U.N. Committee Hears Palestine Government at Closed Session; Secrecy Evokes Protest
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U.N. Committee Hears Palestine Government at Closed Session; Secrecy Evokes Protest

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Operating ahead of schedule, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine today began its work here by hearing representatives of the Palestine Government, who submitted a voluminous file of facts and figures on the situation in this country.

The committee heard the official representatives under a virtual ultimatum from the government, which said that it would submit its information at a closed session or not at all. The government’s stand was attacked by the press and the Jewish Agency, the latter body protesting the failure of the committee to have an Agency representative present when the government was heard.

The Agency will submit its memoranda tomorrow at what it expects will be an open meeting, in accordance with its request. The basis of the Agency’s presentation will be a compilation of the oral and written testimony given last year before the Anglo-American inquiry committee.

The government’s refusal to appear at an open hearing was revealed by Judge Emil Sandstroem, chairman of the committee, at his first press conference. More than 50 reporters, representing the press of the world, asked repeatedly why a session at which objective facts were to be presented need be held in camera. Sandstroem replied that the Palestine Government had so requested.

Asked further why the committee had acceeded to the request, the chairman replied–obviously with some embarrassment–that the Palestine Government refused to submit the material otherwise. When one correspondent asked “to what extent will the Palestine Government determine the procedure of the committee,” Sandstroem replied with a touch of asperity that “the Palestine Government is not governing the activities of this committee.”


Questioned concerning the Arab boycott, to which he referred obliquely during a brief nation-wide broadcast pledging that the committee would examine the Palestine question with an open mind, Sandstroem said that the boycott would not stop the probers from visiting Arab villages.

The Arab strike today to voice their disapproval of the committee passed without incident. A message from the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, read in all mosques, called on the country’s Arabs to close their ranks and “tenaciously resist all infringements on your rights.”

Before the committee held its first meeting in the YMCA building, each delegate and members of the secretariat were subjected to a thorough security check. The Yugoslav delegate Zonstanti Simitch has not yet arrived, and he was represented by ?r. Jhose Brilez, the alternate Yugoslav delegate. The committee announced that July 5 had been set as the deadline for the submission of written statements by organizations and individuals.


David Remez, chairman of the Jewish National Council, speaking to a plenary session of the Council today, said that the testimony to be given to the committee by the Council would be identical with that to be submitted by the Jewish Agency, and would show that the historical connection between the Jewish people and Palestine had not been broken through the centuries.

A delegation of Sephardic Jews will testify on the distressing position of Jews residing in Arab countries, he added. Remez welcomed the committee, and said that it would find that Jewish achievements here had also benefitted the Arabs.

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