarian mission on behalf of the UN could acquiesce in the Arab refusal to investigate the discrimination and oppression of Jews in Arab states following last year’s hostilities.”

In his letter, the Israeli envoy also referred to the charges by the Jordanian mission here accusing Israel of failing to treat Arab refugees humanely. “The problem of persons displaced in the wake of the June, 1967 hostilities,” the envoy said, “is a direct consequence of Arab aggression. Had there been peace between the Arab states and Israel, this problem would not have arisen.” The envoy recalled details of various efforts made by Israel for the admission of Arabs from Jordan into the West Bank. He noted that Israel had offered and remained ready to implement a family reunion program for the Arabs. “This scheme is still under way. though its implementation and extent cannot but be affected by Jordan’s pursuance of active warfare,” he added.

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