Arabs Hamper Peace in Middle East, Israel’s Foreign Minister Tells United Nations
Menu JTA Search

Arabs Hamper Peace in Middle East, Israel’s Foreign Minister Tells United Nations

Download PDF for this date

Placing the blame for the absence of genuine peace in the Middle East squarely on the Arab states, Israel Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett today warned the United Nations Special Political Committee against taking “the road of deadlock” in seeking a settlement in the Middle East and a solution to the Arab refugee problem.

Leading the Israel delegation for the second day, in a diplomatic campaign reminiscent of earlier Israel battles in the world organization for recognition as a state and in support of Jerusalem, Mr. Sharett defended his government against Arab charges of discrimination in Israel and blasted the Arab governments for refusal to negotiate a lasting peace settlement. He told the 60 U.N. delegates that the crux of the matter was whether the Arabs wanted peace. If they did, it meant full acceptance of Israel, he said. But, he added, if they did not feel this way, then there was no use talking in the U.N. any further.

“The basic issue is the conclusion of peace,” he declared. “If that is not possible, let us drop the matter. Let us leave to time the healing of this wound.” Asserting that no Arab delegate at any Conciliation Commission meeting had ever been authorized to discuss a real peace settlement, Mr. Sharett said: “This tragi-comedy must come to an end. The Commission should be saved from the indignation and humiliation” of a fruitless process.

Mr. Sharett’s attack was aimed immediately against three resolutions before the Committee that either restricted themselves to the refugee problem or made it paramount to peace negotiations. The Israel Foreign Minister declared that the U.N. would get nowhere unless it insisted that the Arabs join Israel in direct or evenindirect peace talks. He pressed an Israel resolution which urges the governments concerned to engage without delay in such talks, recommending that “special and urgent consideration” be given the refugee question.

Replying to Arab allegations regarding the treatment of Arabs in Israel, Mr. Sharett told the Committee that the percentage of Arab children of school age enrolled in Israel schools had risen since 1945 from 45 percent to 83 percent. He said wages of unskilled Arab laborers had risen from 49 percent of the wages paid Jewish laborers to 85 percent. He said Israel policy was definitely the equalization in all spheres of activity.


Mr. Sharett, in both morning and afternoon session, took pains to explain Israel objections to a Nationalist Chinese amendment to the American-sponsored four-power resolution. The amendment calls for “negotiations” between the parties “either with the Conciliation Commission or directly,” rather than “direct discussions without delay,” as specified in the American draft. Mr. Sharett pointed out that a pious declaration for negotiations would result in the same old Arab delaying tastics. Beyond this, however, there is fierce Israel opposition to the second part of the four-power draft, which would set up a special office for the handling of the repatriation and compensation questions.

The Israel Foreign Minister asked the acting chairman of the Conciliation Commission, Ely E. Palmer of the United States, the attitude of the Commission toward this amendment. Mr. Palmer said he had not wanted to answer specific questions, last his words be misinterpreted or he give the impression of “taking sides” in the debate. The Commission recognized that its record of accomplishment was “not much to be proud of,” he said, but it did feel that some progress might be made.

In reply to Mr. Sharett’s question, he read excerpts from the Commission’s supplementary report stating the Commission’s view that “direct negotiations between the parties under United Nations auspices offer the best prospects of a final solution of the Palestine problem.” Whether this was done “without delay” was relatively unimportant, said Mr. Palmer. Language was unimportant. What was important was the cooperation and good will of all the parties concerned, he emphasized.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund