Secretary-General in his discussions with Israel representatives had
indicated that the clearing of the Suez Canal was the most urgent
and immediate problem, after which one could deal with the general
problem of withdrawal in the Sinai Desert and finally with the
particular problem of the Sharm el-Sheikh area.
Subsequent phases of withdrawal carried out during December and
January followed this scheme of priorities.
On 8 January 1957 Israeli forces withdrew to a more easterly line,
leaving no Israeli forces west of El Arish. As a result of this
action, the major part of the Sinai Desert was evacuated. Thus the
undertaking of the Israel Government transmitted by the
Secretary-General to the General Assembly on 24 December had been
On 8 January, as soon as the previous phase of withdrawal had been
completed, the Israel Government informed the Secretary-General of
its decision to withdraw another 25 to 30 kilometers throughout the
Sinai Desert except in the area of Sharm el-Sheikh. This action
enabled the entry of United Nations Emergency Forces into El Arish
and the St. Catherine's Monastery.
On 14 January, one day before the previous phase of withdrawal was
due for completion, the Israel Government communicated its decision
to have the Sinai Desert entirely evacuated by Israel forces on 22
January with the exception of the Sharm el-Sheikh area; that is the
strip on the west coast of the Gulf of Aqaba which at present
ensures freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran and in
the Gulf of Aqaba. At the same time my Government informed the
Secretary-General of its willingness to enter forthwith into
conversations with him in connection with the evacuation of this
strip. At the meeting of 14 January the Israel representative also
indicated the desire of my Government to begin discussions at an
early date on the arrangements envisaged for the Gaza area.
From this narrative the General Assembly will observe that the
withdrawals in the Sinai Desert have followed an orderly system of
phasing, in coordination with the eastward movement of United
Nations Emergency Forces following closely behind. By 22 January
Israel will have evacuated approximately 30,000 sq. miles of
territory which it had held at the end of November, when the United
Nations Emergency Force first became capable of following up the
Israeli withdrawals in force as envisaged in the General Assembly's
resolution of 7 November.
It is evident, therefore, that my Government cannot accept--nor can
any objective mind sustain--any criticism of Israel's action in
carrying out its undertaking of 8 November "to withdraw its forces
from Egyptian territory as soon as satisfactory arrangements can be
made with the United Nations in connection with the United Nations
On the basis of the discussions which its representatives have had
during this phased withdrawal, my Government understands that there
will not be any joint occupation in the area between Egyptian forces
and UNEF forces; we believe that it should be the policy of the
United Nations to maintain separation between Egyptian and Israeli
Before I discuss the complex problems which now confront us I wish
to comment on the circumstances which have attended these efforts by
Israel to fulfil the objectives of the General Assembly. The
position can be briefly stated. Throughout these weeks during which
Israel has co-operated actively with the United Nations on the
withdrawal of troops, there has not been one single act of
compliance by Egypt with the recommendations or policies of the
international organisation, to which she has looked for protection
against the consequences of her own belligerency.
While the General Assembly's resolution of 2 November established
special priority for an immediate cease-fire, it also contained
other recommendations, not one of which the Egyptian Government has
shown any intention to fulfil.
The 2 November resolution urged that "upon the cease-fire being
effective, steps be taken to reopen the Suez Canal and restore
secure freedom of navigation." This objective, so vital for the
security and economic welfare of many countries, has been subjected
by Egypt to every kind of obstruction and delay; conditions and
provisos have been attached to every phase of its implementation. No
action has been spared which might slow the process down; steps
essential for the clearance of the Canal have been made conditional
on the policies and preferences of the territorial power.
Negotiations aiming at establishing international law in the
operation of the Suez Canal have been delayed, at Egypt's behest.
Above all, the Egyptian Government has given no indication that when
the Canal is open it will not again be exposed to the illegality and
discrimination which Egypt has maintained for the past six years, in
defiance of a decision by the Security Council.
