Lake Success, N.Y. (Nov. 19)
An Egyptian amendment to the draft constitution of the International Refugee Organization aimed at blocking the resettlement in Palestine of displaced Jews from Europe was defeated today by the U.N. Social The and Cultural Committee following strong opposition by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. delegate.
Mrs. Roosevelt pointed out that if the Egyptian amendment were adopted, it would have the effect of making the resettlement of Jewish refugees impossible and would make their repatriation to their native lands obligatory. Certain classes of Jewish refugees, she argued, could not be repatriated.
Mrs. Roosevelt also opposed a Soviet motion to eliminate a paragraph defining DP’s as those “unable or unwilling” to avail themselves of the protection of their countries of origin, pointing out that its deletion might affect Polish Jews who do not want to return to Poland.
The Committee also took steps today to redraft a proposal that might have been interpreted as permitting Arab states to prevent the IRO from assisting in the resettlement of Jewish refugees in Palestine. The proposal, offered in the form of an amendment to the IRO constitution, by Yugoslav delegate, Leon Mattes, would force the IRO “to refrain from any temporary or permanent location of refugees and displaced persons in a territory if any of the neighboring countries submit a formal objection based on the endeavor to preserve friendly relations between nations.”
Mattes explained that this proposal was directed only at fascist elements in Europe and he asked the delegates to accept it in that spirit. Realizing the interpretation that might be placed on it, the Danish delegate suggested a change that would eliminate Palestine. His proposal was for the IRO “to avoid resettlement and reestablishment of refugees and displaced persons on adjoining territories of their countries of origin if a formal objection is raised by such a country.” The phrase “country of origin” would avoid application to Palestine.
The committee then voted to send both versions to a drafting committee of Yugoslavia, Denmark, Egypt and the United States, together with an Egyptian proposal that would amend the same paragraph to prevent resettlement against “the freely expressed aspirations and wishes of the indigenous population in the receiving countries.”
The Egyptian delegate, Saad Kamel, raised violent objection to the committee’s action. First, he announced that if the original Yugoslav proposal is changed he would adopt it as his own. Further, he insisted that his amendment should not be included with the other two. In this he was overruled by the chairman. The expectation is that Egypt’s views will be rejected by the other three states and that the revised amendment will not concern Jews.
The committee defeated another Yugoslav amendment that would have put European Jews under the jurisdiction of the IRO only if they left their homeland before the creation of the IRO.