Riad: No Peace Without Total Withdrawal Tekoah; Egypt Blocks Peace Efforts
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Riad: No Peace Without Total Withdrawal Tekoah; Egypt Blocks Peace Efforts

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad told the General Assembly today that Israel wanted a Suez Canal agreement “as a springboard for further aggression” and “as a means to consolidate…its aggression…under the protection of the international community.” In an hour-long address, Riad repeatedly stated that there could be no Middle East peace without total Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories. His most frequent reference was to Israeli “expansionism.” Egypt, declared Riad, refuses to “surrender” to such a policy.

If Israel wants peace, he said, she should implement Security Council Resolution 242–“particularly the withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied by Israel”–and “reply positively” to the Feb. 8 inquiry of the United Nations intermediary Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring of Sweden. Israeli “expansionism.” Riad said, is “the most dangerous factor threatening peace in the Middle East,” and Jerusalem’s policies of “massive expulsion” of Palestinians and “demolition” of their property are “among the gravest of crimes” and in fact comparable to Nazism.

Riad denounced Israel Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s Assembly address of last Thursday. The Egyptian said Eban’s speech constituted a “categorical rejection of pence in the Middle East” and a defense of “military expansion” –policies, he said, that “find no support whatever in the international community.” Riad urged the Assembly to take “firm International action” to “force” her compliance with the Charter and “brig them (Israel) back into the fold of civilized nations.” Riad’s reference to United States policy was brief; he said the US was “frustrating” the cause of peace by continuing to aid Israel militarily.

Non-Israeli Western sources commented that beneath Riad’s rhetoric was a statement that neither advanced the cause of peace nor closed any doors. Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah was more specific: He said Riad’s speech “makes it clear that Egypt’s position remains as intransigent as ever.” Tekoah said that Instead of replying to Eban’s five-point peace proposal. Riad “chose the path of sterile acrimony. Invective and distortion and of demands to impose on Israel Egypt’s diktat, whether on the interim agreement or the over-all settlement, without negotiation and without agreement.” This “Inflexible” attitude. the Israeli continued, “can only block understanding and prevent progress in the peace-making progress.”

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