A similar fate has befallen the injunction of the General Assembly
in its 2 November resolution "to desist from raids across the
armistice lines in the neighbouring territory." Fedayeen gangs,
operating in neighbouring countries under Egyptian direction,
continue to spread death and havoc throughout our countryside. Since
3 December when the Cairo radio announced the intention of the
Nasser regime to conduct raids into Israel throughout the winter,
some 30 assaults have been committed. The official media of
information in Egypt have reported these attacks in boastful
communiqués. It is evident that in this respect, too, Egypt claims
the fulfilment of Assembly resolutions by others, without any
parallel acts of compliance on her part.
Moreover, during a period in which the United Nations has used its
full influence on Egypt's behalf for the withdrawal of troops,
Egyptian policy has been masked by a grave violation of Charter
principles and of fundamental human rights. Foreign nationals have
been expropriated and deported. The Jewish community has been
subjected to a persecution recalling some of the excesses of
totalitarianism before and during the Second World War. 7,000
Egyptian Jews have been driven out by this organised cruelty, and
all the conditions for a panic-stricken exodus have been wilfully
created by the Nasser regime. Thousands of victims have reached
Israel's welcoming shores. Some member Governments, in their direct
relationships with Egypt, have been moved to express mounting
indignation and concern.
World opinion has been quick to perceive the disparity between the
assistance which Egypt has received of the United Nations, and the
complete absence of any Egyptian response to the legitimate
interests of other States and of the organised international
community. The question whether Israel is not withdrawing into a
position of exposure to renewed Egyptian belligerency, by land and
sea, arises in our mind with increasing anxiety and concern.
The acuteness of this question will be easily perceived if we recall
that twelve weeks have elapsed since my Government addressed four
questions to the Egyptian Government which have still not been
1. Does Egypt still adhere to the position declared and maintained
by her over years that she is in a state of war with Israel?
2. Is Egypt prepared to enter into immediate negotiations with
Israel with a view to the establishment of peace between the two
countries as indicated in paragraph 3 of the aide-memoire of the
Government of Israel of 4 November 1956 to the Secretary-General of
the United Nations?
3. Does Egypt agree to cease economic boycott against Israel and
lift the blockade of Israel shipping in the Suez Canal?
4. Does Egypt undertake to recall Fedayeen gangs under her control
in other Arab countries?
In our talks with the Secretary-General on withdrawal it was
mutually understood at all times that the Sharm el Sheikh and Gaza
areas were reserved for discussions at a later stage in the
withdrawal process. Thus, if the reservation of these problems to
this later stage were now made a source of criticism or blame, a
serious injustice would be incurred, to the grave prejudice of
future discussions. These problems are of special complexity; they
touch the question of Israel's security at its most sensitive point.
They cannot be treated lightly, without danger to international
peace and security. In each case, a change in the existing situation
without simultaneous measures to prevent the renewal of belligerency
would lead to a possibility, nay, even a certainty, of tension and
I now come to explain why these problems have this special
character, and why we must all work with care and precision at the
stage which we have now reached in our deliberations.
The Straits of Tiran
The strip of territory in the Sharm el Sheikh area commands the
entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba through the Straits of Tiran. The only
channel leading from the Red Sea to the Gulf passes between the
Island of Tiran and the southeast extremity of the Sinai coast.
This channel is three miles in width, but its navigable part is only
some 500 metres broad. Thus any ship passing to or from the Gulf of
Aqaba must come very close to the Sinai coast.
At a point in the Sharm el Sheikh area known as Ras Nasrani, Egypt
set up gun emplacements six years ago for the sole purpose of
preventing ships from sailing freely in the Gulf of Aqaba to and
from the port of Elath. Two of these were 6-inch guns and four
3-inch guns. They were trained on the only lane usable by ships as
they sail through the Straits. These guns have blockaded the Gulf of
Aqaba for the past six years.
