Question of Palestine home
Department of Public Information
31 December 1957
OFFICE OF PUBLIC INFORMATION
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK
THE PALESTINE QUESTION
SYRIAN COMPLAINT ABOUT CONSTRUCTION OF BRIDGE IN DEMILITARIZED ZONE
On 20 April 1957, the Acting Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine (UNTSO) reported that Syria had complained, late in March, to the Chairman of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission that Israel military forces had been building military fortifications and constructing a bridge of military value at the outlet of Lake Huleh in contravention of article V of the General Armistice Agreement establishing a Demilitarized Zone between Syria and Israel. Syria had asked for an immediate investigation by the Mixed Armistice Commission and for necessary action with the Israel authorities.
The Acting Chief of Staff stated that he had not been able to make an immediate investigation because Israel had refused to allow United Nations military observers to enter the Demilitarized Zone from Syrian territory, and had refused to allow an investigation from its own side. Subsequently, however, while maintaining its opposition to what it considered Syrian interference in the Demilitarized Zone, Israel had ceased to object to inspection of the site of the bridge. On April 7, the Acting Chief of Staff found that there were no fortifications, but that an area on the Western approaches to the bridge had been marked as mined. He said he was arranging to have any existing mines removed from the area.
Although stating that the bridge could be used for military purposes, he was satisfied that it had been erected in connexion with the Huleh reclamation project. Accordingly, he did not think that he would be justified in asking for its removal since such a request would have to be based on the assumption that the bridge would be used for military purposes in violation of the General Armistice Agreement, an assumption which he was not entitled to consider.
The Acting Chief of Staff also suggested that, in view of the difficulties which had occurred in the investigation, it would be advisable to reaffirm the special powers of the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission and United Nations military observers in the Demilitarized Zone.
On 13 May 1957, the representative of Syria requested a meeting of the Security Council to consider the question. In a letter accompanying the request, he stated that while the Syrian Government would subscribe to most of the statements in the report of the Acting Chief of Staff, it could not concur in his conclusions.
The Council considered the Syrian complaint at three meetings between 23 and 28 May 1957 and invited the representatives of Syria and Israel to participate in the discussion.
The representative of Syria said, among other things, that the construction of the bridge had been accompanied by Israel military activity in the Demilitarized Zone which was explicitly prohibited by article V, paragraphs 5 (a) and 5 (b), of the General Armistice Agreement. The bridge was of military advantage to Israel, and thus represented a violation of the General Armistice Agreement. The intention of Israel not to avail itself of this military advantage, as referred to by the Acting Chief of Staff, was not relevant in determining any breach of the Agreement.
The Syrian representative urged the Council to condemn Israel for violation of the General Armistice Agreement, and to order removal of the bridge.
The representative of Israel maintained that the General Armistice Agreement had expressly provided for the restoration of normal civilian life in the Demilitarized Zone. For the past six years, he said, Syria had constantly attempted to obstruct improvement schemes in the Zone, but all its arguments against reclamation work by Israel had been repeatedly rejected by the Chief of Staff of UNTSO and the Council.
The bridge in question had been constructed by Israel solely for the transport of earth-moving and dredging machinery for the completion of the canal system to the River Jordan. All mines near the western approaches to the bridge had been removed and the Acting Chief of Staff had been informed accordingly, the representative of Israel added.
Further, Israel would not interfere with the movements of United Nations military observers in the Demilitarized Zone when such movement was necessitated by their official functions. It would not, however, agree to any investigations in the Demilitarized Zone based on Syrian complaints.
On 28 May, summing up the debate, the President said that all members of the Council appeared to agree that the authority of the Chief of Staff of UNTSO should be respected and that the parties should co-operate with him. In the present case, Council members had noted that delay had been caused in his inspection of the bridge and the discharge of his duties.
Some members of the Council, said the President, had made it clear that they did not agree with the Acting Chief of Staff on Israel's right to build the bridge. The majority of the members had, however, pointed out that it was for the Chief of Staff to ensure full implementation of the provisions of article V of the General Armistice Agreement and had supported his decisions in that respect.
The President took note of a statement by the Secretary-General that, in the light of the Council's discussions, he would ask the Acting Chief of Staff for an additional report within
On 27 June 1957, the Acting Chief of Staff submitted an additional report on certain aspects of the work of United Nations organs in the Demilitarized Zone, established under article V of the General Armistice Agreement.
Until the beginning of June 1956, he stated. United Nations military observers had generally been able to circulate freely in the Zone either on routine visits or for investigation purposes. Subsequently, however, difficulties had been experienced in connexion with the investigation of complaints of erection of fortifications in the Israel settlements in the central and southern sectors of the Demilitarized Zone. Since 30 October 1956, requests to enter the central Demilitarized Zone had, for the most part, been refused, and routine visits or investigations had been stopped by Israel police.
The Acting Chief of Staff further stated that the Syrian authorities had not refused United Nations observers access to the Demilitarized Zone for investigations or routine visits.
