SUMMARY RECORD OF THE TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY-EIGHTH MEETING
Held in the Hôtel de Crillon, Paris,
on Friday, 16 November 1951, at 4 p.m.
1. END OF THE CONFERENCE
The CHAIRMAN, after noting a document in which the Secretariat summarized the comments of the Israel delegation and the Arab delegations on the proposals made to the latter by the Israel delegation on 14 November 1951, pointed out that the summary brought out once again the irreconcilable nature of the opposing views.
It would therefore seem that the time had come to decide to close the Conference, since all possibilities of negotiation at it had been exhausted. Moreover, the Commission now had to begin drafting its report to the Secretary-General and perhaps also to hear the parties separately on individual points connected with the proposals. Although those negotiations had not had the successful outcome desired, they had nevertheless produced a clear statement of the parties’ views, inasmuch as the Israel delegation had been induced to put forward its observations.
Mr. ARAS (Turkey) agreed that, after the Commission’s efforts to bring the parties together at the Conference, it should now recognize that their views were still as divergent as ever. The tension which the Suez Canal affair had created in the Middle East had had the effect of making the parties’ attitude on the Palestine dispute more intransigent than ever.
As for the Conference itself, he felt that it should be adjourned rather than definitely closed, so as not to create an unfavourable atmosphere just when the Arab delegations to the General Assembly were about to reply to Mr. Sharett’s statement.
Mr. MARCHAL (France) noted that the last meetings which the Commission had held in turn with the Israel delegation and the delegations of the Arab States had demonstrated beyond question the failure to create a favourable atmosphere for the attempts to solve the disputes outstanding between the parties, and to bring the opposing viewpoints closer together. There was, however, no doubt that the negotiations held in Paris in the past two months would have helped to elucidate the various aspects of the problem, so that the Commission would be able to give the General Assembly a very clear idea of the situation. It would, moreover, have been realized that on individual points there were possibilities of agreement which should not be neglected.
The Israel representative’s statement in the Commission must be taken together with the speech made to the Israel Parliament by Mr. Sharett, who had stated that the Israel Government was prepared to settle the refugee question outside the general context of a settlement of the questions in dispute. Mr. Sharett, of course, had in mind only the particular problem of compensation, but the change of attitude should not be overlooked.
It would be remembered, that Mr. Fischer had declared that his delegation was prepared to discuss with the Conciliation Commission, or any other United Nations body, the question of the evaluation of abandoned Arab property, and that he had also observed that the current negotiations would perhaps facilitate a settlement of the question of the blocked accounts. It therefore appeared that — either at the Conference or elsewhere — negotiations should be continued on those two points, since the delegations of the Arab States had raised no objection with regard to the release of the blocked accounts. Thus, immediate action seemed possible on that particular point and the Iraqi Government might be asked whether it was prepared to free the blocked Jewish accounts in its territory.
As regards the winding up of the Conference, he felt that an adjournment would be better — at any rate until the closure of the debate on the Palestine question in the General Assembly — since that procedure tied no one’s hands and provided an opportunity of resuming negotiations if the atmosphere improved.
Mr. ARAS (Turkey) said that although he thought it difficult to discuss certain individual points of the Commission’s general proposals at the Conference itself, there was nothing to prevent the Commission, as such, from discussing them with the delegations concerned.
As regards, the blocked accounts, the Iraqi Government could indeed be asked what it was prepared to do about them.
As to the refugee question, the Conference could not deal exclusively with the compensation aspect, but had at the same time to take into account the repatriation aspect, since the General Assembly had adopted a formal resolution on that question.
Mr. MARCHAL (France) recalled that when the Commission was drafting its proposals s the United States delegation had suggested that the general proposals constituted a single whole, which the parties had to accept or reject en bloc. At that time the French delegation had opposed the suggestion and the Commission, while recognizing the independent nature of the proposals, had agreed that, if the negotiations indicated any possibilities of partial agreements, they would not be neglected. It would thus not mean exceeding the terms of reference of the Conference to conduct negotiations on questions which admitted of a solution,
As regards the suggestion in the Israel representative’s statement concerning the refugee problem and, more especially, the questions of compensation and the evaluation of abandoned Arab property in Israel, the French delegation considered that it might be interesting, having regard to future negotiations on the refugee question, to study the Israel Government’s views in greater detail and to hear the Israel delegation, since it had said it was ready to give those views.
