UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Dec. 14)
The Soviet Union finally had its opportunity today to debate the Arab refugee problem, which has been bitterly flayed for more than a week in the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee, and proposed a straight pro-Arab policy which the United States promptly denounced as “shedding crocodile tears.”
After two hours of continued harsh wrangling by Arab delegates attacking Israel and attacking African delegates who insist that the Arabs and Israel start peace negotiations, K.G. Fedoseev, of the USSR, took the floor. Bewailing “the sad fate of the refugees” who, he said, had been “displaced by force,” he denounced Israel for allegedly failing to implement UN resolutions. He maintained the refugees had a ‘right” to “return” to Israel. The only reason they have not been “repatriated”, he held, was that Israel, supported by Western Powers, has “refused” to implement UN resolutions. He also attacked the Palestine Conciliation Commission.
Francis T.P. Plimpton, U.S. delegate in the committee, replied promptly. He said the Soviet “tearful concern over the fate of the refugees sounds hollow in view of the fact that neither the Soviet Union nor any other members of the Soviet group has ever contributed a single kopeck toward the welfare of the refugees. If they are really interested, instead of merely fishing in troubled waters, let them announce a contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.”
Mr. Plimpton was referring to the fact that the deficit in the UNRWA budget, exceeding $20,000,000, was largely due to the failure of the Soviet bloc to pay any UNRWA assessments since the formation of the agency in 1950. The Russian replied to Mr. Plimpton by saying that the refugees do not wish to live “on charity.” He said the refugees have property in Israel, worth two billion dollars, yielding an annual income of $134,000,000.
Meanwhile, African delegates from Upper Volta and the Ivory Coast–who are among the co-sponsors of the 15-member resolution calling for Arab-Israeli peace negotiations–continued their counter-attacks against the Arab bloc, while the Arabs kept up a drum-fire of anti-African diatribe. Among the Africans who entered the lists today in favor of the 15-member resolution was Issoufu Saidou Dje-Akoye, of Niger. While not among the 15 co-sponsors, he supported the resolution vigorously.
Several times, Michael S. Comay, Israel’s permanent representative, replied to some of the Arab attacks. With more than 30 speakers still on the list for the refugee debate, the committee adjourned for the day, although appeals had been made that it speed its work.