UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Oct. 27)
Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban will reply formally tomorrow to yesterday’s excoriation of Israel in the General Assembly by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad, Mr. Eban, who indicated his feelings about Mr. Riad’s speech at a press conference yesterday, calling it a “violent and dishonorable tirade,” added then that his formal response would also be non-defensive, Meanwhile, United Nations observers were saying today that yesterday’s change in the composition of the Security Council would not make it either more pro-Israel or more pro-Arab. Western sources noted that of the five outgoing members–Colombia, Finland, Nepal, Spain and Zambia–only Spain has taken an anti-Israel stance, although other observers noted that Zambia introduced last May’s resolution insisting on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and is currently a sponsor of an African resolution that Israelis are calling pro-Arab. The Western sources added that of the five new members of the Council–Argentina, Belgium, Italy, Japan and Somalia–only the last-named is hostile to Israel. Thus, according to those sources, the balance on the Council remains the same as regards attitudes toward the Middle East situation. (Continuing on the Council through 1971, in addition to the five permanent members, are Burundi, Nicaragua, Poland, Sierra Leone and Syria.)
The Egyptian view of the new Council alignment was expressed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today by Foreign Minister Riad and UN Ambassador Mohammed H. el-Zayyat. Mr. Riad, apprised of the changes by a JTA reporter, said. “What does it matter?” as long as they abide by the UN Charter. Dr. Zayyat, questioned separately, gave a similar response. Asked whether he thought Israel would be satisfied with the new Council, he replied: “Israel thinks the Charter is anti-Israel.” Western sources today disclaimed a front-page report in today’s Washington Post that said that Mr. Eban at his press conference “hinted pointedly that Israel would accept something less than a rollback of Egyptian missiles if confidence were established for the renewal of peace talks.” The observers said the Israeli Foreign Minister had “made it very, very clear” that Israel would not return to the negotiations without a rollback of Egyptian missiles placed in the Suez Canal zone in contravention of the standstill agreement.
Israeli sources said today that Minister Riad’s speech was worded very toughly to mask a weak argument. But Western sources–not American–countered that while the speech was indeed “tough,” it was rather moderate in light of the history of Egyptian rhetoric. There was disagreement among diplomats here today over the future of the African resolution promulgated at the request of Egypt and being circulated among delegations and of other rumored resolutions by the U.S. and others. Mr. Eban observed yesterday that Article 12 of the UN Charter prohibits the General Assembly from passing resolutions on matters before the Security Council, unless the Council approves. But one informed non-American Western diplomat observed that “Article 12 of the Charter has been breached before and will no doubt be breached again.” emphasizing that there could be disagreement among members as to whether, in the words of the Charter, the Security Council is currently “exercising…the functions assigned to it” on the matter of Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967. Assembly president Edvard I. Hambro of Norway might find it difficult not to accept the introduction of resolutions in view of a tradition of “breaches” of Article 12, the diplomat said.