UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Dec. 18)
The pro-Arab resolution calling for the appointment of a United Nations custodian over property left in Palestine by Arab refugees was withdrawn by its four Moslem sponsors at the session of the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee which wound up its debate on the Arab refugee problem today.
Another resolution urging direct Arab-Israel talks, and sponsored by 21 member nations, was similarly withdrawn today by its sponsors. The only resolution adopted by the Special Political Committee was the American-sponsored resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East for two years, until June 30, 1965. This resolution was adopted almost unanimously at today’s session. A vote was 100 to 0 with two abstentions–Israel and Cameroon.
The American resolution, as finally approved, following many intricate parliamentary moves–some of them initiated by Israel–included an amendment introduced today by Cyprus. That amendment noted “with deep regret that the repatriation or compensation of the refugees” as provided in a 1948 resolution, “has not been effected and that no substantial progress has been made in the program of reintegration of the refugees, either by repatriation or resettlement and that the situation of the refugees continues to be a matter of serious concern.”
On a separate ballot, the Cypriot amendment was adopted by 68 to two and 34 abstentions–with Israel and the United States casting the negative votes.
ISRAEL VOTES AGAINST THANKING PALESTINE CONCILIATION COMMISSION
The United States resolution, in addition to extending UNRWA’s current mandate, due to expire next June 30, also expressed the thanks of the General Assembly to the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission “for its efforts to find a way to progress on the Palestine Arab refugee problem.” Israel, which had called for a separate vote on the clause thanking the PCC, cast the only negative ballot when that clause was adopted by 62 to one with 41 abstention.
Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, the Palestine Conciliation Commission’s special emissary to the Middle East, who for two years has been charged with the task of trying to ease the refugee problem, evinced anger against Israel for the negative vote. He said: “Israel was the only one to express non-confidence in me.” Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, told of Dr. Johnson’s comment, denied that Israel’s vote was directed against him.
The United States resolution also requested the Secretary General of the UN to provide staff and facilities for the continuance of the PCC’s work and directed attention “to the precarious financial position” of UNRWA, urging “non-contributing governments to contribute and contributing governments to consider increasing their contributions so that the agency can carry out its essential programs.”
SPONSORS OF RESOLUTION ON ARAB-ISRAEL TALKS EXPLAIN WITHDRAWAL
The resolution calling for direct Arab-Israel peace talks was withdrawn on behalf of its 21 co-sponsors by Arsene A. Usher, the representative of the Ivory Coast, immediately after the approval of the United States resolution, with the Cypriot amendment. He told the session that the 21 co-sponsors were willing not to press for a vote on this resolution at this time because so many delegates had insisted that it was “unrealistic” to den and direct Arab-Israeli peace talks when there was still no willingness to engage in such negotiations.
He requested the four Moslem co-sponsors of the pro-Arab resolution, calling for the appointment of a United Nations custodian over Arab properties inside Israel to withdraw their draft in the same spirit. However, the co-sponsors of the custodian draft–Mauritania, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia–first refused to do so. Later, however, they changed their minds.
With the adoption of the U.S. resolution, the debate on the Arab refugee issue–which lasted more than three weeks–came to an end today. The Special Political Committee held 18 sessions on this subject at the current UN General Assembly.