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United States Backs U Thant Initiative; Israelis Seek Strong U.S. Stand

January 17, 1967
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg, U.S. Chief Delegate to the United Nations, expressed the concern of the U.S. Government today over the recent incidents along the Syrian-Israeli border and “with the apparent recurrence of terrorist activities in the Middle East and the increase of tension in the area.”

Ambassador Goldberg declared in a statement today that the U.S. would “welcome any effort which may lead to the alleviation of this tension” and declared that it supports the initiative taken by U.N. Secretary-General U Thant.

“We have consistently endorsed the use of U.N. machinery to maintain peace in that area and continue to do so,” the statement said.

In Washington, Minister Ephraim Evron of the Israel Embassy called on Acting Assistant Secretary of State William Handley and expressed the concern of the Israel Government over the continuing pattern of Arab attacks. He also voiced hope that the United States and other governments would use all possible influence with Syria to bring about a cessation of provocations.

Israeli officials in Washington charged that Syria was pursuing a deliberate policy of harassment of Israel and voiced hope that Syria would desist before the situation deteriorated further. It was noted that in the last 24 hours Syrian officials have announced that guerrilla warfare against Israel was being escalated and a “war of national liberation” undertaken.

The Israelis stressed that they had shown great restraint but would have to take action to see that their borders were respected. Israeli sources cited the failure of the U.N. machinery to deal with Syrian violence. There was a suggestion made that the recent one-sided condemnation of Israel by the U.N. gave the Syrians a feeling of immunity.


Rabbi Joachim Prinz, chairman of the Conference of presidents of Major American Jewish Organization headed a delegation which conferred for 45 minutes at the State Department today with Under-Secretary of State Nicholas do Katzenbach. Members of the delegation indicated that Mr. Katzenbach had shown a “sympathetic understanding” of Israel’s situation. Rabbi Prinz said it came away with the impression that Mr. Katzenbach shared “our concern.” He depicted Mr. Katzenbach as “very receptive.” The rabbi said: “He assured us that the United States Government would consider seriously what we presented.”

Rabbi Prinz said the delegation told Mr. Katzenbach of “the concern of the American Jewish community which borders on alarm about daily provocations on Israel’s borders. We pointed out to him that Israel might reach the breaking point, finding itself in the cruel dilemma” of having citizens subjected to attack and death.

In a situation such as this, he said, a free and independent country inhabited by “people persecuted and harassed all their lives,” who finally had found a haven, “cannot easily be controlled.” He expressed hope that the United States Government would encourage “the stable Government of Israel, under Prime Minister Eshkol, who has shown courageous restraint.” The proposed encouragement, he said, should take the form of condemnation “in every way possible of the aggressive acts of Syria.”

Rabbi Prinz said the delegation expressed a view that equation of acts of aggression with acts of defense “could not be helpful” in stabilizing the area. He hoped that together with U.N. Secretary-General U Thant, the United States would work for greater stability in the Near East. The delegation wanted the U.S. Government to express abhorrence of the Syrian terrorism and “cease to equate defense with attack.”

In addition to Rabbi Prinz, the delegation included Henry Rapaport, president of the United Synagogue of America; Rabbi Herschel Schacter, president of Mizrachi Religious Zionists Organization; and Yehuda Hellman, executive director of the Conference.

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