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U.N. Conciliation Commission Reports Failure of Mission; Holds Arabs Responsible

The U.N. Palestine Conciliation Commission has failed to achieve any concrete results from its two-year effort to resolve outstanding problems between the Arab states and Israel and bring peace to Palestine. The effort broke down over Arab refusal to negotiate directly with Israel and to enter into general peace discussions with all problems considered equally.

The concession of failure and its major cause is revealed in full for the first time in a 70-page “progress” report prepared by the Commission for submission to the present session of the U.N. General Assembly.

The report, the eighth submitted by the Commission since its creation in December, 1948, covers the entire history of its continuous meetings with the Arab and Israel governments in Switzerland and the Middle East. These are the highlights of the recital:

1. As of now, the situation is wholly stalemated.

2. The Commission adopted the two basic proposals advanced by Israel, namely, that the peace talks be conducted primarily through direct Arab-Israel negotiations and that no prior conditions prejudge these negotiations. In a series of notes to the Arab governments during the course of this year, the Commission pressed these proposals but met complete Arab rejection of them. The Arab states insisted on discussion only through the Commission and held to the view that until Israel accepted the principle of the return and compensation of all refugees no peace negotiations could be carried on.

On this question, Israel’s position was that it would be willing to give priority, but not exclusivity, to the refugee problem, and it also expressed its willingness to share in specific measures to settle the problem, including the immediate acceptance of 100,000 refugees. However, it maintained that the refugee issue was an integral part of an overall peace settlement.

3. On the territorial question, Israel based itself on the existing situation and stated its desire to negotiate over the Gaza strip and certain northern areas, holding that the proper territorial settlement should encompass the Egyptian and Lebanese borders that existed under the British Mandate. The Arabs took the view that there should be a reversion to the partition borders, including Israel’s cession of the Negev and Eastern Galilee.

4. The Commission’s compromise proposal on a modus vivendi for negotiations–the setting up of mixed committees to deal with specific issues, a system patterned on the U.N. mixed armistice commissions in Palestine–was turned down by the Arab governments.

In releasing the report, the Commission disclosed that it would issue a supplementary report appraising the present situation in Palestine, and will meet in New York on October 2 for that purpose.

5. The report declares that despite Arab insistence on separating the refugee issue, the Commission formed the impression that the Arab governments were inclining to the view that the return of the refugees could not fully solve the problem and that consequently settlement of a considerable number of the refugees in the Arab countries must also be contemplated.

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