Arab States Obstruct U. N. Efforts to Solve Refugee Problem

The Palestine Conciliation Commission today placed the entire, highly sensitive Arab refugee problem into full, historical perspective. For the first time, many delegations, especially those representing the more than 40 new African and Asian states, have before them the complete record dealing with the Arab refugee question, learning from official United Nations documents that the Arab states, not Israel, have thwarted all efforts and plans to solve the refugee problem.

The complete record, consisting of two documents comprising a total of about 175 pages, were labeled by the PCC as “working papers.” One of the papers deals with the question of compensation for the Arab refugees for property allegedly left by them when they fled Israel, The other document concentrates on “The Question of Reintegration by Repatriation or Resettlement.”

The Arab delegations here, driving hard at the sympathy of the newly liberated, former colonial states, refuse to recognize that integration and resettlement of the refugees on Arab territory is a valid alternative to “repatriation,” and was envisaged by the General Assembly in many previous resolutions. The PCC, by focusing on integration and resettlement, has thus made the entire historical record a part of this year’s debate–as requested by Israel.

The two PCC documents were mentioned in the Commission’s report, filed yesterday, dealing with the current efforts to make some progress toward solution of the refugee problem. However, it was not until today that the “working papers” became available. The impact on the delegations uncommitted either way in regard to the Arab-Israeli disputes was sharp and immediate.

Among the facts long forgotten by many delegations, in response to Arab pressures, are these, emerging from the documents:

1. That the General Assembly voted, as far back as 1952, the establishment of a $300,000,000 fund for reintegration of the Arab refugees, “either by repatriation or resettlement.” This program was to have been carried out in a three-year period; Four programs were agreed upon between the UN and three of the Arab states, Jordan, Syria and Egypt. However, the Arab states failed to cooperate in implementing these programs, while the refugees showed “reluctance as a group to cooperate in projects aimed at their rehabilitation.”

2. That the late Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold proposed a broad plan in 1959, for integration of the entire economy in the Middle East, which could have led to “the integration of refugees into the productive life of Israel as well as of the Arab states.” The document shows that the Arab representatives killed the Hammarskjold plan.

3. That many member states, in many debates on the refugee problem here over the years, have supported Israel’s contentions that repatriation is not the only solution, and that reintegration of the refugees should include resettlement in Arab lands.

4. That Israel has pointed out, over and over again, that a 1948 Assembly resolution which is always cited by the Arab spokesmen here does not give the refugees the “right” of repatriation.

ARAB DELEGATIONS AT U. N. DISSATISFIED WITH P.C.C. PRESENTATION

In the other document, dealing with compensation, it is shown clearly that Israel has assured the UN and has “reaffirmed” its willingness to discuss payment of compensation to the refugees “apart from a general peace settlement” of all Arab-Israeli disputes.

The PCC’s introduction of the basic documents into the current debate met today with sharp negative reactions on the part of the Arab delegations. They indicated clearly they will level criticism at the PCC itself when the refugee debate gets under way, some time next month or in December.

Israel, on the other hand, has refused to make any comment whatever about the PCC’s report of yesterday or about the two “working papers.” However, it was obvious to all observers that Israel was pleased with the developments. While no one would confirm the fact formally, it was known that the PCC made the “working papers” part of its current report because Israel had suggested that any other procedure would result in an incomplete, possibly tendentious, report by the PCC.

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