Acrimonious Debate Continues in Security Council Meeting on Status of Jerusalem

Acrimonious debate continued in the Security Council today over the status of Jerusalem. The meeting was called yesterday on a complaint by Jordan over the eviction of Arab families and the demolition of Arab-owned houses in the old walled city. Jordan urged the Security Council to warn Israel that sanctions would be imposed if it failed to rescind its annexation of East Jerusalem and appealed to Security Council members to withhold arms from Israel until it complied.

The debate yesterday was characterized by bitter exchanges between Mohammad H. el-Farra, the Jordanian representative, and-Ambassador Yosef Tekoah, the representative of Israel. Mr. Tekoah charged that the Jordanian complaint was “a maneuver to divert attention from the fact that the Arab Governments have hardened even further their refusal to conclude peace with Israel and that Arab aggressive warfare against Israel continues unabated.” He said Jordan had come before the Security Council “to plead the cause of its 1948 invasion.”

Mr. el-Farra asked the Council to condemn in the strongest possible terms Israel’s failure to comply with the Council’s previous resolutions calling on Israel not to take action that tended to change the status of Jerusalem and to rescind measures already taken. Mr. Tekoah said the actions about which Jordan complained were regulations that simply facilitated the continued and lawful conduct of Arab business and professions in Jerusalem.

The Jordanian envoy charged that Israel had conducted a “blitzkrieg” in Arab Jerusalem, destroying more than 140 buildings, 437 business establishments and 1,048 apartments housing more than 5,000 people. Mr. Tekoah said that Israeli evictions and demolitions in the Old City were matters of security.

He referred to the terrorist bombs which exploded 10 days ago in a Jerusalem street used by worshippers going to and from the Western Wall. If Jordan would abide scrupulously by the cease-fire, Israeli security measures near the Western Wall would be superfluous, he declared. He said Israel and the world would follow with interest the Council members’ views on “the outrageous assaults by terrorists on peaceful worshippers.”

The Jordanian complaint was brought to the Security Council against a background of increasing violence in the Middle East and an apparent impasse in the Big Four talks on a Mideast settlement. Some diplomats here thought Jordan was seeking to influence the U.S. to bring pressure on Israeli Premier Golda Meir when she visits Washington, probably in August, to relax Israel’s conditions for a settlement. The Jordanians were also apparently trying to induce non-Arab Moslem states such as Turkey and Iran to join in protesting Israeli control of the holy places in Jerusalem. Most observers here see little chance of the Security Council voting sanctions against Israel but they thought the passage of less severe measures such as a condemnation was likely.

Mr. Tekoah said yesterday that Jordan does not speak even for the Arab minority in Jerusalem. He said “Israel will maintain and protect the city’s growth, welfare and security” and “will make certain that Jerusalem, holy to so many, remains a source of light and pride to all religions.

NEXT STORY