Eban Asks U.N. to Arrange Arab-israel “face-to-face” Talks
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Eban Asks U.N. to Arrange Arab-israel “face-to-face” Talks

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Ambassador Abba S. Eban, head of the Israel delegation to the United Nations, today asked the General Assembly to use the UN facilities for bringing about face-to-face, “bilateral” talks between Israel and representatives of the Arab states, so that the Arab-Israel armistice agreements might be extended into peace pacts.

Pending evolution of such peace agreements, Mr. Eban said, he hoped it would be possible to arrange non-aggression treaties between Israel and its Arab neighbors. He spoke before the General Assembly in Israel’s first formal appearance at the current ninth session.

The Israel Ambassador built a powerful demand for peace based upon the use of the UN apparatus. By contrast with the speeches delivered earlier in the General Assembly by the heads of the Iraqi and Syrian delegations, who had indulged in vitriolic attacks, the Israel representative refrained from name-calling or bitter accusations, calling instead for renewed effort to bring peace and security for all out of the present Middle East contentions.

“The only successes in international relations in the past decade,” he stated, “have arisen from processes of direct negotiation.” He pointed to the international agreements on Korea and Indochina, to the conferences at Colombo, Manila and–only a few days ago–London as examples of the value of face-to-face talks.

Against a background of international successes through direct negotiation, he said, “the refusal of Arab governments to bring their relations with Israel under any process of negotiation, review or settlement stands out in unique isolation.” Pointedly Mr. Eban announced that he would not engage in recriminations, or attempt to answer the Arab spokesmen who had talked about “shining Arab virtue and indelible Israeli guilt.”


The present situation in the Middle East, he said, is due primarily to the fact that the Arabs had overthrown United Nations resolutions, had violated repeated UN cease-fire orders, and had refused to make peace. “There is therefore not the slightest moral or juridical force,” he said, “in the view that Israel is under obligation to renounce its rights under existing agreements, in an attempt to restore the arrangements which Arab violence overthrew seven years ago.”

Only last year, Mr. Eban reminded the Assembly, Israel made vigorous efforts to bring about face-to-face talks with Jordan – efforts that failed only because Jordan rejected the call for a conference issued by the Secretary General of the United Nations. Israel has reintegrated some 40,000 Arab refugees into the Israeli economy, he said. He pointed out that only a few days ago Israel agreed to the liquidation of Arab accounts in Israel banks and even to release the contents of Arab valuables held in safe deposit boxes in the Israeli banks.

As against Israel’s conciliatory steps he told the Assembly about Egypt’s refusal to permit Israel-bound shipping to go through the Suez Canal. He referred to the S.S. Bat Galim, which Egypt intercepted last week on “an absurd charge asserting that this vessel which carried no weapons of any kind, except the master’s pistol, had fired and caused casualties in an Egyptian coastal port. “Egypt’s charge in this connection was characterized by Mr. Eban as bearing “false witness.”


Speaking of the apparent efforts by the Arab states to maintain a state of war “conducting hostile propaganda, boycott and blockades and continuing to resort to acts of armed aggression by land and sea, “Mr. Eban told the Assembly:

“We frankly fear lest the main trend of Arab policy is directed towards the resumption at some suitable stage in the future of the war of aggression against Israel halted in 1948. We cannot avoid the apprehension lest arms now to be supplied to Arab countries will be used by the recipient states for renewing the onslaught against Israel.

“The only conceivable way of allaying such fears insofar as human fear can at all be allayed is the conclusion of peace treaties placing the relationship between neighboring states on a permanently normal footing.

“However, as a preliminary or transitory stage towards this end it might be useful to conclude agreements committing the parties to policies of non-aggression and pacific settlement. Such agreements would include undertaking to respect each other’s territorial integrity and political independence; to refrain from all hostile acts of a military, economic or political character; and to settle all existing and future differences by pacific means.”

The Egyptian delegate to the UN, Mahmoud Azmi, who followed Mr. Eban in the debate, ridiculed Israel’s “professed peaceful intentions” and charged that it had failed to respect UN resolutions and had maintained a “provocative attitude.” The Egyptian representative reiterated his government’s version of the Bat Galim incident, claiming that the Israeli merchant vessel had opened fire on Egyptian fishermen, sinking one fishing vessel with a loss of two Egyptian lives, in what he termed a challenge to Egyptian sovereignty.

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