At the insistence of Canada and Denmark, the Security Council met on 24 May to discuss the situation in the Middle East and the threat to international peace and security. Statements were made by representatives of the Great Powers and other members of the Council. During 23-25 May, Secretary-General U Thant visited Cairo and met President Nasser for talks on the situation. Upon his return, he proposed, on 27 May, a breathing spell and called for the return of Israel to the Egyptian-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission, assuring the Council that all that Egypt wanted was the return to conditions which prevailed prior to 1956. The United States supported the proposal, but, together with Israel, insisted on the lifting of the blockade. Egypt insisted on its right to bar Israeli shipping from the Straits of Tiran, which it designated ---a national waterway subject to absolute Arab sovereignty." The Council adjourned on 3 June, without coming to any decision. Please find excerpts from speeches given during these meetings below.
Mr. Fedorenko (USSR)
The Soviet Union delegation also deems it necessary to point out that it sees no adequate grounds for such haste in convening the Security Council and for the artificial dramatization of the situation by the representatives of the Western Powers, which are obviously relying on the method of piling up the stage effects. It is highly significant that -not without suitable stage direction, naturally - it was two NATO countries nowhere near the Middle East, rather than any of the parties directly concerned, which took the initiative in having the Security Council urgently convened.
The question involuntarily arises: is it not a case here of a hidden desire to interfere in someone else's business, rather than a true concern for peace and security in the Middle East?
Mr. Tarabanov (Bulgaria)
The delegation of the People's Republic of Bulgaria believes that at the present time there was really no need for an urgent meeting of the Security Council, as our colleague from Mali has just said and as was said earlier in the statement made by the representative of the Soviet Union, at the beginning of this meeting. The only purpose of such a meeting, as of all the activity during the last few days on the part of certain Powers and certain representatives, is the false dramatization of a situation which these countries and certain of their representatives have helped to create by their previous activities. For some time, we have been witnessing events in the Middle East which have left these countries and their representatives unconcerned and even, apparently, quite cheerful. You are familiar with the reports which we have received here, at least those appearing in the press. Now that those events have met with a response - as was to be expected - these same Powers are seeking to create an atmosphere charged with excitement, which will serve their interests and prepare the ground for and perhaps camouflage future intervention in the affairs of the peoples of the Middle East.
The delegation of the People's Republic of Bulgaria does not wish to be a party to these manoeuvres. Indeed, our country has a particular interest in maintaining peace and security in the Middle East. We are immediate neighbours of that region, where the imperialist Powers are now seeking to intervene under one pretext or another, in one form or another. My delegation is thus opposed to all these manoeuvres and we believe that holding a meeting of the Security Council at this time will only serve the interests of the forces of intervention and aggression in the Middle East.
My colleague to the left, the representative of Canada - with whom I have, incidentally, been on friendly terms ever since he came to the United Nations - has made several references to the report by the Secretary-General. It is, however, interesting to note that the Secretary-General, whose report has been quoted here in this way, did not himself request a meeting of the Security Council - as he had the right to do because he did not consider that the situation called for such a meeting at the moment.
We were amazed also to hear the outgoing President of the Security Council, who presided over the Council during the month of April, tell us that he had received very disquieting reports. We wonder why he did not take action at the time when he received those disquieting reports and when the situation, which certain Powers are now trying to dramatize, was systematically building up. This is really amazing. It is a further reason not to hold a useless meeting - which might even be detrimental to peace - at this time, when the seat of the President of this Council is occupied, as we have said, by someone who represents nobody, or, at least, does not represent the country which he claims to represent.
Mr. Seydoux (France)
Throughout the various informal consultations which preceded the request for a meeting of the Security Council by the representatives of Canada and Denmark, my delegation expressed doubts as to the usefulness of holding an urgent meeting of the Council. In expressing this view, my delegation is not seeking to question the role which the Security Council must play in the matter which it is proposed should be entered on its agenda. Our fear - our only fear - is that, by engaging the Security Council in public discussions at this stage, we might make the consultations now taking place between the various countries concerned even more difficult. In the opinion of the French delegation, we must avoid anything which might only serve to aggravate the present climate. The main thing is that the holding of consultations be allowed under the least unfavourable conditions possible. We should therefore not have been opposed to a request for an adjournment for twenty-four hours or forty-eight hours, if such a request had been made.
This Council meeting cannot dramatize a situation which at this moment is at the centre of the stage of world concern. It can, however, play a role, as we hope, in drawing the curtain on a tragedy which potentially threatens the peace and well-being of all the people in the area and, indeed, of all mankind. And it is a reflection, if I may say so, on the members of the Council to believe that any member of this Council is so irresponsible that he would want to say anything here that would in any way militate against the Secretary-General's mission or against a pacification of the tense situation in the area.
Mr. Tabor (Denmark)
I shall now turn to the item on our agenda for today: the very serious situation prevailing in the Middle East. I shall, implicitly or explicitly, reply to some of the remarks made on the substance of the question during our discussion of the inscription of the item on the agenda.
I shall not go into a detailed survey of the long history of the problems in the Middle East. We are all familiar with the fact that the area has for a very long time been troubled by conflict and strife, which twice within the last two decades have erupted into open war. The last time when this happened was in 1956. On that occasion the United Nations, through energetic action, succeeded not only in bringing an end to the hostilities, but also - by the establishment of a United Nations presence in the area, the United Nations Emergency Force - in creating a certain stability and balance. This, as we all know, did not imply that any solution to the underlying political questions had been found; neither did it bring a complete end to local incidents and disturbances. But it was possible for a period of more than ten years to contain those incidents and to prevent them from leading to major military actions.
Last week, however, the function of the United Nations Emergency Force was suddenly brought to an end. In the words of the Secretary-General in his report of 18 May to the General Assembly, this has restored "the armed confrontation of the United Arab Republic and Israel" and has removed "the stabilizing influence of an international force operating along the boundaries between the two nations" [A16669, para. 13]. If anyone could have had any doubts before as to the very useful role played by the Emergency Force, that could hardly be the case any longer. We do not wish to dramatize the situation, but I dare say that this is not necessary because, since the beginning of the withdrawal of the Emergency Force, the situation along the borders between Israel and the United Arab Republic has been constantly deteriorating, and at an alarming speed. There has been a military build-up along the borders of Israel and the United Arab Republic, and there is no way of denying that the stage is set for a major military clash. The development has now reached a point where it seems as if the slightest miscalculation, the slightest misunderstanding of one or the other of the opponent's intentions, could lead to large-scale hostilities.
It was our hope that U Thant's decision to go to the area would in itself have had a pacifying effect. However, we have to admit that the urgency and the danger of the situation have become even more obvious since then. Only two days ago the President of the United Arab Republic declared that Israel ships and other ships carrying certain cargoes to Israel would be prevented from passing through the Strait of Tiran; and the Israel Government on its side has stressed that it would consider such a move as an attack.
