WASHINGTON (Jul. 20)
Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, told the Senate Subcommittee on Refugees today that the United States was seeking to persuade the Arab countries where the Arab refugees live to accept increased responsibility for the refugees. Mr. Sisco returned Friday from a visit to the Middle East.
He and Raymond Hare, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and Near East Affairs, testified on United States contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Arab refugees. The State Department officials stressed that the Administration opposed any further cuts in United States contributions to UNRWA.
The officials referred specifically to a House action last week cutting $700, 000 from the Administration’s $22, 900, 000 request for UNRWA. They contended such a cut would require undesirable reductions in health and education services.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the subcommittee, proposed that $700, 000 of the United States contribution be used to build a vocational training school for the refugees to be operated by one of the four Arab “host” governments. Sen. Kennedy noted his proposal would be consistent with the United States Government’s continuing effort to induce the host governments to undertake more responsibility for the refugees’ long term needs.
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Mr. Sisco told the subcommittee that he was in general agreement with the Kennedy proposal and would give it study. The Senate is now debating the foreign aid bill and is expected to approve the $22, 900, 000 figure. The Kennedy proposal might then be given consideration when Senate and House leaders meet to iron out differences in their respective versions of the foreign aid bill.
Sen. Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican, criticized the “milk and honey” policy of the Administration on the refugee question. He also criticized the Administration for not supporting the 1961 Afro-Asia resolution in the United Nations urging direct peace talks between the Arab countries and Israel.
Sen. Kennedy and Mr. Sisco criticized irregularities in UNRWA relief rolls. The Senator argued that UNRWA, the U.N. and the United States should stand firm on removal of Palestine Liberation Army recruits from the refugee rolls. The State Department official criticized the fact that 10, 000 to 12, 000 such recruits continued to obtain UNRWA rations. He also said that the presence of refugees in the PLO army could raise delicate political issues and could work seriously to the disadvantage of needy refugees.
In his prepared statement, Mr. Hare said that while Israel might be prepared to accept some of the refugees, he believed that a large-scale return of the refugees to Israel was impracticable on security grounds, as Israel had indicated. He said that Israel had also cited the large number of Jews who, since 1948, felt compelled to leave their Arab countries of origin for resettlement in Israel.