Arabs Lose First Round in U.N. on Palestine Liberation Organization
Menu JTA Search

Arabs Lose First Round in U.N. on Palestine Liberation Organization

Download PDF for this date

The Arab states tentatively lost a fierce battle today to have the Palestine Liberation Organization mentioned by name as the representative of the Arab refugees in the debate of that issue by the U.N. General Assembly’s Special Political Committee. However, the fight was scheduled for resumption tomorrow morning.

The committee met this morning for its first scheduled full-scale debate on the Arab refugee issue, with the first order of business a promised statement by the group’s chairman, Carlet R. Auguste of Haiti, regarding an Arab League letter presented last week. The letter asked a hearing for Ahmed Shukairy and Dr. Izzat Tannous, as respectively, chairman and deputy chairman of the PLC. All 13 members of the Arab League signed the request and Mr. Auguste had promised to recognize the Arab League letter today.

At the start of the session, Mr. Auguste told the 117-member committee that a hearing would be given “to any member of the group referred to in the letter in his individual capacity as a Palestine refugee.” He pointed out that for a number of years the committee had heard Palestine refugees “as individuals and members of the Palestine refugee family.” He referred to the fact that a so-called Arab Palestine delegation had been, for the last few years, permitted to send its representatives to address the committee but that they had always been recognized only as individuals.

Adnan M. Pachachi of Iraq immediately took issue with the chairman, arguing that there were many precedents in the United Nations for recognition of Shukairy and Tannous as representatives of the PLO. He insisted that there was “a difference between the present request and requests for hearings made by Palestinians in the past.” While those Palestinians had come here previously as individuals, he said, “now they belong to an established organization.”

Michael S. Comay, Israel’s permanent representative, replied that Iraq was “pressing so hard for the representatives of an organization set up to attack a United Nations member state to be heard here and not as individual refugees but as representatives of a political and military organization.”


From that point on, and lasting for more than four hours, the fight raged with every member of the Arab League supporting the Iraq representative, the Soviet Union and several African states also favoring the specific use of the name “Palestine Liberation Organization” while the United States, Britain, France, Liberia, Costa Rica, Nigeria and several other members supported the chairman’s suggestion.

After hours of debate, Mr. Auguste formulated his suggestion, which was that “the committee decides to authorize the persons mentioned in the document (the Arab League letter) to make statements on behalf of the Arab refugees of Palestine without this decision implying the committee’s recognition of the political organization they represent.”

The debate grew so heated that Mr. Auguste interrupted Mr. Gomay twice on the grounds that the Israeli Ambassador was entering into a discussion of substantive rather than procedural matters and also interrupted Mr. Pachachi as well as Jamal Barroody of Caudi Arabia. Mr. Auguste pleaded repeatedly with Mr. Pachachi, who acted as chief spokesman for the Arab League in the debate, to accept the chair’s formulation.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund