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UN Security Council Session Turns into Debate on Who is Responsible for Mideast Impasse

Three of the Big Four powers interrupted a Security Council debate today on Israel’s incursion into Lebanon to engage in an acrimonious exchange over who was responsible for the Middle East impasse. Yakob Malik, the chief Soviet delegate challenged and was challenged in turn by Ambassador Charles Yost of the United States and Lord Caradon, the British UN Ambassador. The Indo-China situation was injected into the proceedings by the Russians and by the Syrian Ambassador, Dr. George J. Tomeh, who quoted liberally from Jewish Telegraphic Agency Daily News Bulletins to support his allegation that Israel’s action against terrorist bases in Lebanon was similar to the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. Ambassador Malik made the same accusation and heaped abuse on Israel whose leaders he called “military maniacs.” Israel’s Ambassador, Yosef Tekoah, obviously infuriated, added to the verbal battle by declaring that Soviet Russia should be “placed on the defendants bench to answer for its dangerous and nefarious behavior” in the Middle East.

Mr. Tekoah criticized the UN for listening to “Soviet warlike diatribes” and treating the USSR “like Red Riding Hood’s grandmother rather than like the bloodthirsty wolf it is.” Ambassadors Yost, Malik and Caradon, along with French UN Ambassador Jacques Kosciusko-Morizet, have been meeting in New York for more than a year trying to reach an agreement on Mideast guidelines that would reactivate the peace-seeking mission of UN special envoy Gunner V. Jarring. Their next meeting is scheduled for May 26 but despite the increased gravity of the Mideast situation there was no indication that they might meet sooner. Lord Caradon said today that the Four Powers might be able to report to Secretary General U Thant before the end of the month on a possible Mideast peace formula. Mr. Morizet said implementation of the cease-fire is a prerequisite for peace. Despite Lord Caradon’s optimism, the prospects for an immediate Big Four agreement seemed dim to observers here. Bitterness has been building up among the Four Powers since Ambassador Malik charged, at a Soviet press conference April 16, that U.S. assistance to Israel “strengthens its war potential and arrogance.”

Mr. Malik contended in the course of debate yesterday that the U.S. was delaying implementation of the Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 Mideast resolution. He accused the U.S. and Britain today of exhibiting “stubborn reluctance” to insist that Israel evacuate the occupied Arab territories. Lord Caradon declared the Soviet charge “false” and “untrue.” He insisted that Britain stands “four square” behind the UN’s cease-fire resolution. Ambassador Yost said the U.S. was “pursuing with greatest earnestness and persistence” implementation of the Nov. 22, 1967 resolution and if its efforts have been thwarted “it is not the responsibility of the U.S. government.” Mr. Yost was incensed by the Soviet analogy of Israel in Lebanon to the U.S. in Cambodia. He accused the Soviet Union of thwarting U.S. attempts to defuse the Vietnam situation and supporting North Vietnamese “imperialism.”

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Ambassador Tomeh charged that the Israeli raid on Lebanon followed the “same pattern” as the U.S. action in Cambodia. He read a JTA dispatch of May 5 which quoted Time magazine as saying that Israeli diplomats feared that if the U.S. did not aid Cambodia, the Kremlin would be encouraged to step up its activities in the Mideast. Dr. Tomeh cited another JTA story of the same date which quoted Rabbi Balfour Brickner, director of inter-faith activities of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations as warning that the failure of organized Jewry to join in anti-Vietnam war protests “jeopardizes the credentials of the Jewish community with its own youth who reject a parochial approach to war and peace.” At the opening of today’s Security Council debate Secretary General U Thant said in a message to the Council he had no “verified” details on the military situation in Lebanon because of the lack of adequate UN observation facilities. He said he had received a message, through Ambassador Tekoah, from Premier Golda Meir who said “All our forces…in this action have returned to their bases.” Mrs. Meir’s message said that Ambassador Tekoah had indicated as much yesterday and suggested that the Spanish resolution calling for Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon was therefore unnecessary.

Ambassador Edouard Ghorra, the Lebanese representative, claimed that “thousands” of Israeli soldiers invaded Lebanon and had killed five fedayeen, taken six prisoners and destroyed 37 houses. He said this was in addition to five Lebanese soldiers killed and seven wounded in yesterday’s attack. He called for a Security Council resolution providing that “no territory of any member” should be occupied by a foreign power. The Finnish representative, Max Jakobson, said the Israeli raid into Lebanon demonstrated the “almost total breakdown” of UN peace-making operations. He urged “A comprehensive political settlement” based on the UN cease-fire resolution as the only solution. Ambassador Malik charged that for three years Israel had “sabotaged” the cease-fire resolution, “undertaking one act of military provocation after another against the Arab states” to obtain its “illegal” ends. Ambassador Tekoah said Malik “heaped slander” on Israel and claimed that the USSR was “the principal culprit inflaming the Middle East.” The Security Council adjourned until tomorrow morning.

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