UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Aug. 27)
Renewed efforts to induce Israel and Lebanon to accept the presence of United Nations observers on their territory on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese frontier were expected today to follow the Security Council’s unanimous condemnation of Israel for its August 11 airstrikes against guerrilla bases near Mount Hermon on Lebanese territory.
Lebanon previously rejected a formal proposal by Secretary-General U Thant, arguing instead for reactivation of the mixed armistice commission set up under the 1949 armistice. Israel, which considers the armistice agreements dead letters, said it would consider the proposals if and when Lebanon changed its position.
Both Lord Caradon of Britain and Ambassador Charles W. Yost of the United States, in explanation of their votes Tuesday night, renewed endorsement of the proposal for extension of the UN observer force to the Israeli-Lebanese cease-fire lines. Matti Cawen, speaking for Finland, also urged the positioning of UN observers as a measure to help restore peace on the frontier.
Despite the American vote for the resolution, its adoption was considered a setback for the United States. Ambassador Yost admitted that the resolution “did not deal in as balanced a way as my delegation would have liked with the cycle of provocation and reprisal responsible for extending the violence to this frontier.”
The New York Post reported today that the United States voted for the Security Council resolution condemning Israel “after Washington became convinced that its stand was essential to save the Lebanese Government from collapse.”
It declared that “the American diplomats who spent a week working out the compromise resolution came away today convinced that the UN condemnation of the Israeli raid was necessary to prevent further weakening of the Beirut regime. “Such weakening,” it said, “could result in a takeover by elements backing more active support of guerrilla operations.”
NO DIRECT REFERENCE IN RESOLUTION TO ATTACKS FROM LEBANON WHICH PRECEDED AIR STRIKE
When the Council first began consideration of the Lebanese and Israeli cross-complaints on Aug. 12, Ambassador Yost called for a condemnation of the Israeli attack and, equally, for condemnation of the attacks on Israel, mounted from Lebanese territory which had preceded it. During the more than a week of negotiations, the American proposal for evenhanded condemnation was successively whittled down to the point where no specific reference was made to the attacks which provoked the Israeli response and other violations of the cease-fire were “deplored” rather than “condemned.”
The leading role in the negotiations was played by Jaime de Pinies, of Spain, this month’s president of the Security Council, who, speaking for Spain in winding up the Council debate, had demanded the sharpest condemnation of Israel and the threat of further Council action if further violations occurred.
The resolution which the United States accepted and which was unanimously adopted, condemned the Israel air action of Aug. 11, deplored “All violent incidents in violation of the cease-fire”; deplored the extension of the area of fighting and declared that military reprisal and other grave violations of the cease-fire “cannot be tolerated.” The resolution warned that the Council would have to consider “further and more effective steps as envisaged in the Charter” to ensure against repetition. In its final form, it did not even enjoin both sides to observe the cease-fire.
The condemnation of Israel was hailed by Aleksei V. Zakharov of the Soviet Union as a moral and political defeat for Israel and for “the extremist policies of the present Israeli Government.” But Ambassador Yosef Tekoah of Israel rejected this view. The resolution, as adopted, he said, reflected the internal difficulties of the Security Council which prevented it from adopting a fair and balanced resolution on this question.
The resolution, he said, must be regarded primarily as a reflection of the arithmetic of the Council membership. Of the 15 members of the Council he pointed out, six had no diplomatic relations with Israel or denied Israel’s right to independence and sovereignty.