Question of Palestine home
23 November 1966
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Provisional agenda (S/Agenda/1326)
Adoption of the agenda
The Palestine question:
Letter dated 15 November 1966 from the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations Addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/7587)
THIRTEEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIFTH MEETING
Held in New York, on Wednesday, 23 November 1966, at 3 p.m.
President: Mr. Arthur J. GOLDBERG
(United States of America).
Present: The representative of the following States: Argentina, Bulgaria, China, France, Japan, Jordan, Mali, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Uganda, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Uruguay.
Provisional agenda (S/Agenda/1326)
1. Adoption of the agenda.
2. The Palestine question:
Letter dated 15 November 1966 from the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/7587)
Adoption of the agenda
The agenda was adopted.
The Palestine question
Letter dated 15 November 1966 from the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/7587)]
1. The PRESIDENT: In accordance with the decision taken previously [1320th meeting], I shall, with the consent of the Council, invite the representative of Israel, Ambassador Comay, to take a place at the Council table.
At the invitation of the President, Mr. M. Comay (Israel) took place at the Council table.
2. The PRESIDENT: The Security Council will now continue its consideration of the question inscribed on its agenda. Yesterday, the Council made a request to the Secretary-General to supply the members of the Council with certain photographs relating to the subject-matter of the agenda under consideration. I now call upon the Secretary-General.
3. The SECRETARY-GENERAL: Mr. President, in response to the request of the Security Council at its 1325th meeting on the afternoon of 21 November, I am submitting herewith two sets of photographs taken by the United Nations military observers in the course of their investigation of the incident of 13 November 1966. It is a customary procedure for the observers to take photographs in conducting their investigations, on which they normally report to the parties only. I am submitting herewith, in the inside cover of the first set of photographs, a legend identifying the photographs in both folders by number for easy verification.
4. The PRESIDENT: I wish to thank the Secretary-General for his prompt reply to our request. The photographs are here; they are available to members of the Council for examination here today or, if it is more convenient to them, the photographs will be available for examination in the offices of the Security Council secretariat. I leave it to each member of the Council to decide how he would prefer to examine the photographs.
5. Mr. EL-FARRA (Jordan): Maybe it is too much to show fifteen members eighty pictures prepared by the machinery in the area; maybe what you have suggested, Mr. President, would be more convenient. But I do have two pictures: one is a colored picture, and I also have another one, taken to show this vicious attack. I think it would be possible to have two pictures shown now, through you, for members of the Council to see what a tragedy is before the Council for consideration, and to see that when Mr. Comay speaks about thirty empty houses his intention was to distort the facts, which are too stubborn to be distorted. With your permission, Sir, I should like to have these two pictures circulated now to my colleagues, starting with my colleague for Japan.
6. The PRESIDENT: It was not my intention to defer the examination of the pictures; in view of the fact that I was going to announce in a moment that I had no speakers inscribed on my list, I wanted to leave it to the individual members of the Council to decide what suited them best. It is my proposal to leave the pictures available for examination right here. However, if the convenience of any member of the Council is served by examining them in the office of the secretariat, he is at liberty to do so. But they are here for examination, and I am sure there will be no objection to looking at the pictures to which the representative of Jordan has referred.
7. Mr. EL-FARRA (Jordan): Mr. President, since you have no further speakers on you this most important question, which calls for a most urgent remedy. I should like to raise before the Council one additional issue. From these pictures, it is clear that almost 140 houses were completely destroyed, that more houses were damaged; this is now reflected in pictures-more than eighty of them-before the Council. Since it is clear that bombing and shelling took place, I think I should bring to the attention of the Council the fact that bombing of property and of civilian populations is not permissible under any rule of law.
8. I should like to bring to the attention of the Security Council the fact that, if we go back to the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trial, we will find that the big Powers, and they are all represented in this Council, included an attack of this nature, this indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations, in the indictment of the major German war criminals.
9. You now have the facts; and as the five permanent members of the Security Council are here, I think they and the Council should be reminded, by a small delegation, representing a small country which relies on a great body called the Security Council for security against the invasion of the Zionist movement and its representatives, that at the Nuremberg Trial this indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations was listed as one of the indictments, and that the war criminals were prosecuted for this as one of the charges.