Now what should be our attitude in the face of this grave danger? Should the Council just stand by, see what happens and hope for the best? That is hardly, I believe, what world public opinion would expect of us. It is, of course, most helpful indeed that certain Great Powers have urged restraint. If, however, we believe in the United Nations, can it then be disputed that a call expressing the collective will of this body will carry even greater weight? It is fortunate, indeed, that the confrontation between the parties has so far not gone beyond the level of mutually hostile declarations, but let us not forget that the most important task of the Council is the preservation, not the restoration, of international peace and security.
At this very moment our esteemed Secretary-General, in whom we have absolute confidence, is making great efforts to bring about an easing of the tension. Generally speaking, it would have been preferable to defer any action by this Council until we had before us the Secretary-General's report on his current efforts. However, we have to live with the facts of life such as they are, and not as we wish them to be. And the facts are that even since the Secretary-General left New York there have been alarming developments, and the mission of the Secretary-General, which we fully support, cannot relieve this Council of any of its responsibilities.
For those several reasons my Government has considered it necessary, together with the Government of Canada, to ask for an urgent meeting of the Security Council. In doing so, it has not, of course, been our intention to take sides in the conflict. We have not prejudged the issue. Our only concern has been the preservation of peace.
The actual question before us, the dangerous trend in the Middle East, represents only the latest phase in a long development. Obviously it would have been preferable if the Council could have had the possibility of tackling the real political problems which underlie the tension in the area. At the moment, however, we shall have to confine ourselves to more limited tasks. But I take it that we all are deeply concerned about the situation in the Middle East, that we all wish war to be avoided, that we are all prepared to reinforce the endeavours of U Thant and that we all here accept the responsibility of the United Nations, and in particular of the Security Council, in this matter. Would it then be too much to expect the Council to express its full support for the efforts of the Secretary-General to pacify the situation in the Middle Fast and to request all States to refrain from any steps which might worsen the situation?
That would be, in our opinion, the first measure which the Security Council could profitably take in order to ease the tension. That would be an approach impartial and limited in scope and, we feel, in the present situation the minimum of our responsibilities.
We hope that other members will share our thoughts and that it will prove possible for the Security Council to act on the strength of a unanimous opinion.
Mr. Goldberg (United States of America)
The United States strongly supported the request made by Canada and Denmark last evening for an immediate meeting of the Security Council. We did so out of our grave concern over the sharp increase of tension between Israel and its Arab neighbours since the Secretary-General's departure, and out of our belief that the Secretary-General should be accorded all possible support in the difficult peace mission on which he is now embarked.
When the Secretary-General announced his intention to undertake this critically important journey, my Government immediately gave him our full backing. We agreed with his assessment of the gravity of the situation when he said on 19 May, in his report to the Council: "the current situation in the Near East is more disturbing, indeed I may say more menacing, than at any time since the fall of 1956" [S/7896, para. 19].
We, like others in the Council, would normally have awaited a further report from the Secretary-General before convening a meeting of the Council. However, since the Secretary-General made his report - indeed, in the two days since he departed for Cairo - conditions in the area have taken a still more menacing turn because of a threat to customary international rights which have been exercised for many years in the Gulf of Aqaba. This has led us to the belief that the Council, in the exercise of its responsibilities, should meet without delay and take steps to relieve tension in the area.
In his report to the Council the Secretary-General correctly singled out two areas as "particularly sensitive". One was the Gaza Strip. The other was Sharm el-Sheikh, which stands at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba.
The position of the United States on these matters was publicly stated yesterday by President Johnson, and I shall not take up the time of the Council to reiterate what he explicitly said.
We are well aware, of course, of the long-standing grievances, some of them of many years' standing, on all sides of this complex dispute. Whoever is familiar with the area knows that, regrettably, these underlying problems are not going to be resolved tomorrow. The cause of peace which we here are pledged to serve will not be advanced by raking over the past or by attempting over-ambitiously to settle the future. Our objective today should be more limited, but none the less of crucial importance in the present circumstances. It should be, very simply, to express full support for the efforts of the Secretary-General to work out a peaceful accommodation of the situation. Accordingly, we should call upon all States to avoid any action which might exacerbate the already tense situation which prevailed when the Secretary-General departed on his mission.
Judging from what we heard at this morning's meeting, there should be no difficulty in obtaining the agreement of all members for this course of action by the Council. Surely it is the plain obligation of the parties, as members of the United Nations committed to the cause of peace, to ensure that there is no interference with existing international rights which have long been enjoyed and exercised in the area by many nations. Such interference would menace the mission of the Secretary-General and could abort his efforts to work out a peaceful accommodation.
We are fully aware, as are all the members of the Council, of the long-standing underlying problems in the area. But no problem of this character can or should be settled by war-like acts. The United States opposition to the use of aggression and violence of any kind, on any side of this situation, over the years, is a matter of record. As our actions over many years have demonstrated, and as President Johnson reaffirmed in his statement yesterday: "the United States is firmly committed to the support of the political independence and territorial integrity of all" - and I emphasize "all" - "the nations in the area. The United States strongly opposes aggression by anyone in the area, in any form, overt or clandestine."
My country's devotion to that principle has been demonstrated concretely - not only in the Suez crisis, where we stood against old allies, but consistently through the years. In fact, in the most recent debate in this Council involving that area, we made very clear the United States commitment to the solution of all problems of the area by exclusively peaceful means and by recourse to the armistice machinery.
Only two days ago many of us here had occasion, during the debate on the peace-keeping question in the General Assembly, to speak of the vital interest which all Powers, great and small alike, share in maintaining an impartial international instrument of stability - an instrument which, when danger and discord arise, can transcend narrow self-interest and put power at the service of peace. That instrument is the United Nations; and above all it is the Security Council, with its primary Charter responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
The view is sometimes stated that the smaller Powers, because they are the most vulnerable, are the real beneficiaries of United Nations efforts to maintain peace, whereas the Great Powers "can take care of themselves". My country does not accept this view. Nobody questions the vital interest of the smaller Powers in this activity; indeed, they have manifested this interest time and time again by their votes and by their contributions. But neither should anybody suppose that the exercise by the United Nations of its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security does not serve the basic interests of the Great Powers also. Great Powers have both interests and responsibilities in this matter - and the greater the Power the greater the responsibility.
In this spirit, I am authorized to announce that the United States, both within and outside the United Nations, is prepared to join with other Great Powers - the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and France - in a common effort to restore and maintain peace in the Middle East.
All must join in the search for peace: the Secretary-General, the Security Council and the Great Powers. Both separately and together, let us work in this common cause which so vitally affects our own interests and those of all the world.
