UNITED NATIONS, N. Y (Apr. 17)
In the face of severe battering by Arab spokesmen, backed strongly by other Moslem members and representatives of the Soviet bloc, the United States delegation here tried today to cut through red tape surrounding the hot issue of alleged “property rights” held by Arab refugees in Israel.
The U.S.A. introduced today a new resolution at a meeting of the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee. There, for a week, a debate has been raging on Arab-Moslem proposals that the United Nations establish custodianship over the property in Israel claimed by the Arabs. The U.S. had previously tried to amend the Arab proposals. Israel denounced that Arab plan as an effort to “establish control in respect to Israel’s territory, ” declaring that “the real purpose is to call Israel’s statehood into question.”
The Arab bloc, dissatisfied with the new American resolution, continued today to push for adoption of another draft, presented last week by five Moslem members, recommending that the next General Assembly establish “effective machinery for safeguarding the property rights of the Arab refugees of Palestine. ” Israel, too, was dissatisfied with the step taken by the United States delegation today. A spokesman for the Israeli delegation declared:
“The delegation is disturbed by the phrasing of Paragraph Three of the resolution presented by the United States this morning, without prior consultation with the parties, which omits basic concepts which have become a part of United Nations thinking on this problem, such as resettlement and integration of the refugees. “
The American draft, in its third paragraph, does not mention resettlement and integration of the refugees, and speaks of their “rights” to repatriation or compensation. Israel’s spokesman retorted that there is no such “right. ” He said that a 1948 resolution cited by the United States had only “recommended” to both Israel and the Arab governments “to permit refugees to go back. ” “These were recommendations to governments, not rights,” he insisted. The “rights” of the refugees mentioned in the American draft, he said, “are out of the context of peace and practicability” which were mentioned in the basic 1948 resolution.
ISRAEL STRESSES DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COMPENSATION AND ‘PROPERTY RIGHTS’
The severest criticism, in the committee’s debate, was leveled by the Arab delegations. Ahmad Shukairy, chairman of the Saudi Arabian delegation, said the United States “is more interested in the Star of David than in the stars of outer space. ” He uttered a veiled threat of all-out Arab hostility against the United States.
Arthur Lourie, acting head of the Israeli delegation, again repeated Israel’s offer, made here many times, to pay compensation to Arab refugees, but said that this offer would have to be reconsidered if the Arab-backed resolution should be adopted. There is a distinction, he pointed out, between compensation and alleged “property rights. ” It is not compensation that the Arabs are seeking now, maintained Mr. Lourie, “but what the Arab delegations are seeking to get from this Assembly is something much more far-reaching, not to say farfetched in character. Thus it has been suggested here that whole towns and villages, in addition to great areas of land in Israel, actually belong to Arab refugees today.
“The implication of this, ” Mr. Lourie continued, “is that a United Nations machinery or custodian is to be established to take over or to exercise some form of control in respect to Israel’s territory. It is no accident that this astonishing proposition is being pressed by Arab governments who proclaim that Israel has no right to exist at all. The real purpose is to call Israel’s statehood into question–and with this offer Israel is hardly likely to cooperate.”
Mr. Lourie reminded the committee again that half a million Jewish refugees from Arab lands have found refuge in Israel, and pointed out that these Jewish refugees also have rights to properties they were forced to abandon in the Arab lands.
Later, when Mr. Shukarry took the floor once more, stating that there was in Israel a “third force” which agrees with his theses, Mr. Lourie challenged the Arab spokesman to tell the world what “this mysterious third force” is. Mr. Shukairy did not pick up that challenge.