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Israel Halting Farm Work Near Syrian Border to Ease Tension

July 29, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Israeli Government today informed the United Nations that it is granting a request by U.N. Secretary-General U Thant to halt temporarily some farm work near the Syrian border, so as to aid the U.N. in its efforts to relax tensions between Syria and Israel and bring back peace and quiet along the Syrian-Israeli frontier. The information was conveyed to Gen. Odd Bull, U.N. Truce chief by Yosef Tekoah, Deputy Director General at Israel’s Foreign Ministry in charge of armistice affairs.

The issue concerns cultivation of some fields in the vicinity of Almagor, near the northern border, where both the Syrians and Israelis threatened to go on with cultivation. Political circles here said that, if Israel holds back on cultivation, such a step would be only temporary “as Israel is not prepared to renounce its sovereignty over part of its national territory.”

It is believed here that Mr. Thant’s request that work be halted in the fields near Almagor had been made on the demands of Gen. Bull, who apparently feels that without Syrian-Israeli agreement on the cultivation of the disputed fields he may not succeed in his peace-enforcing mission. It became known today that Gen. Bull voiced such a request when he visited the Israeli Foreign Ministry here recently.

Gen. Bull’s initiative was seen here also in another step taken by Mr. Thant who was reported to have sent a letter to the Security Council, asking it discreetly not to adopt a one-sided resolution in the current Syrian-Israeli dispute, since such a resolution would only complicate Gen. Bull’s efforts. The Thant letter had reportedly been sent to the Council from Moscow, where the Secretary-General is now conferring with Soviet leaders on many other problems unrelated to the Middle East. (A spokesman for the highest echelons at the United Nations told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that no message has been received from Mr. Thant touching on the Security Council’s current debate.)

Observers here pointed out that a decision to halt certain cultivation work temporarily to facilitate easement of border tensions would only bring additional proof that Israel is determined to help ensure tranquility along its borders, especially along the Syrian frontier. In the past, it was noted, Israel has taken other conciliatory steps to help ease tensions.

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