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Moves at UN to Solve Issue of Peacekeeping Forces in Sinai

July 25, 1979
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In a last minute effort to solve the issue of the future of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Sinai, Secretary General Kurt Waldheim met today with Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Blum and Egyptian Ambassador Esmat Meguid.

The mandate of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) is due to expire at midnight tonight and will not be renewed as a result of Soviet opposition. Israel is opposing the replacement of UNEF with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) to monitor the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, as agreed to by the Soviet Union and the United States.

Prior to his meeting with the Secretary General, Blum told a meeting of Israeli correspondents that Israel was “concerned” over the U.S. failure to fulfill its commitment as expressed in the Camp David accords, to form a multinational force in case the Soviet Union blocked the extension of UNEF’s mandate. Blum explained that the U.S. is a party to many aspects of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and its failure to fulfill a commitment in such an early stage of the implementation of the treaty is a cause of concern for Israel.

As to the immediate implication of the expiration of UNEF’s mandate tonight, Blum asserted it will create “a legal vacuum” though in reality UNEF troops will continue to operate at least for a few more weeks.

One of the major reasons Israel opposed UNTSO, Blum said, is the fact that it is not a creation of the Security Council, and by making UNTSO a part of the Egyptian-Israeli treaty, “the Security Council is taken out of the picture of the peace treaty” and its endorsement of the peace treaty is purposely avoided.

The Israeli envoy is scheduled to leave tomorrow for Israel for consultations but he said his trip was scheduled some time ago and that the purpose is to discuss the upcoming UN General Assembly which will convene at the end of September.

Meanwhile, Lebanon last night protested in a letter to Waldheim and the Security Council over the Israeli air attacks Sunday on southern Lebanon and the “continued acts of aggression” committed by Israel against Lebanon. But Lebanon did not request a meeting of the Security Council to consider its complaint against Israel. Diplomats here said, however, that such a request cannot be ruled out in a later stage if the Israeli raids continue.

In his letter, Lebanese Ambassador Ghassan Tueni said that the “ferocious and brutal attack by the Israeli aircraft was totally unwarranted and no pretext was given for it.” He said that “every possible action must be taken immediately to put an end to a situation which is endangering peace and security.”

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