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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
31 December 1954






On 28 January 1954 Israel requested that its complaint against Egypt concerning (a) enforcement by Egypt of restrictions on the passage of ships trading with Israel through the Suez Canal; (1) interference by Egypt with shipping proceeding to the Israel port of Elath on the Gulf of Aqaba be considered urgently by the Security Council. An explanatory memorandum, after reviewing the situation concerning shipping through the Suez Canal since the Council had last considered the matter in 1951, stated that the practices of the Egyptian Government regarding shipments destined for Israel had continued despite the Council's injunction and that the list of contraband materials had recently been extended by Egypt so as to cover food and other commodities. By so doing, said the memorandum, the Egyptian Government had defied the Security Council, the Charter of the United Nations and the General Armistice Agreement between Israel and Egypt. Furthermore, the Egyptian Government had extended those regulations by which ships proceeding to the Israel port of Elath in the Gulf of Aqaba became subject to search and seizure.

On 3 February 1954 Egypt asked for the Council's urgent consideration of its complaint against Israel concerning violations of the Egypt-Israel General Armistice Agreement in the Demilitarized Zone of El-Auja. Those violations, it was stated, included entry of Israel armed forces into the Demilitarized Zone and attacks by those forces on Bedouins inhabiting the area, and establishment of Israel settlements in the Demilitarized Zone. These acts constituted a violation of the General Armistice Agreement and were in defiance of the Council resolution of 17 November 1950.

On 4 February 1954 the Council decided to include in its agenda both the Israel and the Egyptian complaints and to consider the two items consecutively.

On the following day the representative of Israel stated in the Council that Egyptian interference in the Suez Canal with maritime traffic with Israel amounted to a violation not only of the Council's decision of 1 September 1951 2/ but also of the Constantinople Convention of 1888, which governed maritime traffic through the Canal, and of the general principles of international law pertaining to freedom of navigation in international waters. Since all Members of the United Nations agreed to refrain from the use of force in their international relations, no Member was entitled to demand respect for the rights of a belligerent, especially with respect to hostilities conducted against the explicit injunction of the United Nations. Moreover, Egypt could not invoke the rights of "self-defence" or "self-preservation" to justify its action under the terms of Article 51 of the Charter, 3/ since no armed attack had been made against Egypt and the Security Council was still seized of the situation in question. Finally, the Armistice Agreement of 1949 utterly forbade any action based on the rights of war or any presumption of renewal of hostilities.

The Security Council, he added, in its resolutions of 11 August 1949 and 17 November 1950, had defined the Armistice Agreement as a permanent pledge by calling on the parties to abstain from all hostile acts. Any violation of that Agreement by any one party or any condonation of its violation must inevitably lead to the collapse of peace and security in the Middle East. It was, therefore, the Security Council's duty to require Egypt to abstain from such interference with the trade of Israel and other countries and with the rights of maritime Powers. The Council should express itself not only against the Egyptian blockade but also against the Egyptian claim to the rights of belligerency. The regulations that the Council had denounced on 1 September 1951 had not only been retained in full force but had been increased. Many more categories of goods, including foodstuffs, had now been declared contraband. It was reported that additional regulations had been made which would interfere with shipping passing through the Suez Canal to Elath on the Gulf of Aqaba.

The representative of Israel asked the Council to bring about the immediate and total cessation of all belligerent acts and restrictions, both in the Suez Canal and in the Gulf of Aqaba. He believed the Council should establish machinery to supervise implementation of its resolution and should receive regular reports on this.

In the course of several subsequent meetings, the representative of Egypt made a number of statements in reply to the Israel representative's arguments and explained his Government's point of view concerning the complaints brought against it. He maintained that a state of war had existed and continued to exist between Egypt and Israel and that the Armistice Agreement had not ended that state of war. Such a situation gave belligerents certain rights, particularly the incontestable right to visit and search ships in territorial waters, in ports, in mid-ocean and in enemy waters with a view to confiscating what was legally considered war contraband. When dealing with the situation in 1948, the Council had always considered the situation in Palestine to be an armed conflict between belligerents and had taken action under Chapter VII of the Charter. The Egypt-Israel General Armistice Agreement had not put an end to the legal state of war existing between the two parties. It was repeatedly stated in the Agreement that it constituted only a step from truce to permanent peace; the Agreement by itself did not usher in a state of peace. The final decision of the Special Committee of the Egypt-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission, dated 12 June 1951, had stated that that Commission had no right to require the Egyptian Government to refrain from impeding the transport through the Suez Canal of goods destined for Israel. Moreover, the Agreement had not been intended to prevent one or both parties from exercising the right of visit and search, and unless an armistice agreement expressly provided for such restrictions, the right of both parties in that regard must be fully respected. Moreover, visit and search had been carried out by civilian customs officials.

Egypt contended that its action did not contravene either international law, the Constantinople Convention or the United Nations Charter. Egypt had never decreed or applied a blockade, nor had it abused its right of visit, search and confiscation of contraband. Since September 1951 only 0.17 per cent of the ships that passed through the Canal had been inspected; of 267 ships that passed through the Gulf of Aqaba, only three had actually been visited and searched; and not a single consignment of cargo had been confiscated. Of commodities regarded as contraband, Egypt had confined the seizures and confiscation procedures to foodstuffs intended for the use of Israel armed forces and excluded those intended for civilian use. Until peace was established and so long as Egypt's very existence was threatened by aggressive and hostile Zionism, his country had to exercise its sovereign rights of self-defence and self-preservation.

In conclusion, the representative of Egypt stated that the Council's resolution of 1 September 1951 had been of a political character. As the Egyptian representative had declared in the course of the 1951 debate, that resolution was based neither on established foundations nor on exhaustive studies and clear opinions. It was not Egypt but Israel that had to be reminded of the need to implement long-standing decisions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.

At the Council's meeting on 12 March the representative of Lebanon said that the basic principles governing the Palestine question were embodied not only in decisions of the Security Council but also in resolutions of the General Assembly and other organs of the United Nations. It would be presumptuous to suppose that the Palestine problem could be settled through the exercise of the power of the Security Council alone. He added that peace would never be promoted in the Near East if Israel and its adherents took advantage of every difficulty that arose in the territory of its Arab neighbours. If the Security Council wanted peace in the Near East, the important thing was not so much to adopt a resolution or to please Israel or the Arabs as to keep the broader implications of the fundamental issue in mind at all times.

On 23 March New Zealand submitted a draft resolution by which the Security Council would: (1) recall its resolution of 1 September 1951 and note with grave concern that Egypt had not complied with it; (2) call upon Egypt in accordance with its obligations under the Charter to comply with that resolution; and (3) express the view that, without prejudice to the provisions of the resolution of 1 September 1951, the complaint relating to the Gulf of Aqaba should in the first instance be dealt with by the Mixed Armistice Commission established under the General Armistice Agreement between Egypt and Israel.

In the subsequent discussions, the representatives of Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States made the following points. The New Zealand draft resolution was directed primarily to the issue of non-compliance by Egypt with the Council's resolution of 1 September 1951. A considerable number of ships had been interfered with and the existence of restrictive regulations had had a deterrent effect on the shipping of all nations both in the Suez Canal and in the Gulf of Aqaba. Amendments to the regulations enacted by Egypt only a few months earlier had extended both the scope of the restrictions and the area to which they applied.

The basic issues had not changed, and nothing since November 1949, when the Armistice Agreement was signed, or since 1951, when the Council adopted its resolution concerning Egyptian restrictions on shipping through the Suez Canal, altered their validity or significance to the peace of the area. Article 25 of the Charter obliged Members to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council, whether they agreed with them or not. If the Council accepted the thesis that a Member State was not bound by one of its decisions if it termed it illegal, the Council's ability to maintain peace and security would be weakened.

Those representatives considered that the parties concerned had a duty to respect and to make every reasonable effort to implement the collective judgment of the United Nations, whether expressed in the Security Council, in the General Assembly or in other competent organs. The parties to the Palestine question, by disregarding the judgment of the majority of Member States, lost sight of the immense value to themselves which this process represented. To disregard the Council's views in one instance would encourage recalcitrance in another; the whole fabric of international co-operation inevitably suffered.