10. I know that this is not a military tribunal, this is a political tribunal; but I submit that this political tribunal has the primary responsibility for securing peace in the area.
11. The Council is the guardian of the Charter of the United Nations. The hopes and dreams of all small Powers are always inspired by the Charter. The hope of security stems from the Charter. I must therefore say this, with all honesty, with all sincerity, with all frankness: political expediency should not play any part in the Security Council. It would frustrate the hopes not only of Jordan, a small Member of the United Nations-perhaps one of the smallest-but it will frustrate the hopes and dreams of may peace-loving peoples in this world. Political expediency has no place in the Security Council.
12.I expected to have a draft resolution adopted last week. A crime was committed last Sunday. It was brought before the Security Council on Monday. I was hoping to have a decision censuring Israel for its crime and condemning this outrageous attack, on Tuesday. Today, is Wednesday. Tomorrow, Mr. President, is your Thanksgiving Day. The crime of partitioning Palestine was committed on a Thanksgiving Day. But that subject is not before the Council.
13. Al that I should like to say is that we would like the Council to be the responsible organ of the United Nations. I should like the Council to decide the cause on its merits. Let us not have one decision for a big Power, one for a friend of a big Power and another for a helpless, small Member. This does not help the prestige and dignity of this organ of the United Nations.
14. I did not come to speak on this question. I came to listen. This afternoon I came to listen and to look as a decision was taken by the Security Council and to report with pride that the Security Council and to report with pride that the Security Council did take effective action befitting its dignity.
15.Unfortunately, such is not the case. I have to report to my Government that, for some unforeseen reason, or foreseen reasons, or expected reasons, no decision has yet been taken. I have to report this with sadness, with disappointment, with a sense of frustration, because the people of Jordan and the people of the Arab homeland still have faith in the principles of the United Nations.
16.Let me be very honest and frank. When there is a clear-cut case, when there is no attempt to blame or to put the victim and the aggressor on an equal footing, responsible members of the Security Council-and, I would add, some permanent members of the Security Council-should not be guided in their policy by an attempt to ride two horses at the same time. This is suicidal. It does not serve any big Power, or does it befit its dignity. I say this, and I am still hoping-maybe I am hoping against hope-that this Council will adopt a decision offering an adequate and effective remedy to the aggrieved, to the victim, to a small State, to Jordan.
17. Mr. FEDORENKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)(translated from Russian): We have listened very carefully to the statement just made by the representative of Jordan, Mr. El-Farra, and in our view the Security Council must treat with the utmost seriousness the situation described to us by a member of the Security Council, who has called upon the Council to take urgent action.
18. We, for our part, fully share the concern and anxiety felt by Jordan as a victim of aggression and consider it necessary to emphasize that the Security Council is dealing with a matter which is crystal-clear. The crime committed by Israel against Jordan, a member of our Organization and a member of the Security Council, is so obvious and so incontrovertible and that it hardly requires any further proof or evidence.
19. We should also like, at this point, to remind the Council of the unanimous condemnation of Israel’s act of aggression against Jordan, expressed by the members of the Council in the statements they made immediately after the item was placed on the Council’s agenda.
20. The Soviet delegation is bound to say that it cannot understand why the Security Council is not treating this straightforward case in the way it should, but we can well understand the disillusionment and concern which the Jordanian representative has voiced here at the meetings of the Security Council, including today’s meeting.
21. Allow me to stress again the full seriousness of the crime committed, for which there is no justification whatever and which brazenly tramples underfoot the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations. This is a matter which demands immediate consideration and the adoption of a resolution clearly condemning the criminal act of aggression committed by Israel against Jordan.
22. The PRESIDENT: I give the floor to the representative of Israel.
23. Mr. COMAY (Israel): First, a factual question. The Council has been told that these photographs, which were taken by the United Nations military observers, indicate that 140 houses were demolished and that there have been bombing and shelling upon the village. I have not seen the pictures produced this afternoon by the Secretary-General, but I presume that they are the same as those which were handed by UNTSO to the parties on the spot. If so, I have examined them and I can find nothing in them to indicate that 140 houses were demolished or that there had been any bombing or shelling; and there is nothing in them inconsistent with the facts put before the Council by my delegation.
