Britain’s UN Envoy Defends Resolution 242; Opposes Measures to Alter It

Britain’s Ambassador to the United Nations today strongly defended the Security Council’s Mideast Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967 and declared that his government could not support any measures by the General Assembly to “amplify, modify or alter” it Sir Colin Crowe, addressing the General Assembly in the course of its continuing debate on the Mideast, defined Britain’s position on an Arab-Israeli settlement in terms virtually identical with those used by Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home in a speech to Conservative Party leaders in Yorkshire Saturday. Sir Alec’s speech drew reactions of “shock” and “disappointment” from Israel and pro-Israel circles in Britain and elsewhere. But Sir Colin emphasized in his presentation today that there was nothing new in Britain’s position and that all of the points made derived from Resolution 242 and other Mideast resolutions adopted by the UN since 1967 and were in fact reiterated by Britain’s representatives at the Four Power Mideast talks. Sir Colin spoke as the General Assembly had before it two draft resolutions aimed at the resumption of the Arab-Israeli indirect peace talks under the auspices of UN mediator Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring. A draft sponsored by 19 African and Asian countries plus Yugoslavia, also reaffirmed that territories occupied by force must be restored and that the rights of Palestinian Arabs were a pre-requisite to a just and lasting peace.

A United States sponsored resolution, introduced last Thursday, urged all concerned to create “the conditions necessary to establish the confidence in which the parties could resume discussions promptly” through Dr. Jarring and calls for implementation of Resolution 242 in all of its parts. The American resolution was the only one of the two that contained a reference, albeit an oblique one, to Egyptian violations of the Suez cease-fire. It also called for a three month extension of the cease-fire which expires at midnight, Thursday, Nov. 5. The Afro-Asian draft does not mention an extension of the cease-fire. Sir Colin, referring to both drafts, said it was understood that the Afro-Asian sponsors may be prepared to include a paragraph calling for a temporary extension of the cease-fire. He said that everyone has agreed that there were two elements to Resolution 242 of equal importance “and one cannot be taken without the other.” He said these were commitments to peace on one hand and withdrawal and boundaries on the other. The commitment to peace, he said, required the parties not only to terminate all states and claims of belligerency but to recognize the sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability and political independence of their neighbors without resorting to threats or use of force and to restrain hostile acts originating on their territory.

SIR COLIN CALLS ESSENTIALLY FOR ISRAEL’S RETURN TO PRE-1967 BOUNDARIES

Sir Colin’s elucidation of the boundary question was identical with that of Sir Alec Douglas-Home. He called essentially for Israel’s return to its pre-June, 1967 borders with only minor alterations of the old frontiers with Jordan which, he pointed out, were not internationally recognized boundaries but armistice lines. It was Sir Alec’s view on the boundaries question and his assertion that the status of Jerusalem is still a matter for agreement that aroused Israel’s ire and the same reaction was expected to Sir Colin’s statement today. But the British UN Ambassador went further to mention in detail two other points which the Israelis had criticized Sir Alec for omitting. These were freedom of navigation for all shipping through the Suez Canal, Straits of Tiran and Gulf of Aqaba and the establishment of demilitarized zones in the territories evacuated by Israel.

Speaking of Resolution 242, Sir Colin said. “We have serious doubts about whether it is proper for the Assembly to attempt in any way to alter a resolution of the Security Council…But more important than our doubts about the legal position is the firm conviction that it is unwise for the Assembly to attempt to alter Resolution 242…(which) still commands the support of the great majority of the members of the United Nations. We believe it should therefore hang on to this resolution and attempt to build on it.” (Foreign Office officials in London claimed today that there were no grounds for the bitter reaction in Israel to Sir Alec’s statement on Mideast policy. They insisted that the statement was not pro-Arab and was not inspired by the talks last week between Sir Alec and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko as some Israeli circles charged. A Foreign Office spokesman said Sir Alec was reiterating British policy which had been stated on many previous occasions. It was merely thought opportune to re-state the British position while the General Assembly is discussing the Middle East, the spokesman said.)

NEXT STORY