The CHAIRMAN observed that he regarded the present meeting, called by the Commission, as primarily procedural in character, and hoped that an agreement would be reached speedily.
He recalled that on 29 July the Commission had submitted to the Arab delegations a draft statement which, in its opinion, had been superseded by the oral declaration made at the beginning of that meeting by the Chairman of the Commission.
The Israeli delegation had asked that the Commission should initiate immediate discussions on the refugee question. The Israeli delegation had certain concrete proposals to submit; but before presenting them, it desired the agreement of the Arab delegations that such discussions would come within the framework of a general and comprehensive solution of the entire refugee problem, and that they would be considered as the step in the conclusion of a final settlement of all outstanding questions.
At the same meeting between the Commission and the Arab delegations, the latter had requested clarification of some points, particularly the exact meaning of the phrase “final settlement”. At the request of his colleagues, the Chairman of the Commission had discussed the matter with the head of the Israeli delegation, and had explained the position of the Arab delegations. In reply he had been informed that Israel was well aware of the difficulties facing the Arab delegations and of their views on the subject, and it had been stated unequivocally that the Government of Israel did not envisage a formal peace treaty or final act as a result of the conference at Lausanne. What that Government contemplated was the creation of a de facto situation in which an atmosphere of stability could be established.
It had been the Chairman’s impression that there was unanimity of purpose between the Israeli and Arab delegations regarding the proper course of action and the final aim of the Lausanne talks. He therefore now laid the reply of the Israeli delegation before the Arab representatives, trusting that it would prove satisfactory to the latter and that the Commission might therefore begin without delay to receive the specific proposals promised by the Israeli obligation.
Dr. ATASSI (Syria) said that according to his understanding the Israeli delegation would advance concrete proposals on the condition that they would fall within the framework of a final solution of the refugee problem and that they would be considered as a first step toward stabilisation of the situation in Palestine. The Arab delegations had come to Lausanne with the purpose of collaborating toward a solution of the refugee question, as required under the terms of the General Assembly’s resolution of 11 December 1948, as well as toward a solution of all other outstanding questions. Therefore, since the present proposal was in the spirit of the resolution, the delegation of Syria agreed to continue the work on this basis.
MOSTAFA BEY (Egypt) agreed with the Commission’s view that the sooner a solution was found for the refugee problem, the sooner a general solution of all outstanding problems could be agreed upon. For that reason his delegation supported the views expressed by the Syrian delegation and by the Chairman, that all delegations should now enter upon general discussions of the refugee problem.
MULKI Pasha (Hashemite Jordan Kingdom), emphasizing the fact that his delegation had always urged that immediate steps be taken for the return of refugees, assured the Commission that the proposals submitted by the Israeli delegation would receive full and favourable consideration from his Government. He impressed upon the Commission however that, in seeking a solution to the refugee problem, it should on no account lose sight of the spirit behind the General Assembly’s resolution of 11 December 1948 and the Protocol of 12 May 1949.
He associated himself therefore with the views expressed by the previous speakers.
Mr. AMMOUN (Lebanon) thanked the Chairman for the initiative he had taken in contacting the principal representative of the Israeli delegation and for the statement he had made.
By signing the Protocol of 12 May, the Lebanese delegation had entered into the constructive phase for the solution of the Palestine problem and the re-establishment of peace in Palestine. That Protocol referred to the threefold problem of the repatriation of refugees, the internationalization of Jerusalem and the solution of the territorial problem on the basis of the map attached to the Protocol.
In reply to the statement made by the Chairman of the Commission at the previous meeting, he wished to reiterate his delegation’s intention of continuing to collaborate fully with the Commission on the basis of the principles established during the first part of the conference and especially on the basis of the General Assembly’s resolution of 11 December and of the clear and precise provisions of the Protocol of 12 May.
His delegation would of course give the most favourable consideration to any suggestion or plan which would lead to a prompt and speedy solution of the refugee problem, and would be happy to study such a plan in cooperation with the Commission and with the delegations of the other Arab States.
The CHAIRMAN assumed that the statements made by the representatives of the Arab States would provide a basis for the Commission to enter into discussion with the Israeli delegation and to request that delegation to submit immediate proposals for the return of the refugees. He took it therefore that the Commission had been authorized to say that it had been agreed that the return of refugees would form part of the total comprehensive scheme of repatriation and of the final settlement, as he had defined that settlement earlier in the present meeting.
Dr. ATASSI (Syria), referring to the last point raised by the Chairman, said that his delegation had always envisaged the solution of the refugee problem as a first, and very important step, towards the solution of the problem as a whole. As regards the linking of the refugee question to the problem as a whole, this was a reservation that the Israeli delegation might put forward, but all that his delegation could do would be to consider the proposal.
The CHAIRMAN wished, on behalf of the Commission, to thank the delegations of the Arab States for the constructive and cooperative spirit they had shown. Such a general acceptance of a basis for discussion would greatly facilitate the Commission’s work in arriving at an agreement on the fundamental issues involved. It was clearly understood that that acceptance in no way prejudged acceptance of any particular plan. He thought however that it was a most important step forward as it laid stress on the practical and substantial aspects of the question.
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