UNEF I withdrawal (16 May – 17 June 1967) – SecGen report, addenda, corrigendum

DOCUMENTS A/6730 AND ADD.1-3

Report of the Secretary-General on the withdrawal

of the United Nations Emergency Force

______________________________________________________________________

DOCUMENT A/6730 1/

[Original text: English]

[26 June 1967]

1. This special report is submitted in accordance with paragraph 4 of General Assembly resolution 1125 (XI) of 2 February 1957.

2. On 18 May 1967, at 12 noon, I received through the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic to the United Nations the following message from Mr. Mahmoud Riad, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Republic:

"The Government of the United Arab Republic has the honour to inform Your Excellency that it has decided to terminate the presence of the United Nations Emergency Force on 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."

3. I replied to the above message in the early evening of 18 May as follows:

"I have the honour 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:

"`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 UNEF 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 UNEF, I believe that this Force has been an important factor in maintaining relative quiet in the area of its deployment during the past ten years and that its withdrawal may have grave implications for peace.'"

4. Instructions relating to the withdrawal of UNEF were cabled by me to the Force Commander in the evening of 18 May.

5. As background, the General Assembly will recall that in resolution 1125 (XI) the General Assembly considered

"that, after full 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".

The General Assembly further requested the Secretary-General, in paragraph 4 of resolution 1125 (XI)

"in consultation with the parties concerned, to take steps to carry out these measures and to report, as appropriate, to the General Assembly".

Since the eleventh session of the General Assembly the Secretary-General has reported to the Assembly annually on the Force.

6. The general considerations which I have had in mind and the sequence of events leading up to the present situation are set out in an aide-mémoire of 17 May which I handed to the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic at 5:30 p.m. on 17 May, the text of which reads as follows:

"1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations requests the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic to the United Nations to convey to his Government the Secretary-General's most serious concern over the situation that has arisen with regard to the United Nations Emergency Force in the past twenty-four hours as a result of the demands upon it made by United Arab Republic military authorities and of certain actions of United Arab Republic troops in the area.

"2. Before engaging in detail, the Secretary-General wishes to make the following general points entirely clear:

"(a) He does not in any sense question the authority of the Government of the United Arab Republic to deploy its troops as it sees fit in United Arab Republic territory or territory under the control of the United Arab Republic.

"(b) In the sectors of Gaza and Sinai, however, it must be recognized that the deployment of troops of the United Arab Republic in areas in which UNEF troops are stationed and carrying out their functions may have very serious implications for UNEF, its functioning and its continued presence in the area.

"(c) The Commander of UNEF cannot comply with any requests affecting the disposition of UNEF troops emanating from any source other than United Nations Headquarters, and the orders delivered to General Rikhye on 16 May by military officers of the United Arab Republic were not right procedurally and quite rightly were disregarded by General Rikhye.

"(d) UNEF has been deployed in Gaza and Sinai for more than ten years for the purpose of maintaining quiet along the armistice demarcation line and the international frontier. It has served this purpose with much distinction. It went into the area and has remained there with the full consent of the Government of the United Arab Republic. If that consent should be withdrawn or so qualified as to make it impossible for the Force to function effectively, the Force, of course, will be withdrawn.

"3. The following is the sequence of events which have given rise to the present crisis:

"(a) At 2200 hours, local time, on 16 May, Brigadier Eiz-El-Din Mokhtar handed to General Rikhye, the Commander of UNEF, the following letter:

"`For your information, I gave my instructions to all Armed Forces of the United Arab Republic to be ready for action against Israel the moment it might carry out any aggressive action against any Arab country. Due to these instructions our troops are already concentrated in Sinai on our eastern borders.  For the sake of complete security of all UN troops which install observation posts along our borders, I request that you issue your orders to withdraw all these troops immediately.  I have given my instructions to our Commander of the eastern zone concerning this subject.  Inform back the fulfilment of this request.

"`(Signed) M. FAWZY

"`General of the Army,

"`Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces

of the United Arab Republic'

"(b) The Commander of UNEF replied that he had noted the contents of General Fawzy's letter and would report immediately to the Secretary-General for instructions, since he had no authority to withdraw any troops of UNEF, or in any other way to redeploy UNEF troops, except on instructions from the Secretary-General.

"(c) On learning of the substance of General Fawzy's letter to General Rikhye, the Secretary-General asked the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic to the United Nations to see him immediately.  The Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic came to the Secretary-General's office at 1845 hours on 16 May. The Secretary-General requested him to communicate with his Government with the utmost urgency and to transmit to them his views, of which the following is a summary:

"(i) The letter addressed to the Commander of UNEF was not right procedurally since the Commander of UNEF could not take orders affecting his command from a source other than the Secretary-General.  General Rikhye was therefore correct in his insistence on taking no action until he received instructions from the Secretary-General.

"(ii) The exact intent of General Fawzy's letter needed clarification. If it meant the temporary withdrawal of UNEF troops from the Line or from parts of it, it would be unacceptable because the purpose of the United Nations Force in Gaza and Sinai is to prevent a recurrence of fighting, and it cannot be asked to stand aside in order to enable the two sides to resume fighting.  If it was intended to mean a general withdrawal of UNEF from Gaza and Sinai, the communication should have been addressed to the Secretary-General from the Government of the United Arab Republic and not to the Commander of UNEF from the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Republic.

"(iii) If it was the intention of the Government of the United Arab Republic to withdraw the consent which it gave in 1956 for the stationing of UNEF on the territory of the United Arab Republic and in Gaza it was, of course, entitled to do so.  Since, however, the basis for the presence of UNEF was an agreement made directly between President Nasser and Dag Hammarskjöld as Secretary-General of the United Nations, any request for the withdrawal of UNEF must come directly to the Secretary-General from the Government of the United Arab Republic.  On receipt of such a request, the Secretary-General would order the withdrawal of all UNEF troops from Gaza and Sinai, simultaneously informing the General Assembly of what he was doing and why.

"(iv) A request by the United Arab Republic authorities for a temporary withdrawal of UNEF from the armistice demarcation line and the international frontier, or from any parts of them, would be considered by the Secretary-General as tantamount to a request for the complete withdrawal of UNEF from Gaza and Sinai, since this would reduce UNEF to ineffectiveness.

"(d) The Secretary-General informed the Commander of UNEF of the position as outlined above, as explained to the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic, and instructed him to do all that he reasonably could to maintain all UNEF positions pending further instructions.

"(e) At 0800 hours Z, on 17 May, the Commander of UNEF reported that on the morning of 17 May, 30 soldiers of the Army of the United Arab Republic had occupied El Sabha in Sinai and that their troops were deployed in the immediate vicinity of the UNEF observation post there.  Three armoured cars of the United Arab Republic were located near the Yugoslav UNEF camp at El Sabha and detachments of 15 soldiers each had taken up positions north and south of the Yugoslav camp at El Amr. All UNEF observation posts along the armistice demarcation line and international frontier were manned as usual.

"(f) At 1030 hours Z, on 17 May, the Commander of UNEF reported that troops of the United Arab Republic had occupied the UNEF observation post on El Sabha and that the Yugoslav UNEF camps at El Qusaima and El Sabha were now behind the positions of the Army of the United Arab Republic.  The Commander of UNEF informed the Chief of   the United Arab Republic Liaison Service of these developments, expressing his serious concern at them.  The Chief of the United Arab Republic Liaison Service agreed to request the immediate vacation of the observation post at El Sabha by troops of the United Arab Republic 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 future misunderstandings the Yugoslav observation post at El Sabha should be immediately withdrawn to El Qusaima camp.  The  Commander replied that any such withdrawal would require the authorization of the Secretary-General.

"(g) At 1200 hours Z, the Chief of the United Arab Republic Liaison Service conveyed to the Commander of UNEF a request from General Mohamed Fawzy, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Republic, for the withdrawal of UNEF Yugoslav detachments in the Sinai within twenty-four hours. He added that the Commander of UNEF might take forty-eight hours or so to withdraw the UNEF detachment from Sharm El Sheikh.

"(h) At 1330 hours Z, the Commander of UNEF reported that a sizable detachment of troops of the United Arab Republic was moving into the UNEF area at El Kuntilla.

"4. The Secretary-General is obliged to state that UNEF cannot remain in the field under the conditions described in the foregoing paragraphs.  The function of UNEF has been to assist in maintaining quiet along the Line by acting as a deterrent to infiltration and as a buffer between the opposing forces.  It can discharge neither of these functions if it is removed from the Line and finds itself stationed behind forces of the United Arab Republic.  In other words, UNEF, which has contributed so greatly to the relative quiet which has prevailed in the area in which it has been deployed for more than ten years, cannot now be asked to stand aside in order to become a silent and helpless witness to an armed confrontation between the parties. If, therefore, the orders to the troops of the United Arab Republic referred to above are maintained, the Secretary-General will have no choice but to order the withdrawal of UNEF from Gaza and Sinai as expeditiously as possible.

"5. The Secretary-General wishes also to inform the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic that as of now, on the basis of the fully reliable reports received from the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine, there have been no recent indications of troop movements or concentrations along any of the lines which should give rise to undue concern.

"6. The Secretary-General requests the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic to transmit the contents of this aide-mémoire with utmost urgency to his Government."

7. At the same time the following aide-mémoire dated 17 May was handed by me to the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Republic:

"It will be recalled that in an aide-mémoire attached to the report of the Secretary-General on basic points for the presence and functioning in Egypt of the United Nations Emergency Force 2, it was recorded that:

"`1. The Government of Egypt declares that, when exercising its sovereign rights on any matter concerning the presence and functioning of UNEF, it will be guided, in good faith, by its acceptance of General Assembly resolution 1000 (ES-I) of 5 November 1956.'