The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY thought there was no reason why the Commission should not hear the point of view of the Israel delegation on the questions of compensation and blocked accounts, for the Commission had been requested by the General Assembly to “make…arrangements…for…the payment…of compensation”. Nevertheless, as the French representative had observed, Israel’s offer should be interpreted in the light of Mr. Sharett’s speech, which imposed certain conditions and specified that the payment of compensation by Israel must release that country from all other obligations towards the refugees, particularly in respect of repatriation. It was important that the Commission should so act as not to give the impression that it subscribed to those conditions.
In his opinion, it would be unwise, outside the conference, to enter into conversations on compensation and blocked accounts without having some assurance that positive results might be expected.
With regard to the work of the conference, he feared that a decision to adjourn while leaving open the possibility of a resumption of negotiations might, in the circumstances, create confusion. The conference had been convened for a definite purpose, which had been described both in the Chairman’s evening statement, and in the Commission’s general proposals. If it were found that that purpose could not be attained, it would only remain to bring the conference to an end. The conference was only one episode in the efforts of the Commission, which, of course, remained quite free to continue its task of conciliation and mediation.
The CHAIRMAN observed that the members of the Commission recognized that the time had come to end the work of the conference, and that it was merely a matter of deciding whether the conference should be declared closed or adjourned. He for his part did not think that there was valid reason to let it be understood that there was any chance of the conversations being resumed in the near future. There was moreover, nothing to prevent the Commission from convening a new conference in case of need.
Like the French representative, he thought it would nevertheless be a pity not to exploit the possibility of settling the matter of the blocked accounts and the question of compensation, But the Commission could in its own right hear the points of view of the Parties on that subject, or even discuss them if there was reason to think that conversations of that kind might be fruitful.
Mr. BARCO (United States of America) believed the problem was turning out to be more complex than had at first been thought. It seemed to him that it would be difficult to close the conference and go on discussing the Commission’s proposals, for if that were done, the Commission’s report to the General Assembly would not be of any great significance. Logically, therefore, the Commission should declare the conference closed, and then prepare its report, stating in it that the points of view of the :Parties had turned out to be irreconcilable, while at the some time indicating that the Parties seemed nevertheless prepared to discuss certain individual points in the Commission’s proposals. The General Assembly could then consider the situation and take an appropriate decision.
Mr. ARAS (Turkey) suggested that for the time being it should be decided to adjourn the conference and then to close it when the Commission had submitted its report to the Secretary-General; and Mr. MARCHAL (France) stated that that solution seemed acceptable to him.
The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY urged that in order to be able to rake useful decisions the General Assembly should have the whole situation before it, and that the continuation of the conference — if only in theory — might be an embarrassment to it in making such decisions. In fact, the members of the Commission wore agreed in principle on closing the conference and differed merely as to the date on which the closure should be officially declared. In his view, the Commission should describe very clearly in its report the results of the further attempt at conciliation which the convening of the conference represented. Since the report would be submitted in a few days, there was not much point in declaring the conference adjourned now only to announce its closure a short time later.
Mr. MARCHAL (France) observed that the question of the closure or adjournment of the conference did not raise a point of substance but rather a question of expediency and presentation, While he still thought, therefore, that it would be better to wait until the Commission had submitted its report to the Secretary-General before officially declaring the conference closed, he would support the Turkish representative’s proposal as amended by the Principal Secretary and supported also by the Chairman.
It was decided to request the Principal Secretary to prepare the text of a letter to be addressed to the Parties for the purpose of informing them that since the conversations which the Conciliation Commission for Palestine had started with them in Paris on 13 September had come to an end, the Commission was engaged in preparing its report, in which it would inform the General Assembly of the results of the conference.
It was also decided to communicate to the Parties the records of the meetings at which they had made their observations.
REPORT OF THE REFUGEE OFFICE
A. discussion took place as to whether the report of the Office should be annexed in extenso to the report of the Commission, or whether the Commission should merely note the results of these studies in its own report, quoting appropriate extracts.
It was decided to defer the matter to the Commission’s next meeting.
Discussion sur la clôture de la conférence de Paris et sur le Rapport de l'Office pour les Refugiés - 268e séance de la CCNUP (Paris) - Compte r endu Français