24. Then the representative of Jordan saw fit to bring into this discussion the Nuremberg Trial. There it was a regime which in cold blood had murdered 6 million of my people that was on trial. That is, perhaps, one reason why we in Israel take it so seriously when more of our people are being murdered in their homes and fields and on the roads as they go about their daily business. And I have not heard that these killers, who come across the borders from Jordan and other surrounding States, are under any instructions to avoid casualties or to spare human lives.
25. Mr. EL-FARRA (Jordan): Mr. Comay, for the third or fourth time I think, has disputed the number of houses demolished. The day before yesterday he said it was hearsay evidence; today he said he had not seen the pictures and-even before seeing them-they could not prove anything. Let us, then forget the pictures.
26. What about General Bull’s report? He is representing the United Nations in the area and he was asked to make a fact-finding report. The observers went to the village, took pictures and counted the houses-they counted the completely demolished houses, they counted the partially damaged houses and they counted the completely demolished tents, huts and whatnot. Can Mr. Comay answer these questions? Does he or does he not believe the United Nations observers? Does he or does he not believe General Bull? General Bull did not refer to hearsay; he referred to facts and figures-the houses were counted. Is it for Mr. Comay to keep on distorting this question, to keep on disputing the figures? The number is very clear in the report. I said it before and I will repeat it: the report speaks about specific figures, which the observers verified with their own eyes and then reported to the Council. The Council has this document. I hope this will be the last time we hear the question of how many houses. The crime is clear in the pictures, in the report and in statements. If it pleases Mr. Comay, we can ask one of the members to go to the area today, count them for him and return. This is my first point.
27. My second point is the Nuremberg Trial. All I am saying is that this is the same crime imputed to the criminals at the Nuremberg Trial. The elements are the same; the crime is the same, even if the number is different. Here we have bombing, destruction and cold-blooded murder. Mr. Comay has not come with clean hands to preach to us about cold-blooded murder; he is representing the criminals who have committed the crime.
28. With reference to the tanks used, at the last meeting I referred to the material evidence which proves this. Of course I said Patton tanks; I still maintain this, and I hope I will be permitted to present proof of it. A film was taken which shows the make and shape of those tanks. It may be the first time in the Security Council’s history, but if I can obtain the film I shall request of you, Mr. President, to be so kind as to ask the Council to have patience and view it. It may prove helpful to the Council because members may see the movements of the tanks, the equipment of the tanks and everything about their operation.
29. All the points are clearly an attempt to divert the Council’s attention from the issue before it.
30. The PRESIDENT: I thank Mr. El-Farra for his comments and I am sure that if he has further material which he would like to present to the Council, we would be glad to have it, with the Council’s approval.
31. Mr. EL-FARRA (Jordan): May I request that the two pictures just introduced by me be incorporated in the record of this meeting?
32. The PRESIDENT: If there is no objection, it will be so decided.
It was so decided.
33. The PRESIDENT: I give the floor to the representative of Israel.
34. Mr. COMAY (Israel): I have no interest in prolonging this discussion unduly. I would recall that, when I took exception to, or questioned, the statement made by the representative of Jordan that the photographs which the Secretary-General had submitted showed that 140 houses had been demolished, all I said was that those pictures do not show anything of the kind. It is a simple statement of fact, and I think that Council members can judge for themselves by looking at those pictures.
35. With reference to the houses, I certainly do not want to enter into any discussion on exactly how the United Nations military observers made their statistical findings. The pictures now before the Council indicate that there are, here and there, stones lying about. Specifically how many houses those stones represent is simply a matter which the United Nations observers heard from the people on the spot.
36. I have here an aerial photograph, taken immediately after the incident of 13 November, which shows in great detail the exact appearance of the village after the incident-the same morning. I have not asked to have this photograph circulated simply because it is an Israel photograph and I do not want it suggested that we have in any way tampered with this photographic evidence. But if any members of the Council wish to examine this, it is in my possession and they are perfectly at liberty to do so. It shows that the number of house sites which were affected by these demolitions is actually thirty.
