UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Dec. 5)
In a speech lasting for about six hours–full of distortions commensurate with the size of the text–Ahmad Shukairy, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for United Nations Affairs, today started the debate on the Arab refugee problem before the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee. In his diatribe, probably the longest single speech ever delivered here on the Arab-Israel issue, Mr. Shukairy made three proposals:
1. That the United Nations establish a custodian over Arab property in Israel. This property, he said, is so vast that Israel’s revenue alone, apart from the original cost of the property, has amounted to $47,500,000 pounds sterling ($134,000,000).
2. That the United Nations establish a special inquiry commission to probe the conditions under which 250,000 Arabs living in Israel are being “ill treated” and “gradually expelled from Israel.”
3. That the Palestine Conciliation Commission–now consisting of representatives of the United States, Turkey and France–be either abolished or enlarged to include representatives from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The Arab delegate upbraided the United States sharply for “lobbying” last spring toward killing similar proposals, declaring that the United States delegation here “acted as a public relations man to promote the interests of Israel and defend the positions of Israel.”
Mr. Shukairy alleged that during the fighting in Katanga, “Israeli weapons were used by Katanga’s soldiers.” Asserting that even the late Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold “had not been spared Israeli conspiracy and intrigue,” he repeated an old story which he had told in the United Nations previously–and which had been labeled a canard to the effect that in 1956–a bullet had barely missed Mr. Hammarskjold while he was visiting Jerusalem.
Michael S. Comay, Israel’s Permanent Representative here, interrupted on a point of order, telling the Committee that the story is “a complete fabrication” and that the yarn “is so nasty that there is not a word of truth in it.” Mr. Shukairy’s charge that Katanga soldiers were using Israeli weapons was denied in a press statement by Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister which said that “no Israel arms of any sort were sold, directly or indirectly, to the Government of the province of Katanga at any time.”
DELEGATES BORED WITH THE ARAB DIATRIBE; MANY LEAVE SESSION
While Mr. Shukairy was delivering his diatribe, many delegates, obviously bored with it, left the session. At one point, a count showed that 32 of the 103 members of the Special Political Committee were absent in the morning and even more delegates absented themselves from the afternoon session at which the Arab representative continued his attacks on Israel.
In the afternoon, the Saudi Arabian delegate severely criticized the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission. He also assailed the report filed on behalf of the PCC by Dr. Joseph E. Johnson. The latter, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is the PCC special representative who has recommended additional efforts for at least another year toward “step-by-step” attempts to break the Arab refugee stalemate.
Mr. Ghukairy told the session that the PCC had no business in the first place to delegate its work to Dr. Johnson because, as presently constituted, the PCC “has no sympathy for repatriation” of the Arab refugees. The PCC, he said, had already filed 19 reports, indicating that “it had done nothing.”
Instead of naming an American like Dr. Johnson, the PCC should have named a person from a neutral country because “the United States is deeply involved with Israel and Zionism and it is futile to expect the United States to approach this problem in an independent mind and with a free judgment,” he declared.
He also said that the PCC’s work and Dr. Johnson’s report was “sabotage not without design or objective.” He added he did not see why the PCC should not be abolished or why
Dr. Johnson’s mission should continue. It was at this point he proposed that the PCC–now composed of representatives of the United States, France and Turkey–should be either abolished or reconstituted through the additions of representatives of eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
CLAIMS ARAB REFUGEES INSIST ON FULL REPATRIATION TO ISRAEL
The Arab delegate concluded his long afternoon oration by telling the committee that “the refugees refuse any other solution” beside full and complete “return” to Israel. He implied that war might result from a failure to “repatriate” the refugees.
“Our only hope and prayer,” he said, “is that the problem be solved in peace and through nothing but peace–for the people of Palestine may be led to the last resort, the use of might to enforce the right of repatriation. They will be forced to seek the force of arms; and no doubt many people all over the world will extend their support.”
It is up to the United Nations, he concluded, “to determine whether the refugees should exercise their rights through the United Nations or outside the United Nations. We hope the United Nations will embark on the former to avoid the latter.”
While he castigated the PCC and Dr. Johnson, Mr. Shukairy had nothing but praise for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and the Agency’s director, Dr. John H. Davis. It was noted that he attacked Dr. Johns on because he is an American and therefore “not neutral,” but avoided a similar attack against Dr. Davis, who is likewise an American.
The Arab delegate pointed out that Dr. Davis showed concern for the “principle of repatriation,” while the PCC and Dr. Johnson also speak of the alternatives of resettlement of the refugees in Arab lands and their possible integration into the general Middle East economy.
Israel is preparing a comprehensive statement on the Arab refugee issue which is to be presented later in the debate by Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister. Mr. Comay was expected to reply to Mr. Shukairy’s more obvious calumnies tomorrow. The next scheduled speaker after Mr. Shukairy was Francis T.P. Plimpton, the number two man on the American delegation who represents the U.S. in the 103-man Political Committee.
When Mr. Shukairy concluded, Ambassador Gideon Rafael in behalf of the Israel delegation, told the Committee that the Saudi Arabian’s long speech “matched the volume only with distortions and violence.” He said that the Israel delegation will exercise its right of full reply tomorrow and will “answer the baseless allegations and open threats, confronting fiction with fact.”