U.N. Assembly Rejects Pro-arab Amendments to Resolution on Refugees
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U.N. Assembly Rejects Pro-arab Amendments to Resolution on Refugees

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A plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly today killed the two pro-Arab amendments to an American resolution passed yesterday by a committee dealing with the Arab refugee problem.

The plenary session adopted the American resolution minus the proposed amendments without a single negative vote. The final balloting on the American draft, for which Israel voted, was 62 in favor, none against and 37 abstentions. The abstentions included the Arab and Soviet blocs.

As adopted, the resolution recalls a series of Assembly resolutions adopted here since 1948, notes “with deep regret that repatriation or compensation of the refugees” has not been effected; that no substantial progress has been made “for the re-integration of the refugees either by repatriation or resettlement”; and that, therefore, the situation of the refugees “continues to be a matter of serious concern.”

The resolution requests the Palestine Conciliation Commission to “intensify” its efforts for implementation of a 1948 Assembly resolution which called not only for repatriation or compensation of the refugees but also for their possible resettlement or reintegration into the Middle East economies.

The resolution further requested the PCC to “intensify its work on the identification and evaluation of Arab refugee immovable properties in Palestine” and to make every effort to complete this work by September 1, 1962.

It also requests the Secretary General of the United Nations to help the PCC by making available “such additional staff and administrative facilities as may be required.”

The next operative clause of the resolution calls upon all member governments to contribute and increase their contributions for the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. This clause pointedly “urges non-contributing governments” to contribute to UNRWA. That phrasing was directed at the Soviet Union and other members of the Soviet bloc who have never contributed any money to UNRWA. Mauretania led a drive in the Assembly committee debating the refugee issue yesterday to delete the shaft aimed at the Soviet bloc, but was defeated.


In separate balloting on the two pro-Arab amendments attached to the American draft yesterday by the Assembly’s Special Political Committee, both amendments received simple majorities but fell through because they did not obtain the necessary two-thirds vote.

The first of the amendments called for reconstitution of the Palestine Conciliation Commission and its enlargement of the present three members to five. On this amendment the plenary voted 44 in favor, 29 against with 25 abstentions. All the leading Western Powers, led by the United States, Britain and France, voted against the amendment, as did Israel.

The second amendment would have requested the reconstituted Conciliation Commission “to take measures for the protection of the rights, property and interests of the Palestine Arab refugees, located in Israel.” This was, according to Michael S. Comay, Israel’s permanent representative here, only “a thinly veiled” revival of an Arab effort defeated by the Assembly last April to establish some form of UN custodianship over alleged Arab property in Israel.


On the property amendment, the United States, Britain and France again led the opposition. The voting on that clause showed 40 in favor, 37 against with 21 abstentions.

Before the voting began, Mr. Comay voiced a brief, but sharp plea before the Assembly for the rejection of the pro-Arab amendments. Reconstitution of the PCC which consists of representatives of the U.S., France and Turkey–would, Mr. Comay said, alter the character of the body “from a conciliation organ to an organ of coercion.”

As for the clause dealing with property, Mr. Comay said it would be against Israel’s sovereignty and Israel’s domestic property legislation to agree to such a clause.

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