Eban; Curbing Terrorists is Now ‘our Most Urgent Preoccupation’
Menu JTA Search

Eban; Curbing Terrorists is Now ‘our Most Urgent Preoccupation’

Download PDF for this date

Declaring that “the problem of curbing the terrorists is now our most urgent preoccupation,” Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the General Assembly this afternoon that his government would support the United States’ anti-terrorism proposals “and will give careful study in an affirmative spirit to the text proposed for an international treaty against terrorism.” The American plan for international action against terrorism was presented to the Assembly Monday by Secretary of State William P. Rogers.

“We are resolved to resist and weaken them (terrorists) in our own region,” Eban asserted. “We believe that national, regional and international action against Arab terrorism is an indispensable prelude to the fruitful exploration of peaceful prospects for the Middle East.”

Eban contended that “in maintaining the cease-fire positions until peace is obtained we do not seek to perpetuate the cease-fire lines or to freeze the existing situation forever.” He cited as a long-standing “obstacle to progress” Egypt’s “lack of response” to “Israel’s willingness to negotiate a temporary Suez agreement.” In addition, he said, “a new and massive barrier to peace has arisen through the resurgence of the Arab terrorist outrages which have sent a shock of revulsion through the civilized world.”


The Israeli diplomat urged the United Nations to overcome “apathy and doubt” and “act with consistent purpose within the real limits of its capacity and strength.” Peace progress elsewhere, he stressed, has “in every single case…taken place outside the United Nations framework,” as the world organization’s emphasis on “strident public debate” is “clearly not congenial to the craftsmanship of peace.”

Eban charged that Arab government support for terrorism “undermine(s) the credibility of their peaceful professions” and creates “a massive obstacle on the road to peace.” He noted that the terrorists “close links with neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic organizations are in full harmony with their inner nature.” He declared that “there is not one single problem of the Palestinian Arabs that can be advanced towards a solution by the action of the terrorist groups.”

Eban said there was currently “a new spirit in international relations” in which the “polemical and rhetorical mood which dominated the past two decades has given way to a strong instinct for conciliation.” He noted, however, that all “successes of diplomacy in the preceding year” were reached by direct settlement and “in every single case, the pursuit of agreement has taken place outside the United Nations framework.”

Eban said that only in the Middle East are the parties to a conflict not involved in discussions. In all other international disputes, “the break-through has come on the level of negotiation and not through substantive commitments ahead of negotiation,” a clear reference to Arab demands that Israel withdraw from the occupied areas as a pre-condition of peace talks.


The Israel diplomat cited gains in the Middle East during the past year despite the absence of peace talks. He noted that the cease-fire had been maintained and that there appeared to be “less feasibility of full-scale hostilities.” He said the departure of Soviet forces and equipment from Egypt “has stripped the conflict of its dangerous global dimension.”

Eban reiterated Israel’s opposition to an imposed settlement and said that when it became clear that a military solution was not possible and an imposed solution “excluded by the international realities,” a negotiated peace would emerge as “the only valid alternative.”

The Foreign Minister stated that in maintaining the cease-fire lines until peace was achieved, Israel did not “seek to perpetuate the cease-fire lines or to freeze the existing situation forever.” He said Israel’s proposals for permanent boundaries would be based on the need “to ensure security and prevent new wars.” He said the dead-lock on an overall settlement stemmed from the fact that Egypt “has so far refused to begin negotiation unless its position on the final outcome is conceded in advance,” a demand for which Eban said “there is no valid precedent.”

Eban described the progress made by Palestinian Arabs in the occupied areas, declaring that while Arab terrorists in Beirut and European capitals make bombs and plot assassinations, “the majority of Palestinian Arabs are living solid lives” in the occupied areas, “enriched by a widening contact with their neighbors.”


He touched on the problems of Soviet Jews and Jews in Syria. He noted that the problem of Soviet Jews was regularly raised in the General Assembly and that the situation had worsened recently. He said that while the Soviets continued to permit Jews to emigrate, they had arrested many for seeking exit permits to Israel and sent many to jail, while the Soviet information media “unceasingly publish calumnies, slanders and incitements against them.” He said that during 1971-72 alone, “dozens of anti-Semitic books have been published in the Soviet Union.”

He denounced Soviet arguments that the Aug. 3 decree of high exit charges for university-educated Russian Jews was meant to end a “brain drain.” He said the USSR was not a “needy developing” country and Israel was not offering Jewish professionals from Russia “superior financial rewards. He also dismissed as “irrelevant” the Soviet argument that graduates were obliged “to repay the cost of their education.” He said the decree had created “a new enslavement” of scientists and intellectuals.

Referring to the plight of Syrian Jews, Eban said that 4500 Jews were being held in Syria as “helpless hostages, forbidden to depart, discriminated against and humiliated, their movement within the country restricted, essential services denied to them, their property confiscated, their livelihood in constant jeopardy.” He said some Arab countries had responded to the “humanitarian pressure” of world public opinion and allowed their Jewish nationals to leave. Only Syria “has persisted in its stubborn position,” he said, adding, public opinion “will not rest or remain silent” until the Jews of Syria “are permitted to reach safety.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund