Monday, May 28, 2007
Source: IDF & Security Services
During a joint IDF and ISA operation in Ramallah today, May 28th 2007, IDF forces arrested Haled Jamal Mussah Shawish, the head of the Fatah/PLO Tanzim terror
infrastructure in the city. Shawish was hiding in PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' compound and was armed with a handgun at the time of his arrest.
Shawish was actively involved in recent years in several terror attacks.
Among his activities, Shawish trained other Tanzim operatives in bomb-making and explosive belt construction, executed bomb attacks and directed a number of suicide bombings. He also took part in the planning of a number of abductions.
In late 2001 Shawish was crippled by injuries sustained in a gunfight with IDF soldiers. However, this did not hinder his continued efforts to direct murderous attacks against Israeli civilians.
Shawish took part in the following attacks:
· November 2000 - A shooting attack at an Israeli vehicle traveling along the trans-Samaria route in which a number of civilians were injured.
· December 21st 2000 - A shooting attack at an Israeli vehicle on Highway 443 in which a civilian was murdered.
· December 31st 2000 - A shooting attack at an Israeli vehicle near the community of Ofra. Two parents were murdered and their five children injured.
· December 2000 - A shooting attack at an Israeli vehicle in which a civilian was injured.
· April 30th 2001 - A shooting attack against an Israeli vehicle in the Ramallah area in which an Israeli civilian was murdered.
· September 15th 2001 - Using a weapon delivered by Shawish, terrorists executed a shooting attack in the Jerusalem neighborhood of the French Hill, in which an Israeli civilian was murdered.
· February 27th 2002 - A female suicide bomber dispatched by Shawish, carried out a bombing at a checkpoint in which two Policemen were injured.
· March 21st 2002 - A suicide bombing in King George St. in Jerusalem, in which 3 Israelis were murdered and 35 others injured.
In recent years and up until his arrest, Shawish held a dominant position in
the Tanzim's terrorist infrastructure and was a member of the organization's
Shawish took advantage of his connections with Palestinian Authority
officials in order to hide in Ramallah's Mukataa compound for several years.
Recently he was involved in shooting attacks in the region.
Summary of Overnight Events in Gaza
Source: IDF and Security Services
Since May 15th 2007, Atab terrorists have launched close to 250 rockets into Israel.
Since yesterday 13 Qassam rockets were launched, one of them hit and killed a civilian while he was driving his vehicle in Sderot. Another Qassam hit a house in Sderot, lightly injuring a civilian.
Since yesterday evening the IDF attacked three terrorist targets used by
Hamas in the Gaza Strip::
· A post near Dier Al-Balah, in the southern Gaza Strip
· A post in Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip
· A post in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip
Overnight, IDF forces arrested eight terrorist fugitives during operations in the
The IDF will continue to defend the citizens of Israel, while doing the utmost to preserve the daily life of the Palestinian population.
May 28, 1922: The Bnei Akiva youth movement is founded.
Bnei Akiva, the world's largest religious Zionist youth organisation, was founded in Poland on May 28, 1922 under the name of Hashomer Hadati.
After merging with Brit Hanoar later that year, Bnei Akiva was renamed in 1929 in Jerusalem. Today, the movement is active all over the world, with over 70,000 active members and close to a million Bogrim (graduates).
Teaching Jewish youth to achieve fulfilment and self-realisation in an age of turmoil and unrest via hard work and devotion, religious commitment and work on the Land of Israel, Bnei Akiva operates local Shabbat groups, summer camps, leadership seminars, Shabatonim, and other youth oriented activities on six continents.
Naturally, the center focus of Bnei Akiva is located in Israel, where Bnei Akiva is extremely active and where many members of Bnei Akiva participate in movement-sponsored activities before they make Aliya.
Bnei Akiva and Rabbi Akiva
The name Bnei Akiva translates as - "the children of Akiva", the idea of Bnei Akiva relates directly to the story of Rabbi Akiva. At the age of 40 years old, after growing up tending flock, he changed his ways and decided that he needed to find out the essence of the Jewish faith.
The story is told of how it happened: One day while attending to his flock, he noticed a rock onto which droplets of water kept dripping. He thought that if something as soft as water can penetrate this solid rock and cause it to erode, so can the Torah penetrate into me - a shepherd who at this time was solid in his ways. Thus we strive to be like Rabbi Akiva for his three qualities: (a) his love of Hashem, his devotion to the Torah and his ultimate death at Kiddush Hashem (having been killed by the Romans), (b) his love of Israel and his fight for its independence, (c) his love of labour and his respect for it, remembering always his early life.
May 28, 1912: The Agudath Israel Movement is formed.
The impetus to the formation of an organization that would safeguard and defend the interests of the Orthodox Jews came in the beginning of the century when the German reform had reached such a horrendous degree of decline that one of its exponents published an article proposing that Christmas be accepted by Jews as a "Germanic Feast."
While the Zionists had made good inroads in Germany and were also opposed to the assimilationist Reformers, the Orthodox Jews had no way to ward off the inroads of Reform and assimilation. German Orthodox leaders contacted the great Torah leaders of Eastern Europe, who, however, were loath to subordinate themselves to an international political organization.
Especially in Hungary, the Orthodox leadership felt themselves secure under the protection of Royal-Imperial Austro-Hungarian rulers. Although before World War I occasional meetings took place in the summer, when the Torah greats came to German sanatoriums and health spas - especially in 1909 in Hamburg - these meetings led to nothing concrete.
Faced with the cleavage between Western European and Eastern European Jews, the Orthodox leadership in Germany, Switzerland and Austria - in other words, the German-speaking communities - decided to launch their own organization. The catalyst for this was Switzerland's Rabbi Dr. Arthur Cohn of Basel, who in 1911 published a courageous appeal in which he said Orthodoxy stood now five minutes before 12 and had to organize itself - if necessary, without Hungarian participation. If Orthodoxy does not unite at this time, another opportunity may not come back in our lifetime was his prophetic warning.
This appeal caused an immediate, enthusiastic response. Donations for the founding of such an organization started to come in. Three months later a preparatory committee was in place and met in October 1911 in a private home of Mr. Adolf Stern in Frankfurt, with the participation of 60-70 community leaders from Germany, Holland, Switzerland and Austria. They picked the name "Agudas Yisroel" for their new world organization.
A rabbinical council was also formed headed by Rabbi S. Breuer of Frankfurt, Rabbi Dr. W. Feilchenfeld of Berlin and Professor Dr. Hoffman of the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary.
First Knessio Gedolo 1912 in Kattowitz
The first world meeting was called for May 1912 in Kattowitz, Germany, under the name "Knessio Gedoto." While the Kattowitz meeting was going on, they sent a delegation to Krakow, Poland, to keep leaders of Eastern communities abreast of developments. This committee consisted of Rabbi Dr. S. Breuer; his son, Dr. Issac Breuer, a lawyer and philosopher; and Jacob Rosenheim, (later, the top Agudah leader in the world), Rabbi Daiches from England and Dr. Wilhelm Freyhan.
Their reception in Krakow was the greatest triumph that they could have imagined in their most hopeful dreams. Thousands upon thousands of Jews swarmed around them, from the moment of their arrival at the railway station in the Polish city, throughout their meeting at the Hotel deLondres, until they returned to Kattowitz.
This wise step of establishing immediate partnership with the Eastern communities established the full work capacity of the Agudas Yisroel to become a fully functioning political organization in all Orthodox communities in Europe.
The Third Knessio Gedolo took place in Marienbad in 1937. By that time there was perfect harmony between West and East in the Agudah. (My family witnessed the Third Knessio Gedolo, and I remember it very keenly. It is a tragic to think that soon thereafter many of the delegates were sent o Auschwitz...)
Agudah in America
I wish to insert something personal that was not contained in the Freyhan report. Right after Kattowitz it was resolved also to found an Agudah in America - a territory that was not known for Orthodoxy. It was decided to send Rabbi Meir Heldesheimer - son of the fabled Dr. Esriel Heldesheimer, founder of the Orthodox Berlin Rabbinical Seminary - to the United States to found an Agudah.
My own father, the late Hans Lehmann, had known Rabbi Hildesheimer in Berlin, and therefore, when my father sailed to New York to marry my mother, Fanny Taub, in December 1913 in New York, he asked Rabbi Heldesheimer to perform the marriage ceremony. Rabbi Heldesheimer gladly acceded to the wish of his old friend, my father, and so my parents were married on December 21, 1913, in the old Broadway-Central Hotel on Lower Broadway.
That ceremony, with the blessings of such an outstanding rabbi, would not have been possible if it had not been for the founding of the Agudah, first in Europe and, then, in America! Everything is providence.
"IAF Command to Central: Aircraft already launched!!"
16 years ago, today: "Operation Shlomo" Brings 14,000 Jews Home in 33 Hours
"In a record-breaking airlift, the Israeli Air Force, aided by El Al Israel Airlines,, brought 14,000 Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa to Israel - 1,200 of them in one 747 - within 33h just days before the capital fell to rebel troops."
"Some of the flights were performed by a specially configured El Al 747, carrying 1,200 passengers. The top-secret Operation Solomon began on 24 May when an air force C-130 Hercules brought the first group of high-ranking Israeli officers and experts to Addis Ababa International Airport. The airlift was completed a few hours before the first rebel units reached the airport area."
"The group, headed by deputy chief of staff Gen. Amnon Shahak, set up a command post in the airport while Israeli special forces and paratroops secured the runway and airfield perimiter. An Israeli mobile air traffic control unit performed advisory control, parallel to that given by the airport's tower."
"By noon on 24 May preparations were complete and the green light was given for the first aircraft to land. In the next 24h 18 air force C-130s and eight Boeing 707s aided by nine El Al aircraft - three 747s, four 767s and two 757s - flew 14,000 Jews from Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. All El Al aircraft had their logos covered."
"An El-Al 747-200C Combi was converted to passenger configuration, with 760 seats. With the arm rests folded, these seats allowed 1,200 of the new Israeli immigrants to be crammed into the aircraft. (The previous record was 674 people in a Quantas 747 after a cyclone hit Darwin.) The 747 was on the ground at Addis Ababa for only 37min before leaving with the record number of passengers."
"The passenger-configured 747s carried 920 passengers on their 454 seats and on the floor, while the 767s carried 430 on their 224 seats and floor. The 757s carried 360 passengers on thier 197 seats and in any available space. An Ethiopian Airlines 757 made one flight to Tel Aviv as part of the airlift. The air force's 707s had their seats removed and rubber mattresses put on the cabin floors. Each 707 carried 500 passengers and 180 passengers were packed into air force C-130s."
"The Israeli authorities had notified some Arab and African countries along the Tel Aviv - Addis Ababa route about the traffic near their airspace."
In early 1991 the rule of Mangisto Hayela Marim was facing rebelling forces that were approaching the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Abba. These rebels were threatening Mangisto's rule.
The approaching coup against Mangisto aroused the fear that the fate of the thousands of Jews awaiting their immigration to Israel will be in danger. The Israeli government led by the indelible Yitzhak Shamir began intense negotiations with the Ethiopian leader, in order to agree upon the fast airlift of Jews from Ethiopia to Israel.
As the rebels began to close in on the capital, the two governments reached an agreement, and the Israeli government instructed the IDF to launch an aerial rescue operation for the rescue of the Ethiopian Jews. The IAF notified Shamir: "Aircraft already launched!!"
The miraculous operation concluded in a time span of about 34 hours as about 30 planes brought 14,400 Jews from Ethiopia to Israel.
Middle East Quarterly
It took the government of Israel nearly three decades to take significant steps to bring the Jews of Ethiopia to Israel, but when it did finally make a commitment to do so in the late 1970s, it carried out daring and dramatic operations.
The story of Operation Solomon—how Israel evacuated more than 14,000 Jews in less than thirty-six hours—is the subject of Spector's fascinating and well-documented history.
Following the first large-scale rescue in 1984, Israel learned that the Ethiopian Jewish population was far larger than previously thought. Their predicament became increasingly dire as Ethiopia dissolved into civil war. By 1990-91, thousands of Jews were identified by American activists who provided them humanitarian assistance and called on Israel to allow them all to come to Israel.
