U.N. Assembly Approves Resolution on Arab Refugee Aid; Israel Abstains
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U.N. Assembly Approves Resolution on Arab Refugee Aid; Israel Abstains

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A plenary session of the entire General Assembly today approved by 100 votes in favor with none against and two abstentions, the Arab refugee resolution proposed by the United States, and passed two days ago by the Special Political Committee, extending until June 30, 1965 the expiring mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East which provides aid to Arab refugees.

Israel was one of the two abstainers in the final vote on the resolution as a whole after casting a negative vote against one part of a paragraph dealing with “repatriation” of the refugees under the terms of a 1948 resolution. The other abstainer was Portugal.

In explaining that negative vote, Michael S. Comay, Israel’s permanent representative here, told the Assembly his Government found “unacceptable” that particular section of the resolution since it is based on a portion of the 1948 draft. “We have consistently opposed the view,” he said, “that the Palestine Conciliation Commission’s efforts should be based on a single controversial paragraph torn out of the context of a resolution adopted 14 years ago. That course has not resulted in progress and in our judgment hampers endeavors to come to grips with the substance of the problem in the light of contemporary realities in the area.”

Obviously countering misinterpretations which indicated that Israel was displeased with the work of the PCC as a whole, referred to in the second half of that paragraph of the very resolution adopted today, Mr. Comay said: “We voted for the second part which requests the Commission to continue its endeavors with the member states directly concerned. We have always cooperated with the Conciliation Commission in its efforts to bring the parties to agreement.”


He stated that his delegation’s negative vote against the first part of the paragraph “should not be interpreted as lack of appreciation for the efforts the Commission has made in this field; and we shall continue in the future to cooperate with endeavors which may be made by the Commission to promote agreement between the parties.”

The Israeli diplomat also told the Assembly: “Whatever the solution of their problem may be, it is clear that international assistance for the Palestine refugees will be required for some time to come. My Government has always unreservedly supported such United Nations assistance, both in taking care of the essential needs of the refugees, and in promoting their self support and ultimate integration into productive life.

“We particularly commend the efforts being made by UNRWA to teach refugee youth professional and vocational skills. My delegation therefore had no hesitation in supporting the paragraphs in the United States proposal which deal with the extension of UNRWA’s mandate, and with its financial requirements.”

Mr. Comay concluded his explanation of his delegation’s voting with a reference to the 21-member resolution calling for direct Arab-Israel peace talks which was withdrawn in the Committee two days ago. That resolution, he told the Assembly, was withdrawn “in a spirit of conciliation and goodwill.”

“We were gratified and encouraged,” he said, “by the renewal of this approach at the present session with a sponsorship which had grown from 16 to 21 delegations since our previous session. We accept unreservedly the attitude of the sponsors that their proposal is neither for nor against Israel, neither for nor against the Arab states, but for the renunciation of war and the settlement of conflicts by peaceful negotiation. In other words they are for fundamental principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

“The revival of this approach to the painful Israel-Arab conflict and more especially to the humanitarian problem of the Arab refugees may not yield immediate practical results but it could never be regarded as untimely in the wider sense,” Mr. Comay stressed. His reference to the alleged “untimeliness” of the peace talks draft, pointed to the reason given by the United States delegation here for opposing that measure.

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