Sharm el Sheikh, Ras Nasrani and the neighbouring islands are
uninhabited, waterless and desolate. The only purpose of any human
presence in those places until 3 November was to prevent free access
to an international waterway. The purpose of our presence since then
has been to ensure free access. It is astonishing to observe the
elaborate installations; the ammunition depots; the airstrip; the
spacious accommodations which the Egyptians had established, with
the sole aim of obstructing the free passage of commerce between two
parts of the high seas.
These installations were established towards the end of 1949. In
reply to a query addressed to it by the American Embassy in Cairo,
the Egyptian Government, on 28 January 1950, gave assurances that it
had no intention of interfering with peaceful shipping, and that
passage through the Straits would "as in the past remain free in
conformity with international practice and with recognised
principles of international law." This Egyptian document has been
recorded in full in the verbatim records of the Security Council
In spite of this assurance, and of the fact that the Gulf of Aqaba
is a recognised waterway, Egypt has used its gun emplacements to
blockade the passage of ships bound for Elath through the Straits of
Tiran. The blockade in the Suez Canal, which was condemned by the
Security Council in 1951, has been carried out by Egypt with equal
stringency--and illegality--in the Gulf of Aqaba.
The blockade works primarily through its deterrent effect, but many
acts of force have been committed against ships exercising innocent
passage in this international waterway. Fire has been opened on
British, American and Italian ships; interference and obstruction
have been offered to vessels of Norwegian, Danish and other flags.
These acts of piracy had almost eliminated commerce and navigation
in the Gulf of Aqaba; slowed down the development of the Port of
Elath; inflicted illicit injury on Israel's economy and trade, and
denied other countries an alternative route to the Suez Canal, as a
link between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
On 3 November, when Israel forces entered the Sharm el Sheikh area
to assure Israel's self-defence against wanton belligerency, these
guns were silenced. To-day, for the first time, ships of all nations
are free to move north and south through the Straits of Tiran to and
from Elath. An alternative link to Suez joining the Red Sea and
Mediterranean is now open to all shipping without distinction of
In his Note to the General Assembly the Secretary-General refers to
"the international significance of the Gulf of Aqaba" which
justifies "the right of innocent passage through the Straits of
Tiran and the Gulf in accordance with rules of international law."
In 1949 the International Court of Justice ruled that when straits
are geographically part of a highway used for international
navigation, the vessels of all nations enjoy the right of free
passage therein, whether or not the straits are entirely or partly
within the territorial waters of one or more states. In the words of
the Court, they belong to the class of international highways
through which passage cannot be prohibited by a coastal state.
The international character of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Straits of
Tiran is fully confirmed by the jurisprudence of the United Nations.
In 1951, the Security Council denounced the Egyptian blockade
against Israel, as inconsistent with Egypt's international
obligations. In particular, the Security Council denied Egypt the
right to exercise visit, search or seizure or to apply restrictions
against shipping on the grounds of "belligerent rights". Egypt was
called upon to cease all such practices. While the Council's
decision was prompted by the Egyptian illegalities in the Suez
Canal, its judgments against visit, search or seizure are couched in
broader terms, so as to be of general application.
In March 1954 the Security Council discussed an Israeli complaint
against Egyptian restrictions both in the Suez Canal and the Gulf of
Aqaba. The majority voted for a resolution condemning these
restrictions, wherever applied, and calling for their immediate
cessation. This resolution was presented by New Zealand and
supported by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil,
Colombia, Turkey and Denmark. Interpreting the majority view, the
New Zealand representative said:
"The final paragraph of the draft resolution refers only to the
complaint of interference with ships in the Gulf of Aqaba. The
arguments advanced by the representatives of Egypt in justification
of that interference cannot be sustained and in fact have already
been rejected by the Council."
Thus the illegal character of Egypt's restrictions is established by
recognised principles of international law, by the jurisprudence of
the Security Council and of the International Court of Justice; by
the consensus of the Maritime Powers; and even by Egypt's own
admission in its assurance to the United States on 28 January 1950.