The Ethiopian government, however, saw its Jews as bargaining chips and did not want to let them go without extracting a price from Israel. Initially, it sought weapons but ultimately settled for a large payment of cash.
The U.S. government played a key role. Diplomats, Senator Rudy Boschwitz, and President George H.W. Bush all weighed in to secure Ethiopian permission to allow the Jews to leave. Spector does not give Bush the credit he deserves, presenting him as merely signing off on the requests of others rather than himself strongly supporting the rescue. This is an example of the one weakness of the book, which is that it is missing the historical context of the story, in this case, Bush's direct involvement, when vice president, in negotiations with Sudan for the earlier rescue of the Ethiopian Jews.
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.
The Galilean Word will bring you the associated excerpts from speeches in the debate each day this week:
Excerpts from the Security Council Debates, 24 May, 1967
Source: PM Office
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.
On 28 May the Government of Israel decided to continue to use political means for the time being to obtain the re-opening of the Straits of Tiran. The Prime Minister hoped that international factors would take effective measures to ensure free international passage. Text:
The Cabinet today held a meeting to discuss the situation. At the end of the deliberations the following decisions were adopted:
1) The danger which confronts Israel as a result of the concentration of the Egyptian Army in Sinai, and as a result of the blockade of Israeli shipping in the Red Sea, is in full force. In view of this danger, and for so long as it exists, the necessity remains to continue to maintain our military readiness. The Government received a report on the measures of readiness which were taken, and it states that the Israel Defence Forces are fully prepared to defend the security of Israel.
The Government notes with satisfaction the firm spirit of the people and of the Israel Defence Forces, which are an expression and a guarantee of the strength of the State.
2) The Government of Israel expresses its view that the blockade of the Straits of Tiran against Israeli shipping is the equivalent to aggression against Israel. We shall oppose it at the proper time, in accordance with the right to self-defence vested in every State.
3) The Government heard from the Minister for Foreign Affairs a report on his talks with the President of France, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and the President of the United States, on contacts with other States, including the Soviet Union, and on the growing readiness in the international arena to bring about, without delay, the speedy removal of the blockade which Egypt has imposed on the Straits of Tiran. There is no doubt that the mobilization of the Israel Defence Forces and their readiness for any test have constituted and continue to constitute a decisive factor in the stimulation of world political activity.
The Government laid down directives for the continuation of political action in the world arena, which is designed to stimulate international forces to take effective measures to ensure free international passage in the Straits of Tiran.
Lines of action were also determined for the moving of military concentrations from Israel's southern border and for action to protect our sovereign rights and the security of our borders and to prevent aggression so that we shall not have to take action for self-defence with our military forces.
The Government states that the Israel Defence Forces are sufficiently strong to defeat any aggressor and to ensure the sovereign rights of Israel.
I shall tomorrow have the opportunity to clarify the position of the Government and the nation in my statement to the Knesset.
Statement to the Knesset by Prime Minister Eshkol, 29 May 1967:
In a detailed account to the Knesset, Prime Minister Eshkol expressed the hope that the maritime nations would undertake a joint action to restore the freedom of navigation in the Straits of Tiran. He also made reference to the massing of Egyptian troops in Sinai and warned that, as long as they were massed on Israel's borders, there would be a danger of conflagration. Text:
Mr. Speaker, Members of the Knesset:
Following upon my statement to the Knesset last week about the security situation, I shall survey the main developments that have taken place in the area:
Two weeks ago, the Egyptian army began to move its concentrations towards eastern Sinai, opposite Israel's frontier. Today the main part of the Egyptian army is concentrated, in battle order, in this area. On our northern frontier, Syria, Egypt's ally, is concentrating its army.
Parallel with this concentration, the United Nations Emergency Force has been hastily evacuated from Sinai, the Gaza Strip, and Sharm el-Sheikh. This force, which was established by the UN, entered Sinai and the Gaza Strip at the time as part of an arrangement with Israel for the evacuation of her forces from Sinai and the Gaza Strip. This evacuation was carried out on the basis of clear international undertakings for free passage in the Gulf of Aqaba and the cessation of infiltration from the Gaza Strip. The withdrawal of the UN force marks the removal of the symbol of the relative quiet that has reigned on the southern border for the past ten years.
The UN force constituted an expression of the will of the international community to ensure quiet on the border and free passage in the Strait. Nasser's agreement to the force's remaining in Sinai and the Strip expressed for ten years Egypt's readiness to undertake to preserve quiet on her border with Israel and to refrain from interference with free passage in the Strait.
A week ago, the ruler of Egypt, Colonel Nasser, announced the closing of the Strait to Israeli shipping and ships carrying cargo to Israel. Since then, he has several times repeated this statement and threats against anyone who should try to break this illegal blockade.
The Egyptian President has further proclaimed his intention and readiness to attack Israel for the purpose of destroying her. Yesterday he went further, and threatened to begin at once with extensive sabotage operations against Israel, her towns and villages, and her citizens. This very day, attacks have been carried out against us from the Gaza Strip.
These acts and declarations have altered the security and political situation in the area. The Government of Israel has, therefore, adopted a number of security and political initiatives with the aim of safeguarding Israel's vital interests.
A pre-condition for safeguarding peace and our interests is our military strength. I therefore ordered, with the Government's agreement, the mobilization of the reserves of the Israel Defense Forces, and they are ready and prepared today to frustrate the enemy's designs in all sectors and on all our borders.
Members of the Knesset:
The Government of Israel has repeatedly stated its determination to exercise its freedom of passage in the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba, and to defend it in case of need. This is a supreme national interest on which no concession is possible and no compromise is admissible. It is clear to us - and I feel that it is now clear to the nations of the world - that so long as the blockade exists, peace is in danger.
It is this grave situation that obligates us particularly to find out first of all and with great urgency whether those governments that have undertaken to support and implement freedom of passage are prepared to translate their undertakings into the language of action in accordance with international law, which the Egyptian ruler so criminally violates.
The Foreign Minister's brief visits to Paris, London, and Washington were designed to clarify this question. He explained to the Presidents of the United States and France and to the British Prime Minister that it was a matter of a vital national interest, which our country will unflinchingly protect. From the Foreign Minister's conversations we learned that all the governments with which he came in contact desired that the status quo, which has recently been violated, should be respected. The President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Britain have made strong public statements on the subject.
There is special interest in the attitude of the United States, for its government was the first to convey undertakings to Israel in 1957, in diplomatic exchanges, in letters from the President and the Secretary of State, and in public statements in the UN and other places.
After hearing President Johnson's statement of 23 May and the Foreign Minister's report of his talks in Washington, the Government was deeply impressed by the unambiguous stand of the United States in favor of the safeguarding of freedom of passage in these international waters. A similar attitude is expressed by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson, in his public statement and his talks with our Foreign Minister. Other maritime states have already informed us of their readiness effectively to support freedom of passage, and we have been told that practical consultations on the subject are already taking place.
Under these conditions, it is reasonable to expect that the states which support the principle of free passage should carry out and coordinate effective action in order to ensure that the Strait and the Gulf shall be open to the passage of the ships of all nations without discrimination within a short time.
This expectation, which is founded on authorized and express statements, has had a strong influence on the attitude and decisions of the Government of Israel at this stage. There is no doubt that the readiness to protect freedom of passage which has been shown by great nations has been influenced both by their attitude in principle and by their knowledge that the State of Israel will protect its rights.
It was our duty first of all to put international undertakings to the test. In the near future it will transpire whether this prospect is being realized. Israel's attitude in regarding the blocking of the Strait as an act of aggression against her remains fully in force. The Government of Israel's statement at the United Nations Assembly on 1 March 1957 still expresses our policy with complete accuracy.
We are now engaged in extensive political activity for the restoration of freedom of passage. This activity would not have been possible, and its prospects would have been dim, had it not been for our own strength and the justice of our claim. On the other hand, the ties which we have forged with other nations have helped, and will continue to help, to enhance our strength and protect our rights.
Members of the Knesset:
The Egyptian ruler's statements about the closing of the Strait, about acts of violence, about his aggressive intentions and troop concentrations, have raised the tension in the area to a peak. Colonel Nasser has created a position in which there is a danger of war.
On several occasions I have informed the Knesset and the nation of the growth in the power of the Israel Defense Forces. Today our army is at the zenith of its strength in manpower, skill, fighting spirit, and military equipment.
We must devote our attention not only to ensuring the freedom of passage, but also to the danger of military aggression led by Egypt. No sensible person will find it difficult to understand that so long as there exists a massive concentration of the forces of Egypt and her allies in the neighborhood of our borders, a conflagration could break out. The Israel Defense Forces will therefore remain mobilized, at arms, ready for any test, and if the necessity arises they have the strength to defeat the aggressors.
Egypt's measures constitute a threat to peace in the whole of our area. The Egyptian President's inflammatory declarations and threats implant illusions in the hearts of his excitable devotees. The Egyptian ruler should remember that this is not the first time that he has been borne on the wings of his imagination, seeing himself a victor before he has gone out to war. He should remember that his disillusionment was not long delayed, as we ourselves have witnessed.
Mr. Speaker, Members of the Knesset:
The situation imposes on the country, on the whole nation and all the citizens, a heavy burden. We shall make every effort to ensure that the mobilization of the reserves shall not disturb the course of our economic life and the life of the individual more than is absolutely necessary.
In these days, we are witnessing wonderful and widespread manifestations of the voluntary spirit among all parts of the people. Out of the midst of our ordinary, everyday lives, powerful currents of devotion, responsibility, and loyalty break through to the surface. Israel is united in her understanding of the test that confronts her. Israel is faithful to herself, to her character, and to her ideals. These days will yet be remembered as a wonderful manifestation of national maturity.
I feel it my duty to say, from this rostrum, a few words to the Israel Defense Forces, to our soldiers, who stand ready at this hour in the expanses of the Negev, in Galilee, along all our borders, in the air and at sea. As in every one of the tests we have met since the rise of the State, so in these days the citizens of Israel and the world draw confidence and strength from that wonderful phenomenon, the Israel Defense Forces.
Planning, organization and execution, mass mobilization, the excellent armament, the determined deployment and the complete readiness for any mission - all these have been marked by superior skill, knowledge, and judgment, and accompanied by splendid manifestations of unbounded dedication.
You know, better than any, how much our strength has increased in recent years. The superiority of your forces to those of our enemies is today, more than ever, the guarantee of our security. By virtue of the power of your forces to defeat the enemy in any situation, the Government of Israel is capable of taking, with confidence and fortitude, the difficult decisions that confront it by virtue of our supreme responsibility for the fate of our country and the Jewish people.
We have complete confidence that, by maintaining your vigilant readiness, your strong morale, and your faith in the justice of our struggle, you will continue in the days to come to guarantee Israel's security and rights in the face of the challenges she confronts. In the name of the Government, the Knesset, and the entire nation, we thank you for all you have done so far and send you the greeting: Be strong and of good courage to meet the future.
I cannot, of course, go into any greater detail in describing the situation. The members of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee receive continual reports.
Members of the Knesset:
Confident in the Israel Defense Forces, encouraged by the growing support and sympathy that we have received from other nations, fortified by the enthusiastic identification of the Jewish people with our cause, we stand on guard, ready to repel any threat, any danger and any blow, until we attain security and peace.
Source: Prime Minister's Office
By 20 May 1967 it was estimated that some 60,000 Egyptian troops had crossed into Sinai. Their numbers had grown to 85,000 two days later. On 21 May, Egypt mobilized 100,000 additional reservists. Syria had massed troops along the Israel border and announced maximum preparedness. Iraqi forces were placed on war alert. Egypt's military moves were approved by the Arab League States on 20 May. Two days earlier, Israel began a partial mobilization. On 22 May, Prime Minister Eshkol, in an address to the Knesset, appealed for mutual troop reductions and an end to the crisis:
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Knesset:
This session of the Knesset opens against the background of grave developments which took place during the past week on Egypt's border with Israel. I shall briefly review the chain of events.
