UNITED NATIONS CONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR PALESTINE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY-SIXTH MEETING (CLOSED)
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Monday, 25 September 1961, at 3 p.m.
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
The agenda was adopted.
REPORT BY MR. JOSEPH E. JOHNSON, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNCCP
At the request of the Chairman, Mr. Johnson reported orally on his recent visit to the Middle East in pursuance of his assignment by the Commission as its Special Representative to consult with host Governments and Israel on practical steps to make progress on the refugee question, with particular reference to paragraph 1 of resolution 1604 of the fifteenth session.
He said he had been courteously and cordially received by top officials in the Arab host countries and Israel and had had with all of them full, frank and friendly discussions. In these talks he had mainly listened and had received a complete picture of the views held on this question by the Governments concerned.
He planned, if the Commission had no objection, to carry out a “second round” of talks with officials of those Governments represented at the United Nations here. He had, in fact, already begun the second round in Amman with the Prime Minister of Jordan, at the latter’s request, since he would not be coming to the Assembly, at least for some weeks. Although there was, as the Commission was already aware, still a very wide difference between the Arab host countries on the one hand and Israel on the other, he was encouraged and felt that it would be useful to continue discussions, and he intended in the second round to put forward certain ideas of his own. Although it was too early to reach firm conclusions, he felt there was a possibility of genuine step-by-step progress on the refugee question without prejudice to other issues in the larger Palestine question but exactly how much progress might be made would become clearer in the course of further talks. Be felt it might be necessary for the Commission in meeting its 15 October deadline to submit with regard to his mission an interim report that would simply state that the Commission had appointed a Special Representative with such and such terms of reference and that his report was expected in the near future. He hoped to give the Commission a report in writing by about 20 October, although he would not wish to commit himself to a firm date at this time. The Commission agreed to this general line of action.
After Mr. Johnson’s oral report he answered questions by members of the Commission and a general discussion followed.
It was agreed that Mr. Johnson should pursue his second round of talks, as proposed, and submit a written report to the Commission about 20 October.
It was agreed that the Commission would meet its deadline of 15 October by an interim report which would cover such topics as identification and valuation of refugee properties and “blocked accounts”. Regarding the work of the Special Representative, the written report would be restricted to explaining briefly his mission, stating that he was continuing to explore ideas at New York with representatives of the Governments concerned, and noting that the Commission was awaiting his report. The question of a supplementary Commission report would be considered after study of the Special Representative’s report.
WORKING PAPERS ON REPATRIATION AND COMPENSATION (A/AC.25/81/Rev.1 and A/AC.25/82)
(a) CORRIGENDA AND AMENDMENTS THERETO DATED 6 AUGUST 1961 (SUBJECT OF MEMORANDUM DATED 20 SEPTEMBER 1961)
The CHAIRMAN stated that the Commission agreed to the amendments to the Working Paper on Repatriation suggested by the representative of the United States. Speaking as the representative of Turkey, he proposed the deletion from that paper of references to statements in the Special Political Committee at the fifteenth session criticizing the Commission and proposing changes in its composition. He considered them irrelevant to the subject matter of the paper.
It was so agreed.
(b) PERSONAL LETTER FROM AMBASSADOR COMAY TO THE ACTING PRINCIPAL SECRETARY DATED 31 AUGUST 1961 CONCERNING THE WORKING PAPERS ON COMPENSATION AND REPATRIATION (CIRCULATED TO ALL MEMBERS AND SUBJECT OF MEMORANDUM DATED 19 SEPTEMBER 1961)
The CHAIRMAN drew attention to the new titles and introductory notes for the two Working Papers drafted by the Secretariat in the light of the Commission’s discussion at its 345th meeting.
Mr. PLIMPTON (United States of America) proposed that the new sub-title Repatriation and Resettlement be changed to read Reintegration by Repatriation or Resettlement.
(c) QUESTION OF CIRCULATION OF WORKING PAPERS W.81/Rev.1, W.82, W.83 (SUBJECT OF MEMORANDUM DATED 19 SEPTEMBER 1961)
A discussion took place on (1) whether to refer in the Commission’s forthcoming progress report to the two Commission’s Working Papers and state that they were available to interested delegations upon request, or (2) to attach them as annexes to that report and thus make them Assembly documents. It was suggested that the first alternative, involving texts in English and French (the working languages of the Commission), would assure adequate circulation, if copies were placed on the desks of all members of the Special Political Committee. The second alternative could involve practical difficulties in translating and publishing in additional languages.
It was decided to refer to Working Papers W.81/Rev.1 and W.82 in the Commission’s progress report and to state that they were available to delegations upon request.
ARAB LEAGUE REQUEST FOR “MICROFILM OF THE REGISTRY OF ARAB PROPERTIES IN ISRAELI-CONTROLLED TERRITORIES IN PALESTINE” (SUBJECT OF MEMORANDA BY THE ACTING PRINCIPAL SECRETARY DATED 22 AUGUST 1961, AND 5, 12 AND 19 SEPTEMBER 1961)
The CHAIRMAN felt that the Commission was agreed in principle on refusing the Arab League request on technical grounds. He drew attention to the text of the Commission’s 1953 refusal. The question was how to find a suitable phrasing which would give to a negative reply some positive note suggesting that the question could eventually be reconsidered.
Mr. DAUGE (France) suggested the dangers of any phrasing that would commit the Commission to positive action in the future.
Mr. GAILLARD (Acting Principal Secretary) remarked that since Israel possessed the originals of the microfilms, to refuse the Arab league request would put the Arab States in an inferior position vis-à-vis Israel in analysing the Repair on Identification and Valuation of Arab refugee movable property, should the Commission authorize its publication.
Mr. PLIMPTON (United States of America) mentioned political and practical objections to acceding to the request and suggested a note somewhat as follows:
(Mr. Plimpton, United States)
“The UNCCP does not feel it appropriate to release data which are the subject of continuing study by the Commission’s Office of Identification and Valuation until completion of its project for valuing individual Arab refugee properties. At that time, if the Arab League is interested, the Commission would be glad to give the matter further consideration.”
It was agreed that the Secretariat prepare a draft reply along such lines for consideration at the next meeting of the Commission.
LETTER DATED 21 AUGUST 1961 FROM HAIFA ‘LAWYER, B.J. BADNANI, REQUESTING FROM THE UNCCP IN BEHALF OF HIS CLIENT ASSISTANCE IN OBTAINING COPIES OF CERTAIN DOCUMENTS (CIRCULATED TOGETHER WITH NOTE BY THE ACTING PRINCIPAL SECRETARY DATED 5 SEPTEMBER 1961)
It was decided as a first step that the Secretariat try to ascertain if the alleged Arab owner of the property in question, the father of the clients of Mr. Badnani, was an Arab refugee.
(a) It was agreed that the Commission’s Land Expert, Mr. Jarvis, should send, for observations and comment, a copy of the confidential Report on the Identification and Valuation of Arab refugee immovable property to Mr. Berncastle, the Commission’s former Land Expert and consultant on the question.
(b) The Principal Secretary reported that he had cabled to the Commission’s Liaison Representative in Jerusalem the additional paragraph referring to the UAR in the press release about the “blocked accounts” release operation, as discussed at the 345th meeting. A reply had just been received saying that the Department of Palestine Affairs of the UAR’s Ministry of Defence would prefer about a two-week deferment in the release operation planned for Lebanon and Jordan. The Department was reported confident of a UAR decision during that period and the delay would avoid placing the UAR in a difficult position.
It was agreed to inform the Liaison Representative that the Commission was agreeable to the requested two-week deferment.