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United Nations: The Jarring Mission

(January 4, 1971)

Security Council Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967 called upon the Secretary-General to appoint a special representative to proceed to the Middle East and help to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement based on the provisions of Resolution 242. Dr. Gunnar Jarring, Sweden's Ambassador to the Soviet Union, a country which had broken off its diplomatic relations with Israel, was appointed, retaining his ambassadorial assignment to Moscow. In early 1968, he arrived in the Middle East and met with the leaders of Israel and of the Arab States. Israel saw his mission as that of bringing the parties together for talks. The Arab States refused direct or even indirect contact with Israel. The evolution of the first phase of the Jarring Mission is described in a report submitted to the Security Council by U Thant on January 4, 1971, excerpts of which follow:

1. On November 22, 1967, the Security Council adopted resolution 242 (1967) which reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

"Emphasising further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

"(1) Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

"(2) Affirms further the necessity

(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area; (b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;

(c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarised zones;

"(3) Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;

"(4) Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible".

2. On November 23, 1967, I reported to the Council (S/8259) that I had invited Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring of Sweden to accept the designation as the Special Representative mentioned in paragraph 3...

Activities of the Special Representative During the Period December 9, 1967 to November 26, 1968

4. When the Special Representative first met with the parties in December 1967, he found that the Israeli Government was of the firm view that a settlement of the Middle East question could be reached only through direct negotiations between the parties culminating in a peace treaty and that there could be no question of withdrawal of their forces prior to such a settlement. On December 27, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, Mr. Abba Eban, communicated to the Special Representative a proposal that Israel and the United Arab Republic representatives should, as a first step, discuss an agenda for peace. The Israeli proposals for such an agenda were:

"(1) Political and juridical problems: The replacement of cease-fire arrangements by peace treaties ending the state of belligerency, ending all hostile acts and threats and embodying a permanent undertaking of mutual non-aggression.

"(2) Territorial and security problems: The determination of agreed territorial boundaries and security arrangements. Agreement on this measure would determine the deployment of armed forces after the cease-fire.

"(3) Navigation problems: Practical methods should be discussed for ensuring free navigation for all States including Israel in the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba when the cease-fire is replaced by peace. In the light of tragic experience, it is evident that international declarations cannot by themselves solve this problem Concrete measures and guarantees are required.

"(4) Economic problems: Proposals for terminating boycott practices and instituting normal economic relations."

5. The United Arab Republic and Jordan, for their part, insisted that there could be no question of discussions between the parties until the Israeli forces had been withdrawn to the positions occupied by them prior to 5 June 1967. Reacting specifically to the Israeli proposals for discussing an agenda for peace, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Republic, Mr. Mahmoud Riad, stated that the withdrawal of Israel's forces to the positions held prior to June 1967 was a basic and preliminary step to a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

6. An Israeli proposal for discussions on an agenda for peace with Jordan was submitted to the Special Representative on 7 January 1968. It followed the same general lines as the proposal for the United Arab Republic but contained more detailed suggestions for economic co-operation, as well as the following new topics;

"Humanitarian problems: In the proposed negotiations, high priority should be given to a solution of the refugee problem with international and regional cooperation.

"Religious and historical sites: Access to sites of special religious significance should be discussed. The Government of Israel clarified its views on this subject in several verbal and written communications to the United Nations."

It was also stated:

"In the meantime, it is urgent that breaches of the cease-fire and activities by El Fatah and other such organisations should be suppressed and every effort made on both sides to avoid exchanges of fire."

7. The proposals, when communicated to the Jordanian authorities by the Special Representative, were objected to in the same way as the proposals to the United Arab Republic had been.

8. Faced with these conflicting positions, the Special Representative sought to obtain from the parties an assurance that they would implement Security Council resolution 242 (1967), in the hope that such a declaration would be regarded as a basis for subsequent discussions between the parties. The Special Representative received from Foreign Minister Eban a number of formulations of Israel's position on the Security Council resolution, of which the last, dated 19 February 1968, read as follows:

"(1) The Government of Israel, out of respect for the Security Council's resolution of 22 November 1967 and responding affirmatively thereto, assures you of its full co-operation in your efforts with the States concerned to promote agreement and to achieve an accepted settlement for the establishment of a just and lasting peace, in accordance with your mandate under the resolution.

