Menu JTA Search

U.S. Asks Arabs and Israel for Proposals on Palestine Refugee Problem

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The United States Government today called upon the Arab states and Israel to make “reasonable proposals” to solve the Arab refugee problem in the Middle East and “take greater initiative in the attainment of a solution of the refugee problem.”

Francis O. Wilcox, Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs, made this appeal here in addressing the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee, which has been debating the Arab refugee problem since Monday.

The present “impasse” in regard to the Arab refugee problem, Mr. Wilcox maintained. is “not fair to the people of the Middle East, who could profit so much from an era of tranquility and progress,” is unfair to the United Nations, not fair to the contributing states that have given so much money to aid the refugees, and is unfair to the refugees themselves.

“For far too long has this impasse persisted,” said the American diplomat. “We have delayed. We have procrastinated. We have put off until tomorrow what we should have done today.”

Mr. Wilcox pointed out that the United States has spent $232,000,000 to aid the Arab refugees–more than 70 percent of the total expended on their behalf. He chided “certain states”–obviously meaning the Soviet Union, but not naming Russia–for having contributed nothing to help the refugees.

The Arab states and Israel, whom he called “the governments concerned directly,” have not utilized the services of the Palestine Conciliation Commission to effect a settlement of the refugee problem, Mr. Wilcox said. As a member of that commission–with Turkey and France–the United States, said Mr. Wilson, “would welcome and carefully consider any reasonable proposals by any of the parties concerned for possible courses of action.”

CRITICIZES ISRAEL AND ARABS FOR “INFLEXIBILITY” ON REFUGEE ISSUE

The American expressed “keen disappointment” of the United States Government with “the parties concerned” which, he said, “have apparently not indicated their willingness to approach the refugee problem with adequate flexibility and with due adherence to principles often confirmed by the General Assembly.”

“However,” he continued, “we are fully aware that the Arab states and Israel are separated by a complex of problems. The Palestine refugee issue is one of the most important of these. A solution of this problem would clearly be in the long-range interests of all the states of the area.”

“The governments directly concerned,” he proposed, “must, in recognizing their primary responsibility for the fair and peaceful resolution of this issue, take greater initiative toward the attainment of a solution.” He also proposed that the Palestine Conciliation Commission whould continue its efforts “to prepare the way for progress toward a solution of the refugee problem.”

In his address, Mr. Wilcox referred to the fact that there are “irregularities” in distributing relief to Arab refugees, and said “progress” had been made to eliminate these practices. The fact that there are many Arabs on the relief rolls, getting relief without being entitled to it, was the subject of a report made to Washington last year by two American Senators who investigated the situation.

Preceding Mr. Wilcox, Hassan Salah el-Din Gohar, of the United Arab Republic, addressed the committee. He repeated the old accusations of “Zionist imperialism” in the Palestine area, and blamed Israel for the misery of the refugees. In his talk, he attacked not only Israel but also Great Britain.

Harold Beeley, representing Britain, answered briefly, saying that the UAR delegate had quoted old reports “out of context.” Michael S Comay, chairman of the Israel delegation, also spoke up very briefly, telling the committee he would reply in detail at an-other point in the debate.

NEXT STORY