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Sir Alec Tells Eban He Does Not Favor Reinterpretation of Resolution 242

December 1, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home indicated yesterday to Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban that he did not favor further discussion or reinterpretation of Resolution 242 by the United Nations General Assembly which opens its Middle East debate in New York Thursday, it was learned here today. Sir Alec and Eban conferred for two hours yesterday at the first of two meetings devoted to the Middle East situation.

Informed sources said that Sir Alec made no commitments as to Britain’s position and vote should the Mideast debate result in a vote of some kind. But he agreed with his Israeli counterpart that there should be no tampering with Resolution 242 which all parties accept as the framework for a Middle East peace settlement.

According to informed sources, subjects discussed by Eban and Sir Alec included the ceasefire, an interim agreement to reopen the Suez Canal, the possible renewal of the Jarring peace mission, the situation in Jordan following the assassination last Sunday of Premier Wafsi el Tal and the new role of Britain in the European Common Market and in Europe generally.


Eban reportedly stated that a new outbreak of war in the Middle East was possible but not unavoidable and that Israel had no objections to renewal of the Jarring mission. An official visit to Israel by Sir Alec was reportedly one of the topics discussed and the British Foreign Secretary was understood to have agreed to the idea in principle.

The meeting was described as an exchange of views which both sides considered important and useful. But there was apparently no change in the positions of either country since Eban and Sir Alec met last month at the UN in New York. Israeli suspicions persist that Sir Alec has moved closer to the French position which places less emphasis on Israel’s security than on its withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories. On the other hand, Sir Alec stated recently in a letter to the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews that Israel was entitled to security and that the best way to achieve a settlement was by direct negotiations between the parties.

Addressing British diplomatic correspondents today. Eban said Israel would like to break the present deadlock but cannot afford to take lightly the recent threats by Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat. He reiterated a point that he has made on previous occasions–that the trend in the world today is toward negotiations, not confrontation. He cited America’s approaches to China, West Germany’s search for an accord with East Germany, the Bonn-Moscow treaty and the Polish-German treaty. “Must the Middle East remain the only area where negotiations are impossible?” he asked.

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