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Human Rights Commission Adopts Modified Resolution on Return of Arab Refugees

February 29, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The United Nations Human Rights Commission, with Israel not participating in the vote, unanimously adopted a modified four-power resolution which affirmed “the right of all the inhabitants who have left since the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East to return” and called on “the Government concerned” (Israel) to “take the necessary measures” to facilitate their return without delay.

The original draft, submitted by India, Yugoslavia, Pakistan and Congo, had referred to inhabitants “displaced or deported.” The modifications were proposed by Chile. Other modifications offered by France were not accepted.

Dr. Shabtai Rosenne of Israel told the Commission that he could not agree with the statement of the sponsors that the proposal reflected only humanitarian considerations. The text was controversial and efforts to improve it had not gone far enough in removing “political aspects,” he declared. He asserted that the proposal “presents a selective and unbalanced version” of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. The Security Council had addressed its appeal to all Governments in the area. Moreover, there was no justification for picking out “a single alleged right” and casting it in the form in which it appeared in this draft.

The draft, he stated, was harmful because it ignored the peace efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative. It was unjust he said, because it failed to take account of the harassments to which Israel was subjected by continual breaches of the cease-fire. Resuming after Egyptian objection, Dr. Rosenne, said the Commission had no information on the subject matter of the resolution and adoption of the draft would be “ultra vires, null and void.”

He was keenly aware of the plight of Arab refugees, he continued. The Israel delegation, he said, hoped that, with the establishment of a just peace, the Arab refugee problem and all other problems would receive a just solution.

Morris B. Abram of the United States said the revised text was an improvement, although his Government did not agree with every point in it. He said he supported the draft, on the understanding that it was designed to cover the same area and people as the original Security Council resolution.

Dr. Maurice L. Perlzweig of the World Jewish Congress told the Commission that Jewish minorities in some Middle Eastern states were passing through a phase of utmost difficulty – “very close to the worst which Jews … have experienced up to this time.” He said there was need for urgent action on the Arab refugee problem, but the same applied to the Jewish minority. The international community had not been able to take any strong action on this matter, he pointed out.

He asked that persons imprisoned or restricted in these countries should be liberated, and that those who found it difficult to remain should be allowed to go and their going be facilitated. These people were defenseless unless the international community tried to help them out of their predicament, he declared.

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