Discussions on Arab Refugee Issue to Open Today at United Nations
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Discussions on Arab Refugee Issue to Open Today at United Nations

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Discussions on the Arab refugee issue will start here tomorrow in the General Assembly’s 10 member Special Political Committee. The Saudi Arabian delegate, Ahmad Shukary has given notice that he expects his opening speech–one of many he will deliver–to last seven hours. The Jordanian delegate is also on the schedule for a speech to last several hours.

Prior to the opening of the discussions on the subject of the refugees, a fight is expected over the request by all Arab states that a so-called delegation representing the “Palestine Arab People” be seated for full participation in the discussions. The request, submitted by the Arab delegations to the chairman of the Special Political Committee, will be opposed by the Israel delegation, as well as by some of the Afro-Asian representatives.

When that issue is settled, the Committee will hear, first, from Dr. John H. Davis, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. This American heading the agency responsible for aiding the refugees, had already filed a long written report, buttressed by six “working papers.” Before the Committee, he is to add only some oral remarks.

His written reports had already been characterized by Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, when she addressed her Parliament two weeks ago, as going outside the bounds of his mandate. He had told the Assembly in writing that “works” are not feasible for purposes of resettling the Arab refugees; and that the “Arab people” seek only “repatriation” of the refugees or their compensation by Israel.

The Palestine Conciliation Commission, a three-member body composed of representatives of the United States, France and Turkey, is also scheduled to present a report. The PCC must report specifically on the work of its special Middle East emissary, Dr. Joseph E. Johnson. For two years, the latter, who is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has been trying to find ways to ease or solve the refugee problem.

He had, purportedly, proposed that Arabs be given a choice of a accepting “return to Israel or compensation under certain, strict UN regulations. While there have been denials that he has made such a proposal, it is known that both the Arab states and Israel rejected the Johnson idea.

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