PARIS (Sep. 17)
The United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine today presented its five-point plan for peace in the Middle East to the four Arab states attending the commission’s “peace conference.” Delivery of the plan to the Israeli delegation was held up pending receipt of instructions from Tel Aviv on Israel’s answer to chairman Ely E. Palmer’s statement opening the deliberations last Thursday.
Details of the plan will not be officially disclosed until the text has been delivered to the Israeli delegation. An Israeli spokesman told the J.T.A. that the delay had no ulterior significance and said there was “no shadow of a possibility” that Israel would decline to co-operate with the commission.
The Commission met with the Arab delegations in closed session this morning and with the Israeli delegation in the afternoon. According to an announcement by the commission tonight, the Arab delegates expressed their readiness to co-operate with the Commission. Ambassador Palmer then gave them copies of the commission’s “comprehensive mediatory proposals, consisting of a preamble and five points”
Maurice Fischer, head of the Israeli delegation, told the commission this afternoon that “the nature and importance” of the text of the commission’s outline were such that the delegation felt it ought to have instructions from Tel Aviv before replying. Until instructions were received, he added, the delegation did not feel free to accept the commission’s plan. He assured the commission that “the closest study” is being carried out of the commission’s outline. No date was set for further meetings of the conference pending the reply from Tel Aviv, but the commission will continue to hold its own meetings here.
The commission’s view is that peace depends on prosperity and there can be no prosperity in the Middle East without co-operation and mutual respect for Israeli and Arab rights. The central issue is the question of the Palestine Arab refugees. The commission has proposed that some of the Palestine Arab refugees be allowed to return to their former homes in Israel territory. The others would receive compensation from Israel for the loss of property, including such items as blocked bank accounts.
Some Arab circles are now reported to be opposed to the idea of asking Israel to take back some of the Arab refugees. Extremist elements, including the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, are said to favor keeping the refugees on Israel’s borders, not permitting them to settle either in Israel or elsewhere to begin a new life.
The Israelis have taken the position that it would be pointless to discuss the refugee question out of context of a general peace settlement. The commission is going along to the extent of trying to get the Arabs to agree to an overall settlement, including co-operative development of water-power resources, international public works and communications agreements.