Israeli Foreign Minister Clarifies Government’s Attitude on Readmission of Arabs

Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett tonight clarified the attitude of the Israeli Government on the question of admitting Arab refugees into Israel.

Addressing the Knesset, the Foreign Minster said that the basic policy adopted by the government concerning the readmission of Arabs into the Jewish state remains unaltered. He emphasized that the government is deeply convinced that the broad solution of the Arab refugee problem resides in the absorption of the refugees in the neighboring Arab countries and not in the return of a restricted number of Arabs to Israel.

The government, he said, is determined to consider the eventual return of Arab refugees only as a part of a general peace settlement and on the basis of a specific number of refugees. The contemplated plan, he stated, would include 25,000 Arabs who have already returned to Israel as well as separated relatives who will return in the future.

The Foreign Minister reiterated the conviction of the government that the responsibility for the Arab refugee problem rests entirely on those who ignored U.N. resolutions and started a struggle in the country to prevent the establishment of the state of Israel. Responsibility, he said, also rests on those who invaded the country against U.N. decisions. The same parties are responsible for the distress and hardships endured by the Arab refugees, Mr. Sharett declared.

The Israeli government, he continued, could not remain indifferent in the face of the distressing situation of the refugees, but at the same time, the government is conscious of the dangers and the economic difficulties which are likely to result from the return of a specific number of Arab refugees. However, the government believes that it is its duty to assume responsibility for aiding the Arabs, provided that such steps lead to a general peace settlement. The government would in this manner contribute appreciably to the solution of the distressing problem which must be considered as a link in the chain of over-all peace.

GOVERNMENT CHARGED WITH SURRENDERING TO AMERICAN PRESSURE

Opening the parliamentary debate on Mr. Sharett’s statement, Yitzhak Ben Aharon, a leader of the Mapam, declared that his party did not object to the principle of readmission of Arab refugees to Israel, but criticized the government for advertising such a step at the present juncture instead of using it as a trump in the Israeli-Arab negotiations which are now going on at Lausanne. He said that the Foreign Minister’s statement indicates that the Israeli Government has surrendered to American pressure.

There will be no war in Palestine if Israel can prevent it, Premier David Ben Gurion last night told the 400 delegates attending the opening session of a national conference of Moazat Hapoalot, the Women’s Labor Council. The delegates, who represent some 80,000 members, included 238 Mapai members, 135 from Mapam, while the remainder were scattered among several minor parties. He disclosed that the government planned to submit, as soon as possible, to the Israeli parliament a bill guaranteeing full equality before the law for women.

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