Mr. Matsui (Japan)
The confrontations now existing there must not be permitted to escalate into armed conflict. The utmost caution and restraint is essential not only with regard to land borders and air space, but also with regard to the waterways in the area. The maintenance of international peace and security in the Near East is not a matter that concerns only the countries in the area. It is a matter that concerns the entire world. The Governments directly involved in the present situation certainly do realize this. Their responsibilities and obligations under the Charter and relevant international agreements extend beyond themselves and involve the interests of the entire international community.
At the same time, all Member States, and particularly the members of the Security Council, have the responsibility and the obligation to do everything in their power to help maintain peace in the area. Speaking for Japan, I pledge our fullest co-operation to this end.
Mr. Ignatieff (Canada)
I take the floor briefly again at this time to introduce and to explain the draft resolution which has been circulated as Document S/7905. Mindful of the concern expressed by most members of the Security Council in the discussion so far, about the need to reinforce the mission of the Secretary-General and to do nothing to exacerbate an already dangerous situation in the Middle East, I have been authorized, on behalf of the Governments of Denmark and Canada, to introduce this straightforward, impartial draft resolution for the consideration of members of the Security Council.
I think the Council will find that the language is taken almost word for word from the statement which the representative of Denmark made earlier today [1341st meeting], and it expresses a point of view with which I fully agree. The draft resolution, like our joint letter requesting inscription of this item on the agenda of the Council, is, I believe, clear in language, limited in scope, and non-controversial in motive.
In the draft resolution it is proposed that the Council should, first, express its support for the efforts being made by the Secretary-General to pacify the situation; second, request all members to do nothing to worsen the situation; and third, invite the Secretary-General to report to the Council upon his return so that we may continue our consideration of the matter in this forum.
We believe that the draft resolution would have a useful effect in extending the moral influence of the Security Council, in the present situation, in support of the Secretary-General's effort and in support of the preservation of peace in the Near East, while reducing the possibility of unnecessary controversy among us.
I would suggest, therefore, that we should consult immediately following this meeting, with the hope that members of the Council might attain unanimity on this matter as soon as possible.
Mr. Seydoux (France) (translated from French)
France is staunchly devoted to the maintenance of peace in the Middle East. From the beginning of the present crisis, it has constantly urged moderation on all the parties involved, appealing to them to avoid embarking on a process of escalation and, above all, warning them against the danger of turning the crisis into a military confrontation fraught with deplorable consequences for all.
It has to be noted, at the present juncture in the march of events, that reason and moderation have thus far not prevailed. Nevertheless, the French Government continues to rely on the sense of responsibility of the leaders of the countries concerned towards their peoples, and on their resolve to safeguard peace. The crisis has clearly reached a new stage with the announcement of the measures taken by the Government of the United Arab Republic to prevent the passage of shipping through the Gulf of Aqaba.
As to the role which the Security Council can play, the French Government recognizes the fact that the Council can undertake no action so long as the principal Powers are not in agreement among themselves. For the moment, therefore, it can do no more than approach the parties with an appeal to reason and ask them to refrain from taking any action that might endanger peace. Assuming that that appeal is heeded, and taking due account of the position of the Powers which bear primary responsibility for peace in the world, the Council could then proceed to discuss the means whereby it could help to bring about a peaceful solution of the present dispute.
Lord Caradon (United Kingdom)
What has been done in the past by the United Nations Emergency Force, the Mixed Armistice Commission and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization has been proved to be salutary, effective and essential, and we have paid tribute to all those who have taken part in those successful peace-keeping endeavours. My Government would prefer to see the earliest re-establishment of the kind of United Nations operation which so successfully operated in Sinai and in Gaza. But it also believes that alternative means could be effective. It is to that question that we should direct our urgent attention.
In addition, there is one most urgent and most dangerous issue of all: the question of the right of passage for shipping of all nationalities through the Strait of Tiran. The maintenance of the provisions of the Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea dealing with international navigation between the high seas and territorial waters is of the gravest concern to my Government, as it must be to all engaged in international trade. On this subject my Prime Minister made an important statement today in which he reaffirmed what was said by a representative of my Government in the General Assembly ten years ago. These are the words he used:
"It is the view of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom that the Strait of Tiran must be regarded as an international waterway through which the vessels of all nations have a right of passage".
These, then, are the questions that we have to tackle together. First, how can tension be relieved and immediate dangers of conflict be removed? Second, how can the rights of free and unimpeded passage through the Strait of Tiran be guaranteed and assured? Third, how can effective United Nations measures and machinery to keep the peace and prevent violence and conflict throughout the whole area best be worked out for the future? Fourth, what new measures and additional action can be taken to prevent such dangers to the peace from recurring in future years?
Those are all matters which we shall discuss as we proceed with our debate. I do not wish or need to discuss them immediately. For the present, I wish only to repeat that, to deal with these problems, we support the efforts of the Secretary-General, we welcome the calling of the Security Council to reinforce his efforts, and we undertake to take a full part in the urgent task on which the Council is now engaged.
Never has the United Nations faced a greater challenge or a greater opportunity. We have an opportunity now, if we work together in understanding and in good faith, not only to lift the threat of conflict from the Middle East, but to restore the trust placed in the United Nations as an effective force for keeping the peace of the world.
Mr. Fedorenko (USSR) (translated from Russian)
Israel extremists apparently hoped to take Syria by surprise and deal a blow at Syria alone. But they miscalculated. Showing solidarity with the courageous struggle of the Syrian people, who are upholding their independence and sovereign rights, Arab States - the United Arab Republic, Iraq, Algeria, Yemen, Lebanon, Kuwait, Sudan and Jordan -declared their determination to help Syria in the event of an attack by Israel.
The United Arab Republic, honouring its commitments as an ally for joint defence with Syria, took steps to contain the aggression. Considering that the presence of the United Nations troops in the Gaza area and Sinai Peninsula would in this situation give Israel advantages for staging a military provocation against Arab countries, the Government of the United Arab Republic asked the United Nations to pull its troops out of this area. A number of Arab States voiced their readiness to place their armed forces at the disposal of the joint Arab command to repel Israel aggression.
As is known, the Government of the USSR warned the Government of Israel, in connection with the armed provocation of 7 April, that Israel would bear the responsibility for the consequences of its aggressive policy. It would seem that a reasonable approach has not yet triumphed in Tel Aviv. As a result, Israel is once again to blame for a dangerous aggravation of tension in the Near East.
The question arises: what interests does the State of Israel serve by pursuing such a policy? If they calculate in Tel Aviv that Israel will play the role of a colonial overseer for the imperialist Powers over the peoples of the Arab East, there is no need to prove the groundlessness of such calculations in this age when the peoples of whole continents have shaken off the fetters of colonial oppression and are now building an independent life.