Israel is the only country in the world, except Egypt, with a
coastline both on the Mediterranean and on the Red Sea. The fact
that its territory unites the Eastern and Western oceans across a
land bridge of less than 150 miles constitutes Israel's most
important geographical advantage; to have had this facility denied
by illegal action for many years is an outrage which should no
longer be suffered. Indeed, having in recent weeks experienced the
use of this open international waterway, Israel can surely not be
asked to acquiesce in its ever being closed again. The development
of the southern part of our country; the expansion of our port
facilities at Elath; our right of free commerce with friendly
nations in Africa and Asia; the vision of our country as a bridge
between the traffic and ideas of the Eastern and Western worlds; the
liberation of countries in Europe and Asia from exclusive dependence
on a single Canal at Suez, exploited by Egypt to hold other states
up to injury and extortion; the consequent denial to Egypt of a
position of monopoly and domination, unhealthy both for itself and
for the maritime nations--all these great issues are bound up in the
problem of ensuring free passage through the Gulf of Aqaba and the
Straits of Tiran. The more this problem is contemplated the bigger
it becomes. It is an issue of broad international scope.
Israel is not alone in having a vital interest in the permanent
maintenance of free navigation in the Gulf of Aqaba. Countries whose
economy depends upon the flow of trade between the Red Sea and the
Mediterranean have already suffered loss through the Egyptian
blockade in this international waterway. The Gulf, freed from the
illegal Egyptian blockade, can become a pivotal point of
international commerce. The port facilities at Elath are being
constantly improved. Communications of all kinds across the
relatively short land-link between the two seas are under active
improvement; and other projects are in a planning stage. If this
position is not impaired, then no single state, and therefore no
state at all, will have a stranglehold on the jugular vein of other
The relevance of this consideration is already shown by an item
appearing in this morning's New York Times.
The avoidance of any renewed blockade in the Gulf of Aqaba and the
Straits of Tiran is an objective which the Government of Israel is
resolved to pursue with the utmost tenacity. We have no national
interests superior to this. We cannot take the responsibility of
allowing this interest to be endangered, and of seeing Egyptian guns
ever again set up to obstruct the commerce of nations in this
Nor, I believe, will the United Nations wish to assume that
responsibility. It is unthinkable that our Organisation should, for
whatever motive, be instrumental in restoring an illicit blockade.
What would history say of the United Nations which for the past five
years has not been able to keep the Suez Canal open without
discrimination, if it should now be instrumental in obstructing the
alternative route between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean? Is it
not sufficient that Egypt's policies have denied the world the use
of the Suez Canal? Must the blockade also be brought back to the
only alternative route? For nine years Egypt has refused to maintain
a legal situation in the Suez Canal. Is it conceivable that similar
discrimination should be brought back to the Gulf of Aqaba and the
Straits of Tiran?
But this result, shocking as it seems, would certainly occur if the
United Nations were to press for Israel's withdrawal, without, at
the same time, establishing effective arrangements for ensuring
permanent freedom of navigation through the Straits and the Gulf.
Unless special measures are now instituted, Israel's withdrawal,
after an uncertain interlude of United Nations Emergency Force
occupation, would be succeeded by the establishment of Egyptian
guns. The open waterway would again become a closed lake. Ships
would be detained and assaulted. Since Israel can never again allow
her legitimate commerce to be intercepted in the Gulf, Egyptian
belligerency would have dire effects. That this prospect is very
real is proved by an Egyptian broadcast a few days ago:
"The Arabs will pursue every Israeli ship which tries to pass into
the Gulf of Aqaba until they destroy her."
In August 1951, in discussing Egypt's maritime blockade, the
representative of Brazil uttered a grave warning. He said:
"Should we accept the Egyptian thesis, we would be bound to
recognize any measures of reprisal adopted by the Israel Government.
It is obvious that in the exchange of hostile acts that would follow
we could hardly expect to lay the foundations of a definite solution
to the Palestine question."
Thus, the establishment of effective guarantees for permanent
freedom of navigation in the Gulf and the Straits is essential not
only for the defence of international and Israeli interests, but
also for the preservation of peace. If conflict were to break out,
who can be sure to what it might lead?
Because the problem of the Sharm el Sheikh area raises such grave
issues it has been reserved for discussion to this late stage. It
was no doubt for this reason that in conversations between the
Israeli delegate and the Secretary-General it was mutually
understood that the very complication of the problems, and the
international interest involved, implied a need for negotiation in
order to safeguard that international interest and that therefore
this belonged to a later state of the general withdrawal.
Surely no delegate who studies this problem can doubt its gravity.
Our sole aim and interest in the Sharm el Sheikh area is to ensure
that we take no action now which would leave even the smallest
chance of such a tragic result as the restoration of the blockade
and the consequent renewal of regional conflict and of international
On the other hand, a solution is not impossible. My delegation has
variant proposals in mind which it will be prepared to explore in
the continuing course of its discussions on the problems of
withdrawal. Ways can be sought of simultaneously reconciling two
objectives--the withdrawal of Israeli forces, and the effective
guaranteeing of permanent freedom of navigation in this
The mere entry into this area of United Nations Emergency Force,
even with the specific aim of preventing belligerency, would not in
itself be a solution. For, there is yet no clarity about the
functions of the United Nations Emergency Force or about the
duration of its tenure. Any temporary measure for preventing
belligerency and securing free navigation would not be effective
unless it were ensured in advance that it would operate until a
peace settlement were achieved, or until some other effective
measure were established by international guarantees for ensuring
permanent freedom of navigation. Such guarantees could, perhaps, be
furnished either by the principal Maritime Powers; or by an
agreement between the four coastal states; or by some combination of
the two forms of guarantee. But, if the United Nations Emergency
Force were to be regarded as a key to the solution of this problem,
greater clarity and precision would be needed in defining its
functions and the conditions and duration of its tenure.
The Gaza Strip
In his Note to the General Assembly the Secretary-General states
that "further discussions with the representatives of Israel are
required" on the question of the Gaza strip. On 14 January, Israel
representatives stated that they were ready for such discussions at
an early date. At this stage I wish only to describe the general
background of our thinking on the Gaza question.
When the State of Israel was established in 1948, the Egyptian army
crossed the Sinai Desert into the Negev, in defiance of the
cease-fire resolution of the Security Council, in an attempt to
destroy Israel's new-born independence by force of arms. The attack
was held by the Israel settlements in the Negev. The Egyptians were
driven back across the international frontier into Sinai. They
succeeded, however, in clinging to a narrow rectangular strip 6
miles wide extending north from the Egyptian frontier for 26 miles
along the Mediterranean coast to a point within 35 miles of Tel
The Gaza strip was an integral part of the mandated territory of
Palestine, and is geographically and economically part of the Negev.
For the eight years of its occupation by Egypt, this strip served as
a base to spread terror and wreak havoc against Israel.
The bulk of the area is rural, with urban centres at Gaza, with a
population of 45,000; Khan Unis with a population of 14,000 and Rafa
with a population of 5,000. The resident population of the entire
strip is estimated at 80,000. Only about a third of the population
manages to support itself on citric-culture, date growing and some
Within the Gaza strip there live some 200,000 refugees who are fed,
clad and generally provided for by United Nations Relief and Works
Agency, and other international relief agencies. Throughout the
Egyptian occupation of Gaza, Egypt did not annex the Gaza strip, but
treated it as occupied territory provisionally administered by the
Egyptian military authorities. In a ruling given by the Cairo Court
of Administrative Jurisdiction in September 1955, it was stated that
the Gaza strip was outside Egyptian territory and that the Egyptian
authorities were exercising "a kind of control over part of the
territory of Palestine."
Throughout their occupation of the strip, which ended in November
1956, Egypt acted in Gaza as a foreign conqueror. There was no
democratic local representation in Government councils. No action
was taken to improve the impoverished condition of the area.