In conclusion, these representatives stated that they could not accept the Egyptian representative's justification of his Government's interference with shipping in the Gulf of Aqaba. They believed, however, that the machinery established under the Armistice Agreement should be used whenever possible to deal with the complaints of either party. The complaint in respect of the Gulf of Aqaba had not been submitted to the Mixed Armistice Commission, but the information supplied by the Council made it appear to be a case within the jurisdiction of the Commission.

The representative of the United Kingdom stated further that the question of compliance with the Security Council's resolutions was so important that his Government felt that the Council should keep the question under review; if within 90 days Egypt had not complied with the resolution, the Council should stand ready to take up the matter again.

On the other hand, it was pointed out by the representative of France that the dispute involved particularly the application of the Armistice Agreement which the Council had to uphold. It was because the terms of the Agreement were not being respected and because its violation obviously involved a danger to peace that the matter had legitimately been brought before the Council.

The representative of China considered that, while the Egyptian representative had put forward some very impressive arguments concerning the general rules of international law relating to belligerency and the right of visit and search, the Council, by its very nature, was not qualified to deal with the complicated legal issues involved in the dispute. It should explore the possibilities of finding a political solution, bearing in mind Egypt's offer to relax restrictions, rather than reaffirm an existing resolution.

The representative of Egypt said that the New Zealand resolution, like the 1951 resolution, completely disregarded the juridical issues involved in the problem. His Government was willing to relax in certain respects the restrictions it had imposed, but instead of being encouraged in that direction, it had been confronted with the New Zealand text. In the circumstances, he wondered if the Council's competence was, in fact, being applied in accordance with the terms of the Charter. The Council did not act on behalf of its members alone, but on behalf of the whole international community represented in the United Nations. The New Zealand draft resolution was unacceptable to Egypt and his delegation rejected it with the utmost vigour just as it had rejected the 1951 resolution.

The representative of Lebanon considered that the draft resolution to a large extent advocated Israel's point of view. It would have been more balanced, impartial and acceptable if it had also requested Israel to release the $12,000 million worth of Arab properties seized and held by Israel. If that were done, the Council would really be making a contribution to peace and to the adjustment of differences in the Near East.

The New Zealand draft resolution, stated the USSR representative, though supported by various representatives, had been strongly opposed, and with sound arguments, by the representatives of the Arab countries. Instead of helping the Arab States and Israel to develop normal relations and establish mutual peace and friendship, the adoption of such a resolution would only complicate relations between Israel and Egypt. In the opinion of the USSR delegation, the draft resolution was based on a fundamentally false premise, in that it disregarded the impossibility of settling an international problem by imposing on one of the parties a decision which that party had declared from the outset was absolutely unacceptable to it. It would be more correct, therefore, to follow the generally accepted methods of international law and the Charter and appeal to both parties to take steps to settle their differences by direct negotiations. He explained that while the principle of free navigation laid down by the Convention of Constantinople must, of course, be respected, the adoption of measures to ensure free navigation through the Suez Canal devolved upon the States that had signed that Convention and not upon a chance group of States, such as those that constituted the majority of the Council. His delegation considered that the New Zealand draft resolution, like the 1951 resolution, was unsatisfactory and he saw no justification for supporting it.

When, on 29 March 1954, the New Zealand draft resolution (for text, see below, DOCUMENTARY NOTES) was put to the vote, it received 8 votes in favour and 2 against (Lebanon and the USSR), with 1 abstention (China). Since one of the votes against was cast by a permanent member of the Council, the draft resolution was not adopted.

After the vote, the representatives of France, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom stated that the strong support given the draft resolution had shown its inherent reasonableness. They expressed grave concern that a negative vote should again have been cast by a permanent member against a moderate resolution designed to reduce tension in the Middle East. Since the USSR representative had not voted against the 1951 resolution, it was difficult to understand why he should veto a draft resolution that recalled the earlier one. Such use of the veto might reduce the Council to impotence on the Palestine question, they stated, as USSR vetoes had reduced it to impotence on so many other questions.

In reply, the USSR representative declared that his vote had by no means undermined the Council's authority but, on the contrary, had safeguarded it. By adopting a worthless, inane, unsatisfactory resolution, the Council would have impaired its prestige and its international authority. His delegation had abstained on the 1951 resolution in the hope that that proposal might produce some positive results. But since no positive results had been achieved in the course of two years and since there was no hope that they would follow the adoption of the New Zealand proposal, his delegation had seen no reason to support it.

The representative of Israel said that his Government considered the 1951 resolution as being still valid and in force. However, his Government would wish to examine with care the situation in which it appeared that no resolution recognizing Israel's fundamental rights under the General Armistice Agreement was capable of adoption by the Security Council, even when the majority supported it. Resolutions strongly opposed by Israel, on the other hand, had been allowed free passage. If the only choice was a resolution acceptable to Arab interests or no resolution at all, any Government would perforce have to consider seriously whether there existed the basic conditions of judicial equity in which Israel should have recourse to the Security Council.

The Egyptian representative again remarked that his Government was not satisfied that the 1951 resolution conformed to the spirit of the Charter. However, now that Egypt was free from the pressure put upon it by the New Zealand draft resolution and from the threat of the United Kingdom proposal to retain the item on the Council's agenda for 90 days, Egypt would, of its own free will, adopt a more moderate attitude.


On 30 March 1954 Jordan charged that large armed forces from Israel had on 28 March attacked the Jordan village of Nahhalin, killing nine persons and wounding 14 civilians, including women and children. On the same day, it was stated, the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission had adopted a resolution condemning Israel in the strongest terms for that act of aggression.

On 1 April Lebanon, on behalf of Jordan, submitted to the Council for urgent consideration a complaint regarding the Nahhalin incident.

On 5 April Israel asked for urgent consideration by the Council of four complaints charging that Jordan had repudiated its obligations under the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement, particularly by staging an armed attack on a bus near the Scorpion Pass on 17 March.

Subsequently, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen associated themselves with the complaint submitted by Lebanon on behalf of Jordan.

When the Security Council met on 8 April, it had before it a provisional agenda containing as sub-item (a) the complaint received from Lebanon and as sub-item (b) the complaints received from Israel. Before the adoption of the agenda, the question was raised whether the two sub-items were to be dealt with together or separately. After various views had been expressed on this question, the Council on 4 May adopted a Brazilian- Colombian proposal by which, after the adoption of the agenda, there would be a general discussion during which reference to any or all of the items on the agenda would be in order, with the Council not being committed at that stage to the separate or joint character of the decision or decisions it might eventually adopt.

During the procedural discussions, the representatives of Denmark, France, New Zealand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States recalled that during consideration of the Qibya incident the Council had fully examined the situation on the borders of Israel and Jordan and had adopted a resolution which it had hoped would lead to an improvement in the area. However, the efforts of Israel to secure a conference with Jordan under article XII of the General Armistice Agreement had not been successful, despite the patient efforts by the Secretary-General to ensure that the conference would take place under conditions acceptable to both sides (see below, under QUESTION OF THE CONVOCATION OF A CONFERENCE UNDER ARTICLE XII OF THE ISRAEL-JORDAN ARMISTICE AGREEMENT). In addition, some very serious acts of violence had continued to occur and had had alarming repercussions. Two of those incidents were of an exceptionally serious nature. On 17 March a bus in a lonely part of the Negev had been waylaid and 11 Israelis had been murdered. That had been a deplorable crime and it was understandable, stated those representatives, that it had aroused a wave of emotion in Israel. The Mixed Armistice Commission had conducted an urgent inquiry in which the Jordan authorities had co-operated fully. Lacking conclusive evidence, however, the Mixed Armistice Commission had been unable to establish who had perpetrated the outrage. A second organized attack had taken place on 28-29 March against the village of Nahhalin, with considerable loss of life. The Mixed Armistice Commission had found Israel guilty, and it was easy to understand the indignation caused in Jordan by the attack. In the circumstances, these representatives wished to make it clear that their Governments were seriously concerned when any State, especially any Member of the United Nations, bound by agreements approved by the Security Council and by its obligations under the Charter, presumed to take the law into its own hands through reprisal and retaliation. That view had been made perfectly clear when the Council had discussed the Qibya incident, and their Governments continued to hold the view that resort to a policy of reprisal and retaliation must cease.

