U.N. Commission at Lausanne Parley Pressures Israeli Envoys on Arab Refugee Issue
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U.N. Commission at Lausanne Parley Pressures Israeli Envoys on Arab Refugee Issue

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After full though separate conferences, the American, French and Turkish members of the U.N. Conciliation Commission combined today to impress on Israeli representatives that unless they change their present attitude on the refugee question, the Arab states here–Egypt, Lebanon and Syria–will refuse to discuss peace.

A further complication on the opening day of the meetings was Israeli refusal to enter into conversations with the Syrian delegation “before Syria signs an armistice with Israel. This seems unlikely at present, as the Syrian delegate–Adnan Atassi,–whom the Commission met this morning,, insisted on Syria’s territorial demand in northern Palestine “before agreeing to an armistice. The demand includes cession to Syria of a port. The Syrians are asking for an outlet to the Mediterranean north of Naharia, which would ultimately make Syria independent of Lebanese ports.

The Syrian armistice delegation also demands some control over the River Jordan by maintaining its present occupation of Israeli territory at Mishmar Bayarden and some additional territory in central Galilee. To this general inflation of opening prices at this conference, which are clearly fixed with an eye on hard bargaining to come, must be added complaints raised yesterday by the Israelis and Arabs who have little confidence in each other’s peaceful intentions.


Having heard these reports, Mark Ethridge, U.S. member and chairman of the Commission, said the group would aim at preparing three reports for the September. session of the U.N. General Assembly, One would be on the refugees, one on internationalization of Jerusalem–on which they have more than 15 proposals–and one on other outstanding problems such as the future status of Haifa and Lydda.

Discussions so far have centered primarily on the shaping of an agenda for the question of compensation for refugees. The Commissioners would like to see the Israeli Government amend its drastic “absentee owners’ law’ which, they and the Arab delegates believe, Invalidates all Israeli offers hitherto made on compensation or restitution of property taken over by Israel.

On the Israeli side, there is neither the intention nor the mood for concessions on this matter. But more will be heard about it when the Trans Jordanian delegates arrive this week-end. This will be by far the most impressive group to come here. Headed by Fawzi Mului Pasha, Minister of Defense, it includes two military commanders and five prominent Palestinian Arabs who are, naturally, most concerned with the future of Arab property in Israel.

Completing their preliminary survey today, the three members of the Conciliation Commission adjourned and probably will meet again Monday to draft an agenda on the basis of what the initial exchanges of views disclosed.

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