UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Dec. 19)
A United States resolution calling for “intensification” of the efforts of the Palestine Conciliation Commission in regard to the Arab refugee problem, was adopted by a 104-nation Special Political Committee here today with two pro-Arab amendments by a vote of 74 to 1 with 23 abstentions. The only negative vote was Israel’s. The pro-Arab amendments however, can still be rejected in a plenary session of the UN General Assembly.
The same meeting of the Special Political Committee cast 34 votes on behalf of another resolution which, for the first time in many years, called for direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab states. By a simple majority of 44 votes to 34, with 20 abstentions, this resolution was rejected. However, the size of the favorable vote was deemed here as a very significant move in the direction of ultimate Arab-Israel peace negotiations.
In a series of complex procedural moves, at times resulting in separate votes on only isolated words, the session first adopted two amendments to the American resolution proposed by Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan. The first of these amendments calls for the reconstitution of the Palestine Conciliation Commission and for the Commission’s enlargement from three members to five. This was adopted by a vote of 47 to 27 with 24 abstentions. In this case the United States, Britain and France joined Israel in voting against the amendment.
ISRAEL CLAIMS ONE OF THE AMENDMENTS IMPINGES ON ITS SOVEREIGNTY
The second amendment “requests the reconstituted Conciliation Commission to take measures for the protection of the rights, property and interests of the Palestine Arab refugees.” This clause was rejected by Israel on the grounds that such a move by the PCC, to deal with alleged Arab property in Israel, impinges upon Israel sovereignty. The amendment, however, was adopted by a vote of 42 to 36 with 20 abstentions–the United States, Britain and France again joining Israel in voting against the clause.
However, when it came to voting on the resolution as a whole including the anti-Israel amendments, the United States and Britain voted for the resolution. France abstained, a number of West European and British Commonwealth members abstained, while Israel cast the only negative vote.
While it was taken for granted here right along that the American resolution would be adopted and that the peace negotiations draft would fall short of a majority, the big surprise came in the roll call vote on the peace negotiation resolution.
Originally introduced by 15 members–comprising eight African states, six from Latin America and The Netherlands–the number of co-sponsors rose this morning to 17 when Gabon and Niger joined as co-sponsors. Later, under intense and open appeals from Arab and other Moslem states, Togo, which was among the original co-sponsors, withdrew from its formal backing of this resolution.
The resolution for which 34 members finally voted, co-sponsored by 16 members, drew affirmative votes, not only from the co-sponsors, but also from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Luxembourg, Panama and Paraguay. The United States and Britain voted against the peace negotiations resolution, while France abstained. Israel voted in favor.
Thus, the Arab refugee debate, which lasted 19 arduous and often very stormy sessions, was concluded with only one tentative result–the adoption of the American resolution with two amendments, both of them anti-Israel and one of them sharply critical of the present Palestine Conciliation Commission, which consists of representatives of the United States, France and Turkey.
PLENARY ASSEMBLY SESSION CAN DROP THE AMENDMENTS
The resolution as a whole must now go to a full plenary session of the General Assembly and will probably come up tomorrow. The Assembly could knock out the amendments. Last April, after the same Committee had adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of a United Nations Custodianship over the refugee property in Israel, the U.S. joined by many other delegations, succeeded in having that resolution defeated in the Assembly proper.