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Comay Oppose Possible Resolution on Custodian for Arab Property in Israel

December 3, 1968
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Israel today expressed opposition to a possible resolution here that would call for appointment of a custodian to administer Arab properties in Israel. Michael Comay told the UN’s Special Political Committee that such a resolution would be harmful to Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring’s Middle East peace mission and that Israel would oppose it. The Israeli diplomat, who was former UN envoy, spoke in reply to a representative of Pakistan, Eskandar All, who last Friday told the committee that a draft resolution on a custodian was under consideration by several delegations.

Indicating that a call for solution of the Arab refugee question was part of the Nov. 22,1967 Security Council resolution that authorized the Jarring mission, Mr. Comay said the custodian proposal was “highly controversial, provocative and harmful” and would inject “a fresh source of friction into a complicated question at a very highly sensitive stage of negotiations.”

The Special Political Committee today continued its debate on the report of Commissioner-General Laurence Michelmore of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The committee is considering a United States draft resolution that would extend the UNRWA mandate, slated to expire June 30, 1969, for three years.

Mr. Comay told the committee that the proposal for appointment of an Arab property administrator had assumed different guises in the past but there was still a question left unchanged — whether the UN had the right to intervene in the affairs of a country in a dispute regarding the settlement of property rights. The answer, he said, was no. Pakistan told the committee last Friday that Israel has argued that the custodian proposal infringed upon its domestic Jurisdiction. “If there is any issue to which the pleas of domestic jurisdiction is wholly irrelevant, it is the issue of Palestine refugees,” he said. Mr. Comay replied today that there was no grounds for questioning Israel sovereignty on the question. He appealed to committee members to persuade delegations who want to introduce a custodian proposal to refrain from doing so. The Israeli added that figures on income of Arab properties as given by some delegations were a “figment of the imagination.” More than 500,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries had been settled in Israel and their properties had been confiscated by the Arab governments concerned, he said, adding that no offer of compensation for their property had ever been made.

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