For decades the Soviet Union has been giving all-round assistance to the peoples of Arab countries in their just struggle for national liberation, against colonialism, and for the advancement of their economy.
But let no one have any doubts about the fact that, should anyone try to unleash aggression in the Near East, he would be met not only by the united strength of Arab countries but also by strong opposition to aggression from the Soviet Union and all peace-loving States.
Lord Caradon (United Kingdom) (29 May)
We have very good reason, as we expected, to be grateful to the Secretary-General for his decision to go to Cairo and for the dispatch with which he completed his mission. We are grateful, too, for the service that he has done in giving us so soon after his return from that exacting and critical and lonely expedition a report so compelling in its statement of the dangers and so constructive in its indications of the action required.
The report in clear and direct words tells us how the Secretary-General called attention to "the dangerous consequences which could ensue from restricting innocent passage of ships in the Strait of Tiran" and expressed his deep concern in this regard that "no precipitate action would be taken" [S/7906, para 10], and went on to state the fear that a clash between the United Arab Republic and Israel over this issue would inevitably set off, to use his words, "general conflict in the Near East" [ibid., para. 12].
We cannot fail, in the light of that warning, to concentrate first and foremost on the vital need for finding a solution of the critical problem of the Gulf of Aqaba. And, as I made clear when I spoke last week, we consider that this must take into account not only the normal requirements of the States bordering the Gulf, but also the interests of all maritime Powers.
From the first, my Government has made its position on that main issue of the Gulf of Aqaba absolutely clear. It was stated by a representative of my country ten years ago in the General Assembly. It has been consistently maintained and repeatedly and positively confirmed. It is on this main issue that we should first ensure that belligerence is avoided and special restraint exercised.
But, as the Secretary-General also emphasized in his report, the freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran is not the only immediate issue which is endangering peace in the Near East. He points to the possible courses of action which could contribute to the reduction of tension.
Having urged all concerned "to exercise special restraint, to forgo belligerence and to avoid all other actions which could increase tension" [ibid., para. 14], the Secretary-General turns to practical proposals, proposals to reduce immediate tension and to keep the peace in the whole area in the future. Now we must surely engage on an urgent study of ways and means by which the United Nations can assist in achieving those purposes. As the Secretary-General says, we must fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force. He has proposed full recourse to the United Nations peace machinery still present and available, so that there can be a continuing and effective United Nations presence in the area. We must persuade those directly concerned to co-operate to the full. We must be ready to consider new and original methods, with special reference to the possible steps which could be taken by mutual consent to which the Secretary-General has referred in his report. Without the positive and constructive contribution of the United Nations we should be left with the fuses still lit which at any moment could lead to a series of explosions doing irreparable damage. We are ready and eager to work with the Secretary-General and all members of the Council and with the parties concerned to find urgent means to restore the effectiveness of the international effort.
I trust that today we all realize the extent of our obligation and our opportunity.
For ten years the United Nations has successfully performed a most valuable task. All who have contributed to that success have earned the gratitude of the world in preventing bloodshed and enabling-the pursuit of peace to go forward.
A supreme effort is now required of us to save the situation. Surely all of us, permanent and non-permanent members of the Council, must join in that effort. 1 might say in passing that I trust that my friend, the representative of the United Arab Republic, will also co-operate in the search for a solution. We listened with close and respectful attention to the speech which he made today, and 1 determined that I shall say no word which shall increase tension or animosity. When we have studied his speech, it may well be that we shall wish to make some comment on his detailed statements. I would only say now, with respect, that I trust that the somewhat more moderate tone of his speech today, as compared with his speech last week, may indicate some improvement in the general situation.
This is no time for any of us to hold back. It is a time for international understanding and international good faith, and international co-operation. For we must all surely recognize that what is at stake, as was pointed out by the representative of Brazil just now, is not only the peace of the Near East and the saving of the peoples of the Near East from the scourge of war: the effectiveness of the world Organization which we are all pledged to support is at stake. We seek a solution compatible with the sovereign rights of all nations since we are all pledged, to use the words of the Charter, to defend "the equal rights ... of nations large and small". We are pledged too, and again I use the words of the Charter, "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained". We must be ready to work with the Secretary-General and with each other, in mutual respect, to save the peace and achieve a just settlement and restore the authority of the United Nations.
Those must be our purposes, and for my country I say now that from the first we have sought to work for a solution within the framework of the United Nations. And that is our purpose now. We trust that all will join in that international endeavour. If they do, we could even at this late hour turn the dangers of untold bloodshed and disastrous conflict which we face today into a triumph for the rule of reason and law. We could take together a long step forward towards the creation of a stable world order.
Mr. Hakim (Lebanon) (30 May)
We all know that the United Arab Republic has affirmed that it will exercise its sovereign rights over the Strait of Tiran, which falls well within its territorial waters. Lebanon supports this exercise by the United Arab Republic of its sovereign rights over the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba. We will stand by the United Arab Republic in its defence of those rights.
If Israel commits aggression as a result, the responsibility for starting the war will fall fully and squarely on Israel. This time it must be clear to everybody that it would be a total war. The Government and people of Lebanon would fulfil their commitments under the Charter of the League of Arab States and the Arab Treaty of Mutual Defence. A unanimous declaration reaffirming these commitments was adopted by the Lebanese Parliament on 23 May 1967 - a week ago.
All the Arab States would be involved as they all have the same commitments.
Mr. Goldberg (United States of America) (31 May)
I have asked to speak briefly in order to submit a draft resolution for the consideration of the Council. This draft resolution is simple and reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Having heard the statements of the parties,
"Concerned at the gravity of the situation in the Middle East,
"Noting that the Secretary-General has in his report expressed the view that 'a peaceful outcome to the present crisis will depend upon a breathing spell which will allow tension to subside from its present explosive level', and that he therefore urged 'all the parties concerned to exercise special restraint, to forgo belligerence and to avoid all other actions which could increase tension, to allow the Council to deal with the underlying causes of the present crisis and to seek solutions',
" 1. Calls on all the parties concerned as a first step to comply with the SecretaryGeneral's appeal,
"2. Encourages the immediate pursuit of international diplomacy in the interests of pacifying the situation and seeking reasonable, peaceful and just solutions,
"3. Decides to keep this issue under urgent and continuous review so that the Council may determine what further steps it might take in the exercise of its responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security." [S/7916IRev. 1.]
It is obvious that this is an interim draft resolution. It simply endorses the Secretary-General's appeal for a breathing spell in order, in his words, to "allow tension to subside from its present explosive level" [S/7906, para. 14] and to gain time in which "to seek, and eventually to find, reasonable, peaceful and just solutions" [ibid., para. 19]. To this end the draft resolution urges all parties to exercise the restraint necessary to allow both the Council and international diplomacy to pursue the further steps required to defuse the situation and move towards peace.
