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Plan for U.N. Arab Refugee Repatriation Agency Hit in Israel

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The proposal made recently in New York for the establishment of a new United Nations agency for repatriation and resettlement of Arab refugees is “liable to do more harm than good,” an editorial in the Jerusalem Post declares. The idea, calling for the launching of a 10-year Arab refugee plan costing $400,000,000, originated with the Institute for Mediterranean Affairs in New York, and was endorsed by some well-known American scholars and liberals.

The proposal, according to the newspaper here, seems plausible at first sight” but it has “not actually been thought out very realistically.”

The editorial, entitled “Wrong Tack,” points out that a central idea in the plan calls for a plebiscite among the refugees, giving them a choice between going into Israel or into Jordan-controlled Palestine. Holding that the plebiscite idea is not new–since it had already been proposed at the United Nations–the Post states “it is no accident that nothing has come of it.” The editorial asks whether the authors of the plan think that Arab leaders would allow refugees to make an honest choice or to sign a pledge that they will not act as a fifth column against Israel.

“Almost” all of the refugees, states the editorial, “would be forced to vote for return to Israel, even against their own interests. The burden on Israel, as regards both security and economics, would be intolerable–precisely what the Arab leaders seek.”

“What is most disturbing about the plan,” the editorial concludes, “is that it mistakenly puts the refugee problem at the center of the Middle Eastern crisis, the cart before the horse, while it is actually peripheral, despite its distressing dimensions. The central issue is the dangerous instability willfully produced by Nasserite subversion and expansionism, and only when this destructive force is checked will the refugee problem be found to be moving in the direction of self-solution.”

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