Obligation of Egypt to Comply with the Security Council's Resolution of 1951: Statement by the United States Representative at the United Nations (1) Before the Security Council, March 25, 1954 (2)

The issue before us is the compliance of a valued member of the United Nations with a decision taken 2 1/2 years ago by the highest body of this organization charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. After examining the facts and arguments presented by both sides, this Council adopted a resolution on September 1, 1951, which continues to apply to the facts as we have heard them relating to the complaint now under consideration. The resolution of 1951 was adopted after the parties themselves had entered into a general armistice agreements which had as one of its principal purposes the promotion of permanent peace in Palestine. The resolution stems from that agreement. The basic issues are the same as those considered then, and in our opinion, nothing has happened since 1949, when the Armistice Agreement was signed, or since 1951, when the resolution was adopted, to alter their validity or significance to the peace of the area.

Throughout the history of the Palestine Question the United Nations has sought a peaceful, just, and equitable settlement of the many complicated problems arising out of the Palestine conflict. The decisions of the various organs of the United Nations have not always satisfied our own views 100 percent. But we have consistently sought to respect and give effect to the combined judgment which those decisions represent. We, for our part, feel that the parties directly concerned in these questions have an equal duty to respect and make every reasonable effort to give effect to the combined judgment of the United Nations, whether expressed in the Security Council or in the General Assembly, or other competent organs. We must say frankly that the desire of the interested parties to do so has not always been apparent if, disregarding the collective efforts of the United Nations, the parties bring the house down upon themselves, it is they who will suffer most. This may seem like a strong statement, but candor compels it.

When the United Nations was established, such situations as these were the reason why we combined together to pool some of our resources and to subject some of our interests to the judgment of the majority. It seems to us that the parties to the Palestine Question are losing sight of the immense value to themselves that this process represents. None of us can stand alone; disregard of the Council's view in one instance encourages recalcitrance in another. The whole fabric of international cooperation inevitably suffers. Thus, to repeat, the question before us is one of compliance with a decision of the United Nations. That decision was based on several important considerations, one of which was that, and I quote, "neither party can reasonably assert that it is actively a belligerent or requires to exercise the right of visit, search and seizure for any legitimate purpose of self-defense."

In our opinion, this principle is equally applicable to the Suez Canal and to any waters outside the Canal. This principle and the decision of the Council in its resolution of 1951 should be applied by the parties themselves through the Mixed Armistice Commission which they themselves set up. Differences arising between the parties under the Armistice Agreement should always, in our opinion, be handled as fully as possible in the first instance by the Mixed Armistice machinery. An exception to this rule could weaken the effectiveness of that machinery. We believe that the Mixed Armistice Commission, in considering the specific complaint with respect to actions in the Gulf of Aqaba, must be bound not only by the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement, but should act also in the light of paragraph 5 of the resolution of September 1, 1951.

We therefore fully support the draft resolution presented to this Council by New Zealand.(3) We hope that the members of the Council will likewise give it their full support in the knowledge that there is involved here the all-important question of peace and security in the Near East. The representative of Egypt,(4) in the statement of his Government's viewpoint presented to us at our meeting on March 12, has referred to the "complete good will of Egypt" and "its efforts to prepare the ground for a reasonable solution." He also, quite properly, called for similar efforts by the Government of Israel.(5) We could not fail to endorse such sentiments. We are convinced that they can be given effect acceptance and reaffirmation of the Council's decision of September 1, 1951. We hold similar views with respect to the various other decisions of the United Nations on this difficult question of Palestine. We hope that these views will continue to be the views of all responsible members, whether charged with the peculiar responsibility of membership in this Council or otherwise. In this spirit we will vote for the draft resolution proposed by the delegation of New Zealand.(6)

(1) Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Back

(2) Department of State Bulletin, Apr. 12, 1954, pp. 569-570. For background discussion see Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly Covering the Period from 16 July 1953 to 15 July 1954 (A/2712), pp. 29-37, and United States Participation in the United Nations: Report by the President to the Congress for the Year 1954 (Department of State publication 5769; 1955), pp. 7076. Back

(3) U. N. doc. S/3188/Corr. 1, Mar. 19, 1954. Back

(4) Mahmoud Azmi, permanent representative of Egypt to the United Nations. Back

(5) 661st meeting of the Security Council, Mar. 12, 1954. Back

(6) The Soviet Union vetoed the draft resolution on Mar. 27. The Security Council took up again the question of Egyptian interference with shipping in the Suez Canal in October 1954 following a complaint by Israel that Egypt had seized on Sept. 28, 1954, the Bat Galim, a ship flying the Israeli flag, while it was attempting to transit the Suez Canal. For a statement by Ambassador Lodge in the Security Council on Jan. 4, 1955, see Department of State Bulletin, Jan. 17, 1955, pp. 110-111. For background discussion see Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly Covering the Period from 16 July 1954 to 16 July 1955 (A/2935), pp. 1-6. Back

American Foreign Policy 1950-1955
Basic Documents Volumes I and II
Department of State Publication 6446
General Foreign Policy Series 117
Washington, DC : U.S. Governemnt Printing Office, 1957

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