They believed that in the circumstances a piecemeal discussion of individual incidents was not the best procedure for the Council to follow. They wished to make it clear to the representative of Lebanon, however, that the Nahhalin item, which stood first on the provisional agenda, should not be smothered or in any way obstructed by a general debate on the whole border problem. An incident such as the Nahhalin attack, for which the Mixed Armistice Commission had found Israel guilty and which appeared on the face of it to have the closest resemblance to the Qibya incident, was certainly a matter for the Council's consideration. The two complaints before the Council provided it with an adequate starting point for a full review of the situation. It was because they hoped and believed that such a review would enable the Council to reach helpful and practical conclusions, and thus open a way for an improvement of the border situation, these representatives said, that they supported the suggestion of Brazil and Colombia.

The United Kingdom representative, in particular, pointed out that his Government considered that Jordan had acted with due sense of its international responsibilities in bringing the Nahhalin attack to the notice of the Council. It hoped that no further incidents or attacks would occur while the Council was considering the problem; the situation was grave enough without that. The British Government, which had a treaty of alliance with Jordan and which desired to preserve good relations with Israel, was very seriously concerned by the situation which had developed on their borders.

Following the adoption of the agenda, the representative of Lebanon, opening the debate, stated that no one should expect the Arabs to come to terms with Israel, at the point of a gun, and it was useless for Israel or for any of its adherents to hope that Israel could shoot its way to a final settlement in the Near East. The only road to a real and final settlement in that area was the road of peace and good will. There existed in the Arab world a new will which the world should recognize--a will to independence, dignity and self-respect, and an absolute refusal to be lorded over by anybody. Thus, any expectation that the political climate of 1947, in which the Powers had been able to manipulate governments and peoples as they pleased, still existed would be unrealistic.

The representative of Jordan, who had been invited to take part in the discussion, described in some detail the attack on Nahhalin. He did not understand why Israel had initiated that aggression. The Truce Supervision machinery was a workable arrangement and had more or less satisfactorily kept the peace on the frontiers between Israel and Jordan as long as the two countries had abided by it. But when Israel adopted new aims, the arrangement had been subjected to severe shocks designed to nullify it. The Prime Minister of Israel had stated that he considered the Armistice Agreements "a success in so far as they have established clear demarcation lines which assume the character of international frontiers." Whether such a view was consistent with United Nations resolutions on the Palestine question did not seem to worry Israel, which, furthermore had defied the United Nations with impunity on other aspects of the Palestine problem, such as the Arab refugee question. Moreover, an objective analysis of border problems between Jordan and Israel clearly revealed that Israel tended to justify or ignore its own armistice violations and to exaggerate the military nature of Arab infiltration. It was frivolous to imply that an individual act by a borderland Palestinian refugee crossing the demarcation line to his own farm or house could be compared to an organized violation of an official or semi-official character. Nevertheless, the Jordan Government, as General Bennike had attested, had not failed to take effective measures to prevent its citizens from crossing the demarcation line. The attack on Nahhalin, and similar attacks in the past, were, it was stated, indicative of a venture of greater political magnitude. The attack on Nahhalin had been meant to force the Arabs to accept a new formula for a solution of Israel-Jordan problems. However, no Arab country would enter into direct or indirect agreement with Israel either at the point of a gun or at the expense of legitimate Arab rights and interests. In conclusion, he stated that if no separate and independent resolution were adopted on the Nahhalin incident, then Israel would feel encouraged to create further incidents in order to obtain a general discussion in the Council and to secure the passage of resolutions on subjects it wished to be considered.

The representative of Israel, who had also been invited to participate in the discussion, said that the Jordan representative's statement illustrated the comprehensive and intense hostility in which the State of Israel was struggling for security and peace. The problem of the Israel-Jordan frontier, he said, was primarily one of a purposeful hostility towards a small State by a powerful coalition 30 times the size of Israel in population and 300 times its size in area. A principal result of that hostility was a constant murderous harassment on the Israel-Jordan frontier which had sombre consequences in terms of loss of life. His delegation expressed deep concern over the increased tension on the Jordan frontier since the massacre of Israel citizens at Scorpion Pass and Kissalon, and over the repudiation by Jordan of article XII of its Armistice Agreement with Israel. Those events had created danger to the peace of that frontier and had illustrated the precarious balance on which the security of the Middle Last rested. World opinion looked expectantly to the Council for a review of past events and, above all, for the initiation of measures to improve the atmosphere and general relations between Israel and Jordan under the Armistice Agreements.

In conclusion, he inquired whether, in view of the fact that the Charter laid down precise conditions for consideration by the Security Council of disputes between Member and non-member States, the Council, in inviting a representative of Jordan to present a complaint against Israel, had satisfied itself that Article 35, paragraph 2, had been complied with, namely, whether Jordan had accepted in advance the obligations of pacific settlement provided in the Charter, as it had already done in a previous instance.

The representative of Lebanon said that in view of the statement by the representative of Jordan and of the possibility of future misunderstandings, he wished to submit a draft resolution whereby the Council would: (1) find that the attack on Nahhalin constituted a flagrant breach by Israel of the Council's resolutions of 15 July 1948 and 24 November 1953, of article III, paragraph 2, of the Israel-Jordan General Armistice Agreement, and of Israel's obligations under the Charter; (2) express the strongest censure of that action and call upon Israel to take effective measures to apprehend and punish the perpetrators; (3) request Israel to pay compensation for the loss of life and damage to property sustained in Nahhalin as a result of the action; and (4) call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply, in accordance with Article 41 of the Charter, such measures against Israel as they thought necessary to prevent repetition of such actions and aggravation of the situation.

At the outset of the following meeting on 12 May, the President said that before inviting the representatives of Jordan and Israel to the table, the Council should deal with the point raised by the representative of Israel at the previous meeting and repeated in a letter dated 5 May. As regards precedents relating to the acceptance of Charter obligations by nonmember States invited to the Council table, so far as he had been able to determine the Council had not previously had to deal with a complaint brought to its attention by a Member State on behalf of a non-member of the United Nations. There had been a number of cases where non-member States had either volunteered or had been invited to assume obligations under the Charter, either because they themselves had brought the disputes to the attention of the Council or because they had been parties to disputes under consideration by the Council. In the circumstances, it could be argued that none of those cases should be regarded as a precedent for the matter to which the representative of Israel had drawn attention. Since the representative of Lebanon and not the representative of Jordan had brought the complaint to the Council's attention, paragraph 1, not paragraph 2, of Article 35 was applicable. 4/ If the Council held that paragraph 1 of Article 35 applied in the present case, it might wish to consider whether or not to lay down conditions for participation in the discussion by the representative of Jordan. On the other hand, it could be argued that paragraph 2 of Article 35 applied, since a complaint could hardly be brought on behalf of a sovereign State, whether or not it was a Member of the United Nations, without the authority and consent of that State. That line of argument would lead to the conclusion that the particular complaint on the Council's agenda was, in substance, a Jordan complaint, and that therefore the provision of paragraph 2 of Article 35 should be applied.

On 26 May 1954 the representative of Jordan upon instructions from his Government, informed the President that he was not empowered to represent his Government before the Council or to take part in the current discussion.

The Council had not by the end of 1954 held any further meeting on this subject.

On 19 June the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine transmitted to the Secretary-General two reports on the Scorpion Pass and Nahhalin incidents.

In the first report the Chief of Staff stated that, on 17 March, the Israel representatives on the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission had complained that an attack by a Jordanian unit on an Israel passenger bus had taken place in Israel territory at Scorpion Pass on the highway from Elath to Beersheba. The investigations made by the United Nations observers, assisted by Israel and Jordanian authorities, and the testimony of the survivors had proved inconclusive. At an emergency meeting of the Commission on 22 March the representatives of Israel had stressed evidence which, in their opinion, showed the military character of the attack and had submitted a draft resolution charging that the attack had been carried out by an armed and organized Jordanian gang and constituted a violation of article III, paragraph 2, of the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement. The draft resolution had not been adopted because of the abstention of the Chairman, who had expressed regret that it had not proved possible, as had been his wish, to complete the investigation, adding that the Commission would always avoid condemning any government on inconclusive evidence. Following the Chairman's statement, the Israel delegation had announced that, in those circumstances, it was not in a position to continue its participation in the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission.

