JERUSALEM (Jun. 13)
Israel’s frequently strained relations with the United Nations may have been eased somewhat but there were no indications of a meeting of minds during the 48 hour visit here of UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar.
Although the talks between de Cuellar and Premier Yitzhak Shamir and other government officials were cordial, basic differences remain in their respective long term and short term approaches to the Middle East conflict. The Secretary General rejected a proposal by Shamir that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) be deployed as a buffer between the Israel Defense Force and the Syrian army which face each other in eastern Lebanon.
According to de Cuellar, such a move would further weaken Lebanese sovereignty and lead to partition of country. Shamir, for his part, forcefully rejected the Secretary General’s long standing proposal to convene an international peace conference on the Middle East under UN auspices. Israel objects most vehemently to any peace process that would include the Soviet Union and the Palestine Liberation Organization, as envisaged by de Cuellar.
Nevertheless, de Cuellar told the Israeli leaders that he would make an effort to improve Israel’s relations with the UN and to end the anti-Israel campaign at UN forums. He was referring to Israel’s complaint, conveyed to him on his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport yesterday by David Kimche Director General of the Foreign Ministry, that the world organization has often dealt with “issues concerning Israel and the region … in a manner which we consider to have been unjust, to say the very least.”
Kimche, in fact, informed the Secretary General immediately on his arrival that “there exists a sense of disappointment and disillusionment” in Israel over the UN role in the Middle East.
De Cuellar’s stopover in Israel marked the end of his first Middle East tour since taking office. He visited Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan in that order. He said, on his arrival, that he hoped to achieve “something of benefit to Israel and the area” by his trip. “I earnestly hope that we may together be able to agree on some constructive, positive, just steps in order to improve the present situation in the area for the benefit of your country, for the benefit of the area, for the benefit of the world, ” he said.
EFFORT FOR ISRAELI PRISONERS PROMISED
Meeting with President Chaim Herzog today, de Cuellar promised that the UN will continue to try to establish the fate of Israeli soldiers still missing in Lebanon. “I will make very effort in order to help them,” he told reporters after leaving Herzog’s residence. He said he would be in touch with the International Red Cross to learn whether the combined efforts of the IRC and the UN could help resolve the problem. He stressed, however, that in order to succeed, he had to act in a most discreet manner.
De Cuellar described his visits to five Arab countries and Israel as “preventive diplomacy.” He said the UN wanted “to be prepared when the situation becomes much more difficult.”
The situation in Lebanon was high on the agenda of de Cuellar’s talks with Israeli leaders. Kimche urged him to use the influence of the UN to persuade the Arab countries, especially Lebanon, to enter into direct negotiations with Israel.
The Secretary General received a petition from representatives of 19 Arab refugee camps in the occupied territories urging him to oppose any cuts in welfare payments and employment services by the UN for the refugees.