United Nations observers, he said, had been prevented from investigating the present extent of Israel fortifications in the central and southern sectors of the Demilitarized Zone. Israel continued to object to the dismantling of these fortifications which had been requested on the ground that they went beyond what was required for protection of civilian life. Syria, on the other hand, had expressed its willingness to dismantle any fortifications which, upon investigation by United Nations observers, might be revealed as encroaching on the Demilitarized Zone.
The Acting Chief of Staff also reported that, according to the information received from Israel authorities, mines had been removed from the western approaches to the newly erected Lake Huleh bridge and the Banat Yacoub bridge. He believed that with the removal of these mines, which were in contravention of the General Armistice Agreement, no Israel mines should remain in the Demilitarized Zone. He had also been informed by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs that any mines which might have been placed in the Demilitarized Zone at the beginning of the military action against Egypt had been removed.
In his conclusions, the Acting Chief of Staff pointed out that the report raised the question of the possibility of carrying out an investigation at any time, under article V of the General Armistice Agreement, and of the enjoyment by United Nations observers of full freedom of movement in the Demilitarized Zone during an investigation or during routine visits. That possibility was indispensable in order to exercise responsibility for the general supervision of the Demilitarized Zone. He thought it might be desirable, for the purpose of surveillance and more rapid investigation, to have some observers remain on a 24-hour basis in portions of the Zone. (In an addendum to his report on 7 August, the Acting Chief of Staff reported that Israel had opposed establishment of an observation post in the area of the new Lake Huleh bridge.)
The Acting Chief added that he had been given to understand by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Israel's objection to investigations of Syrian complaints had been of a purely formal nature and that Israel did not object to any investigations carried out by or on behalf of the Chairman on the basis of his authority under article V.
While it was a matter of satisfaction that Israel had agreed to clear the mines in the Demilitarized Zone, the Acting Chief of Staff noted, requests for the demolition of fortification works which exceeded those permissible for the protection of the civilian population had been rejected by Israel.
JORDAN AND ISRAEL COMPLAINTS ABOUT ZONE IN AREA OF GOVERNMENT
On 4 September 1957, the representative of Jordan requested an urgent meeting of the Security Council to consider its complaint that a serious situation had arisen due to violations by Israel of the General Armistice Agreement in the no-man's-land between the Armistice Demarcation Lines in the area around Government House in Jerusalem.
On 5 September, Israel asked the Security Council to consider its complaint of violations by Jordan of the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement, particularly article VIII thereof.
On 6 September, both items were put on the Council's agenda. They were considered at five meetings, held on 6 September 1957, 22 November 1957 and 22 January 1958. The representatives of the parties concerned participated.
The representative of Jordan declared that, under the General Armistice Agreement, the important strategic Jabal El Mukkaber (Government House) area had the status of a noman's-land between the Demarcation Lines and was under the supervision and control of the United Nations. The only exception related to the few Israelis and Arabs still there at the time of the signing of the Agreement. No one else was entitled to enter. Nor had one party the right to make use of the other party's properties. That arrangement in the area had never been modified by any partition or the drawing of a civilian line between the parties. Israeli labourers, he continued, had entered the noman's-land area on 21 July 1957, under the protection of Israel military forces, and had then and subsequently exploited Arab properties there, by ploughing land and opening new roads in spite of the United Nations Chief of Staff's intervention. Such activities were violations of the General Armistice Agreement and the
and gave Israel evident political, economic and military advantages. In conclusion, the representative of Jordan requested re-establishment of the
and condemnation of Israel.
The representative of Israel charged that Jordan had violated fundamental provisions of the General Armistice Agreement, particularly article VIII, which, for Israel, was one of the crucial provisions of the Agreement. (Article VIII provided for a special committee to formulate arrangements to enlarge the scope of the Agreement in respect, among other things, to free movement of traffic on vital roads, resumption of normal functioning of institutions on Mount Scopus and free access to the Holy Places.) During the past eight years, the representative of Israel said, Jordan had refused to agree to the functioning of this special committee. As a result, rights which Israel regarded as being of cardinal religious, educational and practical importance had been gravely prejudiced.
Israel's representative further charged that Jordan had constantly violated the provisions of article I of the General Armistice Agreement calling for compliance with the fundamental principles of non-aggression, non-intimidation and the promotion of peace. He also referred to failure of the Secretary-General's efforts to secure Jordan's compliance with article XII providing for review of the provisions of the Armistice Agreement.
With regard to the Jordan complaint, the Israel representative stated that there were no aggressive aspects to the work undertaken on the Israel side of the area between the Demarcation Lines preparatory to the planting of trees. The General Armistice Agreement, he said, did not define the rights and obligations of the parties in the area; and all subsequent arrangements concerning rights and duties of the parties in the area were the result of agreements of a formal nature or on the basis of tacit consent. Since a civilian line had been drawn eight years ago through the area dividing it between Jordan and Israel, civilians of both parties could and did perform civilian functions in their respective sectors. Planting trees was a purely civilian activity which did not violate any international agreement binding on the parties. He denied that any Israel military personnel had entered the area between the Lines during the period in question. The only violations of the Armistice Agreement, he declared, were those committed by Jordan in connexion with military fortifications erected in the area and military traffic on a highway constructed through it.
