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UN Paralyzed in Mideast Crisis

October 11, 1973
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The United Nations seemed paralyzed today as far as dealing with the Middle East crisis. The Security Council did not schedule a meeting for today and no draft resolutions to end the hostilities were in sight.

A United States spokesman said the U.S. “is watching the situation closely” and consultations continue. A British spokesman also confirmed that informal and formal consultations are going on between Security Council members and European countries but “no achievements” have been reached. He said Britain favors a Council meeting if it will be fruitful.

Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban appearing on CBS television this morning said Israel would accept a cease-fire if the Egyptian and Syrian governments agreed to restore the cease-fire boundaries that were in effect when the current fighting broke out. Eban said that Israel learned from the present war “the total fragility” of written undertakings, guarantees and signatures “of our neighbors” an “the vital importance of secure boundaries.” Eban met this afternoon with Secretary General Kurt Waldheim with regard to the present crisis. The meeting was at Eban’s request.

Eban meanwhile sent his personal condolences to the Norwegian government for the death in the Damascus bombing of a Norwegian UN observer, Capt. Didrik Birger Tjqerswaag, his wife and their eight-year-old daughter. The family was killed when a bomb scored a direct hit on their apartment building located near the Syrian Defense Ministry.

Eban expressed “profound sadness.” He said the Tjoerswaag family “were innocent victims of war which was forced on Israel by Syria and their deaths are doubly regrettable because they were in the area on a mission of peace.”

Later in the day, the Israeli Foreign Minister received a letter from Sir Lawrence McIntyre of Australia, president of the Security Council, expressing the Council’s condolences for Israeli “innocent citizens” who were victims of the war. His expressions of sympathy were welcomed by Israeli officials.

Last night the Security Council session erupted in an angry exchange between Yakov Malik of the Soviet Union and Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah. The Israeli diplomat was expressing condolences for the “innocent civilian victims” of the bombing in Damascus “when Malik rose to his feet and shouted, “I am unwilling to hear condolences from murderers and international gangsters.”

Tekoah, who was interrupted by this tirade and who was interrupted by other delegates from completing his statement, nevertheless was able to continue speaking. He said: “I am not surprised that the delegate of the Soviet Union walked out of the room. His country must assume a great share of the responsibility for what has happened. The Soviet Union has identified itself with barbaric hatred and has supplied all kinds of weapons of war to the Arab states….the responsibility must be placed where it belongs with those who have initiated the fighting–Egypt and Syria.” After leaving the Council hall Tekoah was congratulated by many for his remarks.

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