UNITED NATIONS, N. Y. (Nov. 18)
Israel’s new position regarding a possible solution of the Arab refugee problem–stated here yesterday by Israel’s delegation chairman, Abba Eban–is regarded by many delegations as a statesman-like formulation. One top-ranking delegate said of Mr. Eban’s speech: “I think that Israel has now really contributed toward taking this problem out of dead center.”
Of most important interest is the fact that Israel no longer insists on postponing an Arab refugee solution until overall peace negotiations are begun between Israel and the Arab states. The Arab states have been insisting for many years that the refugee problem is the chief stumbling block to peace in the Middle East. Now, as observers see it, Israel is challenging the very line they had been advocating.
A ranking member of the British delegation stated that he felt Israel has provided a starting point from which work might go on toward a possible solution of the refugee problem. (An editorial to this effect also appeared today in the New York Times.)
In the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee, where the Arab refugee problem has been under debate for ten days, Pierre de Vaucelles, French delegate, declared today that his government views with “particular interest the statement made yesterday by the representative of Israel.” However, the French representative warned against “any attempt prematurely to find an overall resolution” of the Arab refugee problem.
Ahmed Shukairi, Saudi Arabian delegate, evidently anxious to appear as the spokesman for the Arab bloc, took the floor in the committee today to argue his version of the refugee problem. He spoke sarcastically of Mr. Eban’s proposal. As a substitute, Mr. Shukairi suggested that the United Nations appoint a “reservoir” for all Arab property in Israel. He proposed that the receiver be either Henry R. Labouisse, former director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Arab refugees, or anyone else who might be appointed by Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold.