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General Assembly, for First Time, Fails to Act on Palestine Refugees

For the first time in 12 years, the General Assembly closed its debate on the Arab refugee problem today without adopting any resolution dealing with that thorny question or the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

All efforts by the Arab delegations to force through acceptance of proposals, rejected by Israel, to alter the United Nations handling of the Arab refugee problem, collapsed.

The Arab representatives tried to pressure the American, British, French and other Western delegations to introduce a resolution calling for appointment of a UN custodian over properties allegedly left in Israel by the Arab refugees. The Arab bloc also demanded enlargement of the Palestine Conciliation Commission from its present three members–United States, France and Turkey–to include six more members, three from the Communist countries and three from the so-called “uncommitted” nations of Asia and Africa.

The Western Powers–U. S. A., Britain and France, joined by Australia, New Zealand and Canada–fought back all such efforts by the Arab bloc.

Today’s final session of the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee decided to close the fall series of meetings without any resolution at all. Carlet Auguste, of Haiti, chairman of the committee, told the group that further discussion of the Arab refugee problem may be taken up “at a later date.”

During a brief but hot debate, members of the Arab bloc, supported by the representatives of Great Britain, Bolivia and the Soviet Union, tried to pin down the chairman to a promise that the entire debate on the refugee situation would be reopened when the Spring session of the Assembly is convened next March 7. Israel and Australia insisted that there would be no purpose to further debate on the issue. Such a discussion, said Michael S. Comay, chairman of the Israel delegation, would be “politically and psychologically undesirable and unproductive.”

After these exchanges, however, M. Auguste still refrained from a definite promise that the refugee debate would be resumed in March. That would be done, he implied, only if a draft resolution were hammered out in the meantime in further negotiations between the Western sponsors of a mild, routine draft, and the Arab delegations which insist on the two points found objectionable to Israel.

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