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Malik: Mideast Peace is Contingent on Israeli Withdrawal from Occupied Territories

The “key, crucial, decisive question” which is holding back a solution of the Middle East conflict in the Big Four talks “is the withdrawal of Israel from all of the occupied territories.” Yakob Malik, Soviet Ambassador to the United Nations, declared at a press conference here today. “If there is a dispute or disagreement within the Big Four, it is because we insist firmly that all Israeli troops, as aggressors, should be withdrawn,” Mr. Malik said. “If this is not solved, then nothing will be solved,” he asserted. Ambassador Malik’s press conference, the first held by the Soviet diplomat in more than a year, was called on the occasion of the Lenin Centenary. Speaking in Russian through a translator, Mr. Malik said there were less important problems in the Mideast and all will have to be solved together, but nothing could be solved without Israeli withdrawal. “Aggression must not pay,” he declared, adding in an obvious reference to the United States, “Some of the conferees adhere to another view” and “would reward aggression.”

Mr. Malik insisted that “The withdrawal must be to the line from which the aggression began. Some have a different view. They talk of alterations. We are opposed. If withdrawal is solved then it will not be difficult to solve all the other questions and arrive at the solution defined in Resolution 242 of the Security Council of Nov. 22, 1967–the achievement of a just and lasting peace and all other points called for.” Ambassador Malik added, “This is the gist of our difficulties and disappointments and the essence of what we are trying to do in the Big Four, and that is why there has been no achievement of any positive results,” Asked if he thought President Nixon’s decision to withhold more aircraft from Israel would improve the situation vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, Mr. Malik replied that he attached “not too much importance to that.” He said America is continuing to supply arms to Israel under previous contracts and “the fast is that the (Nixon’s) decision was not a decision to withhold but merely a postponement of such a decision.”

U.S. ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE TO ISRAEL BOLSTERS ITS ‘WAR POTENTIAL AND ARROGANCE’

Mr. Malik said that U.S. economic assistance of $100 million to Israel is of “great importance to Israel because it strengthens its war potential and arrogance.” Strengthening Israel’s “arrogance,” Mr. Malik went on, is probably as important to it as new Phantoms “because she is not in particular need of these aircraft.” Asked about reports that Soviet personnel are stationed near the Suez Canal and whether this “direct intervention” by a major power in the Mideast would further the cause of peace that Lenin advocated, Mr. Malik replied that Lenin was on the side of the oppressed. This, he said, was the main difference between the U.S. and Soviet positions–which side should be given assistance, the victims or the aggressors? He strongly condemned the “barbarous” bombing of the Arabs and the “monstrous murder of innocent populations” by Israel. He repeated the Egyptian claim that an Israeli air raid on April 8 hit a primary school in which, according to Mr. Malik, 106 children were killed. The figure given by Cairo was 30 children.

Mr. Malik was asked if he didn’t think the cease-fire resolution and the Security Council’s Resolution 242 were not binding on both sides. He replied that the cease-fire resolution was a temporary measure taken in the expectation that “within a few days” the Middle East problem would have been settled. He said Israel ignored the Security Council’s resolution which was tantamount to violating the cease-fire resolution. He said it was the Israelis, not the Arabs who are bombing civilians. Mr. Malik discussed a variety of world problems outside of the Middle East. He said the Soviet Union “strongly condemned terrorism in any form.” He made the statement in connection with recent diplomatic kidnappings in Latin America, not terrorist activity in the Mideast.

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