"The aide-mémoire also records that:

"`2. The United Nations takes note of this declaration of the Government of Egypt and declares that the activities of UNEF will be guided, in good faith, by the task established for the Force in the aforementioned resolutions; in particular, the United Nations, understanding this to correspond to the wishes of the Government of Egypt, reaffirms its willingness to maintain UNEF until its task is completed.'

"The General Assembly, in resolution 1121 (XI) of 24 November 1956, noted with approval the contents of the aide-mémoire referred to above.

"The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, in concluding on behalf of the Government of Egypt the agreement of 8 February 1957 concerning the status of the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt, recalled:

"`…the declaration of the Government of Egypt that, when exercising its sovereign powers on any matter concerning the presence and functioning of the United Nations Emergency Force, it would be guided, in good faith, by its acceptance of the General Assembly resolution of 5 November 1956…'"

8. As a result of the situation described above, I held an informal meeting with the representatives of the countries providing contingents to UNEF in the late afternoon of 17 May.  I informed them of the situation as then known and there was an exchange of views.

9. Since the first aide-mémoire was written, the following developments have been reported by the Commander of UNEF:         

(a) Early on 18 May, the sentries of the UNEF Yugoslav detachment were forced out of their observation post on the international frontier near El Kuntilla camp.  At 1220 hours GMT, on 18 May 1967, soldiers of the United Arab Republic forced UNEF soldiers of the Yugoslav contingent to withdraw from the observation post on the international frontier in front of El Amr camp and later, officers of the United Arab Republic visited El Amr camp and asked the UNEF Yugoslav platoon to withdraw within fifteen minutes.

(b) At 1210 hours GMT, on 18 May, officers of the United Arab Republic visited the Yugoslav camp at Sharm el Sheikh and informed the Commanding Officer that they had come to take over the camp and the UNEF observation post at Ras Nasrani, demanding a reply within fifteen minutes.

 

(c) At 1430 hours GMT, on 18 May, the UNEF Yugoslav detachment at El Qusaima camp reported that two artillery shells, apparently ranging rounds from the United Arab Republic artillery, had burst between the UNEF Yugoslav camps at El Qusaima and El Sabha.

(d) At 0857 hours GMT, on 18 May, a UNEF aircraft carrying Major-General Rikhye, the Commander of UNEF, on a flight from El Arish to Gaza was intercepted west of the armistice demarcation line by two Israel military aircraft which tried to make the UNEF aircraft follow them to the Israel side of the line to land, and went so far as to fire several warning shots.  The pilot of the United Nations aircraft on instructions from the UNEF Commander, ignored these efforts and proceeded to land at Gaza.  I have strongly protested this incident to the Government of Israel through the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations.  The Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces has since conveyed regrets for this incident to Major-General Rikhye.

10. Late in the afternoon of 18 May, I convened a meeting of the UNEF Advisory Committee, set up under the terms  of paragraphs 6,  8 and 9 of  resolution 1001 (ES-I) of 7 November 1956, and the representatives of three countries not members of the Advisory Committee but providing contingents to UNEF, to inform them of developments and to consult them on the situation.

11. The exchange of notes between the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Republic and the Secretary-General, quoted at the beginning of this report, explains the position which I have found myself compelled to adopt under the resolutions of the General Assembly and the agreements reached between the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Egyptian authorities as the basis for the entry of UNEF into the territory of the United Arab Republic in November 1956, and its subsequent deployment in Gaza and Sinai in 1957.

12. I have taken this position for the following main reasons:

(a) The United Nations Emergency Force was introduced into the territory of the United Arab Republic on the basis of an agreement reached in Cairo between the Secretary- General of the United Nations and the President of Egypt, and it therefore has seemed fully clear to me that since United Arab Republic consent was withdrawn it was incumbent on the Secretary-General to give orders for the withdrawal of the Force. The consent of the host country is a basic principle which has applied to all United Nations peace-keeping operations.

(b) In practical fact, UNEF cannot remain or function without the continuing consent and co-operation of the host country.

(c) I have also been influenced by my deep concern to avoid any action which would either compromise or endanger the contingents which make up the Force.  The United Nations Emergency Force is, after all, a peace-keeping and not an enforcement operation.

(d) In the face of the request for the withdrawal of the Force, there seemed to me to be no alternative course of action which could be taken by the Secretary-General without putting in question the sovereign authority of the Government of the United Arab Republic within its own territory.

13. I cannot conclude this report without expressing the deepest concern as to the possible implications of the latest developments for peace in the area.  For more than ten years the United Nations Emergency Force, acting as a buffer between the opposing forces of Israel and the United Arab Republic on the armistice demarcation line in Gaza and the international frontier in Sinai, has been the principal means of maintaining quiet in the area. Its removal inevitably restores the armed confrontation of the United Arab Republic and Israel and removes the stabilizing influence of an international force operating along the boundaries between the two nations.  Much as I regret this development, I have no option but to respect and acquiesce in the request of the Government of the United Arab Republic.  I can only express the hope that both sides will now exercise the utmost calm and restraint in this new situation, which otherwise will be fraught with danger.