In offering the draft resolution at this time, my delegation is conscious of the fact that it is now one week since the Council first met in the present crisis. Our meeting today is the fourth in this series of meetings, during which all of us - the members of the Council and the parties to the dispute - have had the opportunity to state our respective positions. Five days ago the Secretary-General returned from his arduous mission to Cairo. Four days ago he submitted his report to the Council, in which he said that his major concern at this critical juncture was to "gain time in order to lay the basis for a détente'' [ibid., para. 12].
The events since then have certainly underscored the urgency which the Secretary-General expressed to us last Friday in his report. To be sure, in my statement to the Council on Monday [1343rd meeting], I was able to refer to a brief and welcome respite which had been obtained by diplomatic efforts in which my country actively participated. Nevertheless I was obliged to emphasize that the crisis has not substantially eased, tension remains great, and the time-span in which to avert a clash is short. Those remarks, regrettably, still hold true today.
The Security Council, in a world body of 122 Members, is a relatively small and compact body; it was so designed under the Charter. It is charged, in Article 24 of the Charter, with "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security". Let us not forget the reason, which is made expressly clear in the same Article. It is, to quote the Charter: "In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations. . . ".
To that end the United States believes that the Council ought to take, step by step, the necessary decisions in this extremely grave and important matter. The draft resolution which we now submit reflects the first step which, in our view, the Council should take. The measures which we propose in this interim resolution are designed, in the spirit of the Secretary-General's report, to ensure a cooling-off period in the Near East without prejudice to the ultimate rights or claims of any party. This will afford the necessary time for more deliberate disposition of the underlying issues.
It is not our intention in offering this interim resolution to attempt in any way to evade or delay the exercise by the Council of its responsibility to seek solutions to the underlying causes of the present crisis. On the contrary, our aim is to gain time and to create a climate in which such solutions can be sought under more favourable conditions;
Indeed, our draft resolution takes into account the fact that the Council has two types of responsibilities. In addition to its responsibility to avert an imminent clash, it has also the responsibility conferred by Chapter VI of the Charter, and described in the Secretary-General's words: "to seek, and eventually to find, reasonable, peaceful and just solutions" [S/7906, para 19].
And corresponding responsibilities lie also, under the Charter, on every Member State in the international community to support our common effort in the United Nations to achieve peace and security in the Near East.
There is one great issue in the balance here today: the issue of keeping the peace in the Near East, with all that that implies for world security. But we in this Council must also recognize that we face another issue as well: the issue of the potency and efficacy of the United Nations.
The twenty-one-year record of the Security Council contains numerous instances of historic decisions, decisions by which we, the members, were able to "harmonize our actions", as the Charter says, sufficiently to save the world from the scourge of war. We have proved that we have the capacity to serve the purpose assigned to us by the Charter. The issue now is whether we have the courage, the resolution and the vision to exercise that capacity.
It must be candidly acknowledged that we have many conflicting interests represented at this table. But we have one overriding common interest, which is peace. I suspect that a detached observer following these proceedings, as they are being followed all over the world, will be watching above all to see whether partisan concerns and narrow national interests will be subordinated to our common overriding interest in peace.
I earnestly commend this draft resolution to the attention of the Council.
Mr. Rafael (Israel)
In the course of two meetings of the Security Council held yesterday and today, representatives of five Arab States have launched an assault of unprecedented ferocity against my country. They have threatened Israel and the world with total war. They have tried with the threat of sanctions to intimidate countries which uphold international morality and legality. They have threatened to destroy the independence of my country and to extinguish the existence of my people. That is the message which the representatives of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt have brought to this Council.
They have taken off the make-up of diplomatic niceties and shown to us and to the world the contorted face of brutal reality. They have employed the worn-out and transparent technique of portraying the victim of aggression as the aggressor. In shining innocence and with flowing eloquence they come to the Council and pretend to have no offensive intentions towards Israel. What a mockery. They enumerate Israel's alleged violations of United Nations resolutions and proclaim their faithful compliance with resolutions of the United Nations and the provisions of the General Armistice Agreements.
Did the Arab States take up arms against the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947 [181 (II)], providing for the establishment of Israel, or did they not? Did the Security Council on 1 September 1951 adopt a resolution [95 (1951)] outlawing blockade practices against Israel, or did it not? Did that resolution state in clear terms that such belligerent actions as blockades are incompatible with the armistice régime, or did it not?
The Armistice Agreements prohibited all hostile acts, all acts of incursions and all crossings of borders, whether by regular or irregular forces. Under the cover of those Agreements, the Arab countries have carried on their warfare against my country by means of their choice. Their terrorists, fedayeen, saboteurs, marauders - irregular or regular - have crossed our borders not twelve times: over the years they have crossed them and invaded our territory thousands of times. Their Governments have openly declared their support for this war by stealth, a war that has cost Israel many hundreds of casualties.
The representative of Egypt has openly declared here that his country is in a state of war with Israel and that it is therefore permitted to carry out acts of war and belligerence against it. That is his justification for the blockade instituted in the Gulf of Aqaba, and maintained in the Suez Canal.
It is the ruling of this Council that the Armistice Agreements terminate belligerence, but it is the policy of the Arab States to practise this outlawed belligerence. That is the crux of the matter, that is the fundamental controversy. The Annistice Agreements envisaged the restoration of total peace, while the Arab States are engaged in preparations for total war.
Belligerence is not a one-way street. It cannot be travelled with safety and impunity. The representatives of the Arab States who have spoken here wish to assure the Concil that they do not intend to take offensive action against Israel. Yet they practise, yet they proclaim, a people's war. They organize armed incursions into my country, they plan and execute sabotage and terrorism in Israel. Their leaders openly threaten to destroy Israel. They mass large offensive forces on the borders of my country and proclaim a blockade. They proclaim a blockade in an international waterway which is vital for my country.
I ask the members of this Council to judge for themselves: Is this offensive action, or is it not? Is this compliance with the Charter obligations of peaceful co-existence, or is it not?
My country has faced that kind of unrelenting warfare with supreme restraint. I wonder whether any other State represented here or in the United Nations as a whole would have exercised such patience under similar circumstances and provocations. My people have manifested that patience, but it should not be mistaken for a lack of determination to defend its liberty and to fight for its existence.
Mr. Rafael (Israel) (3 June)
The crisis in the Middle East erupted without warning on 16 May 1967 when an Egyptian general sent an ultimatum to the Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF). At the same time that he asked for the removal of the United Nations Force, he moved his own forces into the positions held by the United Nations. 'Me course of the events that followed is by now common knowledge and well documented in the reports of the Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General tried to prevent the crisis from getting out of hand. He failed. It was not his fault. Alarmed by the gravity of the situation, the Governments of Canada and Denmark asked for the Security Council to be urgently convened. For eleven days now the Council has debated the matter in an effort to resolve the immediate crisis. At the same time one Arab spokesman after another has come to this table not to alleviate the dangerous tensions, but to fan the flames of violence and hatred.
