Israel Proposes to U.N. Program for Action on Arab Refugee Problem

Israel called on the United Nations today to implement a “bold, imaginative” program for dealing with the Arab refugee problem, going back to original U.N. concepts which envisioned the Arab refugee question as one calling for the economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and their integration into the Middle East economy.

Israel’s Ambassador Michael S. Comay, chairman of his government’s delegation to the General Assembly, made this proposal in his first major address to the Assembly’s 121-member Special Political Committee which has been debating the Arab refugee problem for the last two weeks. He told the committee:

“What is required is a bold new rehabilitation and compensation program, with massive funds placed at its disposal. This could be done without prejudice to the political positions and claims of any party. We should stop being imprisoned in the semantics of the problem, and come to grips with its actualities. If such an imaginative and for ward-looking international initiative could be taken for reintegration and compensation, my government could be counted upon to play its own part.”

The essence of Israel’s program included the following points:

“1) No use of threat of force or violence can be condoned by the United Nations, and the refugees themselves can only be the victims of such designs.

“2) The governments concerned are required to negotiate a settlement of the refugee problem, as well as other matters in dispute between them. The function of the Palestine Conciliation Commission is to promote such agreement. It is unable to exercise that function as long as the Arab governments concerned are unwilling to negotiate or seen agreement, even in principle.

“3) The only alternatives to agreement are to project the problem into the indefinite future, on the present basis, or a fresh international effort to stimulate and strengthen the existing processes of integration. This is the course best adapted to promote the welfare and future of the refugees as human beings, rather than as pawns in a political and military struggle. In any such international initiative, the Government of Israel would play a worthy part.

“4) The refugee problem can best be understood as a two-way migration and exchange precipitated by the upheaval of 1948 and after. Peace and stability in the area, and the interests of the persons involved, require recognition that such a two-way exodus cannot be put into reverse. The existing realities are the basis for constructing a better future.”

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