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Thursday, 18 October 1956

Mr CASEY (Minister for External Affairs) - Since the right honorable gentleman asked me a question yesterday, I have discussed this matter with the department. The reservation 1 made yesterday was, 1 think, a natural one. For myself, I would hesitate a great deal before expressing a completely firm opinion on the interpretation of an international treaty. 1 said at the time that I could not conceive that there was any obligation on Australia, direct or indirect. Discussion with the department enables me to say that there is no obligation on Australia in respect of the British-Jordan treaty. In answer to the second part of the right honorable gentleman's question, I inform him that the Jordan-Israel matter goes to the Security Council to-morrow. Friday, New York time. The council is to consider a complaint made by Jordan. The complaint by Jordan against Israel is in the following approximate terms: -

On 11th October, Israel launched a major unprovoked and premeditated attack against four Jordan villages. The attack lasted 6i hours. It ceased on the order of General Burn.

He is the United Nations truce supervisor -

The attackers used heavy arms, including bombers. Twenty-five Jordan soldiers and national guards were killed and thirteen wounded. A police post was demolished and a number of villages were shelled. Another major attack was launched by Israel on 25th September against Jordan territory and 25 Jordanians were killed. These acts of aggression are flagrant violations of the Armistice Agreement and a threat to peace.

That is the end of a condensed version of the Jordan complaint against Israel, which is now before the Security Council. I have not the precise text of the counter-claim by Israel against Jordan, but, in general terms, it is in respect of the persisent violations of the Armistice Agreement by Jordan. That is the complaint and the counter-complaint. Although every one, 1 think, would deplore the use of force in these circumstances, I suggest that instead of looking at any one of these unfortunate incidents, the whole history of the tragic relationship between Jordan and Israel should be considered in perspective. That history should be kept in mind when one is looking at any particular act of what might be called aggression. No one of these incidents can be looked at in vacuo; they must all be looked at against the background of the extreme tension, and the action that has resulted from it, that has unfortunately existed between these two countries for a number of years.

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