WASHINGTON (May. 15)
Israel Ambassador Abba Eban and John D. Hickerson. Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs, today discussed refugee problems with special emphasis on the possibility of the mutual unfreezing of accounts of Arab refugees in Israel banks and accounts of Jewish refugees now in Israel which are held frozen by Arab banks. Mr. Eban indicated Israel’s preparedness to discuss the commencement of such mutual unfreezing.
The Ambassador called at the State Department accompanied by second secretary Pinchas Eilav of the Israel Embassy. In their discussion with Mr. Hickerson. American cooperation in securing the release of Jewish funds frozen by the Arabs was discussed. The U.S. Government is studying the question of taking an interest in the matter. The U.N. Palestine Conciliation Commission has suggested that the unfreezing of Arab accounts by Israel would be a gesture which might have a good effect on peace prospects. Since the Arab accounts in Israel are considered a matter of United Nations concern, the discussion was held today with Mr. Hickerson.
Ambassador Eban said today’s talk concerned only the principle of releasing the accounts. The methods by which this might be accomplished would have to be worked out through United Nations channels, he said. Approximately $14,000,000 in Arab funds are held by Israel banks. An estimate of Jewish assets held in Arab states is not immediately available.