14. Finally, I must express the highest appreciation to the Government of all the Members of the United Nations which have supported UNEF and especially to those which have provided the military contingents which made up the Force.  The appreciation of the United Nations is also due to the many thousand officers and men who have served so loyally and with such distinction in UNEF. The Force at its inception represented an extraordinary innovation in the efforts of the world community to find improved methods of keeping the peace.  For more than ten years it has fulfilled its functions with a far greater degree of success than could have been hoped for.  It is, in fact, the model upon which many hopes for the future effectiveness of the United Nations in peace-keeping have been based.  Its termination at this particular time raises serious anxiety as to the maintenance of peace in the area in which it is operating.  In this anxious time, therefore, I feel it my duty to appeal not only to the parties directly affected by the withdrawal of UNEF to do all in their power to keep the peace, but also to all the Members of the United Nations to intensify their efforts both for the maintenance of peace in this particular situation and for the improvement of the capacity of the organization to maintain peace.  It goes without saying that I shall continue to do all within my power towards the attainment of both these objectives.

Notes

1/ Already circulated, on 18 May 1967, as a document of the twenty-second session under the symbol A/6669.

2/ Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 66, document A/3375.


DOCUMENT A/6730/ADD.1 1/

[Original text: English]

[26 June 1967]

The following is the text of a message to the Secretary-General received on 20 May 1967 from Mr. Mahmoud Riad, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Republic:

"On the occasion of the withdrawal of the United Nations forces from the United Arab Republic and Gaza Strip, I wish to express to you, on behalf of my Government, our thanks and appreciation of the efforts and sincere co-operation the United Nations and its forces have shown in the United Arab Republic.  I hope that you will convey to the officers and soldiers of UNEF our appreciation of the discharge of their duties during their stay.  This expression of appreciation is also addressed to the Governments to which these forces belong.  In conclusion may I express to you my appreciation of your personal efforts and understanding of our clear position and your belief in the United Nations and its mission."

Note

1/ Already circulated, on 21 May 1967, as a document of the twenty-second session under the symbol A/6669/Add.1.


DOCUMENT A/6730/ADD.2  1/

[Original text: English]

[26 June 1967]

1. In my special report to the General Assembly of 26 June 1967 (A/6730), I pointed out that I had given instructions on the evening of 18 May 1967 to the Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) for the withdrawal of the Force from Sinai and the Gaza Strip.  As I indicated both in my reply of 18 May 1967 to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Republic and in my report to the Security Council on 19 May, the actual process of withdrawal would be "orderly, deliberate, dignified and not precipitate" (S/7896, para. 13).2/  The withdrawal of the Force was completed on 17 June when the Commander of the Force and his remaining staff officers departed from Gaza. The physical presence of elements of the Force in the area until that date has had no operational significance, however, since it became impossible for the Force to perform any peace-keeping function, in the sense of providing a buffer and deterring infiltrators when troops of the United Arab Republic began to move up to the Line on 16 May, two days before the request for the withdrawal of the Force was received by me.

2. As soon as the instructions for the withdrawal of UNEF had been given, the Commander of the Force, in consultation with United Nations Headquarters, began to work out a programme for the withdrawal and evacuation of the contingents of UNEF by air and by sea, by which the withdrawal of most of the personnel of the Force from the area would have been completed by the last days of June.  This withdrawal plan was being carried out when hostilities erupted on 5 June.  That development necessitated a complete revision of the plan for the evacuation of UNEF.  The outbreak of hostilities made it impossible to keep the various contingents in camps in the Gaza Strip and Sinai until the time came for their repatriation, by air or sea, according to the original plan.  Moreover, the ports and the airfields from which it had been planned that they would depart were no longer available for UNEF use.

3. Since the situation of the contingents of UNEF awaiting evacuation had become extremely difficult, even precarious, owing to the fighting in which they were engulfed and which took its toll of casualties amongst them, and subsequently, to severe shortages of water, food and medical supplies, it became necessary after 5 June to make plans for their immediate and direct evacuation from the area by sea.

4. The numerical strength and composition of UNEF on 15 May 1967 was as follows:

Brazil……..

Canada……..

Battalion…………………………

Base units………………………..

Royal Canadian Air Force……………

702

 93

  433

  795

Denmark………………………………………..

    2

India………

Administrative troops………………

Battalion…………………………

 55

923

  978

Norway…………………………………………

    1

Sweden……..

Yugoslavia….

Hospital………………………….

Battalion…………………………

Battalion…………………………

   60

  530

  579

Total

3,378

 

Apart from the Canadian contingent, which had already been evacuated by air by 31 May, virtually all of the other troops of UNEF were still in the area when the hostilities broke out on 5 June.

