Assails Soviet Union, Raises Question About Its Role in Mideast Peace

Israel today seemingly called into question, in a letter to Secretary-General U Thant, the Soviet Union’s qualifications to contribute to a Mideast peace through the Big Four talks. Ambassador Yosef Tekoah said in a letter to Mr. Thant, which was in reply to one sent to the Secretary-General by Soviet Ambassador Yakov A. Malik last week, that Russia unreservedly identifies itself with “Arab aggression and intransigence.” The Soviet Union’s “disregard for facts can hardly be considered as qualities capable of establishing peace,” Mr. Tekoah said in commenting upon the Malik letter in which the Russian had blamed Israel for aggravation of Suez Canal tensions in order to block a settlement called for in the Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution.

The “vilification and unfounded accusations” against Israel, Mr. Tekoah asserted, threw additional light on Israel’s opposition to the current discussions–the eighth of which was held this week. He reaffirmed Israel’s “readiness to accept” the Security Council measure “for the promotion of agreement between the parties of a just and lasting peace.”

In his letter Mr. Malik said that normalization of the area required that the Security Council’s cease-fire resolution be carried out. Mr. Tekoah said that if Russia really wanted the cease-fire observed, it should “impress upon the United Arab Republic” its responsibilities for “persistent violations.” Egyptian responsibility for aggravation of the Suez situation, he said, was made clear from UN reports submitted by Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, chief of the UN observer mission in the sector, and by official Cairo statements “announcing” a policy “of increasing tension and generating violence” along the canal.

Mr. Tekoah reiterated Israel’s continued willingness to observe the cease-fire on a reciprocal basis. He said that the Soviet Union could “contribute constructively” to peace by “lending its official support to the requirement that the parties to the conflict themselves devote their efforts to the conclusion and signature” of peace agreements. In a letter to Mr. Thant yesterday, Egyptian envoy Mohamed Awal el-Kony said that Lt. Gen. Bull had been informed by Undersecretary of State Salah Gohar that fortification of UN observer posts on the canal’s west bank had begun. Posts on both sides of the canal had been subjected to “grave danger” and “heavy damage,” Mr. Thant had complained earlier. Mr. el-Kony blamed Israel for the “deterioration” of the situation.

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