In his second report the Chief of Staff stated that, on 29 March, the Jordan delegation to the Mixed Armistice Commission had complained of an attack on the village of Nahhalin in which nine persons had been killed and 14 wounded. An immediate investigation had been carried out and had been followed by an emergency meeting held on 30 March in the absence of the Israel representative. A resolution had been adopted charging that the attack on Nahhalin had been carried out by a large group of militarily trained Israelis. After the vote, the Chairman had declared that the evidence which had been found established the guilt without question and that there had seemed to have been little effort on the part of the attackers to conceal their identity. He had stated his belief that the Israel officials would not encounter much difficulty in apprehending the perpetrators of the crime and bringing them to justice.



On 28 September 1954 Israel charged that on that day the SS Bat Galim, a vessel of 500 tons flying the Israel flag which had arrived at the southern entrance of the Suez Canal bound for Haifa in Israel, had been seized by Egyptian authorities. The vessel was manned by a crew of ten Israelis and carried a mixed cargo of meat, plywood and hides. It carried no arms except a pistol belonging to the Captain. On reaching the Canal, the Bat Galim had identified herself to the authorities. Later, an Egyptian patrol vessel had approached the ship, and wireless communication, which had been maintained up to then with the Company offices in Haifa, had been interrupted; no contact with the ship or its crew had since been made. Those facts, it was stated, contradicted the version broadcast by Egyptian officials in an attempt to create an alibi for a new violation of Egypt's international obligations. The seizure of the Bat Galim was merely the latest expression of the Egyptian Government's scorn for the Security Council and its resolutions, especially that of 1 September 1951. Its illegal interference with commercial shipping bound to or from Israel had proceeded unchecked for over six years. Israel wished to express the strongest protest against such conduct and demanded that the ship, its crew and cargo be released forthwith in order that they might proceed to Haifa without further delay.

On 29 September Egypt stated that the SS Bat Galim, an Israel ship of 400 tons with 10 sailors from Massawa aboard, had approached the harbour of Suez at 6:00 a.m. on 28 September and, without any provocation, had opened fire with small-arms on Egyptian fishing boats within Egyptian territorial waters. The Egyptian authorities had taken the preliminary measures of arresting the crew of the ship and ordering an immediate inquiry to determine responsibility for the incident.

On 4 October 1954 Israel requested that an early meeting of the Security Council be called to consider further Israel's earlier complaint against Egypt regarding the enforcement by Egypt of restrictions on the passage of ships trading with Israel through the Suez Canal.

On 7 October Egypt stated that its delegation to the Mixed Armistice Commission had, on 6 October, lodged a complaint against Israel in connexion with the action taken by the crew of the Bat Galim against two fishing boats in Egyptian territorial waters.

At a meeting on 14 October the Council heard the representatives of Israel and Egypt on the Bat Galim incident. At the suggestion of the representative of Brazil, the Council agreed to defer consideration of the question pending the receipt of a report on the incident from the Egypt-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission.


On 25 November the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine reported that the Egyptian representative had contended before the Egypt-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission that on 27 September 1954 an armed Israel vessel named Bat Galim had entered the Gulf of Suez through Egyptian territorial waters and had advanced through the Gulf on its way to Suez. According to its log-book, the ship had arrived at a point six miles from Newport lighthouse at 1:00 a.m. (local time) on 28 September 1954. Instead of proceeding in a northerly direction, the vessel had turned back and anchored at 5:45 a.m. near Green Island, in the area of Port Suez. Purely as proof that the Bat Galim had been armed between 1:00 a.m. and 5:45 a.m., he reported that at approximately 3:30 a.m. the crew had attacked two fishing boats with light automatic weapons, in an area 15 miles south of Newport lighthouse. As a result of that attack, two fishermen were missing.

Concerning Israel's position, the Chief of Staff reported that the Israel representative considered the Egyptian complaint a transparent fabrication. Had any doubt existed, it should long since have been dispelled by Egypt's delaying tactics concerning its own complaint. The Egyptian complaint had not been lodged until 6 October; no emergency meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission had been requested; in the meetings of the Commission held on 21 and 23 October the Egyptian representative had discussed points of procedure; and by 30 October he had addressed a letter to the Chairman stating that he was anxious to discuss the Egyptian complaint as early as possible. However, it had been Israel and not Egypt which had been ready to give precedence to the Egyptian complaint. After examining the details of the incident, the Israel representative concluded that the alleged incident had never occurred, arguing that even if such an incident had occurred, there was no evidence to connect it with the Bat Galim.

The Egyptian representative had stated later that the fishermen had been fired at not in an area under Egyptian control but in Egypt itself. Thus the Commission had no competence at all to discuss whether those fishermen had been fired at or not. He stated that he had only mentioned the incident to prove that the Bat Galim had been an armed ship and that, according to article II, paragraph 2, of the Armistice Agreement, it had no right to enter Egyptian territorial waters. He referred to the Shipping Agreement concluded by Egypt and Israel on 23 July 1953, which, in his opinion, prevented any ship of either party from entering the territorial waters of the other, unless by force majeure. The Israel representative had denied that the Agreement stated this.

The Egyptian representative had next presented a draft resolution proposing that the Mixed Armistice Commission: (1) find that during the night of 27-28 September 1954 the Israel vessel Bat Galim had entered Egyptian territorial waters; (2) decide that that action was a violation of article II, paragraph 2, of the General Armistice Agreement; (3) decide further that that action was also a violation of the Shipping Agreement signed by both parties and witnessed by the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission, which was considered as complementary to the General Armistice Agreement; and (4) call upon the Israel authorities to prevent such actions in the future.

The Israel representative said that the Egyptian draft resolution made no reference to the complaint. The accusations Egypt had brought before the Commission seemed suddenly of no further importance. Ignoring the allegations made in its complaint, the Egyptian delegation had, instead, inserted in its draft resolution general questions unrelated to its allegations. He argued that the Bat Galim had been in passage through what had always been recognized by international law as an international waterway. That alone should establish the legality of the ship's entry into the Gulf of Suez and it was therefore clear that the Mixed Armistice Commission was not the body to deal with the matter. The Security Council's resolution of 1 September 1951 made it clear that the Bat Galim's passage was legal on the basis of the General Armistice Agreement.

The Egyptian draft resolution was not adopted by the Mixed Armistice Commission. The Egyptian delegation voted for it, the Israel delegation voted against and the Chairman abstained. In explaining his abstention, the Chairman declared that he did not believe that article II, paragraph 2, of the Armistice Agreement applied to the case and that it was not for the Mixed Armistice Commission to decide by resolution whether the Shipping Agreement had been respected or not. In the present case the Bat Galim had been bound for the Suez Canal, and as the Security Council was seized of an Israel complaint concerning that general question, it was outside the competence of the Commission.

The Israel representative then submitted a draft resolution proposing that the Mixed Armistice Commission find that the Egyptian complaint regarding the Bat Galim case was unfounded and that no provision of the General Armistice Agreement had been violated by Israel. The Commission adopted the draft resolution, the Israel representative and the Chairman having voted in favour. In explaining his vote, the Chairman stated that he had voted for the Israel draft resolution because conclusive evidence had not been produced that the Bat Galim had attacked the Egyptian fishermen in the Gulf of Suez. He said he would call on both parties to agree quickly on the release of the Bat Galim and its crew.

The Egyptian representative appealed to the Special Committee against the decision of the Mixed Armistice Commission. After discussion, the Special Committee upheld the Commission's decisions with some minor drafting changes.


On 30 November Israel requested that an early meeting of the Security Council be called, since the Chief of Staff's report, with its clear and definite conclusions, had been received.

On 4 December Egypt stated that, owing to insufficient evidence, the Egyptian judicial authorities had set aside the charges of murder, attempted murder and unlawful carrying of weapons brought against the members of the crew of the Bat Galim. The seamen, it was stated, would be released as soon as the necessary formalities had been concluded and the Egyptian Government was prepared to release the seized cargo immediately.