5. Because of the fighting, it was at first intended to embark the contingents from the beach at Gaza.  Owing to security factors in Gaza, however, and the urgent necessity of evacuating the contingents as soon as possible because of the general difficulty of movement and the shortages of essentials in the area, it was decided by the Commander of the Force that the best solution would be to evacuate all UNEF contingents through the Israel port of Ashdod twenty miles (thirty-two kilometres) north of Gaza, where the nearest port facilities were available and there were no security problems.  The Israel authorities gave their co-operation in the evacuation of UNEF contingents through that port.  The contingents were evacuated in this manner as follows:

Brazil  …………..

Denmark  ………….

India …………….

Norway  …………..

Sweden ……………

Yugoslavia ………..

GRAND TOTAL

   25

  391

  416

    2

    5

  176

  219

  259

  286

  945

   61

  523

  272

    5

  295

  572

2,519

 9 June

13 June

 9 June

 9 June

10 June

11 June

12 June

13 June

 9 June

 9 June

 6 June

 9 June

11 June

  

The Indian, Norwegian and Swedish contingents were taken by ship to Cyprus where a staging area was set up by the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus with the co-operation of the Government of Cyprus and from where they have been, or are about to be, repatriated by air to their home countries.

6. After 13 June, when the evacuation of the contingents of UNEF was completed, forty-two United Nations personnel remained in the Gaza area.  With the departure of the Commander of the Force and of his remaining staff officers on 17 June, only civilian United Nations personnel now remain in Gaza.  Their function is to organize the evacuation or disposal of remaining stores and equipment.

7. The transportation and other arrangements for the evacuation of UNEF were handled with commendable efficiency by the United Nations Field Service, under extraordinarily difficult conditions.  In this regard, special mention is due to the exceptional performance of the Field Service communications personnel with UNEF, who in very confused and often hazardous circumstances maintained UNEF's communications with the outside world.

8. In my report to the Security Council (S/7930 and Add.1-17),3/ I referred to the tragic casualties which the Force had suffered as a result of being involuntarily caught up in the hostilities which began on 5 June.  The following is the confirmed list of casualties suffered:

Brazil: Sergeant Adalberto Ilha de Macedo.

India: Captain Vijay Sachar, Subahdar Ajit Singh, Sepoy Sohan Singh, Sepoy Joginder Singh, Sepoy Pritam Singh, Sepoy Sadhu Singh, Sepoy Mohinder Singh, Bandsman Gopal Singh, Sepoy Mukhtiar Singh, L/Naik Sulakhan Singh, Sepoy Jit Singh, Sepoy G. K. Kutty, Nce Sona Baitha, Sepoy Zora Singh.  In addition, there were sixteen wounded in the Indian contingent and one slightly wounded in the Brazilian contingent.

Apart from the casualties suffered in the strafing of a UNEF convoy by Israel aircraft on 5 June and by a mine explosion, the remaining casualties were due to artillery and mortar fire on the camps in which UNEF personnel were concentrated and on UNEF headquarters in Gaza town.  I wish to express again my deep regret at the casualties suffered by UNEF when the troops had already ceased to perform operational duties and were awaiting repatriation. I also wish to express once again my condolences to the Governments concerned and to the bereaved families.

9. A full and final report on UNEF, giving a detailed account of its operation since my last regular report to the General Assembly on UNEF 4/ and of its withdrawal, will be submitted to the General Assembly in the near future.

Notes

1/ Already circulated, on 19 June 1967, as a document of the twenty-second session under the symbol A/6669/Add.2.

2/ See Official Records of the Security Council, Twenty-second Year, Supplement for April, May and June 1967.

3/ Ibid.

4/ Official Records of the General Assembly, Twenty-first Session, Annexes, agenda item 21, document A/6406.


DOCUMENT A/6730/ADD.3*

[Original text: English]

[26 June 1967]

CONTENTS

Paragraphs

Page

Introduction

Chronology of relevant actions

Main points at issue

Legal and constitutional considerations and the question of consent for the stationing of UNEF on United Arab Republic territory

Observations

 1 – 3

 4 – 30

31 – 51

52 – 98

  99

 9

10

13

15

20

ANNEX

Cable containing instructions for the withdrawal of UNEF sent by the Secretary-General to the Commander of UNEF on 18 May 1967 at 2230 hours, New York time

20

INTRODUCTION

1. This report on the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) is submitted because, as indicated in my statement on 20 June 1967 to the fifth emergency special session of the General Assembly [1527th plenary meeting], important questions have been raised concerning the actions taken on the withdrawal of UNEF.  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 peace-keeping 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 judgement about the withdrawal of UNEF. 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. The emphasis here, therefore, 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 historical 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 GMT (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 UNEF, Major-General Rikhye, requesting withdrawal of "all UN troops which install observation posts along our borders" (A/6730, para. 6, sub-para. 3 (a)).  Brigadier Mokhtar, who handed General Fawzy's letter to the Commander of UNEF, 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 UNEF 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 UNEF operations in Sinai as hitherto.  Brigadier Mokhtar told the Commander of UNEF that this might lead to conflict on that night (16 May) between United Arab Republic and UNEF troops, and insisted that the Commander issue orders to UNEF 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 UNEF activities as established until he received fresh instructions from the Secretary-General.