During the night of May 15, 1967, news of the movement of Egyptian military forces into Sinai reached us from various sources. Military forces had been openly and demonstratively transferred, in broad daylight. Cairo explained that this step was taken in response to Israel's alleged preparations to attack Syria, and concentration of military forces on the northern frontier.
Upon learning of the Egyptian troop movements and the pretext offered to explain them, and before Egyptian forces had crossed the Suez Canal, we informed the UN that the allegations of Israeli troop concentrations in northern Israel were baseless. This statement was released for publication in the world press. Indeed, our statement was transmitted by the UN to Middle Eastern capitals, including Cairo. In his report to the Security Council on May 19, 1967, the UN Secretary-General states that UN observers verified the absence of Israeli troop concentrations and Israeli military movements on the northern frontier.
Nevertheless, Egyptian troop movements continued in the direction of Sinai, while mendacious propaganda continued to proceed from Cairo and Damascus concerning Israeli concentrations which had never taken place.
During the first days of Egyptian troop movements towards Sinai, authoritative political circles in the world capitals expressed the view that this was merely a propaganda move, devoid of any particular military significance.
The movement of Egyptian forces into Sinai gathered strength during the second half of last week, and today they are almost fully deployed in Eastern Sinai and various positions throughout the Peninsula. Before May 14, the Egyptian force in Sinai consisted of less than two divisions, based mainly on infantry and some armour. Today, after reinforcements, Egyptian forces there are of a strength of close to four divisions of armoured infantry. Furthermore, numerous artillery units have been brought up, and the Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip have been strengthened. Moreover, the Egyptian air force in the Sinai Peninsula has also been reinforced.
All in all, the strength of Egyptian forces in Sinai has grown, according to our estimate, from 35,000 to 80,000 men. This is the first time that Egypt has brought forces of such dimensions into Sinai. With the increase of the Egyptian force and its advance into east Sinai, a graver international view is also being taken of Egypt's likely intentions and possible moves.
Members of the House:
While Egyptian forces advanced into east Sinai, the Chief of Staff of Egypt's armed forces informed the Commander of the UN Emergency Force on Tuesday, 16 May, as follows:
"I have instructed all the armed forces of the United Arab Republic to be ready for action against Israel, as soon as Israel carries out any aggressive action against any Arab State. In the light of these instructions, our forces have already been concentrated in Sinai on our eastern border. In order to ensure the full safety of all UN forces deployed in observation posts along our borders, we request that the removal of these forces be ordered at once."
The Commander of the UN Emergency Force replied that he would at once report accordingly to the UN Secretary-General since he had no authority to withdraw any parts of the UN Emergency Force or to alter their deployment in any manner, unless instructed to do so by the Secretary-General.
From then on matters were dealt with by the UN Secretary-General. U Thant at once requested clarifications from the Egyptian representative at the UN, but at the same time he saw fit, for some reason, to announce on his own initiative that any request for the temporary removal of the UN Emergency Force from the border would be regarded as a demand for the complete evacuation of the force from the Gaza Strip and Sinai.
The UN Secretary-General's announcement was soon followed, on the very same day, by Egypt's official request for the complete evacuation of the UN Force from Egyptian territory and from the Gaza Strip.
The Secretary-General pointed out, it is true, in his reply on the same day, that the evacuation of the force was liable to be of grave significance for the peace of the region, but, to general surprise, on the other hand, he complied at once with the request for evacuation.
On Friday, May 19, the Commander of the UN Force, General Rikhye, informed the Israeli authorities that, as from 4: 00 P.M. of the same day, the force had ceased to carry out its functions and that it would remain in its bases and act only to ensure its own safety. This is the only official communication on this subject which Israel has received from the UN. Here I must point out that Israel was a party to this international arrangement, reached in 1957, but the Secretary-General did not see fit to consult Israel before he adopted his hasty decision.
Members of the House:
The UN Emergency Force was established by virtue of the General Assembly Resolution of November 5, 1956. For more than ten years this force, consisting of soldiers of many countries, was deployed in Sinai - at Kuntila and Sharm el-Sheikh and in the Gaza Strip.
The function of this force, according to the UN General Assembly Resolution of February 8, 1957, was to contribute to the maintenance of peaceful conditions in the region. In other words, its establishment was based upon the aspiration to prevent hostilities and promote the transition from belligerency to peace. The UN Force was not intended, it is true, nor was it physically able, to prevent a clash between the parties. The very fact of its presence in certain areas - and the tasks which it actually fulfilled - constituted, no doubt, a positive factor.
The UN Force was deployed in its positions in our region for more than ten years. The demand for its evacuation, and the compliance with it, undoubtedly involve a weakening of the UN's position in its functions of keeping the peace.
It is noteworthy that even at the time when UNEF was established, the question of how the UN would act and react in case of an Egyptian demand for its evacuation was raised. In his memorandum of February 26, 1957, the then Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold, reported to the General Assembly on a statement which he had transmitted to the Government of Israel, in which he said that suitable procedure would be for the Secretary-General to inform the Advisory Committee of UNEF (of the demand for evacuation), while the Committee would decide whether to bring the demand to the attention of the General Assembly. As far as we know, the present Secretary-General, U Thant, did not submit the demand for a decision by the Advisory Committee prior to adopting his decision and, of course, the General Assembly was not enabled to consider the request for evacuation.
It is known that several member-States of the Advisory Committee have expressed objections to the step taken by the Secretary-General in this matter. Israel had every reason to believe that any demand for the withdrawal of this force would be considered at length and in good time, so as to clarify all the consequences that the evacuation demand would entail.
Mr. Speaker, Members of the House:
The latest development is a link in a chain of tension, the source of which lies in Damascus. From this rostrum I have already dwelt upon the fact that Syria has been alone in its demands to wage war at once against Israel, and in this connection has initiated the organization of bands of saboteurs and assassins to operate on Israeli territory.
From 1965 up to May 1967, 113 minelaying and sabotage attempts and operations have been perpetrated on Israeli soil for which Syria is responsible - whether they came directly from its territory or through the territory of other countries. In addition, scores of shooting and shelling outrages against Israeli farmers have been initiated from Syrian territory, including the shelling of villages.
Since July 1966, we have complained to the UN of such Syrian operations in thirty-four Notes to the Security Council, as well as maintaining constant contact on the subject with the UN Secretariat and the Chief of the UN observers in the region.
These sabotage operations were accompanied by announcements, threats, and bellicose statements made by Syrian leaders. Hand in hand with this activity, Syria has made the foolish claim that it was Israel, as it were, which was about to attack it. This past week was not the first time that Syrian sources spread lying reports of large-scale Israeli troop concentrations on the northern border for the purpose of attacking Syria.
Four times during the past two years the Chief of the UN observers suggested a check on both sides of the border in connection with the allegations of threatening troop concentrations.
On March 17, 1965, the Chief of UN observers proposed a review on the borders. Next day, Israel replied in the affirmative, while Syria failed to reply at all, and no check took place.
On June 3, 1966, the UN made a similar request. Both sides agreed and the check was carried out.
On October 19, 1966, when the Syrians repeated their allegations, Israel, on its own initiative, proposed that the Chief of UN observers should again carry out a similar check, which, indeed, took place.
On April 15 of this year, when Arab elements and others spread rumors of heavy Israeli troop concentrations, deployed for attack, the Chief of the UN observers suggested to both parties that another check be carried out by him. On April 18, Israel expressed its consent. The check was not carried out owing to the attitude of Syria.
Furthermore, after Syria had prevented the implementation of such a check during the first week of May, it also failed to respond to the suggestion of the Chairman of the Israel-Syria Mixed Armistice Commission to obtain confirmation of the absence of Israeli troop concentrations on Syria's border. Israel replied affirmatively to this request on the very same day.
To sum up: on May 15, the Egyptians explained that they had introduced their forces into Sinai on the strength of Syria's claim of alleged Israeli troop concentrations, deployed for an attack on Syria. In reality, however, Syria did all it possibly could in previous weeks to frustrate every UN endeavor to verify the true state of affairs, lest the spuriousness of its claims be revealed.
Indeed, the Secretary-General in his report to the Security Council on May 19, said:
"The Government of Israel has confirmed to me a few days ago that no unusual concentrations of Israeli forces or unusual military movements have taken place on the Syrian armistice line."
The Secretary-General goes on to say:
"The reports of UN observers have verified the absence of troop concentrations and the absence of noteworthy military movements on both sides of the line."
Thus it transpires beyond any doubt that the Syrians have spread mendacious rumors which the Egyptians have clutched at and relied upon.
In the face of Syrian aggression we have tried, in vain, to exhaust all political measures of restraint. When acts of aggression continued and increased in gravity, we considered it necessary in certain cases to exercise our right of self-defense.
Nineteen incursions into Israel have taken place during the past six weeks. The UN Secretary-General himself, in his report to the Security Council of May 19, points out that these acts of terrorism and sabotage by El Fatah are a major factor in the deterioration of the situation to an unusual degree of tension and danger. "These acts provoke strong reactions in Israel by Government and people alike," he said.
This appraisal is of great value for the comprehension of the basic causes of the growing tension in our region of late.
The Secretary-General goes on to state that several incidents have of late apparently indicated a new level of organization and training by those perpetrating sabotage and terrorist activities.
Members of the House:
The tension prevailing between Israel and the Arab countries has been influenced throughout the years by the state of inter-Arab relations and the relationship between the Powers - against the background of their global and regional policies. All these factors are inextricably linked with each other.
In view of the mounting tension of late, the Big Powers ought to exercise their full influence in order to remove the danger of a conflagration in the Middle East.
Particular responsibility rests with the Soviet Union, which has friendly relations in Damascus and in Cairo, and which has not yet clearly dissociated itself from the policy of Damascus vis-à-vis Israel. It is only fitting that the declared policy of Soviet Russia - which advocates the settlement of controversies by negotiation, and not by violence - should also find expression in our region, without discrimination. This would further the maintenance of peace.
The concentrations of Egyptian forces in Sinai have reached proportions which increase the tension in our region and arouse world concern. The status quo must be restored on both sides of the border.
In the wake of the statements made by the UN Secretary-General, it is incumbent on UN members, and the Big Powers in particular, to declare in unmistakable terms their strongest opposition to the acts of sabotage carried out against a member state of the UN and to demand the complete cessation of such acts, which are contrary to international law and to the principles of the UN Charter.
International influence should be exerted to its utmost to ensure continuation of the quiet which prevailed on the Egyptian-Israeli border since March 1957, by respecting the vital national and international rights of all states, including Israel.
The, Secretary-General of the United Nations is leaving tonight for the Middle East, in order to contribute to the relaxation of tension and the consolidation of peace. We shall follow this visit, and its results, with interest.
I would like to say again to the Arab countries from this rostrum, particularly to Egypt and Syria, that we harbor no aggressive designs. We have no possible interest in violating either their security, their territory, or their legitimate rights. Nor shall we interfere in any way in their internal affairs, their regimes, or their regional or international relations. We expect of them, according to the principles of reciprocity, the application of the same principles towards us.
Members of the Knesset:
During the early days of the movement of Egyptian forces towards Sinai, the view was expressed in various world capitals that it was a question of a purely demonstrative operation of no military significance. Others, of course, can adopt one interpretation or another, but we, whose frontiers this force has approached, took the view that it was our duty to adopt all necessary steps to meet any possible development.
In view of the Egyptian concentrations on our borders and the evacuation of the UN force, I ordered a limited mobilization of reserves, which has been carried out according to plan.
On the completion of the limited mobilization, I visited the Israel Defense Forces units. The remarkable capacity of our Army, which has been fostered and perfected over the years, has reached a high level today. The Israel Defense Forces are capable today of meeting any test, with the same devotion, skill and capacity that they have demonstrated more than once in the past - and, knowing the facts as I do, I could say even more.
In conclusion, I call upon all the peoples of the Middle East for reciprocal respect for the sovereignty, integrity, and international rights of each of our countries. Israel, with complete confidence in its defensive capacity and its steadfastness of strength and spirit, expresses at this hour its readiness to participate in an effort to reinforce stability and advance peace in our region.
