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Arabs, Israel Reject New, Secret Johnson Plan on Arab Refugees

Both the Arab and the Israeli sides have rejected in advance a plan proposed secretly by Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, special Middle East emissary for the Palestine Conciliation Commission, who had envisaged giving the Arab refugees a choice between “returning” to Israel and resettlement in Arab lands, according to information divulged here today.

Three Arab diplomats, representing Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, met with Dr. Johnson and gave him a flat “no” in regard to the plan. Earlier, it had been ascertained here, Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, rejected the plan on behalf of her Government.

The Arab diplomats objected chiefly to the very fact that Johnson would offer “resettlement. ” In the Arab view, only “repatriation” or compensation by Israel should be mentioned to the refugees as alternatives, but the idea that they might choose to live in Arab states must not even appear with UN sanction. The Israel Government, on the other hand, would not agree to the Johnson plan because Israel reserves to itself the absolute right to decide about the admission of any one seeking to enter Israel, refugee or not. Israel was also of the opinion that Arab politicians would force refugees to reject anything but outright “repatriation.”

Dr. Johnson has visited all the Arab capitals and Jerusalem twice in his effort, begun more than 18 months ago, to develop some easement of the refugee question for the PCC. An American, Dr. Johnson is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In connection with the Arab-Israeli rejections of the plan, diplomats here pointed out what was called an anomaly. Dr. Johnson has denied that he has authored the new plan attributed to him, the PCC has denied it has such a plan before it, and the three members of the PCC–the United States, France and Turkey–have–insisted there is no such plan on paper. But the Arab-Israel rejections are facts.

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