Clapp and Sharett Confer on Arab Refugee Situation; Top Israel Officials Participate
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Clapp and Sharett Confer on Arab Refugee Situation; Top Israel Officials Participate

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Gordon R. Clapp, head of the U.N. economic survey mission for the Middle East, and his three deputies today conferred with high ranking Israel officials in the second of a series of meetings on the Arab refugee problem.

The first meeting took place last night, shortly after Mr. Clapp and his associates arrived in Israel, with Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, Finance Minister Eliezer Kaplan, David Horowitz, director general of the Finance Ministry, Dr. Walter Eytan, director-general of the Foreign Ministry, and several other officials present. The members of the group, who were luncheon guests of Mr. Sharett this noon, are scheduled to depart from Israel by air tomorrow.

The Israel authorities have taken elaborate measures to protect the members of the U.N. group, apparently because of the recent threats against them by an underground group. They were met at the airport by liaison officials of the Israel Government and by Pablo Azcarate, head of the U.N. secretariat in Palestine, who then left for Beirut en routs to Lake Success.

No official communique has yet been issued on the results of the meetings, but it is understood that both sides have already presented their respective positions. Upon the arrival of the U.N. party at the Lydda airport, Mr. Clapp told newsmen that he and his colleagues had come to learn the Israel Government’s attitude toward their terms of reference. Other then that, Mr. Clapp refused to discuss the situation of the refugees as he found it or any of his plans for the future.


Meanwhile, an apparent revision in United States policy, and the disinclination of the Arab states to cooperate on major objectives, has resulted in a revaluation of the ultimate aims of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East. The earlier skepticism of many Israel officials toward the mission’s avowed purpose is gradually turning to pessimism.

The original aim of the mission was a broad one calling for “repatriation, resettlement and the economic rehabilitation” of the Palestine Arab refugees, and the “establishment in the Middle East of economic conditions favorable to the establishment of peace and stability.” It now appears that these objectives, which fitted neatly into the large-scale Middle Eastern “Marshall Plan” drawn up last spring by George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs, have been considerably narrowed down by Washington for reasons yet unknown here.

Before Gordon R. Clapp, the mission chairman, left the United States he placed proposals for the “resettlement” of the refugees on the top of his list of the mission’s objectives. The emphasis is now, according to Mr. Clapp’s statements, on minor short-term projects. These would provide temporary employment for refugees in areas close to the refugee camps.

Israel officials see many dangers in this temporary approach to a problem which they consider essentially long-term in character. Though it may mean partial alleviation of the situation of the refugees, it does not seriously alter or affect the basic problem. Accordingly, the Arab refugee problem will remain an effective political weapon against Israel.

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