Thant’s Report on Jerusalem Housing Plan Expected to Be Critical; Big Four Meet

Secretary General Thant will submit a report to the Security Council tomorrow in which he is expected to criticize Israel’s intentions of building new housing in East Jerusalem for Jews so as to maintain the city’s Jewish majority. A UN spokesman declined to discuss in advance the contents of the report, but said that it would deal with “recent developments” in connection with Israeli operations in captured Arab territories and that it was based on Thant’s “reporting responsibilities” under five UN resolutions. One, approved by the Assembly a month after the Six-Day War, expressed “deep concern” at Israel’s “measures…to change the status of the city (Jerusalem)” and called on Israel “to rescind all measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any action which would alter the status of Jerusalem.” A second resolution, issued 10 days later, “deplored” Israel’s “failure to implement” the earlier one and reaffirmed the language of that document. A Council Resolution of May 21, 1968, noted the two Assembly measures, “deplored” Israel’s “failure” to comply with them, and “urgently” called on Israel to adhere to them.

Thirteen months later, on July 3, 1969, the Council reiterated its stand and added that it “censures in the strongest terms all measures taken to change the status of the city of Jerusalem.” Two and a half months later, on Sept. 15, the Council stated that “the execrable act of desecration and profanation of the Holy Al Aksa Mosque (committed “under the military occupation of Israel”) emphasizes the immediate necessity of Israel desisting from acting in violation of the aforesaid resolutions…” (The perpetrator of the mosque vandalism was an Australian who went on trial and was subsequently committed to a mental asylum.) In a related development. Jordanian Ambassador Muhammad H. el-Farra has complained to the Secretary General that “the Israeli authorities have bulldozed parts of the premises of Government House, the headquarters of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, situated in no-man’s land in Jerusalem.” Dr. Farra asked that Thant report on “this new Israeli violation” of Council Resolutions 252 and 267 “as urgently as possible.” In a reaction to the Jordanian charge, Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah advised Thant today that “The United Nations headquarters in Jerusalem has in no way been affected by development activities now being undertaken in the city to meet urgent housing needs of the population.”

Meanwhile, the ambassadors of the Big Four–the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France–were to meet again this afternoon, under the hostship of the U.S., to continue their discussions on what the State Department has described as U.S. proposals for “preliminary supplemental guarantees” of a Middle East accord. It is understood that the envoys made a start at last week’s meeting toward identifying the problems involved. One source close to the deliberations called it a “workmanlike meeting with absolutely no polemics and some commonalty of views.” A Western big power diplomat observed that whatever the “guarantee” ultimately arrived at. “It must in no sense be a substitute for a settlement, but a necessary supplement to it.” He added that if Israel’s next statement to intermediary Gunnar V. Jarring matched in tone the most recent Egyptian letter, “that would be real progress.” Concurrently, a UN spokesman said Secretary General Thant was “gratified with the constructive trend of the discussions” by the Big Four on peace guarantees. He was reminded that on Jan. 18 Thant contended that “active participation” by the U.S. and the USSR in a Mideast force would “create more problems” than it would solve. But the spokesman declined to comment on whether the Secretary General’s two statements were inconsistent.

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