And indeed, what is at stake is a clear and formal international undertaking, on compliance with which the maintenance of international law and order depends. Hence, we are confronted with a fateful hour not only for Israel, but for the whole world. In view of this situation, I call upon the Powers once again to act without delay for the maintenance of the right to free passage to our southernmost port, a right which applies to every state without distinction. The Government of Israel will adhere to the policy which it announced in the UN Assembly on March 1, 1957. Since this statement was made, free passage in the Straits and the Gulf has taken shape during the past ten years as a well-rooted international reality, expressed in the form of hundreds of sailings under dozens of flags and the creation of a variegated and developing network of commerce and communications.
The illegal statement of the Egyptian President is another link in the violation of law that Egypt has been committing for many years by imposing a blockade in the Suez Canal, in violation of its undertakings to permit free passage through the Canal to all ships of all nations.
Members of the Knesset:
In my statement yesterday I called upon the nations of the Middle East for reciprocal respect of the territorial integrity, political sovereignty and rights of all states in the area. I announced Israel's readiness to participate in an effort for the relaxation of tension and the consolidation of peace in our area.
If a criminal attempt is made to impose a blockade on the shipping of a memberstate of the United Nations, that will be a dangerous precedent, with grave consequences for international relations and the freedom of these seas. The latest development clearly demonstrates the dangerous significance of Egypt's moves. I call upon international factors to demonstrate practical and effective responsibility for the preservation of peace.
I shall give further details to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee and we shall continue to consider them. The debate in the Knesset has demonstrated the unity of the nation in meeting the future, with unity and a spirit of alertness and confidence in our midst, we shall meet the days to come.
Source: United Nations
A/6730/Add. 3, 26 June 1967.
On 18 May 1967, Egypt's Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad cabled Secretary- General U Thant and asked for the termination of the activities of the United Nations Emergency Force stationed in the Gaza Strip and at Sharm el-Sheikh and on the Sinai border since December 1956. Riad asked that the Force be withdrawn as soon as possible. A day later, without consulting with Israel or the Powers, U Thant agreed that Egypt had the tight to demand that the Force be withdrawn. On 19 May 1967, the UNflag was taken down in Gaza, the Force ceased its operations and awaited its repatriation. Its hasty withdrawal was later the subject of much controversy. The report by U Thant on the reasons which led him to order UNEFs withdrawal follows:
1. This report on the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force (U.N.E.F.) is submitted because, as indicated in my statement on 20 June 1967 to the fifth emergency session of the General Assembly (1527th plenary meeting), important questions have been raised concerning the actions taken on the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. These questions merit careful consideration and comment. It is in the interest of the United Nations, I believe, that this report should be full and frank, in view of the questions involved and the numerous statements that have been made, both public and private, which continue to be very damaging to the United Nations and to its peacekeeping role in particular. Despite the explanations already given in the several reports on the subject which have been submitted to the General Assembly and to the Security Council, misunderstandings and what, I fear, are misrepresentations, persist, in official as well as unofficial circles, publicly and behind the scenes.
2. A report of this kind is not the place to try to explain why there has been so much and such persistent and grossly mistaken judgment about the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. It suffices to say here that the shattering crisis in the Near East inevitably caused intense shock in many capitals and countries of the world, together with deep frustration over the inability to cope with it. It is, of course, not unusual in such situations to seek easy explanations and excuses. When, however, this tactic involves imputing responsibility for the unleashing of major hostilities, it is, and must be, a cause for sober concern. The objective of this report is to establish an authentic, factual record of actions and their causes.
3. It follows, therefore, that the emphasis here will be upon facts. The report is intended to be neither a polemic nor an apologia. Its sole purpose is to present a factually accurate picture of what happened and why. It will serve well the interests of the United Nations, as well as of historic integrity, if this presentation of facts can help to dissipate some of the distortions of the record which, in some places, apparently have emanated from panic, emotion and political bias.
Chronology of Relevant Actions
4. Not only events, but dates, and even the time of day, have an important bearing on this exposition. The significant events and actions and their dates and times are therefore set forth below.
16 May 1967
5. 2000 hours G.M.T. (2200 hours Gaza local time). A message from General Fawzy, Chief of Staff of the United Arab Republic Armed Forces, was received by the Commander of U.N.E.F. Major General Rikhye, requesting withdrawal of all U.N. troops which install O.P.'s along our borders.' (A-6730, para. 6, sub-para. 3(a).) Brigadier Mokhtar, who handed General Fawzy's letter to the Commander of U.N.E.F., told General Rikhye at the time that he must order the immediate withdrawal of United Nations troops from El Sabha and Sharm el-Sheikh on the night of 16 May since United Arab Republic armed forces must gain control of these two places that very night. The U.N.E.F. Commander correctly replied that he did not have authority to withdraw his troops from these positions on such an order and could do so only on instructions from the Secretary General; therefore, he must continue with U.N.E.F. operations in Sinai as hitherto. Brigadier Mokhtar told the Commander of U.N.E.F. that this might lead to conflict on that night (16 May) between United Arab Republic and U.N.E.F. troops, and insisted that the Commander issue orders to U.N.E.F. troops to remain confined to their camps at El Sabha and Sharm el Sheikh. General Rikhye replied that he could not comply with this request. He did, of course, inform the contingent commanders concerned of these developments. He also informed United Nations Headquarters that he proposed to continue with U.N.E.F. activities as established until he received fresh instructions from the Secretary General.
6. 2130 hours G.M.T. (1730 hours New York time). The Secretary General received at this time the U.N.E.F. Commander's cable informing him of the abovementioned message from General Fawzy. The U.N.E.F. Commander was immediately instructed to await further instructions from the Secretary General and pending this later word from him, to 'be firm in maintaining U.N.E.F. position while being as understanding and as diplomatic as possible in your relations with local U.A.R. officials.'
7. 2245 G.M.T. (1845 hours New York time). The Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic visited the Secretary General at this time at the latter's urgent request. The Secretary General requested the Permanent Representative to communicate with his Government with the utmost urgency and to transmit to it his views (A-6730, para. 6, sub-para. 3(c)). In particular, the Secretary General requested the Permanent Representative to obtain his Government's clarification of the situation, pointing out that any request for the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. must come directly to the Secretary General from the Government of the United Arab Republic.
8. 2344 hours G.M.T. The U.N.E.F. Commander further reported at this time that considerable military activity had been observed in the El Arish area since the afternoon of 16 May 1967.
17 May 1967
9. 0800 hours G.M.T. (0400 hours New York time). The Commander of U.N.E.F. reported then that, on the morning of 17 May, thirty soldiers of the Army of the United Arab Republic had occupied El Sabha in Sinai and that United Arab Republic troops were deployed in the immediate vicinity of the U.N.E.F. observation post there. Three armoured cars of the United Arab Republic were located near the Yugoslav U.N.E.F. camp at El Sabha and detachments of fifteen soldiers each had taken up positions north and south of the Yugoslav contingent's camp at El Amr. All U.N.E.F. observation posts along the armistice demarcation line and the international frontier were manned as usual, but in some places United Arab Republic troops were also at the line.
10. 1030 hours G.M.T. (0630 hours New York time). The Commander of U.N.E.F. reported then that troops of the United Arab Republic had occupied the U.N.E.F. observation post at El Sabha and that the Yugoslav U.N.E.F. camps at El Quseima and El Sabha were now behind the positions of the Army of the United Arab Republic. The Commander of U.N.E.F. informed the Chief of the United Arab Republic Liaison Staff of these developments, expressing his serious concern at them. The Chief of the United Arab Republic Liaison Staff agreed to request the immediate evacuation of the observation post at El Sabha by United Arab Republic troops and shortly thereafter reported that orders to this effect had been given by the United Arab Republic military authorities. He requested, however, that, to avoid any further misunderstandings, the Yugoslav observation post at El Sabha should be withdrawn immediately to El Quseima camp. The Commander replied that any such withdrawal would require the authorization of the Secretary General.
11. 1200 hours G.M.T. (0800 hours New York time). The Chief of the United Arab Republic Liaison Staff at this time conveyed to the Commander of U.N.E.F. a request from General Mohd Fawzy, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Republic, for the withdrawal of the Yugoslav detachments of U.N.E.F. in Sinai within twenty-four hours. He added that the U.N.E.F. Commander might take "48 hours or so" to withdraw the U.N.E.F. detachment from Sharm el-Sheikh. The Commander of the U.N.E.F. replied that any such move required instructions from the Secretary General.
12. 0930 hours G.M.T. (1600 hours New York time). The Secretary General at this date held an informal meeting in his office with the representatives of countries providing contingents to U.N.E.F. to inform them of the situation as then known. There was an exchange of views. The Secretary General gave his opinion on how he should and how he intended to proceed, observing that if a formal request for the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. were to be made by the Government of the United Arab Republic, the Secretary General, in his view, would have to comply with it, since the Force was on United Arab Republic territory only with the consent of the Government and could not remain there without it. Two representatives expressed serious doubts about the consequences of agreeing to a peremptory request for the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. and raised the questions of consideration of such a request by the General Assembly and an appeal to the United Arab Republic not to request the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. Two other representatives stated the view that the United Arab Republic was entitled to request the removal of U.N.E.F. at any moment and that that request would have to be respected regardless of what the General Assembly might have to say in the matter, since the agreement for U.N.E.F.'s presence had been concluded between the then Secretary General and the Government of Egypt. A clarification of the situation from the United Arab Republic should therefore be awaited.
14. 2150 hours G.M.T. (1750 hours New York time). The Secretary General at this time saw the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic and handed to him an aide-mémoire, the text of which is contained in paragraph 6 of document A-6730. The Secretary General also gave to the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic an aide-mémoire calling to the attention of his Government the 'good faith' accord, the text of which is contained in paragraph 7 of document A-6730.
18 May 1967
15. 1321 hours G.M.T. (0921 hours New York time). The Commander of U.N.E.F. reported at this time that his liaison officer in Cairo had been informed by an ambassador of one of the countries providing contingents to U.N.E.F. that the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Republic had summoned the representatives of nations with troops in U.N.E.F. to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informed them that U.N.E.F. had terminated its tasks in the United Arab Republic and in the Gaza Strip and must depart from the above territory forthwith. This information was confirmed by representatives of some of these countries at the United Nations.
16. Early on 18 May the U.N.E.F. sentries proceeding to man the normal observation post at El Sabha in Sinai were prevented from entering the post and from remaining in the area by United Arab Repubiic soldiers. The sentries were then forced to withdraw. They did not resist by use of force since they had no mandate to do so.
17. 1100 hours G.M.T. United Arab Republic soldiers at this time forced Yugoslav U.N.E.F. sentries out of their observation post on the international frontier in front of El Kuntilla Camp. One hour later, United Arab Republic officers arrived at the water point and asked U.N.E.F. soldiers to withdraw the guard.
18. 1220 hours G.M.T. At this hour United Arab Republic soldiers entered the U.N.E.F. observation post on the international frontier in front of El Amr Camp and forced the Yugoslav soldiers to withdraw. Later two United Arab Republic officers visited El Amr Camp and asked the U.N.E.F. platoon to withdraw within fifteen minutes.
19. 1210 hours G.M.T. United Arab Republic officers then visited the Yugoslav camp at Sharm el-Sheikh and informed the Commanding Officer that they had come to take over the camp and the U.N.E.F. observation post at Ras Nasrani, demanding a reply within 15 minutes. The contingent commander replied that he had no instructions to hand over the positions.
20. 1430 hours G.M.T. The U.N.E.F. Yugoslav detachment at El Quseima Camp reported that two artillery shells, apparently ranging rounds from the United Arab Republic artillery, had burst between the U.N.E.F. Yugoslav camps at El Quseima and El Sabha.
21. 1030 hours New York time. The Secretary General met at this time with the Permanent Representative of Israel who gave his Government's views on the situation, emphasizing that the U.N.E.F. withdrawal should not be achieved by a unilateral United Arab Republic request alone and asserting Israel's right to a voice in the matter. The question of stationing U.N.E.F. on the Israel side of the line was raised by the Secretary General and this was declared by the Permanent Representative of Israel to be entirely unacceptable to his Government.
