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Eban Warns Security Council on U.N. Failure to Protect Israelis

October 26, 1956
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In a long fighting speech in which he asserted that Israel has the right to fight back when attacked, and in which he attacked by name the delegations of Britain, Iran and the Soviet Union for condemning Israel for alleged aggressions against Jordan without hearing the entire story, Ambassador Abba Eban, chairman of the Israel delegation to the United Nations, told Jordan today “do not attack us and you will not be harmed.”

Mr. Eban, delivering his first address in the current debate during which the Council is discussing a Jordanian complaint against the Jewish State, and an Israel counter complaint of persistent violations by Jordan of the armistice pact, also criticized the UN machinery in the Middle East.

“I fear that if the United Nations organs operating in our country cannot help stop our people being killed,” Mr. Eban declared, “then whatever else they do is not of primary value. At this stage I will only say that my government’s attitude to any procedure is determined by whether or not it promises to give our people a rightful immunity from the outrages which they have suffered in such terrible intensity in recent months.

“Our attitude will also rest strongly on the need to respect Israel’s sovereignty concerning any activity by anybody in the territory of Israel. This problem requires new, constructive thinking, rather than a return to ineffective routines of verbal condemnations and of investigations which lead nowhere at all.”

Thus Mr. Eban seemed to be answering the implied request made to the Security Council last week by Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold that the current session at least censure Israel for refusing recently to let investigators for the UN truce organization continue their probes inside Israel territory.


Adopting the unique practice of actually naming Council members whom he was criticizing, Mr. Eban expressed his government’s deep disappointment in some of the statements made by Council members after Jordan had spoken last week. He said that having just come back from Israel he could report that the words of Sir Pierson Dixon, the British delegate, “evoked shock” on the part of the Israel people.

He quoted Sir Pierson as having stated “our Jordan ally has our sympathy and commendation.” He referred to Iran’s “eulogy” and to a statement by Arkady A. Sobolev of the USSR who had expressed his country’s “deep sympathy with the families, people and government of Jordan.”

Pointing out that the three Council members he named had spoken of “only Jordan,” Mr. Eban stated: “Not yet have the British, Iranian and Soviet delegations paid their tribute to Israeli sacrifices. My government does not, dares not, believe there is any reason for this except that those who have spoken did not possess a knowledge of the facts.”

Telling the Council that Jordan’s Abdul Monem Rifai had good reason for starting his account of Israel “aggressions” with occurrences since September 11, Mr. Eban read a long list of Jordanian killings and infiltrations starting on April 26 the every day Jordan pledged to Mr. Hammarskjold that it would observe a strict cease-fire. Thirty-seven Israelis have been killed since that date and at least 40 wounded or mutilated, Mr. Eban stated.


According to Mr. Eban, at least one Israeli has been killed every 36 hours in the past three months through Jordanian aggressions, while others have been wounded. On 14 occasions in the last few months, he said, the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission condemned Jordan for aggressions, called upon her to keep peace and requested that aggressive recurrences be prevented.

Israel, on its part, said Mr. Eban, “stands for the integral observance of the general armistice agreement with Jordan on the basis of reciprocity. In particular, it will faith fully observe the cease-fire so long as the cease-fire is observed by the other side. It will start no war. It will initiate no violence.

“For one thing we are not ready. We are not ready to sit back and suffer the consequences of a unilateral Arab belligerency. We are not ready to be the passive victim of a regulated assault. The chain of violence can effectively be broken only at its first original link–at the point where it starts in the violent initiatives and vengeful threats of our neighbors. “We do not believe that force is the answer to the problems of Arab-Israel relations. Force is the last resort, even in defense.”


Quoting from speeches and statements by President Eisenhower and by Britain’s Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd, Mr. Eban said: “That which is a prospect for others is an actual experience for us. Our citizens are not just threatened. They are killed every week by the forces of foreign powers. The rule of law is, in our case, not in mere danger of collapse. There has been a failure to uphold the rule of law in protecting Israel’s citizens against foreign violence. Any government would deserve to be impeached if it did nothing to dispel the impression that its peoples would be killed and maimed by a foreign power with impunity.”

Mr. Eban concluded by asserting that Israel, “even in moments of darkness such as this,” still must insist on the ultimate goal–“not mentioned or invoked by the Jordanian representative”–the goal of “decent cooperation between Israel and the Arab states in mutual respect of sovereignty and integrity for the purpose of advancing the high causes of regional welfare and international welfare.”

The Jordanian representative, Mr. Rifai, told the Council that Israel was “obscuring” issues by bringing up “many cases,” instead of debating Jordan’s complaint against the most recent Israel reprisal raids. Replying to an accusation by Mr. Eban against King Hussein of Jordan for stirring up feelings by calling for the anihilation of Israel. Mr. Rifai said “every Arab in the world dreams of the day when Palestine territory will be rid of foreign forces. But, words are different than deeds.”

In spite of Mr. Eban’s direct reference to them, neither the Soviet nor the Iranian delegations, both of which took the floor, replied to the Israel delegate. Nasrollah Entezam of Iran spoke briefly, suggesting that the Council invite Mr. Hammarskjold to state his views on the situation before any further decision is made. Mr. Sobolev asked that since both sides had labelled the situation as one involving an emergency, the Council should resume its meeting not later than next Tuesday.

Bernard Cornut Gentille of France, this month’s president of the Council, declared that the Israel-Jordan incidents are “merely symptoms of a graver and more profound crisis.” He adjourned the meeting until next Tuesday afternoon.

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