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26 January 1951

Original: English


held in Beirut on Friday, 26 January 1951, at 11 a.m.

Mr. de Boisanger


Mr. Aras(Turkey)
Mr. Palmer(United States)
Mr. de Azcarate Principal Secretary

1. Collaboration with the Relief and Works’ Agency (continuation of discussion)

Mr. PALMER (United States) stated that he had read with great interest the document (W/57) prepared by the Secretariat and thought that it would be very helpful to the Commission. However, in view of the legal nature of the document, he did not feel that it could be used as the basis for discussion in the exchange of views which the Commission was to have with the Relief and Works Agency, as it might provoke a prolonged discussion which would probably lead to no positive result. It would in particular be advisable to point out clearly to the members of the Relief and Works Agency that the Commission’s new Office would deal in the first place with the question of repatriation and would then undertake the assessment of the amount of compensation to be paid to the refugees. It was only later, after all those problems had been solved, that it would perhaps be necessary to approach the question of resettlement as a whole, and to negotiate, on the governmental level. It was quite obvious that in any negotiations which the Commission might have with the Arab Governments or with the refugees, the question of resettlement would not be mentioned until the final attitude of Israel with regard to compensation was known with certainty, as the Arab Governments insisted on that question being solved before starting negotiations on any other subjects. It was important to give every assurance on that point to the Relief and Works Agency and to stress the Commission’s desire that the collaboration between the two bodies should be strengthened, at the same time indicating that when it appeared necessary to approach the problem of resettlement on the political level, the Commission would immediately inform the Agency.

Mr. ARAS (Turkey) was in complete agreement with the views expressed by Mr. Palmer. It was necessary at present to develop the collaboration already existing between the Commission and the Relief and Works Agency, and then to work out the means of putting it into practice of referring to the note submitted by the Principal Secretary to the members of the Commission, he suggested that the second part of the note might constitute an excellent starting-point for the discussion to be held that afternoon, if the words “would have no objection to” were replaced by the words “would agree to” (2nd paragraph, 9th line).

The CHAIRMAN remarked that he had never had in mind handing to the Relief and Works Agency a document intended as a basis for discussion, but rather that the Commission might communicate to the Agency, for information, the analysis made by the Secretariat which explained, as it were, the way in which the Commission envisaged its task in the light of the recent resolution of the General Assembly in which it should be stated the Commission had had no hand in any event, it would appear necessary for the two bodies, before going any further, to ascertain each other’s views.

He agreed with Mr. Aras that the second part of the Principal Secretary’s note would serve as an excellent starting point for the exchange of views which was to take place that afternoon, but it seemed to him to be premature to say that the Commission would have no objection to leaving resettlement entirely in the hands of the Relief and Works Agency.

Mr. ARAS (Turkey) agreed that no such declaration should be made, but, in his opinion, nothing would prevent the Commission from indicating that it had no objection to the Agency’s trying, in the light of its past experience, to resettle Arab refugees in countries where they at present resided. If it were changed in that sense, the second paragraph of the note would serve as a good starting point for the exchange of views. According to the way in which the discussion developed more detailed explanations.

Mr. PALMER (United States) wondered whether the second paragraph of the note, amended as indicated by the Chairman and Mr. Aras, might not form the basis of the statement, to be made by the Chairman at the meeting that afternoon concerning the relations between the Commission and the Relief and Works Agency. He felt that the essential thing — in view of the fact that the members of the Relief and Works Agency were worried about the creation of the Refugee Office — was to state clearly the functions which the new Office would assume and to stress that there was no reason why any difficulties should arise between the two bodies, as in fact the work of the new Office would prepare the way for resettlement, which was the task of the Relief and Works Agency. They might even go further and say that the question of resettlement, which was at present being tackled in its technical aspect by the Relief and Works Agency, might at some future date assume a political complexion, and that the Relief and Works Agency might at that time, request the Commission to enter into negotiations of which the Agency would be kept most fully informed.

Although it was difficult to state that the Commission left the question of resettlement entirely in the hands of the Relief and Works Agency, since the General Assembly resolution had also entrusted that task to the Commission, it could, however, be indicated, as Mr. Aras had suggested, that the Commission would follow with interest the efforts made in that field by the Relief and Works Agency in the light of the resolutions of the General Assembly.