22. 1600 hours G.M.T. (12 noon New York time). At this hour the Secretary General received through the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic the following message from Mr. Mahmoud Riad, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Republic:
'The Government of the United Arab Republic has the honor to inform Your Excellency that it has decided to terminate the presence of the United Nations Emergency Force from the territory of the United Arab Republic and Gaza Strip. 'Therefore, I request that the necessary steps be taken for the withdrawal of the force as soon as possible.
'I avail myself of this opportunity to express to Your Excellency my gratitude and warm regards.'
At the same meeting the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic informed the Secretary General of the strong feeling of resentment in Cairo at what was there considered to be attempts to exert pressure and to make U.N.E.F. an 'occupation force'.
The Secretary General expressed deep misgivings about the likely disastrous consequences of the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. and indicated his intention to appeal urgently to President Nasser to reconsider the decision. Later in the day, the representative of the United Arab Republic informed the Secretary General that the Foreign Minister had asked the Permanent Representative by telephone from Cairo to convey to the Secretary General his urgent advice that the Secretary General should not make an appeal to President Nasser to reconsider the request for withdrawal of U.N.E.F. and that, if he did so, such a request would be sternly rebuffed. The Secretary General raised the question of a possible visit by him to Cairo and was shortly thereafter informed that such a visit as soon as possible would be welcomed by the Government of the United Arab Republic.
23. 1700 hours New York time. The Secretary General met with the U.N.E.F. Advisory Committee, set up under the terms of paragraphs 6, 8 and 9 of resolution 1001 (ES-I) of 7/8 November 1956, and the representatives of three countries not members of the Advisory Committee but providing contingents to U.N.E.F., to inform them of developments and particularly the United Arab Republic's request for U.N.E.F.'s withdrawal, and to consult them for their views on the situation. At this meeting, one of the views expressed was that the United Arab Republic's demand for the immediate withdrawal of U.N.E.F. from United Arab Republic territory was not acceptable and that the ultimate responsibility for the decision to withdraw rested with the United Nations acting through the Security Council or the General Assembly. The holder of this view therefore urged further discussion with the Government of the United Arab Republic as well as with other Governments involved. Another position was that the Secretary General had no choice but to comply with the request of the Government of the United Arab Republic, one representative stating that the moment the request for the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. was known his Government would comply with it and withdraw its contingent. A similar position had been taken in Cairo by another Government providing a contingent. No proposal was made that the Advisory Committee should exercise the right vested in it by General Assembly Resolution 1001 (ES-I) to request the convening of the General Assembly to take up the situation arising from the United Arab Republic communication. At the conclusion of the meeting, it was understood that the Secretary General had no alternative other than to comply with the United Arab Republic's demand, although some representatives felt that the Secretary General should previously clarify with that Government the meaning in its request that withdrawal should take place 'as soon as possible'. The Secretary General informed the Advisory Committee that he intended to reply promptly to the United Arab Republic, and to report to the General Assembly and to the Security Council on the action he had taken. It was for the member states to decide whether the competent organs should or could take up the matter and to pursue it accordingly.
24. After the meeting of the Advisory Committee, at approximately 1900 hours New York time on 18 May, the Secretary General replied to the message from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Republic through that Government's Permanent Representative as follows:
I have the honor to acknowledge your letter to me of 18 May conveying the message from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Republic concerning the United Nations Emergency Force. Please be so kind as to transmit to the Foreign Minister the following message in reply:
Dear Mr. Minister,
Your message informing me that your Government no longer consents to the presence of the United Nations Emergency Force on the territory of the United Arab Republic, that is to say in Sinai, and in the Gaza Strip, and requesting that the necessary steps be taken for its withdrawal as soon as possible, was delivered to me by the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic at noon on 18 May.
'As I have indicated to your Permanent Representative on 16 May, the United Nations Emergency Force entered Egyptian territory with the consent of your Government and in fact can remain there only so long as that consent continues. In view of the message now received from you, therefore, your Government's request will be complied with and I am proceeding to issue instructions for the necessary arrangements to be put in train without delay for the orderly withdrawal of the force, its vehicles and equipment and for the disposal of all properties pertaining to it. I am, of course, also bringing this development and my actions and intentions to the attention of the U.N.E.F. Advisory Committee and to all Governments providing contingents for the force. A full report covering this development will be submitted promptly by me to the General Assembly, and I consider it necessary to report also to the Security Council about some aspects of the current situation in the area.'
Irrespective of the reasons for the action you have taken, in all frankness, may I advise you that I have serious misgivings about it for, as I have said each year in my annual reports to the General Assembly on U.N.E.F., I believe that this force has been an important factor in maintaining relative quiet in the area of its deployment during the past 10 years and that its withdrawal may have grave implications for peace.
With warm personal regards,
It is to be noted that the decision notified to the Government of the United Arab Republic in this letter was in compliance with the request to withdraw the force. It did not, however, signify the actual withdrawal of the force which, in fact, was to remain in the area for several more weeks.
25. Formal instructions relating to the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. were sent to the U.N.E.F. Commander by the Secretary General on the night of 18 May (see Annex).
26. Also on the evening of 18 May the Secretary General submitted his special report to the General Assembly (A-6730).
27. On 19 May the Secretary General issued his report to the Security Council on recent developments in the Near East.
19 May 1967
28. 1130 hours New York time. The Secretary General again received the Permanent Representative of Israel who gave him a statement from his Government (S-7896) concerning the withdrawal of U.N.E.F., strongly urging the Secretary General to avoid condoning any changes in the status quo pending the fullest and broadest international consultation.
29. On the afternoon of 22 May, the Secretary General departed from New York, arriving in Cairo on the afternoon of 23 May. He left Cairo on the afternoon of 25 May, arriving back in New York on 26 May (see S-7906). While en route to Cairo during a stop in Paris, the Secretary General learned that on this day President Nasser had announced his intention to reinstitute the blockade against Israel in the Straits of Tiran.
17 June 1967
30. The withdrawal of U.N.E.F. was completed. Details of the actual withdrawal and evacuation of U.N.E.F. are given in document A/6730/Add. 2.
Main Points at Issue
31. Comment is called for on some of the main points at issue even prior to the consideration of the background and basis for the stationing of U.N.E.F. on United Arab Republic territory.
The Causes of the Present Crisis
32. It has been said rather often in one way or another that the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. is a primary cause of the present crisis in the Near East. This is, of course, a superficial and oversimplified approach. As the Secretary General pointed out in his report of 26 May 1967 to the Security Council (S-7906), this view 'ignores the fact that the underlying basis for this and other crisis situations in the Near East is the continuing Arab-Israel conflict which has been present all along and of which the crisis situation created by the unexpected withdrawal of U.N.E.F. is the latest expression'. The Secretary General's report to the Security Council of 19 May 1967 (S-7896) described the various elements of the increasingly dangerous situation in the Near East prior to the decision of the Government of the United Arab Republic to terminate its consent for the presence of U.N.E.F. on its territory.
33. The United Nations Emergency Force served for more than 10 years as a highly valuable instrument in helping to maintain quiet along the line between Israel and the United Arab Republic. Its withdrawal revealed in all its depth and danger the undiminishing conflict between Israel and her Arab neighbours. The withdrawal also made immediately acute the problem of access for Israel to the Gulf of Aqaba through the Straits of Tiran - a problem which had been dormant for over ten years only because of the presence of U.N.E.F. But the presence of U.N.E.F. did not touch the basic problem of the Arab-Israel conflict - it merely isolated, immobilized and covered up certain aspects of that conflict. At any time in the last ten years either of the parties could have reactivated the conflict and if they had been determined to do so U.N.E.F.'s effectiveness would automatically have disappeared. When, in the context of the whole relationship of Israel with her Arab neighbours, the direct confrontation between Israel and the United Arab Republic was revived after a decade by the decision of the United Arab Republic to move its forces up to the line, U.N.E.F. at once lost all usefulness. In fact, its effectiveness as a buffer and as a presence had already vanished as can be seen from the chronology given above, even before the request for its withdrawal had been received by the Secretary General from the Government of the United Arab Republic. In recognizing the extreme seriousness of the situation thus created, its true cause, the continuing Arab-Israel conflict, must also he recognized. It is entirely unrealistic to maintain that that conflict could have been solved, or its consequences prevented, if a greater effort had been made to maintain U.N.E.F.'s presence in the area against the will of the Government of the United Arab Republic.
The Decision on U.N.E.F.'s Withdrawal
34. The decision to withdraw U.N.E.F. has been frequently characterized in various quarters as 'hasty', 'precipitous', and the like, even, indeed, to the extent of suggesting that it took President Nasser by surprise. The question of the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. is by no means a new one. In fact, it was the negotiations on this very question with the Government of Egypt which, after the establishment of U.N.E.F. by the General Assembly, delayed its arrival while it waited in a staging area at Capodichino airbase, Naples, Italy, for several days in November 1956. The Government of Egypt, understandably, did not wish to give permission for the arrival on its soil of an international force, unless it was assured that its sovereignty would be respected and a request for withdrawal of the force would be honoured. Over the years, in discussions with representatives of the United Arab Republic, the subject of the continued presence of U.N.E.F. has occasionally come up, and it was invariably taken for granted by United Arab Republic representatives that if their Government officially requested the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. the request would be honoured by the Secretary General. There is no record to indicate that this assumption was ever questioned. Thus, although the request came as a surprise, there was nothing new about the question of principle nor about the procedure to be followed by the Secretary General. It follows that the decision taken by him on 18 May 1967 to comply with the request for the withdrawal of the force was seen by him as the only reasonable and sound action that could be taken. The actual withdrawal itself, it should be recalled, was to be carried out in an orderly, dignified, deliberate and not precipitate manner over a period of several weeks. The first troops in fact left the area only on 29 May.
The Possibility of Delay
35. Opinions have also been frequently expressed that the decision to withdraw U.N.E.F. should have been delayed pending consultations, of various kinds, or that efforts should have been made to resist the United Arab Republic's request for U.N.E.F.'s withdrawal, or to bring pressure to bear on the Government of the United Arab Republic to reconsider its decision in this matter. In fact, as the chronology given above makes clear, the effectiveness of U.N.E.F. in the light of the movement of United Arab Republic troops up to the line and into Sharm el-Sheikh had already vanished before the request for withdrawal was received. Furthermore, the Government of the United Arab Republic had made it entirely clear to the Secretary General that an appeal for reconsideration of the withdrawal decision would encounter a firm rebuff and would be considered as an attempt to impose U.N.E.F. as an 'army of occupation'. Such a reaction, combined with the fact that U.N.E.F. positions on the line had already been effectively taken over by United Arab Republic troops in pursuit of their full right to move up to the line in their own territory, and a deep anxiety for the security of U.N.E.F. personnel should an effort be made to keep U.N.E.F. in position after its withdrawal had been requested, were powerful arguments in favour of complying with the United Arab Republic request, even supposing there had not been other overriding reasons for accepting it.
36. It has been said that the decision to withdraw U.N.E.F. precipitated other consequences such as the reinstitution of the blockade against Israel in the Straits of Tiran. As can be seen from the chronology, the U.N.E.F. positions at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Straits of Tiran (manned by 32 men in all) were in fact rendered ineffective by United Arab Republic troops before the request for withdrawal was received. It is also pertinent to note that, in response to a query from the Secretary General as to why the United Arab Republic had announced its reinstitution of the blockade in the Straits of Tiran while the Secretary General was actually en route to Cairo on 22 May, President Nasser explained that his Government's decision to resume the blockade had been taken some time before U Thant's departure and it was considered preferable to make the announcement before rather than after the Secretary General's visit to Cairo.
The Question of Consultations
37. It has been said also that there was not adequate consultation with the organs of the United Nations concerned or with the members before the decision was taken to withdraw the force. The Secretary General was, and is, firmly of the opinion that the decision for withdrawal of the force, on the request of the host Government, rested with the Secretary General after consultation with the Advisory Committee on U.N.E.F., which is the organ established by the General Assembly for consultation regarding such matters. This was made clear by Secretary General Hammarskjold, who took the following position on 26 February 1957 in reply to a question about the withdrawal of the force from Sharm el-Sheikh:
'An indicated procedure would be for the Secretary General to inform the Advisory Committee on the United Nations Emergency Force, which would determine whether the matter should be brought to the attention of the Assembly.' (Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Session, annexes, agenda item 66, document A-3563, annex I, B, 2.)