After discussing the course of action to be taken, the Security Council decided to request separate reports from the Chief of Staff in Palestine: one on the Jordanian complaint, to be submitted within two weeks, and one on the Israel complaint.
On 23 September 1957, the Acting Chief of Staff of UNTSO submitted a report on the area between the Lines (neutral zone) around the Government House area.
On 21 July 1957, he reported, Israel workmen had begun to stake out part of the neutral zone up to what Israel considered to be a
civilian line separating the civilian activities of both parties. Since then, work had been continued without interruption, the declared purpose of which was to prepare the land for afforestation as part of a beautification project.
After reviewing the origin and history of the neutral zone, the Acting Chief of Staff stated that the demilitarized character of the zone had been violated during the initial stages of Israel's afforestation project. Jordanian troops had been seen in the zone, trenches and positions had been renovated, and the Jerusalem-Bethlehem-Hebron highway, crossing one corner of the zone, was continually used for Jordanian military traffic. No Israel military personnel had been observed in the zone with the exception of several Israel army officers inspecting the area, but armed Israel border police numbering up to about 15 men were in the zone with the stated purpose of providing protection for the labourers.
The Acting Chief of Staff reported that UNTSO considered itself competent to exercise surveillance over the zone in order to maintain its demilitarized status. It did not, however, have any specific authority or terms of reference with respect to civilian activities in the area.
A reading of the records, said the Acting Chief of Staff, showed that the status of the zone as regards civilian matters had been left regrettably vague for many years. Although some arguments advanced by the parties had merit and should be given due consideration, others did not appear to be fully supported.
Reviewing efforts of UNTSO to find a solution to the present controversy, the Acting Chief of Staff reported that UNTSO had been unable to arrange a meeting between the parties to discuss the dispute since neither party would attend the type of meeting desired by the other. In addition, Israel had been urged on several occasions to suspend the work complained of for the sake of maintaining the tranquillity which had prevailed in the area for many months. But Israel had indicated that it did not feel justified in suspending the work which, it claimed, was a permissible civilian activity on its side of the so-called civilian line.
The Acting Chief of Staff stated that there appeared to be three ways to approach the problem: (a) transform the area between the Lines into a no-man's-land and apply article IV (3) of the General Armistice Agreement prohibiting any person, except United Nations personnel, from crossing the Demarcation Line into the zone; (b) revert to the conditions existing on 3 April 1949; and (c) arrive at an arrangement which would, to some extent at least, take into account the changes which had taken place since 1949.
Only alternative (c) seemed to him to offer a reasonable basis for a solution. Civilian activities of both parties should continue but be kept separate. The ownership of land, as established by a thorough search of the land registries, should also be respected.
With a view to finding a solution along the lines of this third alternative, the Acting Chief of Staff made certain recommendations which were incorporated into the resolution eventually adopted by the Security Council on the question.
On 16 November, in an addendum to his report of 23 September, the Acting Chief of Staff stated that the United Nations military observers had not observed any work proceeding in the area in question since 8 November 1957.
On 31 October 1957, the Council received another report from the acting Chief of Staff dealing primarily with the more specific aspects of Israel's complaint against Jordan, which had been submitted to the Council on 5 September. (This report was not considered by the Security Council during the period covered by the present Yearbook).
On 22 November, the Council resumed consideration of the Jordan complaint and heard statements by the representatives of Jordan and Israel. Both reaffirmed the positions of their Governments and commented on the report of the Acting Chief of Staff, particularly on his proposals and recommendations.
The representative of Jordan also said that he had received information from his Government to the effect that Israel workers were still pursuing their unlawful activities in the area. The representative of Israel denied that any work had been proceeding in the area since 8 November.
The Council considered the Jordan complaint at two further meetings on 22 January 1958, when it unanimously adopted a draft resolution submitted by the United Kingdom and the United States.
By this resolution, the Council noted that the status of the zone between the Armistice Demarcation Lines in the area of Government House at Jerusalem was affected by the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement and that neither Israel nor Jordan enjoyed sovereignty over any part of the zone (which lay beyond the respective Demarcation Lines). By the operative part of the resolution, the Council took the following steps:
(1) It directed the Chief of Staff of UNTSO to regulate activities within the zone, subject to such arrangements as might be made pursuant to the provisions shown under (3) below, bearing in mind ownership of property there, it being understood that, unless otherwise mutually agreed, Israelis should not be allowed to use Arab-owned properties and Arabs should not be allowed to use Israeli-owned properties.
(2) It directed the Chief of Staff to conduct a survey of property records with a view to determining property ownership in the zone.