Restrictions were placed on the passage of persons and goods from
the Gaza strip to Egypt.
As a result of these conditions, many Gaza inhabitants fled to
Jordan and to other Arab countries.
The only purpose which the Gaza strip served during the Egyptian
occupation was that of providing a convenient base for aggression
against Israel. Extending deep into the heart of Israeli territory,
the Gaza area was excellently situated as a springboard for this
purpose. Over the years, attacks were launched week by week and
month by month against the land and people of Israel, and against
Israel property and vital installations. Egypt established a closely
knit chain of gun positions along the entire demarcation line,
subjecting Israel villages to intermittent fire, making life
unbearable across large areas of the Northern Negev and the southern
coastal plain. Israeli casualties in killed and wounded as a result
of Egyptian attacks, nearly all of which emanated from the strip,
totalled no less than 573. This was in addition to innumerable cases
of sabotage, mine-laying, robbery and theft.
In the summer of 1955 the Nasser regime launched a new form of
aggression against Israel from the Gaza strip. Amongst the destitute
elements of the local population and refugee camps, the Egyptian
High Command organised fedayeen units as military formations of the
Egyptian army. In the past eighteen months, these units carried out
an intensified campaign of attack upon Israel. They ambushed road
traffic, killed men, women and children, blew up wells and water
installations, mined roads at night, demolished houses in which
farmers and their families were peacefully asleep. These outrages
culminated in major outbreaks during August and September 1955,
April 1956 and October 1956.
In the ominous build-up of Egyptian forces, with offensive weapons
obtained during the first half of 1956, the Gaza strip had an
essential role both as a centre for fedayeen groups, and as the
forward base of an Egyptian Army division which was stationed there
within and hour's drive from Tel Aviv.
Since the expulsion of Egyptian forces from Gaza fedayeen have
ceased to infest the countryside. When the tensions and hostilities
had died down in early November, the refugee camps became calm.
Israel farmers and their families in the Negev had at last attained
physical security. Since 3 November no house, no school, no baby
home in their villages has been shelled from across the border.
The report submitted by the representative of the Secretary-General,
Colonel Nelson, who visited the Gaza strip at the end of November
lies before the General Assembly as Document A/3491. According to
this report "the Israel authorities have methodically established a
program to stabilise life in Gaza." "They have established law and
order." "The execution of civic responsibilities is being worked out
progressively with the local officials." "The Israel Administration
allows the United Nations Relief and Works Agency complete freedom
throughout the area." "A plan to make available basic foodstuffs at
subsidised prices from Israel Government stocks to the local
non-refugee population is being worked out." "Measures were being
introduced to facilitate the marketing of agricultural produce,
citrus and dates for export from the Gaza area. In speaking to
several farmers there was evidence that arrangements were being made
through the Israeli Citrus Board to actually export the agricultural
Colonel Nelson reports on the opening of banks and credit
facilities. He certifies that "there was relatively small physical
damage caused in the area due to the events of the 2nd and 3rd of
November." "On 25 November the Israel civilian police reporting to
Israel Central Police Headquarters was established in the area, and
is being coordinated with the local police. Throughout the area one
could see both Israeli civil police and the local police
patrolling." On the other hand "there were few troops evident in the
area as compared to the concentration of Egyptian troop units prior
to 2 November."
Colonel Nelson goes on to report that "water installations are
functioning throughout the area;" that "power stations in the area
are back to normal;" that telephone communication is being restored
progressively;" that "requisitioned cars and trucks are being
progressively returned to their owners;" that "hospitals are in full
operation;" that "Israel Health Ministry representatives have been
in the area to coordinate and assist."
Religious institutions in the area are pursuing their activities
without interruption. In a letter addressed on 18 November to the
Israel Ministry of Religious Affairs, Monseigneur Antonio Vergani,
Vicar General in Israel of the Latin Patriarchate, stated "I have
found that everything has gone for the best and that as soon as the
occupation of the town by Israel forces had started an officer came
immediately to the Latin Church where some 1,500 persons sought
refuge, and having ascertained that no harm occurred, posted another
officer and guard."