In their effort to obscure the real issue and the true causes of the situation created by their own arbitrary action, they have raked up the most far-fetched allegations and have advanced arguments of monumental irrelevance. I have no doubt that more will come. The volume of this exercise is equalled only by its transparency.
Behind these verbal assaults three major Arab objectives can clearly be discerned: first, to lay a dense smoke-screen behind which their own aggressive activities can be concealed; secondly, to portray the intended victim of their aggression as the aggressor; and thirdly, to hypnotize, paralyze and intimidate the whole international community so that no one will interfere with their preparations for aggression.
This is not the first time that this manoeuvre has been practised. It presents a very serious challenge to this Organization. No one has expressed this in more stirring terms than His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, in his memorable address before the General Assembly on 4 October 1963, when he said:
"Twenty-seven years ago, as Emperor of Ethiopia, I mounted the rostrum in Geneva to address to the League of Nations an appeal for relief from the destruction which had been unleashed against my defenceless nation by the Fascist invader. I spoke then both to and for the conscience of the world. My words went unheeded, but history testifies to the accuracy of the warning that I gave in 1936.
"In 1936, I declared that it was not the Covenant of the League that was at stake, but international morality. Undertakings, I said then, are of little worth if the will to keep them is lacking."
While this debate has taken that course, events have not stood still. First Egypt and then one Arab country after another have rushed troops and armaments to our frontiers and created a most severe threat to Israel's security and to the peace of the region. At the same time the spokesmen, first of Egypt and then of one Arab State after the other, have been getting into line to hurl their shafts of invective against Israel and of intimidation against the whole world. Claiming that they would not initiate offensive action against Israel, they have launched a campaign of unrestrained political warfare here in the Security Council in preparation for the total war which they openly proclaim to be their ultimate objective. As the Foreign Minister of Iraq himself said, "The conflict will be total and uncompromising ... there will be no retreat" [1345th meeting, paras. 18 and 19]. I say to him, you need not retreat if you do not advance.
As violent and threatening as these Arab statements may sound, they are but a diplomatic echo of the venom which is being poured out twenty-four hours a day by the Arab propaganda machine. I would not take up the Council's time by quoting from the Arab radio and Press were it not necessary to leave no doubt as to the extent to which the Arab Governments are inflaming the passions of their own people.
On 25 May, Radio Cairo in its broadcast at 2 p.m. proclaimed: "The Arab people is determined to wipe Israel off the map."
On 26 May, the radio station of the Palestine Liberation Organization broadcast a press conference by Mr. Shukairy in which he said, "D-Day is approaching. The Arabs have waited nineteen years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberation."
And on 29 May, the same Mr. Shukairy was even more explicit: "The struggle has begun at the Gulf of Aqaba and will end at the Bay of Acre."
At 8 p.m. on 30 May, Radio Cairo had this to say:
"Faced by the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba, Israel has two choices, both of which are drenched with Israel's blood: either it will be strangled by the Arab military and economic siege or it will be killed by the bullets of the Arab armies surrounding it from the south, from the north and from the east. On Egyptian television, on 1 June at 6.30 p.m., the Commander of the Egyptian Air Force told his audience that "The Egyptian forces spread from Rafah to Sharm el-Sheikh are ready for the order to begin the struggle to which we have looked forward for so long".
That is the background against which the present military confrontation is taking place.
There comes to my mind a very fitting sentence by the late Adlai Stevenson. When his country found itself threatened, he said here in the Security Council: "Were we to do nothing until the knife was sharpened? Were we to stand idly by until it was at our throats?" [1025th meeting, para. 18.]
Faced by the combined effect of the headlong rush to arms in the Arab States, a propaganda barrage of unprecedented violence and proclamations of a holy war, it is only natural that my Government found itself under the elementary duty to place the country on a full defence footing. Two heavily armed armies are facing each other, one poised to invade and destroy Israel, the other to defend it. This is a most explosive situation which has been created by the Arab Governments. In this situation any incident could have the gravest consequences. Yesterday, the first clash of the present crisis occurred. Two Israel soldiers were killed and two were wounded in an encounter on Israel territory with an armed group of marauders from Syria. I have drawn the attention of the Security Council to this in my letter of last night [S/7924].
The mutual reduction and withdrawal of armed forces to their normal levels and positions is the obvious first step towards alleviating this crisis.
This is not the first time that Israel has found itself facing such an emergency. The Arab spokesmen have been saying that Israel was born out of aggression. Aggression by whom? By Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
This is fully documented in the records of the Security Council for the summer of 1948. The Arab Governments are using today the same arguments to cover up their aggressive intent as they used then. At the 302nd meeting of the Security Council, Mr. Austin, representative of the United States, said, with reference to the Arabs:
"They tell us quite frankly that their business in Palestine is political ... Of course, the statement that they are there to make peace is rather remarkable in view of the fact that they are waging war."
Therefore, here we have the highest type of evidence of the international violation of the the law: the admission by those who are committing this violation. The representative of the Soviet Union, Mr. Gromyko, the present Foreign Minister, at the 309th meeting of the Security Council addressed himself to the same situation. He said:
"This is not the first time that the Arab States, which organized the invasion of Palestine, have ignored a decision of the Security Council or of the General Assembly. The USSR delegation deems it essential that the Council should state its opinion more clearly and more firmly with regard to this attitude of the Arab States towards decisions of the Security Council. It is not in the interest of the United Nations in general, or of the Security Council in particular, to tolerate such a situation, where decisions of the Council, designed to put an end to warfare ... are being flouted."
This invasion by five Arab armies was thrown back by the young Army of Israel which had grown out of Haganah, the Jewish defence organization of which I am proud to have been a member. This war was terminated by the conclusion of General Armistice Agreements. These Agreements established the borders between Israel and the neighbouring States. I would remind the Arab representatives that the only valid basis for the Egyptian presence in the Gaza area and for the Jordanian presence on the West Bank is in the armistice régime. They should therefore be more prudent before they disregard the significance and sanctity of the armistice demarcation lines.
The Armistice Agreements contain two fundamental and unalterable provisions. They were concluded with a view towards promoting the return to permanent peace. They stipulated the complete cessation of all forms of aggressive and hostile action. The Secretary-General, in paragraph 17 of his report of 26 May 1967 [S/7906], has called attention to Security Council Resolution 73 (1949) of 11 August 1949 which declared that "the Armistice Agreements constitute an important step towards the establishment of permanent peace".
