UNITED NATIONS, N. Y. (Dec. 12)
The United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission, which for two years has had a special envoy in the person of Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, charged with trying to ease the Arab refugee problem, filed its report today to the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee without mentioning a single word about any results from Dr. Johnson’s special mission.
The PCC submission, a brief document labeled “20th Progress Report,” merely noted that Dr. Johnson had conferred in the various relevant capitals with the prime ministers and foreign ministers of the five states involved, saw other “pertinent authorities” and continued his consultations in New York. The PCC commended Dr. Johnson “for the dedication, persistence and imagination which he devoted to this difficult task.” The five states concerned are Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.
The so-called Johnson proposals, which would have dealt with a plan for an informal plebiscite among the refugees on their desires to “return” to Israel or accept compensation from Israel, thus died without ever being officially presented. The Arabs and Israelis alike had rejected that proposal, as did the U.S. State Department and America’s two partners in the PCC, France and Turkey.
SAYS ARAB REFUGEES OWN 453,000 PARCELS OF LAND IN ISRAEL
The PCC did report on its major, continuing task, under way now for about 12 years, of attempting to identify and evaluate properties left by the refugees before they fled Israel in 1948. The Commission reported that, thus far, 453,000 separate parcels of Arab-owned lands have been identified in Israel.
Over-all values of this property are being computed on the basis of their worth as of November 29, 1947, the report said. The date is the one when the U.N. adopted the Palestine partition plan, at Lake Success. However, the value of the parcels has not yet been reported by the PCC. Arab representatives here claim that the values reach billions of dollars, a figure which Israel has derided as “fantastic.”
The PCC also reported continuing aid from Israel in unfreezing of monies left by Arab refugees in banks inside Israel. So far, the Commission stated, Israel has turned over a grand total of 3,532,088 pounds sterling ($9,889,846) of such monies, paid over to the Arab holders of those previously blocked accounts.
Meanwhile, the UN Special Political Committee continued today its debate on the Arab refugee problem. Most of the speakers were Arab representatives, including several from the so-called Arab Palestine “delegation” which represent no one but Arab propaganda enterprises.
Another verbal fight broke out on the floor this morning when the Tunisian representative charged in his speech that Israel treats North African Jewish immigrants as second class citizens. Michael S. Comay, Israel’s permanent representative here, who has been fighting the Arab vilifications toe-to-toe, denounced that charge as false. Several other Arabs spoke up, only to be answered sharply by Mr. Comay’s insistence that they were “fabricating.”
Thus far, Mr. Comay has been carrying the entire burden of Israel’s side of the debate, while Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, has sat silent. However, she is now scheduled to make Israel’s full presentation of its views on the refugee question, on Friday.
ISRAEL DELEGATION SATISFIED WITH U.S. STAND IN U.N. DEBATE
Israel sources, commenting today on the United States position in the refugee debate in the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee, declared that Israel considers yesterday’s American speech “on the whole constructive,” although there are “a few points” to which Israel cannot agree. The sources pointed out that Israel is “always prepared to consider every proposition for solutions by peaceful means, providing they do not encroach on the sovereignty or security of the State of Israel.”
The Israeli sources indicated they were satisfied with the U. S. statement which disassociated the U.S.A. from certain remarks made in his annual report this year by Dr. John H. Davis, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. It was indicated clearly that those Davis remarks concerned political matters to which the UNRWA chief had alluded in his report.
As for America’s rejection of the Arab resolution for the appointment of a UN custodian over property left in Israel by the refugees, it was noted with satisfaction that, not only did the U.S.A. take such a position, similar to Israel, but Washington did so exactly on the grounds held by Israel in this regard–the fact that, as the U.S.A. stated, the step “is clearly designed to strike at the very foundations of Israel’s sovereignty.”
Two African representatives, both of them among the 19 co-sponsors of the so-called “Brazzaville Resolution” which calls for direct Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, addressed the committee last night with powerful pleas for a rapprochement between the Arab states and Israel. One of them, Dr. T.O. Dosomu Johnson, of Liberia, injected a new note by suggesting that the United Nations request Secretary-General U Thant to try to resolve the Arab-Israeli question through arbitration, mediation or conciliation.
The other, Michael Gallin-Douathe, of the Central African Republic, asked “our Arab brothers” to agree to negotiate peace with Israel, starting by approving the 1947 UN Palestine Partition plan which they have always rejected.