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Arab Delegations at Lausanne Accept Israeli Terms for Readmission of Refugees

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After a meeting lasting only 35 minutes, between the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission and the four Arab delegations, the conference, which is attempting to bring about an Arab-Israeli peace, took its first real step toward a general peace settlement.

The chief delegate of each of the four participating Arab States — Egypt, Transjordan, Syria and Lebanon — made a declaration on behalf of his government in which he accepted in principle the Israeli proposals for the settlement of the Palestinian Arab refugee problem. The spokesmen undertook to negotiate at the same time a settlement of all other outstanding questions between the Arab countries and Israel.

As soon as this meeting was over, Paul A. Porter, new United States representative and present chairman of the commission, met with Reuven Shiloah, co-chairman of the Israeli delegation. The United States delegation considers that details of the Israeli plan had become sufficiently known as a result of statements and dispatches from Tel Aviv so that further secrecy on the part of the Israeli delegation here had lost its point. The Israelis were, therefore, asked by Porter to provide the commission with the total number of refugees which they are willing to accept. They are to meet with the commission tomorrow.

The Israeli plan, as it has come to the commission informally, is that Israel would accept back another 100,000 refugees in all. But into this total Israel would include 2.5,000 Arabs who have already drifted back into Israel without permission and another 15,000 who are members of broken Arab families.

The significance of this first step toward settlement is the part played in it by the United States. The American delegation has changed completely from its earlier passivity and has now virtually taken over the commission. Combining its activities in Lausanne with those in the Arab capitals and Tel Aviv, the United States has forcefully cut through endless discussions which had been going on and has compelled both parties to produce detailed suggestions.

In fact, the negotiations all the way round now rest very much on United States initiative. Mr. Porter has so far shown himself to be firm, able and understanding — and determined to get an agreed settlement. It is emphasized here, however, that there will be no peace treaty signed at Lausanne. The object is to get an agreement by Israel and the Arabs on a joint protocol which would be somewhat less all-embracing than a peace treaty. The Arab States assert that as there had never been a formal state of war, no formal peace treaty can be signed. Informal work on such a draft has already begun.

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