"(2) Israel's position has throughout been that the best way to achieve the objective of the Security Council resolution is through direct negotiations. However, as a further indication of Israel's co-operation, we are willing that this be done in a meeting convened by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

"(3) On 12 February 1968, I informed you of Israel's acceptance of the Security Council's call, in its resolution of 22 November 1967, for the promotion of agreement on the establishment of peace. The United Arab Republic is also aware of Israel's willingness as explained on 1 February to negotiate on all nutters included in the Security Council's resolution. We accept the sponsor's view that the principles recommended for inclusion in the peace settlement are integrally linked and interdependent.

"(4) We have noted the United Arab Republic's willingness to 'implement' the Security Council's resolution and fulfil its obligations thereunder. It is a matter of concern that the United Arab Republic statements, unlike those of Israel, do not specifically use the precise terms of the resolution in such crucial matters as 'agreement' and the 'establishment of a just and lasting peace', and that the United Arab Republic has not yet agreed to a process of negotiation without which, of course, a declaration Of willingness to fulfil the resolution is of no substantive effect. The resolution is a framework for agreement.

"It cannot be fulfilled without a direct exchange of views and proposals leading to bilateral contractual commitments. The United Arab Republic position is, therefore, still deficient in important respects. We are, however, conscious of the importance of the fact that the United Arab Republic and Israel have both responded affirmatively to the call for co-operating with you in the mission laid upon you by the Security Council.

"At the same time, it would be unrealistic to ignore that there have been sharp differences of interpretation of what the resolution entails. To subscribe to similar declarations does not in itself solve practical issues at stake.

"(5) It is accordingly urgent to move forward to a more substantive stage and to embark on a meaningful negotiation for achieving the just and lasting peace called for by the Security Council."

In discussions with the Special Representative, Foreign Minister Eban stated that Israel would not object to an indirect approach to negotiations provided that it was designed to lead to a later stage of direct negotiations and agreement.

9. The United Arab Republic Foreign Minister gave repeated assurances that the United Arab Republic was ready to implement the Security Council resolution as a whole and to fulfil its obligations under it, but stated that it would not accept direct negotiations. The United Arab Republic accepted indirect negotiations; however, the first step must be an Israeli declaration "in clear language" that it would implement the Security Council resolution.

10. The Jordanian authorities expressed a similar point of view to the Special Representative.

11. The Special Representative then proceeded to United Nations Headquarters for consultations with the Secretary-General. Returning to the area at the beginning of March, he informally presented to the parties, to ascertain their reactions, a draft letter from himself to the Secretary-General, which would be worded as follows:

'The Governments of Israel and the United Arab Republic (Jordan) have both indicated to me that they accept Security Council resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 for achieving a peaceful and accepted settlement of the Middle East question and intend to devise arrangements, under my auspices, for the implementation of the provisions of the resolution.

"The two Governments have expressed their willingness to co-operate with me in my capacity as Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the discharge of my tasks of promoting agreement and achieving such a settlement.

"In view of the urgency of the situation and with a view to expediting efforts to reach settlement, I have invited the two Governments to meet with me, for conferences within the framework of the Security Council resolution, in Nicosia. I have pleasure in informing you that the two Governments have responded favourably to this invitation."

12. When Ambassador Jarring presented this text to the United Arab Republic Foreign Minister on 7 March 1968, the latter stated that recent statements by Israeli leaders showed that they were following an expansionist line. It was no longer sufficient to have Israel give an assurance of intent to implement the resolution; the Arabs had to be satisfied that the Israelis were going to "implement if for action". If the Israelis withdrew completely from the occupied territories, peace could be arrived at by the implementation of the other provisions of the Security Council resolution under the Council's guidance.

13. In a meeting on 10 March, the Special Represnetative informed the Israeli Foreign Minister of the United Arab Republic attitude. He then informally showed his draft letter to the Foreign Minister, who expressed the personal view that it would be fully acceptable to the Israeli authorities if it was also accepted by the other side and led to contact between them. Subsequently the Special Representative was informed of Israel's official acceptance, without conditions, of the text.

14. In a meeting on 14 March, the Jordanian authorities stated that they were ready to accept the proposed meeting in principle provided that the text was modified to read that the parties had "declared their readiness to implement the resolution".

15. During the following weeks, Ambassador Jarring paid repeated visits to the countries concerned in an endeavour to obtain from the Israelis a more precise formulation of their acceptance of the resolution and from the two Arab States acceptance of the idea of meetings between the parties under his auspices.

