Debate on Palestine Refugees Opened at U. N.; Arab Voices War Threat

The United Nations was told today by one of the Arab representatives here that, unless steps are taken immediately to bring the Arab refugees back into the Palestine areas now governed by Israel, they will go to war even if they “die to the last man.”

The warning was voiced in the General Assembly’s special political committee by Ahmad Shukairy, chairman of the Saudi Arabian delegation. He was the first speaker to debate the annual report, filed yesterday, of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East–the UN unit which provides relief and shelter to most of the refugees.

Shukairy told the committee that it should revive and enlarge the moribund Palestine Conciliation Commission, which now consists of the representatives of the United States, France and Turkey. This commission, which he said should “repatriate” the refugees, should be expanded to include nine members. Of the six members to be added, he stated, three should represent members of the Soviet bloc, and three should be from “uncommitted nations” in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The reorganization and expansion of the PCC, Shukairy held, “can start the beginning of the solution of the refugee problem within the framework of the UN.” But, he added, “if we fail to act within the framework of the UN, a solution to the problem would be sought outside the UN.” He then proceeded to spell out that “solution” as “a matter of peace or war.”

“If we in the United Nations don’t answer these questions,” he thundered, “the refugees are bound to answer them themselves. If we do not protect their right, they are bound to protect themselves. If we do not enforce the law, they are bound to take the law into their own hands.”

Taking the law into their own hands, Shukairy explained, “means simply rising to arms. It means war and all the misery of war. The Arab refugees are now starting a movement of reorganization. The refugees are determined to die to the last man, woman and infant.”

Shukairy’s address, lasting more than two hours, was aimed chiefly at the new African members admitted to the United Nations this year–all of them former colonies. He traced the present Arab refugee problem back to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the UN Palestine Partition plan of 1947, and the “abominable” Zionist movement which he called “a colonial issue inextricably imbedded in the history of world imperialism.”

The Arab refugee debate is expected to continue for at least a week. Later in the debate, Michael S. Comay, chairman of Israel’s delegation, will reply to the Arab spokesmen.

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