The Arab States have persistently refused to take a single step towards the restoration of peaceful conditions. On the contrary, soon after the conclusion of the Armistice Agreements, they initiated their campaign of piecemeal aggression. There lies the root cause of the turmoil which has so adversely affected the Middle East over the years.
The Arab representatives have found in paragraph 2 of the Secretary-General's latest report [ibid.] support for their policies. The Secretary-General refers therein to "the continuing Arab-Israel conflict". What the Arab representatives choose to ignore is that it is Israel that has made repeated efforts to arrive at a peaceful solution of the conflict and it is the Arab States that have rebuffed these efforts. It is their policy to continue the conflict.
In justification of that policy, the Arab Governments claim that, in spite of the United Nations Charter and the General Armistice Agreements, they are in a state of war with Israel and are therefore free to conduct any act of belligerence of their choosing. No lengthy argument is required to refute that doctrine. The Security Council, in its resolution 95 (1951) of 1 September 1951, has ruled that "neither party can reasonably assert that it is actively a belligerent" under the armistice régime.
That resolution was validly adopted. Those who are urging for the full restoration of the Armistice Agreements must first insist that the States concerned forgo belligerence. On behalf of Israel, I can give this assurance. An armistice with built-in belligerence is no armistice.
The draft resolution submitted by the United Arab Republic [S/7919] seeks the endorsement of the Security Council for this policy. Its object is to promote the real aim of the Egyptian Government, which is not to return to the conditions of 1956, but, as President Nasser has stated himself, to go back to the situation prevailing in 1948 - in other words and in clear language, to abolish Israel's independence. In his speech of 26 May, President Nasser left no doubt; he said: "Our basic aim will be to destroy Israel."
How different were the hopes and expectations expressed by responsible leaders in 1956, when the late Secretary of State Mr. Dulles said at the 561st meeting of the General Assembly:
"All of us, I think, would hope that out of this tragedy there would come something better than merely a restoration of the conditions out of which this tragedy arose.
"There needs to be something better than the uneasy armistices which have existed now for these eight years between Israel and its Arab neighbours. There needs to be a greater sense of confidence and sense of security. . . ".
The question of belligerence is not an academic matter. The Arab Governments, since the inception of the armistice régime, have not only upheld the doctrine of belligerence, but, much worse, have been practising belligerence. They have practised it in the Suez Canal; they have practised it on land by countless armed incursions into the territory of Israel; by continuous threats against the territorial integrity of Israel, culminating in an act of war - the imposition of a blockade in the Strait of Tiran.
The representative of the United Arab Republic, and in his wake other Arab spokesmen, have raised two main arguments to justify the blockade of Tiran. The first is that Israel has no right to be at Eilat, or Umm Reshresh, as it once was called. I can dispose of that very briefly. The Arab contention that Israel has no right to be in Eilat at all is a mystification. Eilat was included in the Jewish State by the General Assembly's resolution of 29 November 1947 [181 (II)]. In May 1949, Egypt complained to the Mixed Armistice Commission about the Israel presence at Umm Reshresh. On 8 February 1950, after very careful consideration, the Mixed Annistice Commission rejected - I repeat, rejected - the Egyptian complaint that the occupation of Umm Reshresh was a violation of the Armistice Agreement. But what determines the issue is the Israel-Jordan General Armistice Agreement, by which Umm Reshresh - Eilat -is placed on the Israel side of the border. I invite the attention of the members of the Security Council to the map attached to that Agreement, which can be found in the Security Council's official records.
Another argument is based on the doctrine of belligerency which, as I have already said, is outlawed under the armistice régime, and under the Charter.
The third argument is that the Strait of Tiran is not an international waterway. The question of the international character of the waterway, which, in the opinion of my Government, has always been clear, was authoritatively answered at the eleventh regular session of the General Assembly and at the 1958 Geneva Conference on the Law of the Sea. Both the International Law Commission and the Geneva Conference stated quite clearly that there must be no suspension of the right of innocent passage through international straits. Article 16, paragraph 4, of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone of 1958 embodies the generally accepted rule of international law governing straits.
The representative of the United Arab Republic has said [1344th meeting] that the International Law Commission stated that its draft articles on the law of the sea regulate the law of the sea in time of peace only. He omitted to mention that this view was not adopted by the Geneva Conference. In any case, this whole argument is irrelevant, because the Egyptian claim of belligerency is inadmissible.
The Egyptian Government itself has recognized the international character of the Strait of Tiran and its obligations under the recognized principles of the law of nations. In its aide-mémoire to the United States Government of 28 January 1950, it undertook "that this passage, the only practicable one, will remain free, as in the past, in conformity with international practice and recognized principles of the law of nations".
On 20 February 1957, President Eisenhower declared:
"Now, with reference to the passage into and through the Gulf of Aqaba, we expressed the conviction that the gulf constitutes international waters and that no nation has the right to prevent free and innocent passage in the gulf We announced that the United States was prepared to exercise this right itself and to join with others to secure general recognition of this right."
On 1 March 1957, the representative of France declared in the General Assembly:
"The French Government considers that the Gulf of Aqaba, by reason partly of its breadth and partly of the fact that its shores belong to four different States, constitutes international waters. Consequently it believes that, in conformity with international law, freedom of navigation should be ensured in the gulf through the straits which give access to it."
On 4 March 1957, Prime Minister Lester Pearson, the then Chairman of the Canadian delegation, declared in the General Assembly:
"Concerning the Gulf of Aqaba and the Strait of Tiran, I suggested then that there should be no interference with innocent passage through those waters, nor the assertion of any claim to belligerent rights there."
The representative of Denmark declared on 4 March 1957, at the same meeting of the General Assembly:
"In the view of the Danish Government, the Strait of Tiran must be regarded as an international waterway through which vessels of all nations have a right of passage."
I would take up too much of the Council's time if I were to quote all the authoritative statements affirming the international character of the Strait of Tiran. In recent days more statements to that effect have been issued by many Governments.
The Foreign Minister of Iraq, in support of his arguments in favour of the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba, has stated that not a single resolution was adopted by the United Nations on the problem of navigation in the Gulf of Aqaba. Since when does the United Nations have to adopt a resolution on freedom of navigation through international straits? Are rights of free navigation in the Skagerrak or any other international strait impaired by the fact that the United Nations has not adopted a resolution?
But, again, we are arguing not an academic legal point, but a matter which the Secretary-General accurately described as being most vital to Israel's interest. While in Cairo, he called to the attention of the Government of the United Arab Republic the dangerous consequences which could ensue from restricting innocent passage of ships in the Strait of Tiran.
