UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Oct. 16)
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees admitted to the General Assembly here today that it is providing rations to refugees who are members of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the group sworn to make war against Israel and receiving military training for that sole purpose.
Strong objections to such UNRWA activity was voiced here by many governments at the Assembly last year. Among the opponents to UNRWA aid for the PLO were not only Israel but also the United States, which contributes 70 percent of the UNRWA budget. However, Laurence Michelmore, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, which provides relief, housing and education for the Arab refugees, reported to the Assembly today:
“A special aspect of the question of ration rolls deserves mention. Doubts have been expressed by some Governments about the propriety of the Agency’s issuing rations which may be consumed by young men in military training under the auspices of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The host governments (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon) do not consider that these doubts are well-founded. In the light of these differences, arrangements have been made for special added donations to the amount of $150,000 which meets the total cost of any rations consumed by the young men in question.
ARABS BELIEVED TO FURNISH THE $150,000; ISRAEL CALLS ACTION ‘OUTRAGEOUS’
“The Commissioner-General is satisfied that these arrangements provide a practical means of disposing of the problem insofar as the Agency is concerned. Contributors to UNRWA, who may have been concerned about this matter, may thus be assured by the Agency that their contributions will not be used to furnish assistance to refugees receiving military training under the auspices of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
It was noted here immediately that Mr. Michelmore did not disclose the source of the $150,000 worth of “added donations,” which, it is believed, come from the Arab countries. However, it was observed that he has made it clear that, whatever the source of the extra funds, the monies are being channeled through the United Nations agency in the form of rations.
A highly placed spokesman for the Israeli delegation, asked about Mr. Michelmore’s statement regarding the furnishing of UNRWA rations to military trainees in the PLO, stated: “It is outrageous that the United Nations lends itself as an instrument in this sort of operation.” A spokesman for the United States delegation here refused to comment on this issue today, declaring that his mission will make its statement on this issue in due time when the Michelmore report is debated. Mr. Michelmore’s admission is expected to be a major point of debate when the UNRWA report comes up officially tomorrow, for the annual Arab refugee debate before the Assembly’s Special Political Committee.