U.N. General Assembly Opens Today; Arab Refugee Issue on the Agenda

The Arab refugee problem and a number of human rights matters, including one specifically condemning anti-Semitism, will face the United Nations General Assembly here as that body opens its 20th regular session here tomorrow. Due to the fact that no substantive business at all was possible at the last Assembly, this year’s principal forum of the United Nations faces an agenda heavier than ever, including almost 110 items.

The Arab refugee item, always a touchy issue here, debated at great length in the Assembly’s Special Political Committee, is expected to be stormier than ever this year. That debate will center formally around the annual report to be submitted by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. But the report, to be filed shortly by UNRWA’s commissioner-general, Laurence Michelmore, will be only the touchstone of the bitter debate.

The Arab delegations here are primed to bring into the discussion around the UNRWA report demands that the United Nations give official recognition to a so-called “Arab Palestine Delegation,” probably to be headed by Ahmad Shukairy, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The Arabs are expected also to complain about what they consider inadequate financing of the relief operations conducted by UNRWA. They will try to inject all of the Israeli-Arab disputes, some dating back to 1948 and others of a current nature like Shukairy’s PLO and the efforts by the Arab states to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River in their countries, so as to lower or to Stalinize the Jordan waters which Israel is now using for partial irrigation of the upper reaches of the Negev Desert.

In the human rights field, the Assembly will have to consider proposals for the adoption of a declaration and convention spelling out steps for the elimination of all religious intolerance, and adoption of a convention outlawing racial discrimination. In the latter draft document, there is a proposal by the United States to condemn anti-Semitism. The Soviet Union will insist that, instead of mentioning anti-Semitism per se, the wording should concern itself with condemning “Nazism and other manifestations of atrocious racist practices and ideas.”

In the religious area, there will be efforts here to outlaw various discriminations against Soviet Jews practices condoned by Soviet authorities. The draft document would condemn all religious intolerance, and another instrument would outlaw all types of race propaganda and racist organizations.

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