At a meeting of the Council on 7 December 1954 the representative of Israel reviewed his Government's case as explained before the Mixed Armistice Commission. He stated that the Bat Galim possessed an undisputed right to pursue its northward Suez Canal and right to seize the of 4 December, he said that if that letter meant that the crew and the cargo would be released and the ship retained, or that the ship would be separated from its crew and cargo so that the journey from Massawa to Haifa should be effectively interrupted and blocked, then that was a solution unacceptable to his Government. In conclusion, he said, his Government expressed its earnest hope that the Council would uphold the judgment of the Mixed Armistice Commission, endorse the request of its Chairman, reaffirm the obligation of the parties to abide by the judgments of the Mixed Armistice Commission and of the Council, call upon Egypt to release the Bat Galim and its crew and cargo so that they might complete their journey through the Suez Canal to Haifa, reaffirm its desire to see its 1951 resolution implemented, and call again upon Egypt in stronger terms to cease all interference with international commercial shipping passing through the Canal, wherever bound.

At the same meeting the representative of Egypt also reviewed his Government's case before the Mixed Armistice Commission. He repeated the intention of his Government to release the Bat Galim crew and its cargo, as announced in his letter of 4 December. He denied that the Egyptian representative on the Armistice Commission had obstructed the Mixed Armistice Commission's work, as had been alleged by the Israel representative. He recalled the case of the vessel SS Samir, which in 1953 had been detained by Israel authorities on the ground that it had penetrated into Israel waters. The crew of that ship had been released only after they had served a term of three months' imprisonment imposed on them by Israel courts. In the circumstances, he could not understand the Israel representative's indignation when Egypt had seized an Israel vessel in Egyptian waters, for Suez and Port Said were undeniably Egyptian ports. The Council's resolution of September 1951, he contended, had concerned the passage through the Canal of neutral merchant vessels for the purpose of trading with Israel, not the passage of vessels. Egypt could not allow such vessels to pass through the Canal because it had no guarantee that Israel merchant vessels would refrain from endangering the shipping lanes or that they would not be used to land clandestinely Israel nationals on Egyptian territory. In conclusion, he said that Israel, which alleged that Egypt was not implementing the resolution of 1 September 1951, persisted in violating many of the resolutions of the United Nations on the Palestine question.

On 20 December, Israel proposed that, in view of the fact that the SS Bat Galim, together with its crew and cargo, had not yet been released from unlawful detention by Egypt, a meeting of the Council should be convened to consider the matter further. On 23 December Egypt stated that it was making arrangements to deliver the crew of the Bat Galim to the Israel authorities on 1 January 1955 through the Mixed Armistice Commission and that the Egyptian Government was also prepared to release the ship itself. Egypt, as previously stated, was prepared to release the cargo. 5/


During the consideration of the Qibya incident, the representative of Israel, on 23 November 1953, formally invoked article XII of the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement, which provides that the parties may by mutual consent revise it or any of its provisions and that, in the absence of mutual agreement, either of the parties may call upon the Secretary-General to call a conference of representatives of the two parties, in order to review, revise or suspend any of the provisions of the Armistice Agreement; under the article participation in such a conference would be obligatory upon the parties. The Secretary-General transmitted the Israel request to Jordan.

The Security Council on 24 November adopted a resolution concerning the Qibya incident, in which, among other things, it asked the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization to report within three months, with such recommendations as he considered appropriate, on the compliance with and enforcement of the General Armistice Agreements, taking into account any agreement reached regarding the request by Israel for the convocation of a conference under article XII of the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement.

In February and March 1954 the Secretary-General submitted to the Council copies of correspondence between himself and Jordan and Israel regarding the request by Israel. In that correspondence the Secretary-General informed both parties that in his opinion the agenda of the proposed conference should be limited to the concrete issues of limited scope
arising out of the implementation of the Armistice Agreement.

Israel informed the Secretary-General that its views on the agenda of the proposed conference corresponded with his, although it reserved its general position on the broad scope and purpose of article XII.

Jordan stated in reply that, in accordance with article XI of the Armistice Agreement, Israel could have recourse to the Mixed Armistice Commission should it have any claims or complaints as to the manner in which the Armistice Agreement was being implemented, should it consider certain provisions of the Agreement ambiguous, or should it feel it necessary to introduce amendments in the provisions, particularly to curb incidents on the Armistice demarcation lines and to bring about the co-operation of the authorities of the two parties concerned for the maintenance of the security of those lines. Jordan stated further that its civil and military representatives on the Commission were prepared, at any time, to meet the representatives of Israel at the Commission's office and discuss these problems which fell within the scope of the Armistice Agreement.

After a further exchange of views, the Secretary-General on 24 March informed the two Governments that he considered he was not warranted in pursuing the matter further at present. On 29 March, Israel informed the Secretary-General that it considered the replies from Jordan as a flat refusal to attend the proposed conference.


For events prior to 1954, see Y.U.N., pp. 213-33.


SECURITY COUNCIL, meetings 655 and 656 on 21 and 22 January.

S/3151/Rev 2. France, United Kingdom, United States revised draft resolution, (not adopted as one of the negative votes was that of a permanent member).

The revised draft resolution received 7 votes in favour, 2 against, and 2 abstentions, as follows: In favour: Colombia, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States. Against: Lebanon, USSR. Abstaining: Brazil, China.


"The Security Council,

"1. Recalling its previous resolutions on the Palestine question;

"2. Taking into consideration the statements of the representatives of Syria and Israel and the reports of the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization on the Syrian complaint (S/3108/Rev.1);

"3. Notes that the Chief of Staff requested the Government of Israel on 23 September 1953 'to ensure that the authority which started work in the Demilitarized Zone on 2 September 1953 is instructed to cease working in the Zone so long as an agreement is not arranged';

"4. Endorses this action of the Chief of Staff;

"5. Recalls its resolution of 27 October 1953, taking note of the statement by the representative of the Government of Israel that the work started by Israel in the Demilitarized Zone would be suspended pending urgent examination of the question by the Council;

"6. Declares that, in order to promote the return of permanent peace in Palestine, it is essential that the General Armistice Agreement of 20 July 1949 between Syria and Israel be strictly and faithfully observed by the parties;

"7. Reminds the parties that, under article 7, paragraph 8 of the Armistice Agreement, where the interpretation of the meaning of a particular provision of the Agreement other than the preamble and articles 1 and 2 is at issue, the Mixed Armistice Commission's interpretation shall prevail;

"8. Notes that article 5 of the General Armistice Agreement between Syria and Israel gives to the Chief of Staff, as Chairman of the Syrian-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission, responsibility for the general supervision of the Demilitarized Zone;

"9. Calls upon the parties to comply with all his decisions and requests, in the exercise of his authority under the Armistice Agreement;

"10. Requests and authorizes the Chief of Staff to explore possibilities of reconciling the Israeli and Syrian interests involved in the dispute over the diversion of Jordan waters at Banat Ya'qub, including full satisfaction of existing irrigation rights at all seasons, while safeguarding the rights of individuals in the Demilitarized Zone, and to take such steps in accordance with the Armistice Agreement as he may deem appropriate to effect a reconciliation;

"11. Calls upon the Governments of Israel and Syria to co-operate with the Chief of Staff to this end and to refrain from any unilateral action which would prejudice it;

"12. Requests the Secretary-General to place at the disposal of the Chief of Staff a sufficient number of experts, in particular hydraulic engineers, to supply him on the technical level with the necessary data for a complete appreciation of the project in question and of its effect upon the Demilitarized Zone;

"13. Affirms that nothing in this resolution shall be deemed to supersede the Armistice Agreement or to change the legal status of the Demilitarized Zone thereunder;

"14. Directs the Chief of Staff to report to the Security Council within 90 days on the measures taken to give effect to this resolution."

S/3152, S/3166. Lebanon draft resolutions (not voted on).

S/3269 and Corr.1. Letter of 19 July 1954 from representative of Syria to President of Security Council alleging resumption of work previously interrupted by Israel in Demilitarized Zone.


