UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Nov. 17)
A resolution calling for direct Arab-Israeli talks toward solution of the Arab refugee problem was expected today to be introduced in the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee as the Ill-member group enters its third week of debate on the issue tomorrow. Announcement that such a draft would be presented was made here by the delegation of the Central African Republic, following an address by Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, who said Israel is “willing to negotiate directly with the Arab Governments concerned on the refugee problem itself in order to reach an agreed solution, since we are anxious to see this humanitarian problem solved.”
For the last two years, a group of more than 20 African, Latin American and West European delegations has introduced resolutions calling for over-all peace negotiations between the Arab states and Israel. The Central African Republic delegation was among those urging such a step. This year, however, the peace group is expected to confine its efforts to the refugee problem only, in line with Mrs. Meir’s assertion that, while Israel would prefer that the refugee issue “be resolved in the context of overall settlement,” she would agree to confining Arab-Israeli talks now to the refugee problem alone. If the Arab Governments “are genuinely anxious to solve the refugee problem as such,” she declared, “they should respond to this offer. A move in this direction warrants strong encouragement from the international community.”
Mrs. Meir also confirmed, in her address to the committee this weekend, that the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission has carried on talks with the Israel Government in an effort to explore solution of the refugee problem “without preconditions as to the nature of the eventual solution of the problem.” The PCC announced two weeks ago that such “quiet talks” had been pursued on behalf of the PCC by the United States, which had approached “high level” leaders of both Israel and the Arab States. The Arab delegations here denied that such conversations had been held “without preconditions.”
TWO OTHER RESOLUTIONS ON AGENDA; BALLOTING EXPECTED THIS WEEK
With the introduction of the resolution to which Central Africa has alluded, there will be three drafts before the committee. One had been introduced previously by the United States, placing chief reliance for containment of the Arab refugee question on further talks to be conducted on behalf of the PCC, since the U.S.A. shares representation on that Commission with France and Turkey. Another draft was introduced by three Moslem states–Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan, on behalf of the Arab states. In that measure, the UN Assembly would call for PCC supervision over property allegedly left in Israel by the refugees. Mrs. Meir made it clear that Israel would not permit intervention into her domestic affairs, regarding such property-ownership allegations, by anyone, since such a move would infringe on Israeli sovereignty. Balloting on all resolutions is expected this week.
Mrs. Meir spoke to the committee after 54 speeches and interventions had been delivered by the Arab spokesmen during II successive sessions. She accused the Arabs of deliberate “distortion” of the entire refugee problem, misreading of the history of the Jewish people and Zionism, and a desire to bring all the so-called refugees back into Israel, aiming solely at the destruction of Israel.
Mrs. Meir told the committee that no government would do what the Arab countries were asking Israel to do, which was to “open its doors to people who declare that they are entering to destroy it from within, aided by armies of hostile countries on all sides.” Noting that “the Arab thesis appears to be that Israel has no right to exist and must be destroyed,” she said that “if the Arab refugees are repatriated, they will not become loyal citizens of Israel but will try to destroy it from within.” She asked the delegates: “Can anyone expect Israel to do what he would not have his own Government do?”