6. 2130 hours GMT (1730 hours, New York time).  The Secretary-General received at this time the UNEF Commander's cable informing him of the above-mentioned message from General Fawzy.  The UNEF Commander was immediately instructed to await further instructions from the Secretary-General and, pending this later word from him, to "be firm in maintaining UNEF position while being as understanding and as diplomatic as possible in your relations with local United Arab Republic officials".

7. 2245 hours GMT (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 UNEF must come directly to the Secretary-General from the Government of the United Arab Republic.

8. 2344 hours GMT. The UNEF 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 GMT (0400 hours New York time).  The Commander of UNEF 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 UNEF observation post there.  Three armoured cars of the United Arab Republic were located near the Yugoslav UNEF 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 UNEF 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 GMT (0630 hours, New York time).  The Commander of UNEF reported then that troops of the United Arab Republic had occupied the UNEF observation post at El Sabha and that the Yugoslav UNEF camps at El Qusaima and El Sabha were now behind the positions of the army of the United Arab Republic.  The Commander of UNEF 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 future misunderstandings, the Yugoslav observation post at El Sabha should be withdrawn immediately to El Qusaima camp.  The Commander replied that any such withdrawal would require the authorization of the Secretary-General.

11. 1200 hours GMT (0800 hours, New York time).  The Chief of the United Arab Republic Liaison Staff at this time conveyed to the Commander of UNEF a request from General Mohamed Fawzy, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Republic, for the withdrawal of the Yugoslav detachments of UNEF in the Sinai within twenty-four hours.  He added that the UNEF Commander might take "forty-eight hours or so" to withdraw the UNEF detachment from Sharm el Sheikh.  The Commander of UNEF replied that any such move required instructions from the Secretary-General.

12. 1330 hours GMT. The Commander of UNEF then reported that a sizable detachment of troops of the United Arab Republic was moving into the UNEF area at El Kuntilla.

13. 2000 hours GMT (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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF.  Two other representatives stated the view that the United Arab Republic was entitled to request the removal of UNEF 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 UNEF'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 GMT (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 GMT (0921 hours, New York time).  The Commander of UNEF reported at this time that his Liaison Officer in Cairo had been informed by an ambassador of one of the countries providing contingents to UNEF that the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Republic had summoned the representatives of nations with troops in UNEF to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and informed them that UNEF 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 UNEF 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 Republic 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 GMT. United Arab Republic soldiers at this time forced Yugoslav UNEF 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 UNEF soldiers to withdraw the guard.

18. 1220 hours GMT.  At this hour, United Arab Republic soldiers entered the UNEF 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 UNEF platoon to withdraw within fifteen minutes.

19. 1210 hours GMT. 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 UNEF observation post at Ras Nasrani, demanding a reply within fifteen minutes.  The contingent commander replied that he had no instructions to hand over the positions.

20. 1430 hours GMT. The UNEF Yugoslav detachment at El Qusaima camp reported that two artillery shells, apparently ranging rounds from the United Arab Republic artillery, had burst between the UNEF Yugoslav camps at El Qusaima 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 GMT (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 honour 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 UNEF an "occupation force".  The Secretary- General expressed deep misgivings about the likely disastrous consequences of the withdrawal of UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF Advisory Committee,  set  up  under the terms of paragraphs 6, 8 and 9 of resolution 1001 (ES-I) of 7 November 1956, and the representatives of three countries not members of the Advisory Committee but providing contingents to UNEF, to inform them of developments and particularly the United Arab Republic's request for UNEF'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 UNEF 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 holders 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 UNEF 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 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 for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Republic through that Government's Permanent Representative as follows:

"I have the honour to acknowledge your letter to me of 18 May conveying the message from the Minister for 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:

"`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 UNEF 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 UNEF, I believe that this Force has been an important factor in maintaining relative quiet in the area of its deployment during the past ten years and that its withdrawal may have grave implications for peace.

"`U THANT'"

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 UNEF were sent to the UNEF 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 (S/7896).

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 concerning the withdrawal of UNEF, 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.  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 Strait of Tiran.

17 June 1967

30. The withdrawal of UNEF was completed.  Details of the actual withdrawal and evacuation of UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF is a primary cause of the present crisis in the Near East.  This is, of course, a superficial and over-simplified approach.  As the Secretary-General pointed out in his report of 26 May 1967 to the Security Council, 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 request for the withdrawal of the Emergency Force is the latest expression" (S/7906, para. 2).1/  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 UNEF on its territory.

