Arab Refugee Debate Opens at U.N. Israel Wins on First Issue

The Arab refugee debate opened here this morning before the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee with an out-and-out victory for the Israel delegation on the important point regarding Arab insistence for the seating of a so-called “Palestine Arab delegation.”

After a brief, but vigorous exchange on this issue between Michael S. Comay, Israel’s Permanent Representative here, and Ahmad Shukairy, Saudi Arabia’s chief representative, the Committee’s vice-chairman Angel Sanz-Briz of Spain ruled that “at the appropriate time” he will call upon “a spokesman” for the Arab refugees to voice his sentiments before the Committee. He implied that the spokesman would be Dr. Izzat Tannous, who, for many years, represented the Arab Refugee Office before this Committee.

Mr. Comay on behalf of Israel, told the Committee that “whoever” appeared before the group on behalf of the refugees, should be directed to stick to the refugee subject and not make political speeches. Mr. Shukairy objected to limitation of the refugee spokesman. However, the vice-chairman’s ruling remained in effect and the meeting was adjourned until tomorrow morning.

Earlier in the session, Dr. John H. Davis, director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, gave a report to the Committee which dealt almost entirely with UNRWA’s work at special educational institutions for Arab refugee youth and with the agency’s budgetary problems.

In regard to the general situation facing the refugees, Dr. Davis noted that “during a period of 13 years, so little progress has been made toward a solution.” He pointed out that “the major responsibility” for a general solution of the refugee problem rests with the Palestine Conciliation Commission rather than with UNR WA.

However, he reiterated at another point in his speech, the contention he expressed in his annual report two months ago that “the lot of most refugees continues to be one of hardship, and their insistence on the implementation of Paragraph 11 of United Nations Resolution 194 continues unabated.”

The clause to which Dr. Davis referred is in a 1948 Assembly resolution which is constantly being cited by the Arab delegations here when they insist that the refugees be “repatriated” or compensated by Israel, ignoring other alternatives like resettlement or reintegration of the refugees mentioned in the very same resolution.

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