37. The third point I want to make is about the Patton tanks. I have already said on the authority of my Government and I want to say quite categorically that not a single tank of this type was used in this incident. And, again, if I might refer to the visual evidence, which is contained in these photographs, which are now circulating in the Council, the Council will note in them that a great number of tank tracks have been photographed-tank tracks which are very visible and easily identifiable and any expert who knows anything about these matters will be able to tell immediately that these are not tracks of Patton tanks. None of these tracks could possibly be identified as a track made by a Patton tank.
38. Lord CARADON (United Kingdom): I do not wish at this stage to speak on the substance of the matter which has been brought to this Council-and, with great respect, I would suggest that, although it is of course extremely important that we should have the full facts before us, no great value will secured by an argument on detail, in regard to the facts of this situation and to the events of which we speak.
39. I would go on to say that I think that the representative of Jordan is well justified in telling us in this Council that, after a week’s deliberation on a matter of great seriousness and great urgency, we should be in a position to reach a conclusion. It is well known to members of the Council that there have been amongst us efforts made to reach a form of words in a resolution which will carry the support of the Council, and I am sure that we commend those efforts.
40. But I feel-and I expect that we all feel-that after adequate opportunity to express our views-and all of us have now expressed our views-we should now, without delay and with interruption, find means of coming to a conclusion with the least possible delay. I would also go on to say that this is one of the occasions, in my experience of the Council, when I believe that it is possible, and should be possible, for this Council to come to an unanimous conclusion. It does seem to me that, in the seriousness of the situation we are dealing with, a unanimous decision of this Council will certainly carry far greater weight than a resolution supported by only certain number of our members.
41. Therefore, I would, with great respect to those who have worked to find the right answer to the problems which faces us, add my plea to that of the representative of Jordan, that, with the least possible delay, we should make a major effort, in the interest of the authority of the Council and in view of the seriousness of the situation, to come to our conclusion and for all of us to endeavor to set aside what may be comparatively minor differences and concentrate on the principle purposes which, I believe, are common to us all.
42. I, therefore, greatly hope that, in spite of many other urgent matters which we have before us in the United Nations at this time, there is nothing so urgent, nothing so important as that with which we are dealing in this Council now. I doubt whether further debate will carry us in the direction we wish, because we have had our opportunity, for many days past, of saying what we wish. But, I think that it is necessary for us to find means, in consultation amongst ourselves, of seeking a resolution which will be clear and definite and will, I greatly trust, carry the authority of the unanimous Council with it.
43. Mr. EL-FARRA (Jordan): I am going to be very brief. Mr. Comay referred to a picture he has. I have not seen the picture, but I will accept it. However, I should like to raise one question. Was this picture taken after the first bomb, or after the second bomb, or after the third? It is very important. You know the jets were covering the Patton tanks and were also bombing and taking pictures. Was this picture No.1 or No.2? It is very important. It is easy to cite pictures and figures and speak about numbers, but one thing is certain-paragraph 10 of the document S/7593 which reads:
“In the village and the vicinity of the village of As Samu the investigating United Nations military observers saw”-that is, with their own eyes-“that 125 houses, the village medical clinic, a 6 classroom school and a workshop had been completely demolished. In addition, on mosque and 28 houses had been damaged. Twenty Jordanian army trucks, 2 Jordanian army jeeps and one civilian bus were totally demolished.”
These are facts. The other day, when I referred to the implications of this attack, he said: no, we have respect only for the Secretariat and its people in the area. Now, Mr. Comay is not accepting the figures, not accepting the pictures, not accepting the statement, not accepting anything. I will not dwell on this, I leave it to the Council to evaluate this statement or the statements of Mr. Comay in this respectable body, the Security Council.
44. How about the casualties? The report tells us that 3 civilians and 15 military personnel were killed and medical certifications were presented. Mr. Comay may not accept the certificates and say we had already buried our dead to prove to the observers that the Israelis had killed so many. There is a limit to what the Council can accept. I do not think that the Council can accept any of these allegations, because all of them are belied by the true facts of the report of General Bull.