The Secretary General consulted the Advisory Committee before replying to the letter of 18 May 1967 from the United Arab Republic requesting withdrawal. This consultation took place within a few hours after receipt of the United Arab Republic request, and the Advisory Committee was thus quickly informed of the decision which the Secretary General had in mind to convey in his reply to the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Republic. As indicated in the report to the Security Council of 26 May 1967:
'The Committee did not move, as it was its right to do under the terms of paragraph 9 of General Assembly resolution 1001 (ES-I to request the convening of the General Assembly on the situation which had arisen.' (S- 7906, Para. 4.)
38. Before consulting the Advisory Committee on U.N.E.F., the Secretary General had also consulted the permanent representatives of the seven countries providing the contingents of U.N.E.F., and informed them of his intentions. This, in fact, was more than was formally required of the Secretary General in the way of consultation.
39. Obviously, many Governments were concerned about the presence and functioning of U.N.E.F. and about the general situation in the area, but it would have been physically impossible to consult all of the interested representatives within any reasonable time. This was an emergency situation requiring urgent action. Moreover, it was perfectly clear that such consultations were sure to produce sharply divided counsel, even if they were limited to the permanent members of the Security Council. Such sharply divided advice would have complicated and exacerbated the situation, and, far from relieving the Secretary General of the responsibility for the decision to be taken, would have made the decision much more difficult to take.
40. It has been said that the final decision on the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. should have been taken only after consideration by the General Assembly. This position is not only incorrect but also unrealistic. In resolution 1000 (ES-I) the General Assembly established a United Nations command for an emergency international force. On the basis of that resolution the force was quickly recruited and its forward elements flown to the staging area at Naples. Thus, though established, it had to await the permission of the Government of Egypt to enter Egyptian territory. That permission was subsequently given by the Government of Egypt as a result of direct discussions between Secretary General Hammarskjold and President Nasser of Egypt. There is no official United Nations document on the basis of which any case could be made that there was any limitation on the authority of the Government of Egypt to rescind that consent at its pleasure, or which would indicate that the United Arab Republic had in any way surrendered its right to ask for and obtain at any time the removal of U.N.E.F. from its territory. This point is elaborated later in this report (see paras. 71-80 below).
41. As a practical matter, there would be little point in any case in taking such an issue to the General Assembly unless there would be reasonable certainty that that body could be expected expeditiously to reach a substantive decision. In the prevailing circumstances, the question could have been validly raised as to what decision other than the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. could have been reached by the Assembly once United Arab Republic consent for the continued presence of U.N.E.F. was withdrawn.
42. As regards the practical possibility of the Assembly considering the request for U.N.E.F.'s withdrawal, it is relevant to observe that the next regular session of the General Assembly was some four months off at the time the withdrawal request was made. The special session of the General Assembly which was meeting at the time could have considered the question, according to rule 19 of the Assembly's rules of procedure, only if two-thirds or 82 members voted for the inclusion of the item in the agenda. It is questionable, to say the least, whether the necessary support could have been mustered for such a controversial item. There could have been no emergency special session since the issue was not then before the Security Council, and therefore the condition of lack of unanimity did not exist.
43. As far as consultation with or action by the Security Council was concerned, the Secretary General reported to the Council on the situation leading up to and created by the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. on 19 May 1967 (S-7896). In that report he characterized the situation in the Near East as 'extremely menacing.' The Council met for the first time after this report on 24 May 1967, but took no action.
44. As has already been stated, the Advisory Committee did not make any move to bring the matter before the General Assembly, and no representative of any Member Government requested a meeting of either the Security Council or the General Assembly immediately following the Secretary General's reports (A-6730 and S-7896). In this situation, the Secretary General himself did not believe that any useful purpose would be served by his seeking a meeting of either organ, nor did he consider that there was basis for him to do so at that time. Furthermore, the information available to the Secretary General did not lead him to believe that either the General Assembly or the Security Council would have decided that U.N.E.F. should remain on United Arab Republic territory, by force if necessary, despite the request of the Government of the United Arab Republic that it should leave.
Practical Factors influencing the Decision
45. Since it is still contended in some quarters that the U.N.E.F. operation should somehow have continued after the consent of the Government of the United Arab Republic to its presence was withdrawn, it is necessary to consider the factors, quite apart from constitutional and legal considerations, which would have made such a course of action entirely impracticable.
46. The consent and active cooperation of the host country is essential to the effective operation and indeed, to the very existence, of any United Nations peacekeeping operation of the nature of U.N.E.F. The fact is that U.N.E.F. had been deployed on Egyptian and Egyptian-controlled territory for over 101/2 years with the consent and cooperation of the Government of the United Arab Republic. Although it was envisaged in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 1125 (XI) of 2 February 1957 that the force would be stationed on both sides of the line, Israel exercised its sovereign rights to refuse the stationing of U.N.E.F. on its side, and the force throughout its existence was stationed on the United Arab Republic side of the line only.
47. In these circumstances, the true basis for U.N.E.F.'s effectiveness as a buffer and deterrent to infiltration was, throughout its existence, a voluntary undertaking by local United Arab Republic authorities with U.N.E.F. that United Arab Republic troops would respect a defined buffer zone along the entire length of the line in which only U.N.E.F would operate and from which United Arab Republic troops would be excluded. This undertaking was honoured although U.N.E.F. had no authority to challenge the right of United Arab Republic troops to be present anywhere on their own territory.
48. It may be pointed out in passing that over the years U.N.E.F. dealt with numerous infiltrators coming from the Israel as well as from the United Arab Republic side of the line. It would hardly be logical to take the position that because U.N.E.F. has successfully maintained quiet along the line for more than 10 years, owing in large measure to the cooperation of the United Arab Republic authorities, that this Government should then be told that it could not unilaterally seek the removal of the force and thus in effect be penalized for the long cooperation with the international community it had extended in the interest of peace.
49. There are other practical factors relating to the above-mentioned arrangement which are highly relevant to the withdrawal of U.N.E.F, First, once the United Arab Republic troops moved up to the line to place themselves in direct confrontation with the military forces of Israel, U.N.E.F. had, in fact, no further useful function. Secondly, if the force was no longer welcome, it could not as a practical matter remain in the United Arab Republic, since the friction which would almost inevitably have arisen with that Government, its armed forces and with the local population would have made the situation of the force both humiliating and untenable. It would even have been impossible to supply it. U.N.E.F. clearly had no mandate to try to stop United Arab Republic troops from moving freely about on their own territory. This was a peace-keeping force, not an enforcement action. Its effectiveness was based entirely on voluntary cooperation.
50. Quite apart from its position in the United Arab Republic, the request of that Government for U.N.E.F.'s withdrawal automatically set off a disintegration of the force, since two of the Governments providing contingents quickly let the Secretary General know that their contingents would be withdrawn, and there can be little doubt that other such notifications would not have been slow in coming if friction had been generated through an unwillingness to comply with the request for withdrawal.
51. For all the foregoing reasons, the operation, and even the continued existence of U.N.E.F. on United Arab Republic territory, after the withdrawal of United Arab Republic consent, would have been impossible, and any attempt to maintain the force there would without question have had disastrous consequences.
Legal and Constitutional Considerations and the Question of Consent for the Stationing of U.N.E.F. on United Arab Republic Territory
52. Legal and constitutional considerations were, of course, of great importance in determining the Secretary General's actions in relation to the request of the Government of the United Arab Republic for the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. Here again, a chronology of the relevant actions in 1956 and 1957 may be helpful.
53. 4 November 1956. The General Assembly, at its first emergency special session, in Resolution 998 (ES-I) requested 'the Secretary General to submit to it within 48 hours a plan for the setting up, with the consent of the nations concerned, of an emergency international United Nations Force to secure and supervise the cessation of hostilities...'
54. 5 November 1956. The General Assembly, in its Resolution 1000 (ES-I), established a United Nations Command for an emergency international force, and, inter alia, invited the Secretary General 'to take such administrative measures as may be necessary for the prompt execution of the actions envisaged in the present resolution.'
55. 7 November 1956. The General Assembly, by its Resolution 1001 (ES-I), inter alia, approved the guiding principles for the organization and functioning of the emergency international United Nations Force and authorized the Secretary General 'to take all other necessary administrative and executive action'.
56. 10 November 1956. Arrival of advance elements of U.N.E.F. at staging area in Naples.
57. 8-12 November 1956. Negotiations between Secretary General Hammarskjold and the Government of Egypt on entry of U.N.E.F. into Egypt.
58. 12 November 1956. Agreement on U.N.E.F. entry into Egypt announced and then postponed, pending clarification, until 14 November.
59. 15 November 1956. Arrival of advance elements of U.N.E.F. in Abu Suweir, Egypt.
60. 16 November to 18 November 1956. Negotiations between Secretary General Hammarskjold and President Nasser in Cairo on the presence and functioning of U.N.E.F. in Egypt and cooperation with Egyptian authorities, and conclusion of an 'aide-mémoire on the basis for the presence and functioning of U.N.E.F. in Egypt' (the so-called 'good faith accord'). (Ibid., Document A-3375, annex.)
61. 24 January 1957. The Secretary General in a report to the General Assembly (ibid., Document A-3512) suggested that the force should have units stationed on both sides of the armistice demarcation line and that certain measures should be taken in relation to Sharm el-Sheikh. On 2 February 1947, the General Assembly, by its Resolution 1125 (XI), noted with appreciation the Secretary General's report and considered that 'after full withdrawal of Israel from the Sharm el-Sheikh and Gaza areas, the scrupulous maintenance of the armistice agreement required the placing of the United Nations Emergency Force on the Egyptian-Israel armistice demarcation line and the implementation of other measures as proposed in the Secretary General's report, with due regard to the considerations set out therein with a view to assist in achieving situations conducive to the maintenance of peaceful conditions in the area.'
62. 7 March 1957. Arrival of U.N.E.F. in Gaza.
63. 8 March 1957. Arrival of U.N.E.F. elements at Sharrn el-Sheikh.
64. In general terms the consent of the host country to the presence of peacekeeping machinery is a basic prerequisite of all the United Nations peace-keeping operations. The question has been raised whether the United Arab Republic had the right to request unilaterally the withdrawal 'as soon as possible' of U.N.E.F. from its territory or whether there were limitations on its rights in this respect. An examination of the records of the first emergency special session and the eleventh session of the General Assembly is relevant to this question.
65. It is clear that the General Assembly and the Secretary General from the very beginning recognized, and in fact emphasized, the need for Egyptian consent in order that U.N.E.F. be stationed or operate on Egyptian territory. Thus, the initial Resolution 998 (ES-I) of 4 November 1956 requested the Secretary General to submit a plan for the setting up of an emergency force, 'with the consent of the nations concerned'. The 'nations concerned' obviously included Egypt (now the United Arab Republic), the three countries (France, Israel and the United Kingdom) whose armies were on Egyptian soil and the states contributing contingents to the force.
66. The Secretary General, in his report to the General Assembly of 6 November 1956, stated, inter alia:
'9. Functioning, as it would, on the basis of a decision reached under the terms of the Resolution 337 (V) "Uniting for Peace", the force, if established, would be limited in its operations to the extent that consent of the parties concerned is required under generally recognized international law. While the General Assembly is enabled to establish the force with the consent of those parties which contribute units to the force, it could not request the force to be stationed or operate on the territory of a given country without the consent of the Government of that country.' (Ibid., First Emergency Special Session, Annexes, agenda item 5, Document A/3302, para. 9.)
67. He noted that the foregoing did not exclude the possibility that the Security Council could use such a force within the wider margins provided under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. He pointed out, however, that it would not be necessary to elaborate this point further, since no use of the force under Chapter VII, with the rights in relation to member states that this would entail, had been envisaged.
