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Israel Rejects Mediator’s Request to Withdraw from Negev; Britain May Seek Sanctions

October 28, 1948
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Aubrey S. Eban, Israeli representative at the United Nations, today transmitted to acting U.N. mediator Dr. Ralph Bunche and to members of the Security Council a statement from Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok rejecting the former’s request that Israeli forces be withdrawn from territory won in the recent fighting in the Negev. This request was sent to the Israeli Government through U.N. liaison official Dr. Paul Mohn.

“The Provisional Government of Israel,” the statement said, “observes that Dr. Mohn’s letter is inconsistent with the terms of the resolution adopted by the Security Council at its meeting of Oct. 19.” The statement then quotes the resolution and adds:

“Speaking on behalf of the Provisional Government of Israel, I suggested the following interpretation of the resolution: My understanding is that sub-paragraphs A, B and C are all agreed to be the subject of negotiations and that the Security Council is not to prejudice the outcome of the negotiations on any of the matters raised in those sub-paragraphs.

“For example, the withdrawal of both parties from any position not occupied at the time of the outbreak. Now the object of these negotiations is stated to be insurance that similar outbreaks will not occur again. It might well be that a repetition of the situation existing before the outbreak might lead to the very same consequences as before, but new positions or adjustment of positions, on the other hand, might make new outbreaks much less likely.

In his communication today, Eban stressed the fact that the Security Council, through its president, “thoroughly and repeatedly upheld this interpretation,” which was borne out by the suggestion made by Soviet delegate Jakob Malik, who urged that the Council decide first on the question of issuing an immediate cease-fire order and then ask the U.N. mediator to negotiate secondary problems with the parties concerned, thereby settling all outstanding items with regard to the Negev.

Malik stressed that if the Security Council prejudiced the secondary problems which have not yet been discussed, it would result in the impression that the decision was premature and was taken without consideration, whereupon the president of the Council said that he agreed entirely with the representative of the U.S.S.R. regarding a premature decision and added: “But we don’t take any decision on these subsidiary points.”

(A J.T.A. report from Tel Aviv said today that Shertok called Eban to transmit to Dr. Bunche the following message: “I draw your attention to the fact that the return to a military status quo ante was defined by the members of the Security Council on Oct. 19 as a possible subject for further negotiations and does not imply an absolute injunction as you appear to assume.”

British delegation circles here indicated today that Britain might introduce a proposal at tomorrow’s session of the Security Council calling for the setting up of a sub-committee to explore the possibility of invoking Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter against the Jews, which Britain, only one month ago, refused to invoke against the Arabs.

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