(3) It endorsed the recommendations made by the Acting Chief of Staff in his report of 23 September 1957 to the end that: (a) the parties should discuss, through the Mixed Armistice Commission, civilian activities in the zone; (b) in order to create an atmosphere which would be more conducive to fruitful discussion, activities in the zone, such as those initiated by Israelis on 21 July 1957, should be suspended until such time as the survey would have been completed and provisions made for the regulation of activities in the zone; (c) such discussions should be completed within a period of two months; and (d) the Security Council should be advised of the result of the discussions.
(4) The Council also called upon the parties to the Israel-Jordan General Armistice Agreement to co-operate with the Chief of Staff and in the Mixed Armistice Commission in carrying out the above recommendations.
(5) It further called on the parties to observe article III of the Agreement and prevent all forces referred to therein from passing over the Armistice Demarcation Lines and to remove or destroy all their respective military facilities and installations in the zone.
(6) The Council, in addition, called on the parties to use the machinery provided for in the General Armistice Agreement for the implementation of the provisions of that Agreement.
(7) The Council also asked the Chief of Staff to report on the implementation of this resolution.
The representatives of Jordan and Israel both commented on the draft resolution prior to its adoption. The former stated that, though the text only partly met Jordan's request, his Government accepted it because it contained a number of positive points. The representative of Israel declared that the first three operative paragraphs of the draft sought to amend, in certain important particulars, provisions of the Israel-Jordan General Armistice Agreement as they applied to the area between the Lines. Changes in the Agreement, he pointed out, could be made only with the joint consent of the signatories to the Agreement. Meanwhile, Israel would observe the Agreement as it stood.
THE PROBLEM OF MOUNT SCOPUS
Differences between Israel and Jordan regarding the Mount Scopus area within Jordan-held Jerusalem came to a head in November 1957 when Jordanian authorities raised objections to the inclusion of gasoline in the regular fortnightly Israel supply convoy to that area.
As a result, the Secretary-General visited the area and, on 1 December 1957, held an exchange of views with the Foreign Minister of Jordan in Amman on specific problems connected with the authority of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in areas under United Nations responsibility, particularly in the Mount Scopus demilitarized area. The Secretary-General also discussed with the Israel Prime Minister main current problems affecting the armistice situation, including, in particular, the Mount Scopus problem. Before returning to New York on 7 December, he also held talks with the Syrian Foreign Minister and visited Lebanon for a brief period.
On 4 December, it was announced that arrangements had been made for the resumption of the convoys to Mount Scopus. On the next day, it was announced that the Secretary-General had decided to assign a personal representative for negotiations with the Governments of Jordan and Israel with a view to full implementation of an agreement of 7 July 1948 for the demilitarization of the Mount Scopus area.
That agreement established the rules under which the area was to be maintained under United Nations protection until a new agreement was entered upon. Both Governments had stated to the Secretary-General that they were willing, on the basis of reciprocity, to give full implementation to the agreement and that they accepted, on that basis, the inspection of Mount Scopus by the United Nations, which was necessary, in order to fulfil United Nations responsibility for checking on such implementation being established and maintained.
On 16 December, the Secretary-General designated Ambassador Francisco Urrutia of Colombia as his personal representative.
Syrian Complaint about Construction of Bridge
in Demilitarized Zone
Security Council, meetings 780-782.
S/3815. Report by Acting Chief of Staff of UNTSO in Palestine, dated
20 April 1957, concerning a complaint by Syria under General Armistice
Agreement between Israel and Syria.
S/3827. Letter of 13 May 1957 from Permanent Representative of Syria.
S/3844. Report by Acting Chief of Staff of UNTSO, dated 27 June 1957,
relating to Demilitarized Zone established under article V
of Israel-Syrian General Armistice Agreement.
S/3844/Add.l. Addendum to report of 27 June 1957. Note by
Secretary-General, dated 7 August 1957.
Jordan and Israel Complaints about Zone in Area of
Government House, Jerusalem
Security Council, meetings 787, 788, 806, 809, 810
S/3878, S/3904, S/3907, S/3909, S/3914. Letters of 4 September, 4, 8,
11 and 18 November 1957 from Permanent Representative of Jordan.
S/3883, S/3910. Letters of 5 September and 14 November 1957 from Acting
Permanent Representative of Israel and from Permanent Representative
of Israel, respectively.
S/3892 and Adds.l, 2. Report by Acting Chief of Staff of UNTSO in
Palestine, dated 23 September, 8 November and 16 November 1957,
relating to area between Lines (neutral zone) around Government House
S/3913. Report by Acting Chief of Staff of UNTSO, dated 31 October 1957,
relating to Israel, complaint dated 5 September 1957.