S/3168 and Add.1. Letter of 28 January 1954 from representative of Israel requesting inclusion of item in the Council's agenda, and explanatory memorandum dated 29 January.

S/3171. Letter of 3 February from representative of Egypt requesting invitation to participate in discussions.

S/3172. Letter of 3 February from representative of Egypt requesting inclusion of its own item.

S/3174. Letter of 4 February from representative of Israel commenting on Egyptian letter of 3 February.

SECURITY COUNCIL, meetings 657-664 from 4 February to 29 March.

S/3179. Letter of 15 February from representative of Israel communicating copy of Egyptian Government's Laws concerning shipping in Suez Canal.

S/3186. Letter of 12 March from representative of Egypt communicating evidence of alleged Israel aggression.

S/3188 and Corr.1. New Zealand draft resolution, (not adopted as one of the negative votes was that of a permanent member).

The draft resolution received 8 votes in favour, 2 against, and 1 abstention, as follows In favour: Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States. Against Lebanon, USSR. Abstaining: China.


"The Security Council,

"1. Having considered the complaint of Israel against Egypt concerning:

"(a) Enforcement by Egypt of restrictions on the passage of ships trading with Israel through the Suez Canal;

"(b) Interference by Egypt with shipping proceeding to the Israeli port of Elath on the Gulf of Aqaba (S/3168),

"2. Noting the statements made before the Council by the representatives of Egypt and Israel,

"3. Recalling its resolution of 1 September 1951 (S/2298/Rev.1),

"4. Notes with grave concern that Egypt has not complied with that resolution;

"5. Calls upon Egypt, in accordance with its obligations under the Charter, to comply therewith;

"6. Considers that, without prejudice to the provisions of the resolution of 1 September 1951, the complaint referred to in paragraph I (b) above should in the first instance be dealt with by the Mixed Armistice Commission established under the General Armistice Agreement between Egypt and Israel."


S/3192. Cablegram of 30 March from Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan to Secretary-General.

S/3195. Letter of 1 April from representative of Truce Supervision Organization concerning incident in Beit Liqya area.


S/3208, S/3212, S/3218, S/3225, S/3230, S/3231. Communications dated 3, 10 and 26 May and 7 and 17 June from representative of Syria to President of Security Council, enclosing correspondence with Chief of Staff of Truce Supervision Organization protesting against conduct of Chairman of Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission at meeting of 30 April.

S/3330. Letter of 14 December from representative of Syria to President of Security Council alleging interception of Syrian aircraft by Israel fighters.

S/3332. Letter of 20 December from representative of Israel to President of security Council concerning Syrian communication S/3330.


S/3319 and Corr.1. Report dated 11 November by Chief of Staff of Truce Supervision Organization on incidents between Egypt and Israel, particularly in the area of the Gaza strip.



The Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) submitted a report, covering the period 1 July 1953 to 30 June 1954, to the ninth session of the General Assembly. The report was one of a series submitted in accordance with resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949, under which the Agency was established.

As of 15 June 1954, Henry R. Labouisse was appointed Director of the Agency, succeeding John B. Blandford, Jr., who resigned on 7 March 1953. During the intervening period, the programme had been directed by Leslie J. Carver, the Deputy Director of the Agency.

The General Assembly, at its sixth session, had approved a three-year, $250 million relief and rehabilitation programme for the refugees, without prejudice to their rights to repatriation or compensation. At its eighth session, the Assembly had noted that the projects programme had not been carried out to the extent expected and that the situation of the refugees continued to be a matter of grave concern. The mandate of UNRWA was extended until 30 June 1955, with the Agency's programme again to be subject to review at the Assembly's ninth session.

The operations of UNRWA are financed by voluntary contributions from Member States. The total number of refugees on the Agency's rolls, as of June 1954, was 887,058.

The Director's report to the ninth session noted that the goal of the programme endorsed by the Assembly at its sixth session was the gradual reduction of the cost of relief and the eventual elimination of relief through rehabilitation measures. The original date set for the attainment of that goal was 30 June 1954, but it appeared in retrospect that it was a practical impossibility to achieve such a result in so short a time. Among the obstacles to which the Director drew attention were the absence of a solution along the lines of the Assembly's resolutions regarding repatriation and compensation and the meagreness of the physical resources made available for development.

In the areas where the largest numbers of refugees were living, it was stated, there appeared to be no practical possibilities for major rehabilitation projects other than two being studied for feasibility: the project for irrigating a part of the Sinai desert and the Yarmuk-Jordan Valley irrigation and power development project. And if and when these two projects were successfully completed, they would provide a living for only 150,000 to 200,000 persons; moreover, it would be some years before that number could be considered fully self-supporting.

A third major problem, the report said, was the attitude of the refugees, many of whom considered that the concept of "rehabilitation" meant depriving them of something, and who consequently did not yet fully accept the fact that it was to their interests to take part in the projects. In addition, some of the host Governments appeared to be unwilling to take or approve actions which the refugees might consider prejudicial to their rights.

Nevertheless, the Director considered it important that every effort be continued to further the rehabilitation programme, while it must be fully recognized that the problem was a long-term one which would require many years of work. There was a real need for additional major projects in the area. To keep pace with the population increase in the countries of the Near and Middle East, and to enable the refugees to become self-supporting, the countries of the area would have to secure additional funds to step up the present rate of expenditure for development. One immediately available source of funds was the balance of UNRWA's $200 million rehabilitation fund. The question that remained, said the Director, was whether that balance could be committed for projects that showed promise of success.

Reviewing the work of UNRWA during the year that ended on 30 June 1954, the report said that total income for the fiscal year amounted to some $23.6 million, consisting of $22.8 million in cash contributions, $200,000 in contributions in kind, and $500,000 in miscellaneous receipts, less $100,000 for exchange adjustments. Cash contributions were $2.2 million less than anticipated.

The report gave the following major sources of contributions: United States $15 million; United Kingdom $5 million; France $1.5 million; host Governments $300,000; other Governments $1.1 million; and other contributors $200,000. The total unpaid pledges amounted to $43.3 million. The unpaid pledges of the United States and the United Kingdom, amounting to, respectively, $30.9 million and $9.8 million, were, the report stated, sums reserved for rehabilitation projects that had not yet been initiated.

The total expenditure of the Agency was $29.1 million, out of which $23.9 million was spent on the relief programme and $5.3 million on the rehabilitation programme. Excess of expenditure over income was $5.6 million. The Agency received no cash for its rehabilitation programme and expenditure for that purpose was met from its accumulated funds.

The contributions from the host Governments were in the form of various services, both to the Agency and directly to the refugees.

The report noted the following progress in the implementation of programme agreements:

Jordan. The first agreement with the Jordan Government, signed on 12 May 1952, earmarked $11 million from UNRWA's rehabilitation fund for development projects, apart from the Yarmuk-Jordan Valley plan. As of 30 June 1954, $3.7 million of this sum had been committed for general economic and agricultural development, the operation of the Development flank of Jordan and vocational training activities.

On 30 March 1953 a second agreement was signed with Jordan, earmarking $40 million for possible Yarmuk-Jordan Valley development. Specific projects covered such as malaria control, preliminary engineering surveys, road building, soil analysis, land classification and topographical surveys. As of 30 June 1954, $866,000 had been committed under this agreement.

In other fields, the Agency had completed two agricultural and housing settlements in Jordan and four others were in progress. These, the report stated, would absorb a total of 300 families. In addition, new low-cost urban housing for 200 families was planned in Amman, Jerusalem, Hebron and Aqaba.

A successful project was the Ghor Nimrin tent factory near Jericho, built with UNRWA rehabilitation funds at a cost of $80,000. The factory, originally built to ensure the supply of the large number of tents required by the Agency's relief operations, now also supplied tents to other Middle East users. It employed 142 refugees full-time, with 100 others at peak periods.

Agricultural and industrial loans were granted through the Development Bank of Jordan, and small grants were made to enable refugees already in possession of some assets to bridge the gap between partial and full self-support.

Syria. The programme agreement signed with Syria on 13 October 1952 earmarked $30 million for projects, $24 million of which was reserved for agricultural development. Two small projects had been developed on marginal lands at Ramadan and Dabaa, but results were disappointing and costs high because of the nature of the soil and the lack of water.