16. At a meeting in Amman on 16 April 1968, the Jordanian authorities stated that they were prepared to accept the text of the Special Representative's draft letter provided that the third paragraph was amended to read as follows:

"In view of the urgency of the situation and with a view to expediting efforts to reach settlements, I will meet with representatives of Israel and Jordan for conferences within the framework of the Security Council resolution, in New York. I have pleasure in informing you that the two Governments have responded favourably hereto."

The acceptance was based on the assumption that the United Arab Republic would accept an identical text.

17. The Israeli authorities found difficulties in the Jordanian amended text. They had accepted meetings at Nicosia, on the understanding that the Special Representative's invitation would lead to joint meetings. The new text appeared to give the impression that only meetings between the parties and the Special Representative were intended. The change of venue, while not objectionable in principle, tended to create the impression that only discussions with the permanent missions in the scope of normal United Nations activities would take place; a change from Nicosia to a European city would be acceptable.

18. The United Arab Republic Foreign Minister at first continued to insist on a prior declaration by Israel of its intention to implement the Security Council resolution. Finally, however, on 9 May, on the eve of the Special Representative's departure from the area (see following paragraph), he replied to the Special Representative's proposed invitation in the form amended by Jordan in the following written statement:

"With reference to your indication to me today of your desire to meet with a representative of the United Arab Republic in New York, I wish to reaffirm the readiness of our Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York to meet with you to continue the contacts which you have been conducting with the parties concerned in accordance with Security Council resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 for the implementation of that resolution.

"I have referred in the course of our previous meetings to the importance of the setting of a timetable for the implementation of the resolution of the Security Council, and offered you several alternatives towards that end, one of which, that you present a time-table prepared by yourself for the implementation of the resolution. These suggestions emanate from the United Arab Republic's indication to you of its acceptance and readiness to implement the above-mentioned resolution.

"I wish to express anew our willingness to co-operate with you in your capacity as Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the discharge of your tasks as defined in the Council's resolution of 22 November 1967. "

The United Arab Republic Foreign Minister repeated that the United Arab Republic was ready to implement the resolution as a whole and as a "package deal". It insisted, however, that Israel should do likewise, including complete withdrawal.

19. Ambassador Jarring was faced with a position where there was now agreement, though clearly with considerable differences of interpretation, on the first two paragraphs of his proposed invitation, but where there was disagreement on the third paragraph containing the actual invitation. Further journeying backwards and forwards between the various countries was unlikely to bee productive. In consultations with me, he considered issuing a formal invitation along the lines of his proposal, but with the venue at New York, but it was felt that a forced acceptance obtained by such an invitation would not be helpful.

Instead it was decided that the talks in New York should begin without a formal invitation by the Special Representative or a letter from the Special Representative to the Secretary-General, but on the basis of a short statement to the press in which it would be announced that the Special Representative was arriving in New York for consultations in continuation of his mission...

22. In the five weeks following his arrival in New York, Ambassador Jarring pursued actively his contacts with the permanent representatives of the parties at both a formal and informal level. Unfortunately these contacts did not serve in any way to break the dead-lock between the parties concerning the interpretation of the Security Council resolution and the manner in which it should be implemented. In that regard, the Permanent Representative of Israel had stated in the Security Council on I May 1968:

"In declarations and statements made publicly and to Mr. Jarring, my Government has indicated its acceptance of the Security Council resolution for the promotion of agreement on the establishment of a just and durable peace. I am also authorized to reaffirm that we are willing to seek agreement with each Arab State on all the matters included in that resolution. "

This statement was not regarded as acceptable by the Arab representatives.

23. Returning to New York on 22 July after a short stay in Europe during which he had met, in various capitals, the Foreign Ministers of the United Arab Republic, Israel and Jordan, Ambassador Jarring decided, with my approval, to return to the Middle East and resume his direct contacts with the parties.

This second round of discussions, which began on 16 August 1968, took the form of an exchange of questions and of comments between the parties through the Special Representative ...

Those written statements were in amplification of the positions of the parties as publicly stated in the General Assembly and made clear the essential differences between them. On the one hand, Israel regarded the Security Council resolution as a statement of principles in the light of which the parties should negotiate peace and, on the other hand, the United Arab Republic considered that the resolution provided a plan for settlement of the Middle East dispute to be implemented by the parties according to modalities to be established by the Special Representative.

It was also abundantly clear that there was a crucial difference of opinion over the meaning to be attached to the withdrawal provisions of the Security Council resolution, which according to the Arab States, applied to all territories occupied since 5 June 1967 and, according to Israel applied only to the extent required when agreement had been reached between the parties on secure and recognized borders between them ...

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry