U Thant Studying Assertion by Jordanian Official That Cease-fire Line No Longer Exists

A United Nations spokesman said today that Secretary General U Thant is studying a remark by the Jordanian Foreign Minister. Abdul Moneim Rifai, which Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah has called “a development of the utmost gravity.” Mr. Rifai made a statement last Friday indicating that the cease-fire between Israel and Jordan has ceased to exist. Ambassador Tekoah sent a letter to Mr. Thant today asking for clarification. The exact nature of the Jordanian diplomat’s statement was unclear. One report said he had asserted that the cease-fire was no longer operative. Other reports said Mr. Rifai explained that Jordan would not feel obliged to observe the cease-fire if Israel continued to insist on retaining the occupied territories.

Ambassador Tekoah acted in response to a directive from Israeli “political sources,” to emphasize the “grave significance” of the Rifai comment to Mr. Thant and ask him to clarify it. Mr. Tekoah’s directive is understood to have come from the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. In his letter, Mr. Tekoah quoted reports from Amman that Mr. Rifai had “agreed with Nasser” that the cease-fire was “non-existent.” The Israeli envoy reiterated that, on the contrary, it was “unconditional.” and that Jordan had created a “most dangerous situation” with the Minister’s statement. The Israeli ambassador called on Mr. Thant to “urgently apprise the Jordanian government of the full implications” of the statement. When President Nasser made a similar declaration last year, Israel initiated a program of raids on Egypt. Asked today by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency whether the new Jordanian statement made full-scale war more imminent, Mr. Tekoah declined comment.

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