LAUSANNE (May. 24)
The four Arab delegations attending the U.N.-sponsored Arab-Jewish peace talks here today notified the U.N. Conciliation Com-mission that they would accept fully the U.K. General Assembly’s Palestine partition plan as the basis for the negotiations. At the same time, they insisted on the re-turn of Arab refugees to Israeli-occupied areas of Palestine.
The Arabs also submitted a memorandum outlining their interpretation of the Commission’s “working paper” which was handed to them May 12. They declared that in view of their acceptance of the partition frontiers, they were interpreting the sight-point refugee program which the Commission submitted to the Israelis as applying only to areas ceded to the Jewish state by the U.N. resolution. It does not apply, the memorandum stated, to the Arabs who fled those areas assigned to a Palestine Arab state which have since been occupied by the Israeli Army.
In such areas, the memorandum demanded, the Arabs should be allowed to return to their homes without restrictions. The areas specifically named were: Western and Central Galilee; the Lydaa-Ramleh district’ and the Beersheba vicinity.
At a press conference today, following submission of the memorandum, an Arab spokesman estimated that the number of refugees who would be returned to their homes under this proposal would number about 300,000. However, later, in a private conversation, Mulki Pasha, Transjordan Defense Minister, estimated the number to be about 500,000.
Mulki Pasha also declared that he had extreme difficulty in convincing the other Arab delegations to go along with this proposal and that if the Israelis did not make some sort of a conciliatory reply he would leave Lausanne. He indicated that la would wait a week for the Israeli response.
Meanwhile, Dr. Walter Eytan of the Israeli delegation confirmed today that there will be no change in Israeli policy at Lausanne. He added that, on the contrary, he informed the Commission that with the present Israeli immigration rate which exceeded 5,000 one day last week, the prospect of any Arabs returning to Israel becomes dinner as a settlement is delayed. In six months’ time, Israel will probably be un-able accept a single Arab if the present rate of Jewish immigration is maintained, he warned.