In addition, small self-support grants were made to 466 families.

Egypt. The programme agreement signed with Egypt on 30 June 1953 earmarked $30 million for projects, with $500,000 to be used in a search for projects in the Gaza area and the Sinai peninsula. On 14 October 1953 a specific agreement was signed for study of the feasibility of developing an area in the Sinai desert which, if irrigated, might support 10,000 to 12,000 refugee families from Gaza. The project would include widening and constructing canals to bring water from the Nile so that it could be siphoned under the Suez Canal to the selected area. As of 30 June 1954, $112,800 had been spent on research on this project.

Other projects included an afforestation in Gaza and promotion of the work of Gaza weavers.

As for other countries, no programme agreement had as yet been signed with Lebanon, but UNRWA had spent about $200,000 there on vocational training, placement and special welfare projects. Loans had been made to commercial enterprises in Iraq, which from the beginning had taken full responsibility for the 5,000 refugees within the country, and loans had been made to refugees migrating to Libya.

During the year under review, UNRWA had provided primary and secondary education, in schools either organized or aided by the Agency, for about 155,000 refugee boys and girls, as well as vocational training, at a cost of almost $3 million. Twenty thousand new refugee pupils were admitted to schools, while the number of students receiving secondary education increased from 3,414 to 7,127. Seventeen new UNRWA-UNESCO schools were built and 141 classrooms added to existing ones.

With regard to housing, it was stated that by March 1954 only 32 per cent of the camp population--about one third of the total number of refugees--was housed in tents, as against 39 per cent a year before and 87 per cent three years previously.

According to the report, the total cost of health care for the refugees during the year was about $2 million. Of the "treaty diseases" (cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, typhus and louse-borne relapsing fever) not one case had occurred among the refugees. Malaria, once rated as the chief incapacitating disease among the refugees, was progressively declining as the result of anti-malaria campaigns. Still leading the prevalent infectious diseases were the dysenteries and eve infections, control of which was mainly within the fields of health education and sanitation.

The report also dealt with welfare activities including aid to the handicapped, distribution of donated clothing, co-ordination of work with voluntary agencies, sponsorship of arts and crafts among women and girls and distribution of milk and additional food to special categories of refugees. (For the work of UNICEF, UNESCO and WHO in connexion with Palestine refugees, see also under ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL QUESTIONS, CHAPTER XV and PART TWO, CHAPTERS III and VII.)

The operation of the Agency's relief programme, the report stated, had been hampered by various restrictive measures taken by certain of the host Governments, particularly with regard to such matters as procurement of supplies, free movement of supplies, immunity from taxation and local judicial process, and selection of Agency personnel.

A joint special report of the Director and the Advisory Commission of the Agency, issued on 5 November 1954, recommended that the Assembly extend the Agency's mandate for five years and approve a relief budget of $25.1 million and a rehabilitation budget of $36.2 million for the fiscal year ending 30 June 1955.

During the year Belgium and Lebanon took seats on the Advisory Commission, which consists of those countries and Egypt, France, Jordan, Turkey, Syria, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Among other recommendations in the report were the following:

That the Governments of the area co-operate with UNRWA in the search for new projects capable of supporting substantial numbers of refugees, and in reaching agreement on them; that the $200 million rehabilitation fund be maintained, with authorization for part of it to be used for participation in general economic development programmes of the Governments of the area; that the Director continue negotiations with the host Governments to explore the possibility of the gradual transfer to them of the administration of relief, and that the Agency and the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine continue their consultations.


At the General Assembly's ninth session, the Ad Hoc Political Committee considered the question of assistance to Palestine refugees at 11 meetings between 16 and 30 November 1954.

The Director of UNRWA, in presenting his report, said that while no one could forecast what would be the ultimate settlement of the Palestine question, there were certain steps which must be taken without delay. There must be recognition and acceptance of the fact that relief services must be granted for a number of years to come. The categories of refugees to be assisted by the Agency should be precisely defined. The Agency must be granted at least $25 million for relief during the current fiscal year, and more if the categories of relief recipients were enlarged or the standards of relief improved.

The Director went on to say that there must be full co-operation of the refugees and of the host Governments in the development of a workable system for establishing the bona fides of ration recipients. There must also be full co-operation of the Governments in the area in proposing and carrying out rehabilitation projects capable of supporting substantial numbers of persons. Lastly, the Agency should be empowered to use part of the $200 million rehabilitation fund for participating in development programmes of the Governments of the area which might facilitate the work of rehabilitation.

On 23 November, France, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States submitted a joint draft resolution embodying the substance of the recommendations contained in the joint report of the Director and the Advisory Commission. It provided for extension of the mandate of the Agency for another five years, until 30 June ]960, without prejudice to the rights of the refugees to repatriation or compensation, and for a relief budget of $25.1 million and a rehabilitation budget of $36.2 million for the current fiscal year.

The draft resolution also provided for maintenance of the existing $200 million rehabilitation fund, and asked the Governments of the area to continue to co-operate in seeking and carrying out projects capable of supporting substantial numbers of refugees. The Director of UNRWA, in consultation with the Agency's Advisory Commission, was asked to study and report upon the problem of assistance to other claimants for relief, particularly children and needy inhabitants of villages along the demarcation lines. The Agency was also asked to continue its consultations with the Palestine Conciliation Commission regarding repatriation and compensation of the refugees.

Introducing the draft resolution, the representative of the United Kingdom said that all those who qualified for relief should receive it and those not qualified should not. He called the Committee's attention to the fact that nearly half the refugees were under 15 years of age and every possible effort must be made to enable them to lead a normal life. As for the frontier villagers who had lost their lands but not their homes, it might perhaps be hoped, without prejudice to any final frontier settlement, that minor readjustments could be made by agreement on the demarcation line. In the field of rehabilitation, he favoured flexibility in the use of UNRWA funds.

The representative of the United States expressed his delegation's conviction that the eventual solution of the refugee problem lay in a new and stronger economy for the Arab countries and in the people of those countries coming to regard many of their refugee brothers as permanent members of the community and co-sharers in the Near East's future. At the same time, his delegation was still convinced that Israel ought to satisfy one of the two rights of the refugees: repatriation or compensation.

Efforts must be continued, he said, to find new homes and work for refugees who chose to settle in Arab countries, without prejudice to their rights. Such programmes took years to complete, and for that reason the United States supported the continued existence of UNRWA. However, extension of the Agency's mandate would be valid only if the Sinai and Yarmuk-Jordan projects were begun without delay. If prompt action was not forthcoming, the United States must inevitably reconsider its attitude, as it would continue to support the Agency only if there was tangible evidence of progress.

The representative of France stressed that acceptance of relief or work did not impair the refugees' rights to repatriation or compensation. If such an offer was rejected, he said, the donors might become discouraged and after a time neither works nor relief would be forthcoming. He supported use of the rehabilitation fund for the general economic development of the host countries.

The Turkish representative said that any progress in the negotiations with the host countries concerning the gradual transfer to them of the administration of relief would greatly facilitate the solution of the general refugee problem. Extension of the Agency's mandate for five years would enable it to organize its work better.

The representatives of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen took the position that the only solution to the problem was to carry out the United Nations resolutions on repatriation and compensation, with the refugees themselves choosing which they wanted.

Economic development of the Middle East should not take place at the expense of Arab rights in Palestine, said the representative of Iraq. Even in the most favourable circumstances the economy of the Middle East could absorb only a fraction of the refugees, said the representative of Syria. What would become of the others, those who were determined to return to their homes, as was their elementary right?

The Egyptian representative said it was sufficient to read the Director's report to realize in what miserable conditions the refugees were living. The cost of relief was about $27 per refugee per year--seven and a half cents a day--with which UNRWA had to provide food, shelter, medical care and welfare services. It was not surprising that the refugees lacked adequate food, shelter and clothing.

There was no justification, the representative of Saudi Arabia stated, for making the late of the Arab people of Palestine dependent on the settlement of other matters. Steps towards repatriation should be taken now. A survey should be made of the number and identity of refugees wishing repatriation, and some should be settled in the area that Israel occupied beyond the boundaries of the partition resolution. The representative of Yemen considered that 300,000 refugees could be settled in that area, which, he said, Israel had forcibly seized.

