Eban Rebukes Arabs at U.n.; Says Arab Lands Can Absorb Refugees
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Eban Rebukes Arabs at U.n.; Says Arab Lands Can Absorb Refugees

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Ambassador Abba Eban, head of the Israel delegation at the United Nations, today told the U.N. Ad Hoc Political Committee that if the Arab countries did for the Arab refugees what Israel had done for its new immigrants, there would be no Arab refugee problem. He emphasized that the Arab countries had far more resources than Israel.

The Israel diplomat sharply rebuked the Arab delegates for their attacks on Israel during the last three days, in the course of the U.N. debate on the Arab refugee problem. He said that it was Arab politics which prevented the re-integration of the Palestine refugees in Arab countries.

In Israel’s view, Mr. Eban stated, “regional settlement” would be in the interests of the refugees, would be just, and would lead the way to an Arab-Israel peace. He pointed out that in the meantime Israel was doing the best it could, with its limited resources, to help solve this problem of international scope. He emphasized that Israel’s past commitments with regard to compensation “stand fully valid.”

Mr. Eban said that the Arab refugees were “in the truest sense, at home in the Arab countries,” particularly in those with a shortage of manpower. There could have been “spontaneous re-integration,” but it had been” consciously prevented,” he charged. The Arab governments, he declared, had initiated “an ill-considered military adventure” and bore primary responsibility for the refugee problem. “You cannot let loose a war and wash your hands of all responsibility,” he stated.


The Israel representative pointed out that in the four years in which the Arab refugee problem had been in the United Nations, Israel had absorbed 750,000 immigrants, including 350,000 refugees from Arab countries. “In the short run,” the Israel delegate said, “the integration of refugees is a burden, but in the long run the new citizens are an asset.”

Mr. Eban said that many delegations had expressed their sympathy and indignation at remarks made during the debate by the “initiators” of much of the trouble and fighting in the area. He did not wish to answer these Arab attacks, but he felt it necessary to point out that the main responsibility for these refugees was caused by the war which the Arab states launched against Israel and their refusal to make peace.

He felt that it was an affront to the U.N. to say that it was responsible for these refugees, as some of the Arab delegates had attempted to do. “This is a poor reward for its generosity that it should be used as a mark of guilt.” The Israeli delegate said that he would vote in favor of the draft resolution submitted by France, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, authorizing the United Nations Relief and Work Agency to increase its relief budget for the present year to $23,000,000. He said that this was an expression of confidence in the United Nations Relief and Work Agency.


Mr. Eban told the U.N. Political Committee that Israel had received two requests from the United Nations and, despite the cost and the hardships they caused to the country’s economy, had complied. They were: 1 The release of the bank deposits of the Arab refugees. This meant that there would be a flow of currency into the Arab states which were maintaining economic blockades against Israel; 2. The assumption of the responsibility for 19,000 Arab refugees now in Israel. This amounted to a saving of $600,000 annually to the U.N.R.W.A. and was a much greater cost to Israel in turning them into citizens.

He pointed out that Israel was the only country to accede to these U.N. requests. He added that both the Arab States and Israel had been able to unite on the “states-man-like” program of resettling the refugees because it was divorced from politics. However, he noted, the Arabs had brought back politics into the consideration of this program. Owing to the political opposition of the Arab States many of the refugees had been taken off the relief rolls, he stated.


Alexis Kyrou, of Greece, chairman of the Political Committee, said that he agreed with much of what Ambassador Eban had said. Mr. Eban, pointing out the discrepancy between the fact that Israel spoke only once in the debate as compared with the six Arab states, some of whom had already had a second round of speeches, commented that it seemed to be a “sandwich with more bread than meat.”

Despite a warning by the chairman to the delegates to moderate their language, Iraq’s Fadil al-Jamali today repeated his attacks on Israel. He was joined in this. by the representatives of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Dr. Izzat Tannous, secretary general of the Palestine Arab Refugee Committee of Lebanon, told the committee that the refugees were “implacably and irrevocably” against resettlement anywhere except in Palestine.

The joint resolution to increase the U.N.R.W.A. ‘s budget for refugee relief this year to $23,000,000 was adopted by a vote of 50 to zero, with seven abstentions. Iraq was one of the abstaining nations.

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