68. The General Assembly in its Resolution 1001 (ES-I) of 7 November 1956 expressed its approval of the guiding principles for the organization and functioning of the emergency international United Nations Force as expounded in paragraphs 6 to 9 of the Secretary General's report. This included the principle of consent embodied in paragraph 9.
69. The need for Egypt's consent was also stated as a condition or 'understanding' by some of the-states offering to contribute contingents to the force.
70. It was thus a basic legal principle arising from the nature of the force, and clearly understood by all concerned, that the consent of Egypt was a prerequisite to the stationing of U.N.E.F. on Egyptian territory, and it was a practical necessity as well in acquiring contingents for the force.
The 'Good Faith' Aide-Mémoire of 20 November 1956
71. There remains to be examined whether any commitments were made by Egypt which would limit its pre-existing right to withdraw its consent at any time that it chose to do so. The only basis for asserting such limitation could be the so-called 'good faith' aide-mémoire which was set out as an annex to a report of the Secretary General submitted to the General Assembly on 20 November 1956.
72. The Secretary General himself did not offer any interpretation of the 'good faith' aide-mémoire to the General Assembly or make any statement questioning the remarks made by the Foreign Minister of Egypt in the General Assembly the following week (see paragraph 74 below). It would appear, however, that in an exchange of cables lie had sought to obtain the express acknowledgement from Egypt that its consent to the presence of the force would not be withdrawn before the force had completed its task. Egypt did not accept this interpretation but held to the view that if its consent was no longer maintained the force should be withdrawn. Subsequent discussions between Mr. Hammarskjold and President Nasser resulted in the 'good faith' aide-mémoire.
73. An interpretative account of these negotiations made by Mr. Hammarskjold in a personal and private paper entitled 'aide-mémoire,' dated 5 August 1957, some eight and a half months after the discussions, has recently been made public by a private person who has a copy. It is understood that Mr. Hammarskjold often prepared private notes concerning significant events under the heading 'aide-mémoire.' This memorandum is not in any official record of the United Nations nor is it in any of the official files. The General Assembly, the Advisory Committee on U.N.E.F. and the Government of Egypt were not informed of its contents or existence. It is not an official paper and has no standing beyond being a purely private memorandum of unknown purpose or value, in which Secretary General Hammarskjold seems to record his own impressions and interpretations of his discussions with President Nasser. This paper, therefore, cannot affect in any way the basis for the presence of U.N.E.F. on the soil of the United Arab Republic as set out in the official documents, much less supersede those documents.
Position of Egypt
74. It seems clear that Egypt did not understand the 'good faith' aide-mémoire to involve any limitation on its right to withdraw its consent to the continued stationing and operation of U.N.E.F. on its territory. The Foreign Minister of Egypt, speaking in the General Assembly on 27 November 1956, one week after the publication of the 'good faith' aide-mémoire and three days following its approval by the General Assembly, said:
'We still believe that the General Assembly Resolution of 7 November 1956 still stands, together with its endorsement of the principle that the General Assembl y could not request the United Nations Emergency Force to be stationed or to operate on the territory of a given country without the consent of the Government of the country. This is the proper basis on which we believe, together with the overwhelming majority of this Assembly, that the United Nations Emergency Force could be stationed or could operate in Egypt. It is the only basis on which Egypt has given its consent in this respect.' (Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Session, Plenary Meetings, 597th meeting, para. 48.)
He then added:
'... as must be abundantly clear, this force has gone to Egypt to help Egypt, with Egypt's consent; and no one here or elsewhere can reasonably or fairly say that a fire brigade, after putting out a fire, would be entitled or expected to claim the right of deciding not to leave the house.' (Ibid., para. 50.)
Analysis of the 'Task' of the Force
75. In the 'good faith' aide-mémoire, the Government of Egypt declared that, 'when exercising its sovereign rights on any matters concerning the presence and functioning of U.N.E.F., it will be guided, in good faith, by its acceptance of General Assembly Resolution 1000 (ES-I) of 5 November 1956.'
76. The United Nations in turn declared 'that the activities of U.N.E.F. will be guided, in good faith, by the task established for the force in the aforementioned Resolutions (100 (ES-I) and 997 (ES-I)); in particular, the United Nations, understanding this to correspond to the wishes of the Government of Egypt, reaffirms its willingness to maintain U.N.E.F. until its task is completed.'
77. It must be noted that, while Egypt undertook to be guided in good faith by its acceptance of General Assembly Resolution 1000 (ES-L), the United Nations also undertook to be guided in good faith by the task established for the force in Resolution 1000 (ES-I) and 997 (ES-I). Resolution 1000 (ES-I), to which the declaration of Egypt referred, established a United Nations Command for the force 'to secure and supervise the cessation of hostilities in accordance with all the terms' of Resolution 997 (ES-I). It must be recalled that at this time Israel forces had penetrated deeply into Egyptian territory and that forces of France and the United Kingdom were conducting military operations on Egyptian territory. Resolution 997 (ES-I) urged as a matter of priority that all parties agree to an immediate cease-fire, and halt the movement of military forces and arms into the area. It also urged the parties to the armistice agreements promptly to withdraw all forces behind the armistice lines, to desist from raids across the armistice lines, and to observe scrupulously the provisions of the armistice agreements. It further urged that, upon the cease-fire being effective, steps be taken to reopen the Suez Canal and restore secure freedom of navigation.
78. While the terms of Resolution 997 (ES-I) cover a considerable area, the emphasis in Resolution 1000 (ES-I) is on securing and supervising the cessation of hostilities. Moreover, on 6 November 1956 the Secretary General, in his second and final report on the plan for an emergency international United Nations Force, noted that 'the Assembly intends that the force should be of a temporary nature, the length of its assignment being determined by the needs arising out of the present conflict.' (Ibid., First Emergency Special Session, Annexes, agenda item 5, Document A-3302, para. 8.) Noting further the terms of Resolution 997 (ES-I), he added that 'the functions of the United Nations Force would be, when a cease-fire is being established, to enter Egyptian territory with the consent of the Egyptian Government, in order to help maintain quiet during and after the withdrawal of non-Egyptian troops, and to secure compliance with the other terms established in the Resolution of 2 November 1956' (997 (ES-I)). (Ibid., para. 12.)
79. In a cable delivered to Foreign Minister Fawzi on 9 or 10 November 1956, in reply to a request for clarification as to how long it was contemplated that the force should stay in the demarcation line area, the Secretary General stated: 'A definite reply is at present impossible but the emergency character of the force links it to the immediate crises envisaged in Resolution 2 November (997 (ES-I)) and its liquidation.' This point was confirmed in a further exchange of cables between the Secretary General and Dr. Fawzi on 14 November 1956.
80. The Foreign Minister of Egypt (Dr. Fawzi) gave his understanding of the task of the force in a statement to the General Assembly on 27 November 1956:
'Our clear understanding - and I am sure it is the clear understanding of the Assembly - is that this force is in Egypt only in relation to the present attack against Egypt by the United Kingdom, France and Israel, and for the purposes directly connected with the incursion of the invading forces into Egyptian territory. The United Nations Emergency Force is in Egypt, not as an occupation force, not as a replacement for the invaders, not to clear the Canal of obstructions, not to resolve any question or settle any problem, be it in relation to the Suez Canal, to Palestine or to any other matter; it is not there to infringe upon Egyptian sovereignty in any fashion or to any extent, but, on the contrary, to give expression to the determination of the United Nations to put an end to the aggression committed against Egypt and to the presence of the invading forces in Egyptian territory. ' (Ibid., Eleventh Session, Plenary Meetings, 597th meeting, para. 49.)
81. In letters dated 3 November 1956 addressed to the Secretary General, the representatives of both France and the United Kingdom had proposed very broad functions for U.N.E.F., stating on behalf of their Governments that military action could be stopped if the following conditions were met:
(a) Both the Egyptian and Israel Governments agree to accept a United Nations force to keep the peace.
(b) The United Nations decides to constitute and maintain such a force until an Arab-Israel peace settlement is reached and until satisfactory arrangements have been agreed in regard to the Suez Canal, both agreements to be guaranteed by the United Nations.
(c) In the meantime, until the United Nations force is constituted, both combatants agree to accept forthwith limited detachments of Anglo-French troops to be stationed between the combatants. (Ibid., First Emergency Special Session, Annexes, Documents A-3268 and A-3269.)
These broad functions for the force were not acceptable to the General Assembly, however, as was pointed out in telegrams dated 4 November 1956 from Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom. (Ibid., Document A-3284, Annexes 2 and 4.)
82. Finally, it is obvious that the task referred to in the 'good faith' aide-mémoire could only be the task of the force as it had been defined in November 1956 when the understanding was concluded. The 'good faith' undertaking by the United Nations would preclude it from claiming that the Egyptian agreement was relevant or applicable to functions which the force was given at a much later date. The stationing of the force on the armistice demarcation line and at Sharm el-Sheikh was only determined in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 1125 (XI) on 2 February 1957. The Secretary General, in his reports relating to this decision, made it clear that the further consent of Egypt was essential with respect to these new functions. (Ibid., Eleventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 66, Documents A-3512, para. 20, and A-3527, para. 5.) Consequently the understanding recorded in the 'good faith' aide-mémoire of 20 November 1956 could not have been, itself, a commitment with respect to functions only determined in February and March 1957. It is only these later tasks that the force had been performing during the last 10 years - tasks of serving as a buffer and deterring infiltrators which went considerably beyond those of securing and supervising the cessation of hostilities provided in the General Assembly resolutions and referred to in the 'good faith' aide-mémoire.
The Stationing of U.N.E.F. on the Armistice Demarcation Line and at Sharm el-Sheikh
83. There remains to examine whether Egypt made further commitments with respect to the stationing of the force on the armistice demarcation line and at Shann el-Sheikh. Israel, of course, sought to obtain such commitments, particularly with respect to the area around Sharm el-Sheikh.
84. For example, in an aide-mémoire of 4 February 1957 (ibid., Document A-3527, annex I), Israel sought clarification as to whether units of the United Nations Emergency Force would be stationed along the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba in order to act as a restraint against hostile acts, and would remain so deployed until another effective means was agreed upon between the parties concerned for ensuring permanent freedom of navigation and the absence of belligerent acts in the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba. The Secretary General pointed out that such 'clarification' would require 'Egyptian consent.' He stated:
'The second of the points in the Israel aide-mémoire requests a "clarification" which, in view of the position of the General Assembly, could go beyond what was stated in the last report only after negotiation with Egypt. This follows from the statements in the debate in the General Assembly, and the report on which it was based, which makes it clear that the stationing of the force at Sharm el-Sheikh, under such terms as those mentioned in the question posed by Israel, would require Egyptian consent. ' (Ibid., Document A-3527, para. 5.)
85. It is clear from the record that Egypt did not give its consent to Israel's proposition. The Secretary General's report of 8 March 1957 (ibid., document A-3568) recorded 'arrangements for the complete and unconditional withdrawal of Israel in accordance with the decision of the General Assembly'. There is no agreement on the part of Egypt to forgo its rights with respect to the granting or withdrawing of its consent to the continued stationing of the force on its territory. On the contrary, at the 667th plenary meeting of the General Assembly on 4 March 1957, the Foreign Minister of Egypt stated:
'At our previous meeting I stated that the Assembly was unanimous in expecting full and honest implementation of its resolutions calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal by Israel. I continue to submit to the Assembly that this position - which is the only position the Assembly can possibly take - remains intact and entire. Nothing said by anyone here or elsewhere could shake this fact or detract from its reality and its validity, nor could it affect the fullness and the lawfulness of Egypt's rights and those of the Arab people of the Gaza Strip.' (Ibid., Eleventh Session, Plenary Meetings, 667th meeting, para 240.)
86. The Foreign Minister of Israel in her statement at the 666th meeting of the General Assembly, on I March 1957, asserted that an assurance had been given that any proposal for the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. from the Gulf of Aqaba area would come first to the Advisory Committee on U.N.E.F. (see paragraphs 95-98 below).