33. The United Nations Emergency Force served for more than ten 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 Strait of Tiran–a problem which had been dormant for over ten years only because of the presence of UNEF.  But the presence of UNEF 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 UNEF'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, UNEF 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 be 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 UNEF's presence in the area against the will of the Government of the United Arab Republic.

The decision on UNEF's withdrawal

34. The decision to withdraw UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 for the withdrawal of UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF'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 UNEF, 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 UNEF as an "army of occupation".  Such a reaction, combined with the fact that UNEF 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 UNEF personnel should an effort be made to keep UNEF 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 UNEF precipitated other consequences such as the reinstitution of the blockade against Israel in the Strait of Tiran.  As can be seen from the chronology, the UNEF positions at Sharm el Sheikh on the Strait of Tiran (manned by thirty-two 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 Strait 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 UNEF, which is the organ established by the General Assembly for consultation regarding such matters.  This was made clear by Secretary-General Hammarskjöld, 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."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), of 7 November 1956, 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 UNEF, the Secretary-General had also consulted the Permanent Representatives of the seven countries providing the contingents of UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 Hammarskjöld 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 UNEF 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 UNEF could have been reached by the Assembly once United Arab Republic consent for the continued presence of UNEF was withdrawn.

42. As regards the practical possibility of the Assembly considering the request for UNEF'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 eighty-two 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 UNEF 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 two 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 any 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 co-operation of the host country is essential to the effective operation and, indeed, to the very existence, of any United Nations peace-keeping operation of the nature of UNEF.  The fact is that UNEF had been deployed on Egyptian and Egyptian-controlled territory for over ten and a half years with the consent and co-operation 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 right to refuse the stationing of UNEF 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 UNEF's effectiveness as a buffer and deterrent to infiltration was, throughout its existence, a voluntary undertaking by local United Arab Republic authorities with UNEF, that United Arab Republic troops would respect a defined buffer zone along the entire length of the Line in which only UNEF would operate and from which United Arab Republic troops would be excluded.  This undertaking was honoured for more than a decade, and this Egyptian co-operation extended also to Sharm el Sheikh, Ras Nasrani and the Strait of Tiran.  This undertaking was honoured although UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF has successfully maintained quiet along the Line for more than ten years, owing in large measure to the co-operation of the United Arab Republic authorities, that 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 co-operation 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 UNEF. First, once the United Arab Republic troops moved up to the Line to place themselves in direct confrontation with the military forces of Israel, UNEF 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.  UNEF 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 co-operation.

50. Quite apart from its position in the United Arab Republic, the request of that Government for UNEF'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 UNEF 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

UNEF 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 UNEF.  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 forty- eight 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 UNEF at staging area in Naples.

57. 8-12 November 1956.  Negotiations between Secretary-General Hammarskjöld and the Government of Egypt on entry of UNEF into Egypt.

58. 12 November 1956.  Agreement on UNEF entry into Egypt announced and then postponed, pending clarification, until 14 November.

59. 15 November 1956. Arrival of advance elements of UNEF in Abu Suweir, Egypt.

60. 16-18 November 1956.  Negotiations between Secretary-General Hammarskjöld and President Nasser in Cairo on the presence and functioning of UNEF in Egypt and co-operation with Egyptian authorities, and conclusion of an "aide-mémoire on the basis for the presence and functioning of the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt" (the so-called "good faith accord").3/

61. 24 January 1957.   The Secretary-General,  in  a report to the General Assembly,12/ 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 1957, 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 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".

62. 7 March 1957.  Arrival of UNEF in Gaza.

63. 8 March 1957. Arrival of UNEF elements at Sharm el Sheikh.

64. In general terms the consent of the host country to the presence and operation of the United Nations peace-keeping machinery is a basic prerequisite of all 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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:

"Functioning, as it would, on the basis of a decision reached under the terms of 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."5/

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 UNEF 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 1956.6/

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 he 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. Hammarskjöld and President Nasser resulted in the "good faith" aide-mémoire.

73. An interpretative account of these negotiations made by Mr. Hammarskjöld in a personal and private paper entitled "aide-memoire", 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-memoire". 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 UNEF 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 Hammarskjöld 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 Assembly 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."7/

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".8/

Analysis of the "task" of the Force

75. In the "good faith" aide-memoire the Government of Egypt declared that, "when exercising its sovereign rights on any matter concerning the presence and functioning of UNEF, 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 UNEF will be guided, in good faith, by the task established for the Force in the aforementioned resolutions [1000 (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 UNEF 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-I), the United Nations also undertook to be guided in good faith by the task established for the Force in resolutions 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".9/ 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".

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 crisis 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 Mr. Fawzi on 14 November 1956.