S/3942. Resolution, as proposed by United Kingdom and United States,
unanimously adopted by Security Council on 22 January 1958, meeting
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its consideration on 6 September 1957 of the complaint of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan concerning activities conducted by Israel in the zone between the armistice demarcation lines in the area of Government House at Jerusalem,
"Having considered the report relating to the zone dated 23 September 1957, submitted in response to the Council's request by the Acting Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization,
"Noting that the status of the zone is affected by the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement and that neither Israel nor Jordan enjoys sovereignty over any part of the zone (the zone being beyond the respective demarcation lines),
"Motivated by a desire to reduce tensions and avoid the creation of new incidents,
"1. Directs the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization to regulate activities within the zone subject to such arrangements as may be made pursuant to the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement and pursuant to paragraph 3 below, bearing in mind ownership of property there, it being understood that unless otherwise mutually agreed, Israelis should not be allowed to use Arab-owned properties and Arabs should not be allowed to use Israeli-owned properties;
"2. Directs the Chief of Staff to conduct a survey of property records with a view to determining property ownership in the zone;
"3. Endorses the recommendations of the Acting Chief of Staff to the end that:
"(a) The parties should discuss through the Mixed Armistice Commission civilian activities in the zone;
"(b) In order to create an atmosphere which would be more conducive to fruitful discussion, activities in the zone, such as those initiated by Israelis on 21 July 1957, should be suspended until such time as the survey will have been completed and provisions made for the regulation of activities in the zone;
"(c) Such discussions should be completed within a period of two months, and
"(d) The Security Council should be advised of the result of the discussions;
"4. Calls upon the parties to the Israel-Jordan General Armistice Agreement to co-operate with the Chief of Staff and in the Mixed Armistice Commission in carrying out these recommendations pursuant to this resolution;
"5. Calls upon the parties to the Israel-Jordan General Armistice Agreement to observe article 3 of the Agreement and prevent all forces referred to in article 3 of the Agreement from passing over the armistice demarcation lines and to remove or destroy all their respective military facilities and installations in the zone;
"6. Calls upon the parties to use the machinery provided for in the General Armistice Agreement for the implementation of the provisions of that Agreement; and
"7. Requests the Chief of Staff to report on the implementation of this resolution."
ASSISTANCE TO PALESTINE REFUGEES
REPORT OF DIRECTOR OF UNRWA
In his annual report to the General Assembly's twelfth session (for the 12 months ending 30 June 1957), the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) stated that the Agency had carried out its relief and rehabilitation work to the extent permitted by local conditions and available funds.
In the relief field, this meant in practice that despite an unprecedented series of operational difficulties, the Agency succeeded in maintaining its essential services (provision of food, public health services and shelter being most important).
In the rehabilitation field, political factors and opposition among refugees to large-scale self-support projects prevented any significant endeavours but some progress was made in helping an appreciable number of refugees to become self-supporting - on the understanding that this did not affect their political rights or claims to repatriation or compensation.
The Agency, however, faced an extremely grave financial crisis which threatened its existence. This crisis had obliged it to halt, postpone or curtail a number of worthwhile activities and programmes in both fields.
To meet the financial crisis, the Director's report said, the following steps were required:
(a) Those of the regular contributors to its fund who had not as yet done so, should pay in contributions for the six-month period ending 31 December 1957 which would be at least equivalent to half the amounts contributed for the 12 months ending 30 June 1957.
(b) The Assembly should approve the UNRWA budget for 1958, as the minimum one consonant with the Agency's tasks.
(c) The sum of $25.7 million should be pledged and paid to meet the minimum relief expenditures in 1958, and $15 million should be pledged and paid to meet the rehabilitation budget for 1958.
(d) All contributions towards the 1958 budget should be paid in advance of expenditures, that is, one half before 1 January 1958 and the other half before 1 June 1958.
(e) The sum of $8 million should be paid in, to be used, with the Agency's small remaining reserve, to establish an appropriate working capital fund.
Another point made in the Director's report was that UNRWA had a continuous operating responsibility which could not be readily adjusted to suit financial circumstances. Most of the Agency's commitments were urgent and inescapable. If UNRWA failed to provide the daily food, medical care and shelter at the right times and in the right places to the hundreds of thousands of human beings depending on it, acute starvation and disease would become an immediate threat. Furthermore, grave social and political consequences would be expected to follow any curtailment of the general education programme. Such a curtailment would condemn the huge crowds of refugee children to frustrating idleness.
A further point was that only in the case of self-support projects could activities be postponed or stopped without immediately causing more human suffering. But when these were stopped, as most of them had been for lack of funds, the General Assembly missed an opportunity for the kind of endeavour to which it had once attached great importance.
Yet another point made was that the ultimate responsibility for the nature and extent of UNRWA's work rested with the Members of the General Assembly. The Agency was only its agent. It had no authority or power not granted by the Assembly.
As of 30 June 1957, the report said, 933,556 refugees were on the Agency's register, some 11,000 more than in the previous year. Of the refugees registered, 221,058 were in the Gaza Strip, 517,388 in Jordan, 102,586 in Lebanon and 92,524 in Syria.