Question of the Stationing of U.N.E.F. on Both Sides of the Armistice Demarcation Line
87. Another point having significance with respect to the undertakings of Egypt is the question of the stationing of U.N.E.F. on both sides of the armistice demarcation line. The Secretary General, in his report on 24 January 1957 to the General Assembly (ibid., Eleventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 66, Document A-3512), suggested that the force should have units stationed also on the Israel side of the armistice demarcation line. In particular, he suggested that units of the force should at least be stationed in the El Auja demilitarized zone. (Article VIII of the Egyptian-Israel General Armistice Agreement provides, inter alia, that an area comprising the village of El Auja and vicinity, as defined in the article, shall be demilitarized and that both Egyptian and Israel armed forces shall be totally excluded therefrom. The article further provides that on the Egyptian side of the frontier, facing the El Auja area, no Egyptian defensive positions shall be closer to El Auja than El Qouseima and Abou Aoueigila which had been occupied by the armed forces of Israel.) He indicated that if El Auja were demilitarized in accordance with the Armistice Agreement and units of U.N.E.F. were stationed there, a condition of reciprocity would be the Egyptian assurance that Egyptian forces would not take up positions in the area in contravention of the Armistice Agreement. (Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 66, Document A-3512, paras. 15-22.) However, Israel forces were never withdrawn from El Auja and U.N.E.F. was not accepted at any point on the Israel side of the line.
88. Following the Secretary General's report, the General Assembly on 2 February 1957 adopted Resolution 1125 (XI), in which it noted the report with appreciation and considered:
'... that, after withdrawal of Israel from the Sharm el-Sheikh and Gaza areas, the scrupulous maintenance of the Armistice Agreement requires the placing of the United Nations Emergency Force on the Egyptian-Israel armistice demarcation line and the implementation of other measures as proposed in the Secretary General's report, with due regard to the considerations set out therein with a view to assist in achieving situations conducive to the maintenance of peaceful conditions in the area.'
89. On 11 February 1957, the Secretary General stated in a report to the General Assembly that, in the light of the implication of Israel's question concerning the stationing of U.N.E.F. at Shann el-Sheikh (see paragraph 84 above), he 'considered it important ... to learn whether Israel itself, in principle, consents to a stationing of U.N.E.F. units on its territory in implementation of the functions established for the force in the basic decisions and noted in Resolution 1125 (XI), where it was indicated that the force should be placed "on the Egyptian-Israel armistice demarcation line." ' (Ibid., Document A-3527, para. 5.) No affirmative response was ever received from Israel. In fact, already on 7 November 1956 the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Ben-Gurion, in a speech to the Knesset, stated, inter alia, 'On no account will Israel agree to the stationing of a foreign force, no matter how called, in her territory or in any of the territories occupied by her.' In a note to correspondents of 12 April 1957 a 'United Nations spokesman' stated:
'Final arrangements for the U.N.E.F. will have to wait for the response of the Government of Israel to the request by the General Assembly that the force be deployed also on the Israeli side of the armistice demarcation line.'
90. In a report dated 9 October 1957 to the 12th session of the General Assembly (ibid., Twelfth Session, Annexes, agenda item 65, Document A-3694, para. 15), the Secretary General stated:
'Resolution 1125 (XI) calls for placing the Force "on the Egyptian-Israel armistice demarcation line", but no stationing of U.N.E.F. on the Israel side has occurred to date through lack of consent by Israel.'
91. In the light of Israel's persistent refusal to consent to the stationing and operation of U.N.E.F. on its side of the line in spite of General Assembly Resolution 1125 (XI) of 2 February 1957 and the efforts of the Secretary General, it is even less possible to consider that Egypt's 'good faith' declaration made in November 1956 could constitute a limitation of its rights with respect to the continued stationing and operation of U.N.E.F. on Egyptian territory in accordance with the Resolution of 2 February 1957.
92. The representative of Israel stated at the 592nd meeting of the General Assembly, on 23 November 1956:
'If we were to accept one of the proposals made here - namely that the force should separate Egyptian and Israel troops for as long as Egypt thought it convenient and should then be withdrawn on Egypt's unilateral request - we would reach a reduction to absurdity. Egypt would then be in a position to build up, behind the screen of this force, its full military preparations and, when it felt that those military preparations had reached their desired climax, to dismiss the United Nations Emergency Force and to stand again in close contact and proximity with the territory of Israel. This reduction to absurdity proves how impossible it is to accept in any matter affecting the composition or the functions of the force the policies of the Egyptian Government as the sole or even the decisive criterion.' (Ibid., Eleventh Session, Plenary Meetings, 592nd meeting, para. 131.)
93. The answer to this problem which is to be found in Resolution 1125 (XI) of 2 February 1957 is not in the form of a binding commitment by Egypt which the record shows was never given, but in the proposal that the force should be stationed on both sides of the line. Israel in the exercise of its sovereign right did not give its consent to the stationing of U.N.E.F. on its territory and Egypt did not forgo its sovereign right to withdraw its consent at any time.
Role of the U.N.E.F. Advisory Committee
94. General Assembly Resolution 1001 (ES-I) of 7 November 1956, by which the Assembly approved the guiding principles for the organization and functioning of U.N.E.F., established an Advisory Committee on U.N.E.F. under the chairmanship of the Secretary General. The Assembly decided that the Advisory Committee, in the performance of its duties, should be empowered to request, through the usual procedures, the convening of the General Assembly and to report to the Assembly whenever matters arose which, in its opinion, were of such urgency and importance as to require consideration by the General Assembly itself.
95. The memorandum of important points in the discussion between the representative of Israel and the Secretary General on 25 February 1957 recorded the following question raised by the representative of Israel:
'In connection with the duration of U.N.E.F.'s deployment in the Sharm el Sheikh area, would the Secretary General give notice to the General Assembly of the United Nations before U.N.E.F. would be withdrawn from the area, with or without Egyptian insistence, or before the Secretary General would agree to its withdrawal?' (Ibid., Eleventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 66, Document A-3563, annex I, A, 2.)
96. The response of the Secretary General was recorded as follows:
'On the question of notification to the General Assembly, the Secretary General wanted to state his view at a later meeting. An indicated procedure would be for the Secretary General to inform the Advisory Committee on the United Nations Emergency Force, which would determine whether the matter should be brought to the attention of the Assembly.' (Ibid., annex I, B. 2.)
97. On 1 March 1957 the Foreign Minister of Israel stated at the 666th plenary meeting of the General Assembly:
'My Government has noted the assurance embodied in the Secretary General's note of 26 February 1957 (A-3363, annex) that any proposal for the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force from the Gulf of Aqaba area would first come to the Advisory Committee on the United Nations Emergency Force, which represents the General Assembly in the implementation of its Resolution 997 (ES-I) of 2 November 1956. This procedure will give the General Assembly an opportunity to ensure that no precipitate changes are made which would have the effect of increasing the possibility of belligerent acts.' (Ibid., Eleventh Session, Plenary Meetings, 666th meeting, para. 8.)
98. In fact, the 25 February 1957 memorandum does not go as far as the interpretation given by the Foreign Minister of Israel. In any event, however, it gives no indication of any commitment by Egypt, and so far as the Secretary General is concerned it only indicates that a procedure would be for the Secretary General to inform the Advisory Committee which would determine whether the matter should be brought to the attention of the General Assembly. This was also the procedure provided in General Assembly Resolution 1001 (ES-I). It was, furthermore, the procedure followed by the Secretary General on the withdrawal of U.N.E.F.
99. A partial explanation of the misunderstanding about the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. is an evident failure to appreciate the essentially fragile nature of the basis for U.N.E.F.'s operation throughout its existence. U.N.E.F. in functioning depended completely on the voluntary cooperation of the host Government. Its basis of existence was the willingness of governments to provide contingents to serve under an international command and at a minimum of cost to the United Nations. It was a symbolic force, small in size, with only 3,400 men, of whom 1,800 were available to police a line of 295 miles at the time of its withdrawal. It was equipped with light weapons only. It had no mandate of any kind to open fire except in the last resort in self-defence. It had no formal mandate to exercise any authority in the area in which it was stationed. In recent years it experienced an increasingly uncertain basis of financial support, which in turn gave rise to strong annual pressures for reduction in its strength. Its remarkable success for more than a decade, despite these practical weaknesses, may have led to wrong conclusions about its nature, but it was also pointed the way to a unique means of contributing significantly to international peace-keeping.
Cable Containing Instructions for the Withdrawal of U.N.E.F. Sent by the Secretary General to the Commander of the U.N.E.F. on 18 May 1967, at 2230 Hours New York Time
The following instructions are to be put in effect by you as of date and time of their receipt and shall remain operative until and unless new instructions are sent by me.
1. U.N.E.F. is being withdrawn because the consent of the Government of the United Arab Republic for its continued deployment on United Arab Republic territory and United Arab Republic-controlled territory has been rescinded.
2. Date of the commencement of the withdrawal of U.N.E.F. will be 19 May when the Secretary General's response to the request for withdrawal will be received in Cairo by the Government of the United Arab Republic, when also the General Assembly will be informed of the action taken and the action will become public knowledge.
3. The withdrawal of U.N.E.F. is to be orderly and must be carried out with dignity befitting a force which has contributed greatly to the maintenance of quiet and peace in the area of its deployment and has earned widespread admiration.
4. The force does not cease to exist or to lose its status or any of its entitlements, privileges and immunities until all of its elements have departed from the area of its operation.
5. It will be a practical fact that must be reckoned with by the Commander that as of the date of the announcement of its withdrawal the force will no longer be able to carry out its established function as a buffer and as a deterrent to infiltration. Its duties, therefore, after 19 May and until all elements have been withdrawn, will be entirely nominal and concerned primarily with devising arrangements and implementation of arrangements for withdrawal and the morale of the personnel.
6. The force, of course, will remain under the exclusive command of its United Nations Commander and is to take no orders from any other source, whether United Arab Republic or national.
7. The Commander, his headquarters staff and the contingent commanders shall take every reasonable precaution to ensure the continuance of good relations with the local authorities and the local population.
8. In this regard, it should be made entirely clear by the Commander to the officers and other ranks in the force that there is no discredit of the force in this withdrawal and no humiliation involved for the reason that the force has operated very successfully and with, on the whole, cooperation from the Government on the territory of an independent sovereign State for over 10 years, which is a very long time; and, moreover, the reasons for the termination of the operation are of an overriding political nature, having no relation whatsoever to the performance of the force in the discharge of its duties.
9. The Commander and subordinate officers must do their utmost to avoid any resort to the use of arms and any clash with the forces of the United Arab Republic or with the local civilian population.
10. A small working team will be sent from headquarters by the Secretary General to assist in the arrangements for, and effectuation of, the withdrawal.
11. The Commander shall take all necessary steps to protect United Nations installations, properties and stores during the period of withdrawal.
12. If necessary, a small detail of personnel of the force or preferably of United Nations security officers will be maintained as long as necessary for the protection of United Nations properties pending their ultimate disposition.
13. U.N.E.F. aircraft will continue flights as necessary in connection with the withdrawal arrangements but observation flights will be discontinued immediately.
14. Elements of the force now deployed along the line will be first removed from the line, the IF (international frontier) and ADL (armistice demarcation line), including Sharm el-Sheikh, to their camps and progressively to central staging.
15. The pace of the withdrawal will of course depend upon the availability of transport by air, sea and ground to Port Said. The priority in withdrawal should of course be personnel and their personal arms and equipment first, followed by contingent stores and equipment.
16. We must proceed on the assumption that U.N.E.F. will have full cooperation of United Arab Republic authorities on all aspects of evacuation, and to this end a request will be made by me to the United Arab Republic Government through their Mission here.
17. As early as possible the Commander of U.N.E.F. should prepare and transmit to the Secretary General a plan and schedule for the evacuation of troops and their equipment.
18. Preparation of the draft of the sections of the annual report by the Secretary General to the General Assembly should be undertaken and, to the extent possible, completed during the period of the withdrawal.
19. In the interests of the force itself and the United Nations, every possible measure should be taken to ensure against public comments or comments likely to become public on the withdrawal, the reasons for it and reactions to it.