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U.N. Rejects Resolution on Custodian for Arab Property in Israel

Efforts to secure the adoption by the General Assembly’s Special Political Committee of a resolution calling for the appointment of a United Nations custodian for property in Israel claimed by Arab refugees failed again last night in a vote that was viewed as a major diplomatic victory for Israel. A similar resolution was defeated during last year’s Assembly’s session.

The Committee last night rejected a resolution sponsored by Afghanistan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Somalia calling on the Secretary-general “to take all appropriate steps to have a custodian appointed to protect and administer Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel and to receive income derived therefrom on behalf of the rightful owners.” The vote on the four-nation resolution was 36 in favor, 38 against and 36 abstentions.

Concluding three weeks of debate on the Arab refugee question, the Committee adopted instead a United States resolution calling on all governments concerned to cooperate with the Palestine Conciliation Commission in its efforts to secure repatriation or compensation for the Arab refugees. The vote on the entire U.S. draft was 65 in favor, none against with 45 abstentions.

Before voting on the draft of the United States resolution, the Committee approved three amendments put forward by Somalia, one of which called on the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Arab Refugees to continue his efforts “including rectification of the relief rolls as to ensure, in cooperation with the governments concerned, the most equitable distribution of relief based on need.”

The latter amendment, aimed at weeding out names of dead or non-existent persons on the UNRWA lists of refugees receiving aid, was approved by a vote of 55 in favor, 54 abstentions. It replaced a similar clause in the original United States draft which had also expressed concern over the “limited progress” thus far achieved in the rectification of the relief rolls. Rejected by the Committee was another amendment sponsored by Somalia which singled out Israel and called on her to cooperate with the Palestine Conciliation Commission. This amendment was defeated by a vote of 33 in favor, 39 against with 38 abstentions.

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