80. The Foreign Minister of Egypt, Mr. 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."10/

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 UNEF, 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."11/

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 Hammarskjöld to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom.12/

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) of 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.13/  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 ten 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 UNEF 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 Sharm 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 1957,14/ the Government of 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 Strait 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 make 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."15/

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 recorded "arrangements for the complete and unconditional withdrawal of Israel in accordance with the decision of the General Assembly."16/  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."17/

86. The Foreign Minister of Israel, in her statement at the 666th meeting of the General Assembly, on 1 March 1957, asserted that an assurance had been given that any proposal for the withdrawal of UNEF from the Gulf of Aqaba area would come first to the Advisory Committee on UNEF (see paragraphs 95-98 below).

Question of the stationing of UNEF 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 UNEF on both sides of the armistice demarcation line.  The Secretary-General, in his report of 24 January 1957 to the General Assembly,18/ 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 19/ 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 UNEF 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.20/  However, Israel forces were never withdrawn from El Auja and UNEF 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 full 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 UNEF at Sharm el Sheikh (see paragraph 84 above), he "considered it important . . . to learn whether Israel itself, in principle, consents to a stationing of UNEF 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'".21/  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 United Nations Emergency Force 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 Israel side of the armistice demarcation line."

90. In a report dated 9 October 1957 to the twelfth session of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General stated:

"Resolution 1125 (XI) calls for placing the Force `on the Egyptian-Israel Armistice demarcation line', but no stationing of UNEF on the Israel side has occurred to date through lack of consent by Israel."22/

91. In the light of Israel's persistent refusal to consent to the stationing and operation of UNEF 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 UNEF on Egyptian territory in accordance with the resolution of 2 February 1957.

92. The representative of Israel stated in 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."23/

93. The answer to this problem which is to be found in resolution 1125 (XI) 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 armistice demarcation line. Israel, in the exercise of its sovereign right, did not give its consent to the stationing of UNEF on its territory and Egypt did not forgo its sovereign right to withdraw its consent at any time.

Role of the UNEF 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 UNEF, established an Advisory Committee on UNEF 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 connexion with the duration of UNEF's deployment in the Sharm El Sheikh area, would the Secretary-General give notice to the General Assembly of the United Nations before UNEF would be withdrawn from the area, with or without Egyptian insistence, or before the Secretary-General would agree to its withdrawal?"24/

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."25/

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/3563, 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."26/

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 UNEF.

OBSERVATIONS

99. A partial explanation of the misunderstanding about the withdrawal of UNEF is an evident failure to appreciate the essentially fragile nature of the basis for UNEF's operation throughout its existence.  UNEF in functioning depended completely on the voluntary co-operation 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 its 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 has also pointed the way to a unique means of contributing significantly to international peace-keeping.


Annex

CABLE CONTAINING INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE WITHDRAWAL OF UNEF

SENT BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL TO THE COMMANDER OF UNEF

ON 8 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. UNEF 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 UNEF 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 UNEF 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 functions 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, co-operation from the Government on the territory of an independent sovereign State for over ten 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. UNEF aircraft will continue flights as necessary in connexion 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 international frontier and the 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 UNEF will have the full co-operation 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 UNEF 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.

_______________

*Incorporating document A/6730/Add.3/Corr.1.

Notes

 1/ See Official Records of the Security Council, Twenty-second Year, Supplement for April, May and June 1967.

   2/ Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 66, document A/3563, annex I, B, 2.

 3/ Ibid., document A/3375, annex.

 4/ Ibid., document A/3512.

 5/ Ibid., First Emergency Special Session, Annexes, agenda item 5, document A/3302, para. 9.

 6/ Ibid., Eleventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 66, document A/3375, annex.

   7/ Ibid., Plenary Meetings, 597th meeting, para. 48.

 8/ Ibid., para. 50.

 9/ Ibid., First Emergency Special Session, Annexes, agenda item 5, document A/3302, para. 8.

10/ Ibid., Eleventh Session, Plenary Meetings, 597th meeting, para. 49.

11/ Ibid., First Emergency Special Session, Annexes, agenda item 5, documents A/3268 and A/3269.

12/ Ibid., document A/3287, annexes 2 and 4.

13/ Ibid., Eleventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 66, documents A/3512, para. 20, and A/3527, para. 5.

14/ Ibid., document A/3527, annex I.

15/ Ibid., document A/3527, para. 5.

16/ Ibid., document A/3568, para. 2.

17/ Ibid., Eleventh Session, Plenary Meetings, 667th meeting, para. 240.

18/ Ibid., Annexes, agenda item 66, document A/3512.

19/ 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 Qusaima and Abu Aweigila.

20/ Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 66, document A/3512, paras, 15-22.

21/ Ibid., document A/3527, para. 5.

22/ Ibid., Twelfth Session, Annexes, agenda item 65, document A/3694, para. 15.

23/ Ibid., Eleventh Session, Plenary Meetings, 592nd meeting, para. 131.

24/ Ibid., Annexes, agenda item 66, document A/3563, annex I, A, 2.

25/ Ibid., annex I, B, 2.

26/ Ibid., Plenary Meetings, 666th meeting, para. 8.


2019-03-11T21:18:48-04:00
Go to Top