The representative of Lebanon stated that his Government could not approve any proposal to transfer progressively to each host country the administration of relief. The refugee problem resulted from a United Nations decision and the United Nations would have to take the responsibility until the problem was solved.

The observer of Jordan said the refugee problem was one of vital importance to his country, which was sheltering more than half of the refugees. He urged that clothing be provided for the refugees and that frontier villagers and infants and children not now receiving rations be added to the rolls. This should not be linked with the question of a new registration of refugees entitled to relief. His Government had no objection to a new registration, but it would have to be done properly and with adequate preparation.

The representatives of Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Iran and Pakistan supported the stand of the representatives of the Arab States.

Acting at the request of the representative of Iraq, the Committee also heard a statement by Dr. Izzat Tannous, a Palestine refugee and Secretary-General of the Arab Palestine Office for Refugees in Beirut.

The representative of Israel said his Government reaffirmed its willingness to consider a measure of compensation for abandoned Arab lands and would be prepared to enter into discussions on compensation with any appropriate United Nations organ, in advance of a general settlement. However, two main difficulties had to be surmounted. One was finding means for making the necessary funds available. The other was the economic siege maintained by the surrounding Arab countries, which in six years had cost Israel a sum probably not less than that of the value of the abandoned Arab property, estimated by an expert United Nations body at 100 million pounds sterling.

However, continued the Israel representative, the basic solution of the problem lay in the permanent integration of the refugees in the Arab countries with their own kin. Repatriation, he said, would add internal subversion to the dangers Israel already faced from its hostile neighbours. Israel had the sovereign right to determine if admission of any group was conducive to national security or welfare. Moreover, repatriation was not feasible economically. The repatriates would be new immigrants in a country which bore little resemblance to the land they once left, and in practice repatriation would be merely a more difficult and costly resettlement. Peace and practicability were the two criteria for repatriation under the United Nations resolutions, he said, and these conditions did not exist at the present time.

Other speakers in the discussion in the Committee included the representatives of Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Uruguay. All supported renewal of UNRWA's mandate for five years.

Speaking near the end of the discussion, the Director of UNRWA said he understood the draft resolution as maintaining present relief levels. On the question of use of rehabilitation funds for general economic development programmes in the Middle East, he noted that several delegations had said they considered that he already had this power, although it was not specifically stated in the resolution. He would act in accordance with that interpretation.

At the end of the discussion, the representative of France stated, on behalf of the sponsors of the draft resolution, that in their view the resolution was basically technical in scope. It was not intended to alter or modify previous resolutions on this subject or the existing juridical status of the Agency.

On 30 November the Ad Hoc Political Committee adopted the joint draft resolution by 41 votes to none, with 8 abstentions, and it was adopted, without debate, by the Assembly on 4 December by 48 votes to none, with 7 abstentions.


For events prior to 1954, see Y.U.N., 1953, pp. 233-45.


A/2717. Annual report of the Director of UNRWA, covering period 1 July 1953 to 30 June 1954.

A/2717/Add.1. Special Reported of the Director and the Advisory Commission of UNRWA.


A/AC.76/15. Letter of 4 November from Ambassador of Jordan to United States addressed to Secretary-General requesting to represent his Government as observer.

A/AC.76/16. Letter of 15 November from Ambassador of Jordan to Chairman of Ad Hoc Political Committee regarding Special Reported (A/2717/Add.1).

A/AC.76/17. Letter of 24 November from Chairman of Iraq delegation to Chairman of Ad Hoc Political Committee requesting Committee to hear Dr. Tannous, Secretary-General of Arab Palestine Office for Refugees.

A/AC.76/L.15. France, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States joint draft resolution (adopted by 41 to none, with 8 abstentions).

A/2826 and Corr.1. Report of Ad Hoc Political Committee.


RESOLUTION 818 (IX), as recommended by Ad Hoc Political Committee, A/2826 and Corr.1, adopted by the Assembly on 4 December by 48 votes to none, with 7 abstentions.

"The General Assembly,

"Recalling its resolutions 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949, 393 (V) of 2 December 1950, 513 (VI) of 26 January 1952, 614 (VII) of 6 November 1952 and 720 (VIII) of 27 November 1953,

"Noting the annual report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and the special report of the Director and the Advisory Commission of UNRWA,

"Noting that repatriation or compensation of the refugees, as provided for in paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (III), has not been effected and that the situation of the refugees continues to be a matter of grave concern,

"1. Decides, without prejudice to the rights of the refugees to repatriation or compensation, to extend the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for five years ending 30 June 1960;

"2. Requests the Agency to continue its consultation with the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine in the best interest of their respective tasks, with particular reference to paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (III);

"3. Requests the Governments of the area to continue to co-operate with the Director of the Agency in seeking and carrying out projects capable of supporting substantial numbers of refugees;

"4. Decides to maintain the rehabilitation fund of $200 million, subject to reductions for expenditures already made;

"5. Approves a relief budget of $25,100,000 and a rehabilitation budget of $36,200,000 for the fiscal year ending 30 June 1955;

"6. Requests the Director, in consultation with the Advisory Commission of UNRWA, to study and report upon the problem of assistance which should be given to other claimants for relief, particularly children and needy inhabitants of villages along the demarcation lines;

"7. Authorizes the Director to prepare, in consultation with the Advisory Commission, the budgets for relief and rehabilitation in advance of each fiscal year, which budgets he shall transmit to the Negotiating Committee for Extra-Budgetary Funds, without prejudice to review each year by the General Assembly;

"8. Requests the Negotiating Committee for Extra-Budgetary Funds, after receipt of such budgets from the Director of UNRWA, to seek such funds as may be required by the Agency;

"9. Appeals to the Governments of Member and non-member States to make voluntary contributions to the extent necessary to carry through to fulfilment the Agency's programmes, and thanks the numerous religious, charitable and humanitarian organizations for their valuable and continuing work in assisting the refugees;

10. Requests the Director to continue to submit the reports referred to in paragraph 21 of resolution 302 (IV), as well as the annual budgets."



1/ At the 655th and 656th meetings on 21 and 22 January 1955 the Security Council continued its consideration of the Syrian complaint against Israel concerning work on the west bank of the River Jordan in the Demilitarized Zone. As this matter is dealt with in Y.U.N., 1953, it is not considered here. The text of the draft resolution voted on by the Council on 22 January is, however, given below in the DOCUMENTARY NOTES.

2/ The resolution adopted by the Council on 1 September 1951, among other things, called upon Egypt "to terminate the restrictions on the passage of international commercial shipping and goods through the Suez Canal wherever bound and to cease all interference with such shipping beyond that essential to the safety of shipping in the Canal itself and to the observance of international conventions in force". The resolution also stated that since the Armistice regime was "of a permanent character, neither party can reasonably assert that it is actively a belligerent or requires to exercise the right of visit, search, and seizure for any legitimate purpose of self-defence". The full text of the resolution can be found in S/2322 or in Y.U.N., 1951, p. 299.

3/ This Article states, inter alia, that nothing in the Charter shall impair the right of self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.

4/ "The first two paragraphs of Article 35 read as follows:

"1. Any Member of the United Nations may bring any dispute, or any situation of the nature referred to in Article 34 [i.e., one likely to endanger peace and security, to the attention of the Security Council of the General Assembly.

"2. A State which is not a Member of the United Nations may bring to the attention of the Security Council or of the General Assembly any dispute to which it is a party if it accepts in advance, for the purposes of the dispute, the obligations of pacific settlement provided in the present Charter."

5/ On 4 January 1955 the Security Council held another meeting on the Suez Canal shipping issue, with particular reference to the Bat Galim incident. The representative of Egypt declared that on 1 January the crew had been taken to the Israel-Egyptian demarcation line and released. His Government, he said was still ready to hand over the cargo, which might, for instance, be placed aboard a neutral vessel bound for Haifa. As for the ship itself, his Government would have no objection to the creation of a sub-committee of the Mixed Armistice Commission to discuss arrangements for the ship's release.

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