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UN Postpones Mideast Debate to Deal with Indian-pakistani War

December 8, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The postponement of the General Assembly’s Middle East debate because of the Indian-Pakistani crisis is a blow to Egypt, according to some Western diplomats here. According to others, the situation will not be much affected. The debate was postponed after this morning’s speech by Foreign Minister Amadou Karim Gaye of Senegal, who said that the report of the recent African peace mission was a basis for resumption of the Jarring mission.

One diplomat close to the Mideast situation said that the interruption of the debate on that subject just as it had reached a “crescendo” had to cause “discomfort” for the Egyptians, who had requested it and had spoken first last Friday. Now, said the diplomat, the momentum has been stalled, and Egypt’s suggestion of anti-Israel sanctions has been shunted aside. Other diplomats, however, noted that the Mideast debate may not be long in resuming if the Assembly treats the Indian-Pakistani issue with urgency.

At least two diplomats were willing to speak on-the-record. Haim Landau, a member of the Israeli delegation, welcomed the Indian-Pakistani debate as a “real test” of the UN’s peace-making capabilities, Landau, a former Cabinet minister and now a Gahal MK, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he could foresee no Mideast solution by the Assembly. “The Arabs,” he remarked, “are about our destruction, and not about any peace solution. They want backing for a military solution.” United States Ambassador George Bush, asked by the JTA whether postponement of the Mideast debate would be helpful or harmful to diplomacy on that issue, replied: “I can’t see it as either one of those two.”


In his Assembly address, Gaye noted that “Egypt accepts the resumption of negotiations under the aegis of Dr. (Gunnar V.) Jarring under the terms of (Security Council) Resolution 242” and that “For its part, Israel confirms its adherence to the provisions of Resolution 242…under the aegis of Dr. Jarring.” Both sides, he said, express a “will for peace,” “renewed adherence” to Resolution 242, acceptance of the Jarring mission and the desire for an interim Suez Canal pact, “even if it is hedged with certain reservations.”

Gaye pointed out that it was “natural” for a nation “to place concern for their security at the forefront of their concern,” and that Israel has stated that “it does not seek to annex territories.” On the basis of these general points of agreement, the Sengalese said, the Jarring mission should be reactivated. A UN spokesman said today that Secretary General Thant, who is still convalescing in his home from a recent operation, had the report of the Organization of African Unity “under very careful study.”

Details of the report were disclosed yesterday by Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban in his Assembly speech. He said the Africans proposed “acceptance by the two parties (Israel and Egypt) to resume indirect negotiations under the auspices of Dr. Jarring and within the terms of Resolution 242 in order to reach a peace agreement;… of interim agreement for the opening of the Suez Canal and the stationing on the eastern bank of the canal of UN forces between the Egyptian and Israeli lines.”

In addition, the OAU report proposed that “secure and recognized boundaries” be determined in the peace agreement;…that solutions to security problems be found within the guarantee of the UN, in the creation of demilitarized zones, in the presence of international forces at some strategic point;…that the terms of withdrawal from occupied territories be embodied in the peace agreement;…(and) in order to guarantee freedom of navigation of all ships through the Straits of Tiran of the stationing of international forces at Sharm el-Sheikh.”

Eban said Israel had given “affirmative reply” to those proposals, and that “If a proposal is made for resuming negotiations under the auspices of Dr. Jarring and within the terms of Resolution 242 in order to reach a peace agreement, Israel will respond without prior conditions to that call.”


Observers noted that the African mission proposed “withdrawal from occupied territories,” which is the language of Resolution 242, and not withdrawal from “the” or “all” occupied territories, which is the way the Arabs interpret the Resolution. This appeared to be more moderate language by the OAU compared with its earlier call for total Israeli withdrawal. But Landau, for one, was not impressed. He suggested that once the African report was endorsed by both sides and the Jarring mission resumed, the Africans will seek to interpret the withdrawal passage along pro-Arab lines.

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