The number of basic dry rations distributed monthly remained at about 830,000; they provided about 1,600 calories daily in winter and 1,500 a day in summer. An average of 23,000 pregnant and nursing mothers receiving additional rations. Some 44,000 hot mid-day meals a day were provided on the average to refugees needing them on doctors' orders. An average of 190,000 babies, children under 15, pregnant and nursing women and sick persons received daily milk rations.
About 38.9 per cent of the total refugee population still lived in camps, but the number of tents in camps had decreased from 14,000 to 8,000; the number of semi-permanent huts had risen from 83,000 to 90,000. One unfortunate result of the inadequacy of funds, the report added, was that the Agency could not provide new shelters to meet many of the needs resulting from marriages and increases in the sizes of families.
The health of the refugees in all areas continued to be satisfactory. The Agency's health services, which included the operation of 92 clinics and the provision of about 2,200 hospital beds, remained substantially unchanged. Shortage of funds had ended a programme providing some 402,000 refugee children under 15 with new outfits of clothes.
Although the basic essentials of the relief programmes were maintained, their standard, as regards food, shelter and clothing, remained inadequate, the Director's report stated. In spite of pressing appeals by the Director, supported by the host Governments and by many impartial observers, the Members of the United Nations had not been able to give the Agency an income sufficient to allow it to raise its present unsatisfactory standards of relief.
The annual report further pointed out that the absence of an acceptable solution to the Palestine question caused the great mass of the refugees to remain opposed to the development of large-scale projects for self-support, which they linked with permanent resettlement, and the abandonment of hopes for repatriation. It stressed, however, that there was an increasing realization on the part of refugees and host Governments that self-support was in the long-term interest of refugees and Governments alike and that there were signs among refugees of growing appreciation of the desirability of self-support and rehabilitation, in the broad sense of an improvement in their conditions of life and prospects for the future.
The Agency's financial difficulties, however, caused it to halt or defer some very important self-support projects. These, the Director's report said, had resulted in the termination of the very successful individual grants programmes in Jordan and Syria; the stoppage of the teachers' training schools in Jordan; the deferring of construction and equipment of new vocational and agricultural training centres; the deferring of the re-equipment of the agricultural training centre in the Gaza Strip (from which, as the Director of UNRWA later told the General Assembly's Special Political Committee, all equipment and livestock were looted during the military operations of November 1956). and the ending of all new project activities.
The annual report also pointed out that the Agency's educational system remained one of its most important means for preparing refugees to become self-supporting wherever they might ultimately live. There were 115.000 pupils and over 3,100 teachers in the 372 Agency schools, as well as 53.100 UNRWA-assisted refugee pupils in government and private schools. The Agency's two existing vocational training centres, at Gaza and at Kalandia, near Jerusalem in Jordan, continued their courses. But the shortage of funds made it necessary to suspend the construction of three vocational and two agricultural training centres, the planning of which was complete. Similarly, the closing down of UNRWA's teacher-training centres because of the shortage of funds had further aggravated the problem of the shortage of trained teachers which the Agency had been facing.
One of the most successful ways yet found by the Agency for helping refugees to become self-supporting had been the individual grants programmes in Jordan and Syria. The Agency had thereby given small grants to refugees desiring to establish themselves in economically sound ventures. More than 7,200 refugees (5,400 in Jordan and 1,800 in Syria) had been made self-supporting through this project until the lack of funds forced the Agency to bring it to an end.
Three of the Agency's small-scale agricultural projects became reasonably well established economically during the period covered by the report. The Director of UNRWA hoped that the host Government would be willing to assume responsibility for them. Two housing projects - one in Amman and one in Jerusalem - were completed and occupied by refugees who, when freed from the burden of rent payments, would become self-supporting.
CONSIDERATION BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The question of assistance to Palestine refugees was considered at the General Assembly's twelfth session by the Special Political Committee between 18 November and 6 December 1957.
In presenting his report, the Director of UNRWA again drew attention to the Agency's extremely serious financial situation. Even after cutting certain of its programmes, he said, the Agency would have spent, during the 18-month fiscal period ending 31 December 1957, $8.8 million more than it would have received, the difference being made up from its rapidly dwindling reserve of working capital. For the calendar year 1958, a minimum global budget of $40.7 million had been established. Of this, $25.7 million was for relief (mainly food, shelter and health services) and $15 million for rehabilitation. In the rehabilitation budget, $7.2 million was to meet the estimated cost of continuing existing activities: mainly general education and the two vocational training centres. The balance ($7.8 million) was to meet the cost of resuming activities cut or deferred, such as the grants programmes and the construction and equipment of new training centres.
To meet its relief budget, the Director stated, the Agency required $2 million more than could at that time be reasonably foreseen. To carry on its minimum rehabilitation activities, it needed yet another $2 million more than could reasonably be foreseen. Meeting the full rehabilitation budget would require an additional $8 million. And another $8 million was needed to provide an adequate working capital fund.
