UNITED NATIONS (Mar. 22)
Israel charged today that the eruptions on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem are a result of an attempt by the Palestine Liberation Organization to prevent the municipal elections from being held in the West Bank April 12. Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog made the charge as the Security Council opened a debate on the West Bank after Arab representatives said the out-breaks were a result of the Palestinians attempting to free themselves from Israeli occupation.
“The PLO by its very nature, a grouping of terrorist organizations which rules by the muzzle of the Kalachnikoff rifle and the assassin’s bullet, cannot possibly entertain free elections,” Herzog declared. “That is not how its leaders attained their present positions. Accordingly, they are endeavoring, as they did four years ago, immediately before the previous elections, to arouse opinion to incite, and to inflame passions in order to head off the elections, the results of which might be somewhat embarrassing for them and which might well bring to the fore a new Palestinian leadership of a responsible nature….They will not succeed.”
Herzog said the disturbances on the West Bank are a result of demonstrations by school children who had been incited by false propaganda, which he said was repeated by Pakistan and Libya, the two countries that asked for the special Council meeting. He said they have claimed that Jews have been given a right to pray in the El Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. This is “a damnable lie,” Herzog declared.
He noted that Jewish religious law forbids Jews to enter the Temple Mount while the Israel government “has to this day refrained from issuing regulations for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount in order not to offend the susceptibilities of the Moslem population and to prevent disturbances between the religious communities.”
“Israel is therefore confronted with a paradoxical situation in which Jews have not only refrained from exercising their inherent rights, but the government of Israel has even brought to justice those who have attempted to pray on the Temple Mount,” he added.
CONTRASTS JERUSALEM NOW AND UNDER JORDAN
The Israeli envoy contrasted the situation in Jerusalem today when Christians, Moslems and Jews enjoy religious freedom and protection of their holy sites to the situation under Jordanian rule when Jews were not permitted to visit the Western Wall, when the Jewish quarter was “laid waste” and 58 synagogues destroyed and cemeteries desecrated. “I myself found the graves of my grandparents and my great grandmother on the Mount of Olives in June 1967 desecrated with tombstones destroyed,” Herzog said.
Herzog also defended Israel’s right to Jerusalem. “I offer no excuse for our presence in Jerusalem,” he said. “I owe no apology. We are there as of right, a right that has been hallowed by our Bible; a right which has been sanctioned by our history, by our sacrifice, by our prayers and by our yearnings. A right which has been strengthened and vindicated by virtue of our creating the only liberal administration giving complete freedom of worship to all faiths which the city has known for the first time without any restraint whatsoever in 2000 years.”
Herzog also castigated the Security Council “wasting our time” by “discussing an allegation based on malicious falsehoods” while Lebanon is disintegrating with “a million Christians” living “in dire peril of their lives.”
ISRAEL ACCUSED OF ‘BRUTAL’ RULE
Representatives of Egypt. Libya and the Palestine Liberation Organization, speaking before Herzog, charged that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and “Arab” Jerusalem was “oppressive” and “brutal.” The Egyptian delegate, Ambassador Ahmed Abdel Meguid, asked for a resolution affirming the “inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” a condemnation of Israeli acts on the West Bank and in Jerusalem and a demand that Israel reverse the changes it has made in those areas. All of the speakers urged a speedy end to the Israeli occupation.
Zehdi Labib Terzi, the PLO representative, said the situation was alarming because “the forces of occupation have resorted to brutal, Hitlerite measures of suppression to thwart the mass uprising, in some cases described as riots, in others as disturbances, but in effect an unarmed uprising against the forces of occupation.” Terzi said that the occupation engendered the resistance and compared the latter to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943. He called for “termination of the occupation, the sooner the better.”
The PLO spokesman quoted copiously from Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports of events on the West Bask and Jerusalem as well as reports from other news media. He mentioned, among others, a recent JTA dispatch reporting that Rabbi Moshe Levinger, leader of the Jewish community of Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, had exhorted the townspeople to “shoot to kill” if they were menaced by Arabs.
He said the fact that Levinger spoke on Israeli television indicated that his words had the approval of the Israeli authorities. Terzi did not refer to JTA reports that Levinger faces prosecution. He also charged that illegal Jewish settlement on the West Bank was carried out with the approval of Israeli authorities.
HERZOG INTERRUPTED, DEFENDED
As Herzog spoke about the civil strife in Lebanon, he was interrupted by the PLO representative on a point of order. The latter stated that Lebanon was not on the agenda and requested the President of the Security Council, Thomas S. Boya of Benin, to instruct the representative of the “Zionist entity” to confine his statement to the agenda item.
Ivor Richard, the representative of the United Kingdom, on another point of order, observed that he had listened to three or four speeches which could not be regarded as “pro-Israeli” and that he believed that the Israeli representative should be allowed to make his statement in the manner he so chooses. The Security Council president asked Herzog to continue his statement.
Other countries that were on the agenda to speak this afternoon were Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.