Eilat, a thriving port and industrial centre, is Israel's outlet to the Red Sea. It links our country with Africa and Asia. Considerable trade passes through this essential maritime route. Eilat is one of the main ports for the export of chemicals and fertilizers so urgently needed to keep up the world's food supplies. It is the terminal of an oil pipeline connecting it with Haifa. The maritime trade passing through Eilat is the basis of the city's economic life and the life of the hinterland of that city. Severing the artery is an act as grave as an attempt to truncate part of our territory. It is a curious thing that those who are responsible for proclaiming the blockade and creating the current crisis come here and belittle the significance of their action for Israel. But if that is so, why do they go to such lengths and create a situation so fraught with dangers?
They are following the same line as was used by the Nazis in 1939 when they took over Danzig. They broke down resistance by belittling the significance of their act and by diverting attention from their ultimate objectives. The world has paid a terrible price for that appeasement. The Nazis launched the theme - Why fight for Danzig? and that is what we have heard here: Why fight for Eilat? Mr. Shukairy has given us the answer in that broadcast to which I referred earlier: first the Gulf of Aqaba and then the Bay of Acre. Israel is determined to make its stand on the Gulf of Aqaba. Nothing less than complete non-interference with free and innocent passage through the Gulf of Aqaba is acceptable to the Government of Israel.
Arab representatives have attached themselves with ardour to paragraph 8 of the Secretary-General's first report of 19 March 1967 [S/7896]. On reading that report and that paragraph we were puzzled and asked ourselves to what statements the Secretary-General was referring. We were unable to find the answer in our own files. Various Arab spokesmen have now enlightened us by attributing to responsible leaders of Israel statements to the effect that Israel was ready to march on Damascus and to overthrow the Syrian Government. I am grateful to the Arab representatives for giving us this clarification. However, I am sorry that I cannot oblige them and confirm their allegations. I can state quite categorically that no such statements have been made. In a previous intervention, I assured the Council and the representative of Syria that Israel has no interest in the nature of the régime in Syria or in its activities, so long as they are confined to Syria.
Having said that, I should like to point out that for the twenty years of its existence Israel has been subjected to a constant barrage of vituperation and threats of exceptional vehemence. Every conceivable medium of mass communication has been mobilized for this campaign.
The Arab Governments have given as a pretext for their present mobilization and military activity alleged Israel troop movements and concentrations, which the Secretary-General has reported never took place, and statements of Israel leaders, which have never been made. The archives of the Israel Government are bulging with the unending torrent of abuse and threats from Arab leaders against the very existence of Israel. If we were to follow the Arab logic, every one of those statements would be a sufficient reason to take up arms. But it is not the statements alone which are causing the present crisis. This time these verbal threats are linked to military preparations on an unprecedented scale. These statements are no longer hurled into the air. They are now falling on inflammable ground where two armies are standing face to face.
The situation with which the Council is confronted today has deteriorated since the Council first met on this question. In my statement on 29 May [1343rd meeting], I urged that five immediate steps be taken. None of them has been taken. On the contrary, the Arab Governments have intensified their preparations for war. It is not a breathing spell which will avert the present danger. What is required is action, concrete steps to forgo all belligerence and to withdraw the armies back to their previous positions.'
Mr. Seydoux (France) (3 June) (translated from French)
Mr. President, in speaking for the first time since you have assumed the Presidency of the Security Council, I am pleased to express to you the special friendship which the French delegation feels for you personally and for your country, which you represent with such distinction and courteous authority.
In deciding to intervene only at this point in our debate, my delegation remains true to the rule it has followed since the beginning of the present serious crisis in the Near East. The friendly relations my country enjoys with all States in that region, the understanding shown there to our policy, our interests and our history, all these compel us to be particularly objective and at the same time make it our duty to contribute to the maintenance of peace in that part of the world.
France's age-old ties with the Arab world enable us to understand the great care with which the latter means to preserve its dignity and independence.
In the same spirit of friendship, France wishes to express its desire to see the existence of the State of Israel assured and to see a people who have suffered so much for so long allowed to live unimpeded.
Our silence until now in a debate in which numerous speakers have already taken part must obviously not be construed as a sign of indifference. Like the other members of the Council, we have listened intently to the interventions of those who have preceded us. In the past few days there has been much discussion of the report which the Secretary-General submitted on 29 May to the Security Council. At times there has seemed to be a tendency to single out certain passages considered more important than others.
My delegation, too, might be tempted to draw attention to one or another paragraph to support its judgement on the events which have led the Council to meet. I do not think it would be desirable, nor do I think it was the Secretary-General's intention, for us to use this report as a collection of quotations, at the risk of giving the impression that we wish to stress certain aspects of the situation instead of considering it in its entirety. In the light of the urgent necessity to reduce tension, my delegation views the Secretary-General's report [S/7906] as a balanced description of the problems with which we are grappling. With the outlines thus drawn, we should devote our attention to specific points, selected in such a way that the parties concerned will from the very outset be convinced that their claims will be considered objectively and in a spirit of fairness.
We are aware, of course, that it has not yet been possible to follow this course of action. The views expressed before the Council appear to be so radically opposed one to another that one might be tempted to succumb to pessimism. At the present stage in the crisis and in view of the antagonism between the members of the Council, we must first decide what useful steps can be taken in the present circumstances to safeguard the essential, i.e. peace, and consequently, to pave the way for a subsequent discussion of the problems which cannot be ignored.
But we feel that the immediate aim of the Council should be to obtain a breathing spell, in order to prevent the crisis becoming worse. We think that this pause should serve to bring about a psychological, and perhaps even a military détente.
We should like to impress upon the parties concerned how grave a responsibility the one which first decided to resort to military action would bear. With this in mind we feel that the Security Council's most urgent task today is to reach agreement on the terms of an appeal to the parties to refrain from using force of any kind to back up their claims during this breathing spell. Only by making such an appeal will the Council live up to the responsibilities which fall to it and which it has assumed on behalf of the United Nations.
In making this proposal, the French delegation wishes to make clear to the parties whose representatives have spoken before the Council that for the moment it is not a question of approving or disapproving their respective positions, but simply of seeking the ways and means which might lead to peaceful procedures for settlement, in other words, to negotiation.
Furthermore. we should be taking an incomplete view of the situation were we to ignore the special responsibility weighing on the Great Powers. My delegation therefore calls upon the other permanent members of the Council to join with it in endeavouring to direct the ominous crisis in the Near East along the only road which, in my Government's opinion, can lead to peace, and which, I repeat, is that of a détente followed by negotiation.
That is why the French delegation thinks that it would be useless, if not dangerous, to allow our debate to proceed from a discussion to a vote on draft resolutions on which it seems highly doubtful that a general consensus can be reached. Such an admission of impotence, deplorable in itself, might prompt the opposing parties to pursue a policy or undertake action likely to create a worse situation.
We therefore appeal to all to work together to seek a solution on which all could agree and which would lead to the breathing-spell that is indispensable if we wish to see this crisis guided towards a peaceful settlement.