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Eban Addresses Un; Requests Guarantees for All Middle East States

August 21, 1958
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Israel’s support of the seven-power resolution on the Middle East now before the emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly was voiced here today by Ambassador Abba Eban, head of the Israeli delegation, addressing the Assembly session. At the same time Mr. Eban called on the United Nations and the Great Powers to:

1. Guarantee the political independence and territorial integrity of all the states in the Middle East.

2. Enforce the principle of the “settlement of disputes by peaceful negotiation, not by pressure or force.”

3. Require the “abstention from economic warfare” in the region. This, he insisted, would disallow “acts of belligerency, including the blockade regulations in the Suez Canal which the Security Council forbade in 1951.”

In implying that Israel would vote for the seven-power resolution, Mr. Eban said that “beyond its specific provision for dealing with the Lebanese and Jordanian problem the authors of this resolution lay down solemn precepts of conduct for all Middle Eastern States, and for all States in relation to the Middle East.”

“Since it is conceived in strict realism, this resolution does not pretend to offer that peace which can only spring from voluntary acts of will by Middle Eastern governments themselves,” the Israel Ambassador stated. It is, however, an impressive international call to abstention from hostility. It demands the observance of civilized restraints. It seeks nothing more, but also nothing less, than a transition in the Middle East from unbridled antagonism to a basic international tolerance. If this transition is put into effect then greater and more glorious transitions may yet lie in store.”

Ambassador Eban emphasized that application of all the provisions of the UN Charter to the Middle East would “demand the integral observance, conditioned only by reciprocity, of all the provisions of agreements and treaties.” Such observance, he declared, would include implementation of the section of the Israel-Jordan treaty which provides for access to all Holy Places; also the creation of a special Israeli-Jordan committee to settle outstanding disputes regarding the Jerusalem area. Jordan has consistently refused to join Israel in forming such a committee.


Mr. Eban praised the speech delivered here last week by President Eisenhower, declaring that the speech evoked “universal respect,” because it was “touched by deep understanding of the theme of development within the concept of nationalism.”

Stressing Israel’s interest in the present discussions at the UN Assembly, Mr. Eban dwelt on the right of nations to collective security. This right has always been an axiom on international law and a crucial element in the security of small nations, he pointed out.

“It is important for all states in the Middle East,” he said, “to feel that the United Nations, in its corporate capacity, will constantly defend the sovereign equality of states: will accordingly give sympathy and aid to states striving to resist encroachments, whether by claims of hegemony or by threats of aggression.”

The Israel diplomat then urged the Great Powers–whom he did not otherwise identify–to strengthen security in the Middle East “by positive action, by guaranteeing the territory of states against forcible change and by helping Middle Eastern states to develop their new political freedom into broader visions of economic and social progress.” He asked the Great Powers to strengthen security in the Middle East also by “acts of abstention.” He made it clear that he was referring to military imbalance in the region and asserted that where such balances have been dislocated, the Great Powers must “redress this balance.”


Mr. Eban emphasized that with regard to the situation in Lebanon and Jordan which is being discussed by the Assembly session, Israel is making its voice heard at the Assembly, after weeks of “total reticence,” not only because Israel has a part in the burden of judgment

“We are neighbors of the two states whose anguish and turmoil lie in the centre of the Middle Eastern crisis today,” he said. “With each of them we share a common frontier. If their independence and integrity were diminished, ours would be gravely imperilled. Moreover, our own experience in relation to the forces pressing upon them gives us a special insight into the origins of their present ordeal.”

Asserting that the “ultimate relationship between the independent Arab peoples” must be determined by the countries concerned, and that “there is nothing in the UN Charter to prevent a state from voluntary union with another,” Mr. Eban called attention to the fact that “separate existence and identity” was also permitted members when they wanted such status.

“But the relations between the Arab states in the Middle East are only part of the situation,” Mr. Eban added. “Together with the liberation of the Arab peoples, other nations in the Middle East have secured their independence. It is vital to recall that every non-Arab member of the United Nations in the Middle East has complete equality of rights with every Arab member of the region.”


Mr. Eban reminded the Assembly that while the Middle East included 54 million Arabs, it included also 76 million non-Arabs. He said that “in the light of this fact, official declarations about a continuous area between the Atlantic Ocean and the Persian Gulf as the inheritance of one nation must be regarded as an offense to international peace as well as a distortion of history, geography and law. While full respect is due to the rights of Arab nations, it remains true that the Middle East has not been in the past, is not now and cannot be in the future an exclusively Arab domain.”

Declaring that “nationalism must come to terms” with the UN Charter, and asserting that “no nation could justly seek rights for itself which it denies to another nation,” Mr. Eban cautioned that “the relations of Arab states with each other and with their non-Arab neighbors are not likely to achieve full stability in the early future.”

“Peace between Israel and her neighbors,” the Israeli diplomat continued, “is more likely to emerge from a long period of tranquility, carefully nursed, than to spring from some spectacular diplomatic initiative or from the clash and thunder of public debate.” He emphasized that “if the Middle East cannot yet have peace, it must at least have security.”

“The question whether development in the Middle East,” he stated, “will be pursued on a collective or on a national basis is far less important than the question whether it will be pursued at all. If water resources can be used and developed in direct cooperation, we are ready now as before to work within such a framework. If others are not psychologically ready for this, then each state should be helped to carry out its national programs in such manner as will not encroach on the rights of others.”

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