Similar tributes to a growing stability and peace in the Gaza area
have been recorded by the Senior Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate
and by the representatives of the International Red Cross Committee.
The future status of the Gaza strip remains to be determined. It
must be recalled that Gaza is separated from Egypt by scores of
miles of desert. The Egyptian military regime during the past eight
years was provisional in character, and of undefined legal status;
and it resulted in the decay of the area and in the impoverishment
of its population. No contribution whatever had been made by Egypt
to the solution of any part of the refugee problem, despite the fact
that this problem had been created through the invasion of Israel by
Egypt and other Arab states in 1948. It is inconceivable to my
Government that the nightmare of the previous eight years should be
re-established in Gaza with international sanction. Shall Egypt be
allowed once more to organise murder and sabotage in this strip?
Shall Egypt be allowed to condemn the local population to permanent
impoverishment and to block any solution of the refugee problem?
My Government believes that a solution of Gaza's problems, and
especially of the problem of Arab refugees can be found. On the
other hand, it must be admitted that any international force would
be powerless to prevent the return of elements which would incite
and intimidate the local population and the refugees, and the
recrudescence of fedayeen activities. Nor is it possible to maintain
an area such as the Gaza strip almost entirely devoid of economic
resources in a state of economic isolation from any adjoining
It will be seen that the issues which arise are complex, and offer
no easy solution. There are difficult political and security
problems in which 80,000 residents and some 200,000 refugees are
involved. It is clear that some time is needed to work out a
permanent solution of all these problems. They cannot be solved
overnight. The Government of Israel is prepared immediately to enter
into discussions in a quest for a solution. But we must not ignore
the report of the representative of the Secretary-General who writes
that "the removal of any effective authority from the area would
cause an eruption either by the refugees or the local inhabitants in
the form of looting or destruction of property." It is not difficult
to envisage what suffering and dislocation would come upon this
sorely tried region, if there were to be an uprooting of all those
elements of social, economic and municipal stability which have now
been established. Opportunities must be nourished for bringing about
radical improvement in the economic and social condition of the
inhabitants and for working out a solution of the refugee problem.
We believe that all this can be guaranteed by the continuance of the
present administrative processes, working in cooperation with
representatives of the local population and of the United Nations
Relief and Works Agency, and in suitable contact and relationship
with the United Nations. While we are not yet ready with final
proposals, we hope shortly to present detailed plans to the
international community whereby the Gaza strip would achieve peace
and stability; whereby the economic future of the population will be
assured, and whereby the United Nations with Israel's fullest
cooperation, will be enabled to proceed effectively towards a
solution of the refugee problem. The withdrawal of Israeli military
forces from the Gaza strip can well be one of the elements in the
arrangements which we envisage.
We are ready at an early date to pursue our thinking along these
lines with the Secretary-General in accordance with paragraph 9 of
his note to the General Assembly. In this case, as in that of the
entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, the desire to proceed speedily with
the fulfilment of the General Assembly's objectives on the
withdrawal of troops should be tempered by a prudent concern for the
avoidance of disruptions and dislocations and above all for the
prevention of any risk of resuming the deadly conditions of
belligerency which made Gaza a focus of international conflict
during the previous eight years.
Mr. President, the General Assembly will surely have no difficulty
in concluding that the problem of the Gulf of Aqaba with its broad
international perspectives ; and the question of the Gaza strip,
with its almost unparalleled complexity, require further
clarification in a cooperative spirit. I do not doubt that if the
General Assembly leaves room for that consideration the progress
already recorded in the Secretary-General's note can be crowned by
arrangements which will eliminate the prospect of the renewal of
belligerency by land and by sea. In the pursuit of such arrangements
my delegation will bend every resource of heart and mind in the days
that lie ahead.
The Gaza Strip speech
by Golda Meir