Stressing the Agency's continuing operating responsibility, the Director pointed out that its programme could not readily be adjusted to suit fluctuating financial circumstances. If relief or education work financed by the Agency were to be stopped in 1958, he said, the host Governments must be informed very shortly in view of the impact of such decision on the economic and political conditions prevailing in the area.
In the course of discussion in the Assembly's Special Political Committee, some Members gave information about their Governments' contributions to UNRWA. Thus, Australia and the United States announced increases in their pledges towards the Agency's budget.
As regards a solution of the refugee problem, generally considered urgent, many representatives noted that the great majority of the refugees continued to express a desire for repatriation to their former homes. The representatives of Arab States maintained that a lasting solution of the problem lay in their repatriation in accordance with the Assembly's resolution 194 (III), of 11 December 1948.
The representative of Israel, however, stated that repatriation was reckless and dangerous. It was unacceptable to his Government, which regarded the integration of the refugees into the Arab countries as the solution.
On 28 November, the Committee heard a statement by Dr. Izzat Tannous, Director of the Palestine Arab Refugee Office in New York and Beirut.
A draft resolution submitted by the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States stressed the need for efforts to obtain additional funds to support the Agency's programme. Representatives of Arab States, however, found the draft unacceptable as, they did not consider that it provided for the minimum needs of the refugees. The draft was thereupon revised to give still further emphasis to the question of obtaining additional contributions while not changing their voluntary character. It also proposed that the Secretary-General be asked to make a special effort to obtain the funds needed.
The draft resolution as amended on these lines, was adopted by the Special Political Committee on 6 December 1957 by a vote of 49 to 0, with 21 abstentions.
Before this vote was taken, the Director of UNRWA gave it as his understanding that, in approving the Special Committee's proposal, the Assembly would be expressing general approval of the programmes envisaged in the Agency's budget and of the estimates of money required for those programmes. He also understood that the Assembly would be deciding to make a determined effort to raise the funds UNRWA needed. Further, if the necessary funds were not made available, the Assembly would be deciding that UNRWA would be unable to resume its full-scale rehabilitation programme, that UNRWA would have to halt its education programme from the beginning of the 1958-1959 school year, and might be obliged to make cuts in some categories of its relief services. It was also his understanding that the Assembly, in approving the resolution, would be deciding, if the necessary working capital was not made available, to take the calculated risk that relief operations might be interrupted.
The Special Political Committee's resolution was given final approval at a plenary meeting of the Assembly on 12 December 1957, in the form of resolution 1191 (XII), which was adopted by 52 votes to 0, with 19 abstentions.
After the adoption of the resolution, the President of the Assembly pointed out that the additional contributions needed by UNRWA over and above its reasonable expectations amounted to only about $19 million. Wholeheartedly endorsing the effort which the Secretary-General would be making, he declared that the Assembly's responsibility for finding the funds required to finance UNRWA's budget was urgent and inescapable. The United Nations could not allow UNRWA's work to fail, he declared. Not only were the lives and future of the refugees at stake. The peace and stability of the Near East were also involved.
CONTRIBUTIONS PLEDGED IN 1957
Contributions totalling the equivalent of $42,255,315 were pledged by 38 Governments to finance UNRWA's activities during the 18 months ending 31 December 1957; the equivalent of $17,997,867 has been pledged by 31 Governments for programmes during the calendar year 1958.
These amounts include pledges announced at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole Assembly on 4 October 1957. Of the total amount pledged during the 18 months period, $35,872,815 and $6,382,500 were earmarked for relief and rehabilitation activities, respectively. Of the total pledged for 1958, $14,831,200 was for relief and $3,166,667 for rehabilitation.
PLEDGES OF CONTRIBUTIONS TO UNRWA
(In U. S. Dollar Equivalents)
FOR 18 MONTHS ENDING FOR 12 MONTHS ENDING
31 DECEMBER 1957 31 DECEMBER 1958*
Pledging Government Relief Rehabilitation Relief Rehabilitation
Australia $ 212,000 - $ 100,000 -
Austria 1,050 - 1,400 -
Bahrein 1,960 - - -
Belgium 50,000 - 20,000 -
Burma 2,972 - - -
Ceylon 772,500 - 2,040,000 -
Canada 1,400 - - -
Denmark 43,478 - - -
Egypt 182,182 - 184,000 -
Ethiopia 10,000 - - -
Finland 2,000 - - -
France 308,049 - 141,616 -
Greece 16,500 - 39,000 -
Gaza Authorities 19,157 - 14,000 -
Rep. of 24,997 - 190,476 $ 166,667
Indonesia 30,000 - - -
Iran 2,680 - 2,680 -
Israel 172,778 - - -
Japan 20,000 - - -
Jordan 54,003 - 70,000 -
Lebanon 11,652 - 8,000 -
Liberia - - 5,000 -
Libya - - 20,000 -
Luxembourg 2,000 - 2,000 -
Monaco 286 - 2,381 -
Morocco 5,714 - 4,762 -
Federation of 1,500 - - -
Netherlands 64,474 - 32,895 -
New Zealand 238,000 - - -
Norway 63,202 - 42,075 -
Pakistan 41,964 - 21,000 -
Philippines 1,250 - - -
Qatar - $ 10,500 - -
Saudi Arabia 172,421 - 212,420 -
Spain - - 23,810 -
Sudan - - 4,320 -
Sweden 86,872 - 57,915 -
Switzerland - - 70,093 -
Syria 110,415 - 74,000 -
Tunisia - - 2,000 -
FOR 18 MONTHS ENDING FOR 12 MONTHS ENDING
31 DECEMBER 1957 31 DECEMBER 1958*
Government Relief Rehabilitation Relief Rehabilitation
Turkey $ 5,357 - $ 5,357 -
United Kingdom 6,600,000 1,500,000 2,400,000 500,000
United States 6,500,000 4,872,000 9,000,000 2,500,000
Yugoslavia 40,000 - 40,000 -
_______________ _____________ __________ _______________
Total $35,872,815 $6,382,500 $14,831,200 $3,166,667
*From reports as at 31 March 1958.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY - 12TH SESSION
Plenary Meeting 728.