45. As to the statements made by my colleagues Mr. Fedorenko and Lord Caradon, I am grateful to them for pressing the need for urgent action. They are well familiar with the area and with the consequences which may follow if we keep meeting to hear distortions and misleading statements, which tension is growing in that unfortunate area.
46. Mr. ADEBO (Nigeria): As you are aware, Mr. President, I have already inscribed Nigeria on the list of speakers for the purpose of making a statement at our next meeting, on the substance of the matter before this Council. I have no intention of anticipating that statement at this time.
47. I asked for the floor only because a number of statements that have been made by members of the Council suggest that the delay which has taken place in reaching a decision on this matter is attributable to some person or persons unknown. I share the regret over this delay, but I wish to point out with great respect to my distinguished colleagues that the responsibility for taking a decision on the matter before the Council rests with every single member of that Council. In fairness to some of us who have attempted, in the last few weeks, to take an initiative in the matter-and no initiative is exclusive, because the fact that an initiative is being taken by “X” does not prevent “Y” from taking an initiative-and in fairness to those of us who have been participating in the particular initiative to which I refer, it would be unfair to suggest that they have not given as much time or as much energy as like in their power to expedite progress towards reaching a decision.
48. Anyone who is acquainted with the proceedings of the Security Council is surely fully aware how difficult it can be to produce a draft resolution to which all fifteen members of this august Council can subscribe-the kind of resolution expected of us and which would render the best service in the present circumstances. If I had to produce a draft resolution merely setting out what I feel this Council ought to decide, in the opinion of Nigeria. I could do it within half an hour. It is quite a different kettle of fish to reconcile the opinions of all members of the Security Council, or to try to produce a draft resolution which will carry enough of the members with you and, at the same time, not attract the negative votes of those who have the veto power in this Council.
49. We who take this initiative are aware of these difficulties: we are not daunted by these difficulties, but I think it is only fair that we should place on record, not for the information of my distinguished colleagues who, in fact, have better experience than myself, but for the enlightenment of the public which might be wondering why it is taking so long to deal with a case that seems so patently clear; it is clear to the representative of Nigeria-but that is the difficulty.
50. I also wish to make one point. Everyone who is accustomed to the proceedings of the United Nations also knows that the nature of the general statement made by the representative of a country is not necessarily an accurate index of the kind of resolution that he will sponsor or even support. I restate these problems, as I said before, not because they are unknown to my distinguished colleagues, but because I want the general public to know that those of us who have been trying to take an initiative have used all the energy we can summon to do the job speedily, and that it is the duty of every single member of this Council to join in expediting that task.
51. Finally, I want to assure my friend, the representative of Jordan, of what he already knows: that those of us who are trying to help in this matter have so far not succeeded, not because we have not used all the time that we have at our disposal, but for reasons of which he is perfectly aware, and for reasons which I deeply regret.
53. Mr. EL-FARRA (Jordan): I should like to say very clearly that we are all grateful to my colleague and friend, Chief Adebo, and his other colleagues who are taking a constructive stand on this question and trying to find a formula which reflects the seriousness of the problem and the complaint. I am glad that Chief Adebo put his finger on the crux of the matter. He said that the case is so patently clear, but there are some other reasons of which I am aware. He knew exactly what I was referring to: I was referring to the very reasons and the circumstances which are now imposing themselves on the attempts of some colleagues in the Council to find a formula which would reflect the gravity of the situation and the seriousness of the crime committed by the Israel armed forces in the area.
53. I hope that I have made it very clear that we have the highest regard for Chief Adebo, and I am glad that, when he referred to the reasons of which I am aware and he is aware, he knows exactly what I meant.
54. The PRESIDENT: This completes the list of speakers. As Chief Adebo has correctly pointed out, there has been a request for a further opportunity of speaking tomorrow on his part and, I am advised, also on the part of others. In the meantime, consultations which have been proceeding continuously between members of the Council throughout this debate will go on. I have consulted with the members of the Council informally as we have been conducting this debate, and it is agreed that we should reconvene at 10.30 tomorrow morning to continue our consideration of this matter.
The meeting rose at 4.30 p.m.
Photographs submitted by the representative of Jordan at the 1326th meeting.