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U.N. Commission Reports on Israel’s Payments to Arab Refugees

The Palestine Conciliation Commission, a three-member body formed in 1948, reported to the General Assembly today that, by July 31, 1965, Israel had turned over a total of 3,588,008 pounds sterling ($9,046,422) from blocked accounts belonging to Arab refugees and absentee owners who had left Israel.

These funds have since been paid by the PCC to the owners of those accounts. The program for Israel’s release and transfer of refugee bank accounts blocked in Israel since its War of Liberation and of safe deposit and safe custody items belonging to Arab refugees was begun in 1953. In addition to the money turned over, Israel has also released various quantities of shares and bonds belonging to the refugees.

In its report, the PCC’s chairman, Christopher Thoron, a representative of the United States, noted also that the long-term efforts of the Commission to identify real estate and other immovable property holdings in Israel claimed by refugees had been completed by May 1964. However, Mr. Thoron noted, the Commission will not release figures on the values ascribed to individual properties until broader problems in regard to possible compensation to Arab refugees are solved. The Commission is composed of the United States, France and Turkey.

A call for the establishment of “Combined Refugee Commissions,” to be composed of representatives of the Arab refugees and of Israel, under the aegis of the United Nations, was issued in New York today by Dr. Simon Shereshevsky of Jerusalem, chairman of the Ihud Association of Jerusalem, which advocates Arab-Israeli peace. Dr. Shereshevsky identified himself as “a Zionist and a religious Jew.”

Such commissions, he told a press conference, would be “a first step” toward solution of the Arab refugee problem. He also proposed that international arms control for the Arab states and Israel be established by the United Illations and the big powers as another move toward elimination of tensions in the Middle East.

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