U Thant Bids Israel, Lebanon Accept UN Observers on Both Sides of Frontier
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U Thant Bids Israel, Lebanon Accept UN Observers on Both Sides of Frontier

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Secretary-General U Thant disclosed today that he had requested Israel and Lebanon to agree to the stationing of United Nations observers “in adequate number” on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese boundary “with the function of observing and maintaining the Security Council cease-fire.”

Mr. Thant took the initiative on Saturday when he addressed his proposals to the permanent representatives here of the two countries. He acted after another inconclusive meeting of the Security Council on Friday to consider the Lebanese and Israeli cross-complaints filed after last Monday’s air attack on a guerrilla-controlled enclave on the slopes of Mount Hermon in Lebanese territory. In that attack, Israeli planes bombed and strafed guerrilla bases from which attacks had been launched on Israeli territory.

The suggestion that the UN observers be placed on the Israeli-Lebanese border was made last week by Charles W. Yost, the American representative, as the Security Council discussed the complaints each country had filed after Israeli planes bombarded a guerrilla-controlled enclave on the slopes of Mount Hermon in southern Lebanon.

No success had been achieved by Friday’s meeting in reaching agreement on a draft resolution to deal with the complaints or on a consensus to which all members of the Security Council could subscribe.

A resolution sponsored by Pakistan, sharply critical of Israel had been circulating among the delegations but as of Monday afternoon was short of the required votes for passage. There was some speculation that the Western Powers, who wanted a more even-handed resolution, might circulate a draft of their own.


The Council meeting today opened 90 minutes late due to consultations on procedure. It heard a proposal from the Paraguayan representative that it defer action until it heard the Israeli and Lebanese replies to Mr. Thant’s proposal.

Jaime de Pinies, this month’s Council President, speaking as head of the Spanish delegation, roundly denounced Israel for premeditated aggression and insisted that the Council must adopt a resolution condemning the Israeli attack on Lebanon and warning of other measures under the UN Charter if acts of aggression are repeated.

Members of the Council met privately with the President after the session adjourned to decide on the next step. It was considered possible that the Security Council would recess indefinitely, without taking action, pending the replies from Jerusalem and Beirut to Mr. Thant’s proposal for the stationing of observers.

The Israeli delegation here would not comment on the nature of the Israeli response. A spokesman said Mr. Thant’s communication had been transmitted to Jerusalem for consideration. Israel, in the past, has not been receptive to the presence of UN observers on Israel territory.

In his letter to the two governments, the Secretary-General pointed out that “since June, 1967, there has been no effective United Nations observation operation in the Israel-Lebanon sector.” He pointed out that there was “only token United Nations observer representation on the Lebanese side and none at all on the Israeli side.” As a result, he noted, it had not been possible for him to provide the Security Council with reports on developments in the area.

His proposal that both sides now accept UN observers was necessitated, Mr. Thant pointed out, “in view of the increasing seriousness of the situation in the Israel-Lebanon sector.”

Mr. Thant’s letter stressed that the UN representatives would be there “with the function of observing and maintaining the Security Council cease-fire” and compared this with the stationing of UN observers in the Suez Canal zone sector in July 1967. He asked “urgent consideration” of his proposal. He said the Security Council had been advised of his action and would be informed of the replies.

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