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Eban Says Israel is Ready to Talk with Syria on Border Conditions

January 17, 1967
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Foreign Minister Abba Eban warned today that “Israel will not tolerate Syrian aggression” and appealed to world public opinion to express itself fittingly in the wake of the current wave of Syrian terror, minings and shootings.

At the same time, Mr. Eban, who spoke at a press conference in his office, expressed Israel’s readiness to negotiate with Syria over the rights to arable lands in the demilitarized zones in a special, extraordinary meeting of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission which has not met for the past 12 years. Mr. Eban promised Israel’s participation in such a MAC meeting in spite of the fact that he said it was his firm belief that the current tension and bloodshed along Israel’s borders were not connected with any quarrels over the demilitarized zones as United Nations Secretary-General U Thant had intimated. The Foreign Minister said that such an extraordinary MAC meeting would be convened, however, only with a fixed agenda and with no vote taking. He said it should deal with land rights along the border and would thus be, according to observers here, a sort of direct Israel-Syrian negotiation within United Nations framework.

As one example of Syrian-inspired terrorism, Mr. Eban cited the “ugly and brutal aggression of Dishon” near the Lebanese border, in which an Israeli spectator at a soccer game last Saturday was killed in the explosion of a land mine and two Israeli soccer players were injured.

Replying to questions, Mr. Eban said that Israel does not intend to ask for a meeting of the Security Council on the Syrian-inspired terror. Examination of the Security Council’s resolutions on such complaints in the past, the Foreign Minister declared, makes it easy to judge their effects. He said that Israel puts more weight on asking friendly governments to exert their influence on the Damascus regime to lessen the tension, terror and bloodshed in the area.

Mr. Eban explained that although Israel holds Lebanon responsible for the Dishon mining — MAC regulations place responsibility on the government from whose territory infiltrators and aggressors come –it realizes that the greatest responsibility rests with Damascus.

Mr. Eban said that one of the most disturbing factors in the recent increased tension was the evident escalation brought about by Syria having brought tanks into defensive zones along the border.

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