Special Political Committee, meetings 64-73, 75-79.
Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole Assembly, meeting 1.
A/3686 and Corr. l. Annual report of Director of UNRWA, I July 1956-
30 June 1957.
A/3693. Statement by Director of UNRWA to Pledging Conference
for Extra-Budgetary Funds (Ad Hoc Committee of Whole Assembly)
on 4 October 1957.
A/3735. Letter of 12 November 1957 from Director of UNRWA.
A/SPC/20/Rev.l, A/SPC/23. Statements by Director of UNRWA before Special
Political Committee on 18 November and 6 December 1957
A/SPC/21. Letter of 25 November 1951 from Permanent Representative
A/SPC/L.21 and Rev.l. Netherlands, New Zealand Philippines, United
Kingdom, United States draft resolution and revision, adopted
by Special Political Committee by 49 votes to 0, with 21 abstentions.
A/3776. Report of Special Political Committee.
RESOLUTION 1191 (XII), as recommended by Special Political Committee,
A/3776, adopted by Assembly on 12 December 1957, meeting 728, by
52 votes to 0, with 19 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, 720 (VIII) of 27 November 1953, 818 (IX) of 4 December 1954, 916 (X) of 3 December 1955 and 1018 (XI) of 28 February 1957,
"Noting the annual report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the report of the Advisory Commission of the Agency,
"Having reviewed the budget for relief and rehabilitation prepared by the Director of the Agency, and having noted the comment of the Advisory Commission to the effect that the budget is minimal,
"Noting with grave concern that contributions to the budget are not yet sufficient, that the financial situation of the Agency is serious, and that cuts have already had to be made in the rehabilitation programme,
"Noting that repatriation or compensation of the refugees, as provided for in paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (III), has not been effected, that no substantial progress has been made in the programme endorsed in paragraph 2 of resolution 513 (VI) for the reintegration of refugees and that, therefore, the situation of the refugees continues to be a matter of serious concern,
"Noting that the host Governments have expressed the wish that the Agency continue to carry out its mandate in their respective countries or territories and have expressed their wish to co-operate fully with the Agency and to extend to it every appropriate assistance in carrying out its functions, in accordance with the provisions of Articles 104 and 105 of the Charter of the United Nations, the terms of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, the contents of paragraph 17 of resolution 302 (IV) and the terms of the agreements with the host Governments,
"1. Draws the attention of Governments to the critical financial position of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and urges them to consider to what extent they can contribute or increase their contributions in order that the Agency may carry out its budgeted relief and rehabilitation programmes and that cuts in services may be avoided;
"2. Requests the Secretary-General, in view of the critical financial position of the Agency, to make, as a matter of urgent concern, special efforts to secure the additional financial assistance needed to meet the Agency's budget and to provide adequate working capital;
"3. Directs the Agency to pursue its programme for the relief and rehabilitation of refugees, bearing in mind the response to paragraphs I and 2 above;
"4. Requests the host Governments to co-operate fully with the Agency and with its personnel and to extend to the Agency every appropriate assistance in carrying out its functions;
"5. Requests the Governments of the area, without prejudice to paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, in co-operation with the Director of the Agency, to plan and carry out projects capable of supporting substantial numbers of refugees;
"6. Requests the Agency to continue its consultations with the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine in the best interests of their respective tasks, with particular reference to paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (III);
"7. Expresses its thanks to the Director and the staff of the Agency for their continued faithful efforts to carry out the mandate of the Agency and to the specialized agencies and the many private organizations for their valuable and continuing work in assisting the refugees;
"8. Requests the Director of the Agency to continue to submit the reports referred to in paragraph 12 of General Assembly resolution 1018 (XI) of 28 February 1957."