WASHINGTON (Apr. 9)
The bombing of Syrian troops by the Israel Air force was condemned today in a statement by the State Department. The essence of the statement was that both Israel and Syria were in the wrong.
The State Department said it wished to make known what George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told Israel Ambassador Abba Eban and Syrian Minister Faiz El Khouri when they called at the State Department Friday to discuss the trouble between Syria and Israel in the Huleh region. Secretary McGhee made it clear that “the Government of the United States takes a serious view of the incidents.” He emphasized that the U.S. considers that the stake which the two countries and the United Nations have in the maintenance of peace along their frontiers “is such that attempts to determine responsibility or validity of claims or counter-claims are dwarfed in the larger context of the necessity to maintain peace in the area.”
“The U.S.,” Secretary McGhee said, “regrets the recent shooting of seven Israel policemen in the southern part of the demilitarized zone. The Israel Ambassador was informed that it is the view of the U.S. Government, however, that this incident in no way justified subsequent retaliatory bombing by the Israel Air Force of Syrian territory. Further, the U.S. assumes the Israel Government will cease forthwith military action in the area and will act in accord with the findings of the United Nations.
“In the long run the position of Israel in the Near East is dependent upon the development of friendly relations with the Arab states. Incidents of this kind can only postpone the achievement by Israel of sound neighborly relations. Moreover, they contribute definitely to increased instability in an important area of the world at a time when the critical conditions of international affairs can ill-afford such a situation.”
Sec. McGhee said substantially the same thing to the Syrians, but did not elaborate the details as was done in the case of Israel. The Syrian Minister “was informed that the U.S. urged Syrian to take immediate steps to assure there will be no further recourse to violence on the part of Syrian forces.” The U.S. has already instructed its mission in Syrian and Israel to inform both government of its belief that the demilitarized zone should be immediately evacuated by military forces of both sides and both governments should act in accord with the findings of the U.N.
Both Israel and Syria were informed that “the U.S. proposes to undertake immediate discussions with France and the United Kingdom under terms of the three-power agreement of May 25, 1950.” These discussions have already begun with the British and French embassies here, it was learned. The U.N. Security Council would probably take up the question this week or next, a State Department spokesman said.
(At the United Nations today, the Syrian delegation in its fourth communication on the Huleh situation, asked the Security Council to place five additional complaints against Israel on its agenda.)