The CHAIRMAN, summing up, proposed that at the afternoon meeting he should explain in general terms the way in which the Commission envisaged the respective tasks of the two bodies, and the arrangements which it felt should be made for collaboration between them, as the terms of the resolution of 14 December 1950 made such collaboration even more essential. He would also stress the importance which the Commission attached to the refugee question, in view of the fact that, as stated in the Commission’s report, a solution of that question was a condition sine qua non for the success of any attempt to bring about a rapprochement between the parties concerned. In his statement, Mr. Palmer could then explain in greater detail the way in which the Commission envisaged that its new Refugee Office would function, and indicate that, as regards the question of resettlement in particular, with which the Commission was also charged by the General Assembly, the Commission might, if necessary, step in when the question left the technical field end took on a political complexion, necessitating negotiations on governmental level. When Mr. Aras made his statement, he might perhaps indicate that if the Relief and Works Agency considered that it was in a position to reach agreements with the Arab Governments which would make it possible to start reintegration operations immediately, the Conciliation Commission would agree to concentrate its efforts on the repatriation of refugees to Israel and the assessment and payment of compensation to refugees who chose to be permanently resettled in the Arab countries, and would follow the efforts of the Relief and Works Agency with deep interest.

The Chairman was afraid that if more precise statement on resettlement were made, either in a spoken declaration or in a document, the Commission night find itself in a difficult position when, later, it entered into negotiations with the Government of Israel, which had, during the debates in the Ad hoc Political Committee, opposed the creation of a new office to deal exclusively with repatriation and compensation. The Commission would also be in e difficult position vis-à-vis the Arab States, as it might find it difficult to explain that it had given up its mission as far as reintegration was concerned.

Mr. ARAS (Turkey) observed that the Commission could make it clear to the Government of Israel that it considered the two questions to be interdependent — which, moreover, corresponded to that Government’s view — but that it had seen no objection to the two bodies dealing with the questions separately, as, in fact, the Assembly had recommended in its recent resolution.

It was quite clear that in practice the Conciliation Commission, abiding by the terms of the General Assembly resolution, would first of all take up the question of repatriation and that the Relief and Works Agency, in accordance with its terms of reference, would devote its efforts to the question of reintegration. That was in perfect conformity with the instructions of the General Assembly.

Mr. PALMER (United States), returning to the question of preparing for the afternoon meeting, thought it was necessary to make it clear that the Conciliation Commission could not cease to interest itself in reintegration and that it might have to take up the matter at a future date. It was advisable for the Commission to make that reservation in order to avoid an embarrassing situation vis-à-vis Israel and the Arab States.

With regard to the document which it was contemplated might be handed to the Relief and Works Agency, it might perhaps be indicated that the document was in the course of preparation and would be communicated to the members of the Agency later, purely for information. If the discussion developed satisfactorily, it might not be necessary to envisage a further meeting with the Relief and Works Agency for the present.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY wondered whether the communication of a document — even if it were postponed — to the Relief and Works Agency might not create a misunderstanding and give rise to a discussion of principles. If agreement on all points were reached, during the afternoon meeting, perhaps the Commission might say that, considering the results of the exchange of views, it no longer seemed necessary to communicate the proposed document to the members of the Agency.

The CHAIRMAN agreed with that suggestion and stated that if certain points appeared to raise difficulties, the Commission could say that it would later hand over a document giving its views on the matter concerned.

This was agreed.

Mr. PALMER (United States) pointed out that during the exchange of views with the members of the Relief and Works Agency it would also be necessary to draw their attention to the letter from the Secretary of the Negotiating Committee on Contributions to Programmes of Relief and Rehabilitation regarding the conditional offer of the Government of Israel concerning compensation. Mr. Palmer said that when in Washington he had drawn the attention of the competent authorities in his country to the necessity of urging the Government of Israel to make an offer without conditions as to compensation. He had been assured that every effort would be made to persuade the Government of Israel to make a generous, unconditional offer.

He submitted a draft reply to the Secretary of the Negotiating Committee to that effect, which was approved by the Commission with a slight alteration,

The meeting rose at 1 p.m.

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Discussion concernant la collaboration avec l’Office de secours et de travaux (UNRWA) – 199e séance de CCNUP (Beyrouth) – Compte rendu Français