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Expected Thant to Hold That Emissary Cannot Probe Status of Jews in Arab Lands

July 24, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Secretary-General U Thant was expected this week to agree publicly with the Arab position that the condition of Jews in Arab states cannot be investigated by an emissary who would look into the status of civilians in the Middle East war zone. It was known that the legal division of the UN Secretariat has provided Mr. Thant with an opinion that ‘humanitarian’ resolutions adopted by the Security Council and General Assembly last year were not intended to cover Jewish communities in Arab states. This opinion was expected to be accepted by Mr. Thant in a progress report scheduled for release later this week on his secret negotiations to send a special “humanitarian” envoy to the area.

Arab envoys have sought since early this year to have Mr. Thant open a second investigation of conditions of Arab civilians in Israeli-occupied territories. Israel has been concerned over what is regarded as mistreatment of Jews in Egypt, Syria and Iraq and has taken the position that a UN emissary must look into this situation as well.

An Israeli source said that its UN mission was In possession of Mr. Thant’s report and would make a formal reply soon. The mission has asked the Israel Foreign Ministry for instructions. It was believed that one question was whether Israel would accept a UN emissary who was not authorized to look into the condition of Jewish communities in Arab countries.

“Israel’s position is known to be that the Secretariat is submitting to Arab pressures and using legalistic arguments as an excuse to Justify, after the fact, a one-sided political decision,” The New York Post reported today.

Another UN envoy. Nils Goren-Gussing, was sent to look into the Middle East civilian situation last year. At that time, Mr. Thant said publicly that the resolutions authorizing the mission “might properly be interpreted as having application to the treatment…of both Arab and Jewish persons in the states directly concerned because of their participation in the war.”

Mr. Gussing toured Jewish shops in Damascus with a Syrian Government escort last summer, but Iraq and Egypt would not let him look into the status of Jews in those countries. All three countries are now known to oppose such an inquiry. The two UN resolutions concerned recommend “to governments concerned the scrupulous respect of the humanitarian principle governing…the protection of civilian persons in time of war, contained in the Geneva Convention.” Mr. Thant was instructed to “follow the effective implementation” of the resolutions.

(UN Middle East peace envoy Gunnar V. Jarring returned here Monday night. It was believed that he resumed his mediation efforts in the Middle East deadlock today, a UN source said.)

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