Golda Meir Charges Unrwa’s Dr. Davis Exceeded Authority

Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, leveled a sharp attack in Parliament here today against Dr. John H. Davis, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. She accused Dr. Davis of reaching “political conclusions outside his terms of reference” in his recent submission of UNRWA’s annual report to the UN General Assembly.

Mrs. Meir, opening a scheduled, two-day debate in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, on the Government’s foreign policy, also attacked Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser. She declared that the latter’s military intervention in Yemen, coupled with his amassment of offensive armaments, confuted “experts” abroad who “only a little while ago hinted that the Nasser regime would concern itself solely with Egypt’s difficult domestic problems, and would forsake actions beyond its borders striving for expansion and hegemony.” She expressed “amazement” that the rest of the world seemed to have “acquiesced in this risky precedent” of Nasser’s actions.

Launching a full-scale examination of the Arab refugee problem, the Foreign Minister referred to those sections of the Davis report which had declared that “Arab people” find resettlement of the refugees unacceptable and that “works” programs for the integration of the refugees are unfeasible.

“Dr. Davis,” she alleged, “far exceeded his authority as self-designated spokesman and judge of what the Arab refugees’ aspirations are. He also assumed the role of spokesman for all the Arab peoples. On the other hand, Dr. Davis failed in his major task–namely to persuade the Arab leaders to help check the UNRWA aid lists, to establish proper identities, and above all to examine possibilities for the rehabilitation of the refugees.” In his report to the Assembly, Dr. Davis had conceded that there are “at least 100, 000 dead” on the UNRWA relief rolls, but absolved the Arab governments of responsibility for failure to “rectify” the relief rolls.

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Concerning Dr. Davis’ contention that “works” objective in the title of his agency is “unfeasible,” Mrs. Meir stated: “There are evidences of social and economic processes which would enable the integration of many refugees in the Arab states, even under present conditions, even in the face of objections by Arab leaders. It is such a process that could lead to a natural solution of the problem. The solution would be expedited if the Arab rulers sincerely wanted a constructive solution.”

Mrs. Meir expressed confidence that, “despite the gloomy prospects for a Near East settlement of agreement with the Arab states, we are convinced that day will come.” The Foreign Minister announced that she expects to leave for New York a week from today, to participate in the debate on the Arab refugee problem scheduled by the Special Political Committee of the UN General Assembly.

Yesterday, in a “vocal newspaper” gathering at Tel Aviv, Mrs. Meir discussed not only Dr. Davis’ attitude but also the Israel delegation’s vote, in the UN General Assembly, on a resolution condemning South Africa’s apartheid policy. That resolution had called, among other measures, for diplomatic and economic sanctions against South Africa, and for Security Council consideration of the possible expulsion of South Africa from United Nations membership unless South Africa alters its racist apartheid policy. Israel, however, had previously voiced reservations in the UN against the harsher clauses in the draft, objecting especially to the break in relations with South Africa, and holding that the Security Council should not consider expulsion.

While Israel’s decision to support the UN resolution was a difficult one for Israel, to make, she said, there was no alternative for Israel but to recognize and identify herself with the justice of the position of the African nations sponsoring the UN censure motion, just as the African states recognized and supported the justice of Israel’s demand for direct talks with the Arabs. Israel was aware of the responsibility of its position in view of the Jewish community in South Africa, she declared, adding that “there was no alternative.”

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