SUMMARY RECORD OF THE TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SEVENTH MEETING
held in the Hotel de Crillon, Paris,
on Saturday, 17 September 1951, at 10.45 a.m.
PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED IN PRESENTING THE COMMISSION’S PROPOSAL TO THE PARTIES
The CHAIRMAN asked the meeting to consider a request which he had received from Mr. Fischer (Israel Representative). Mr. Fischer had informed the Chairman that the Israel delegation would not be able on the afternoon of Monday, 17 September, to reply to the opening statement made to the parties on the previous Thursday, as the statement was under consideration by its Government.
The Chairman reported to the Commission that in reply he had indicated that the Commission’s stated plan was to meet the Israel delegation on Monday afternoon; if they were not prepared to reply then, they were at liberty to explain that, the statement having been sent to their Government for study, they wished to reserve their reply and were prepared to receive the proposals in the meantime. Mr. Fischer was doubtful whether his delegation could go so far as to accept that suggestion. He explained that Mr. Shiloah was on his way to Paris with a message for the Commission from the Prime Minister of Israel; in the circumstances he asked the Commission to refrain from placing its proposals before the parties on Monday (17th). The Chairman had answered that that was a matter for the Commission to decide.
The opening statement and the record made it clear that the Commission’s plan was to issue the proposals after hearing the replies to its statement; hence they could perhaps hold up the proposals until after Israel had made its reply, although in his view it seemed to be in the interest of Israel herself to receive the proposals at the same time as the other delegations. Moreover, if the Arab delegations completed their reply on Monday the Commission would be under obligation to give them its proposals.
Mr. ARAS (Turkey) reported that he also had been approached by the Israel delegate and had replied in the same sense as the Chairman. He suggested, however, that the opening statement might properly be interpreted as meaning that the Commission could postpone issuing the proposals until all the parties had completed their replies to the statement. If the Arabs did not complete their reply on the Monday, the proposals need not be given out till Tuesday.
The CHAIRMAN wished to make quite clear that he had made no promise to Mr. Fischer. His own view was that the proposals should be issued to both parties on the same day.
Mr. MARCHAL (France) reported that Mr. Fischer had also spoken to him that morning and he had replied in the same sense. He gathered that the Israel delegation would not be ready to reply to the Chairman’s opening statement until Thursday or Friday, as the Israel Cabinet was to meet on Wednesday. However, his Government felt that it would be unwise to raise a controversy over what it considered a matter of procedure. The fact that the Commission had to follow the method of separate meetings, with its consequent difficulties, was not Israel’s fault; it would hardly be fair to penalise her for a method of discussion not of her own choice.
Mr. ARAS (Turkey) agreed with the French representative that the Commission’s task of mediation implied the necessity of dealing separately with the two parties. He suggested that they hear the Arab representatives on Monday and hand them the proposals, repeating the same procedure in the case of the Israel representative on the following day. He thought they should await Israel’s answer to the opening statement before issuing the proposals to its representative.
The CHAIRMAN felt that to give the Arab delegations the impression of having awaited a further explanation of the Israel attitude before presenting them with the Commission’s proposals would have a most unfortunate effect. Israel might take the opportunity of presenting observations such as would tie the Commission’s hands at the outset. To hold up the proposals longer than the following day would be to abandon the procedure clearly indicated in the letter of invitation and confirmed as the Commission’s intention in the records of its meetings,
Mr. MARCHAL (France) nevertheless favoured allowing the Israel Government a little time, perhaps until Wednesday morning.
Mr. ARAS (Turkey) agreed with the French representative, on the understanding that the Commission make its procedure quite clear. It could perhaps present its proposals to the Arabs at the meeting to take place that morning, but ask that they be treated as confidential, as the Israel representative had not yet made his reply to the opening statement.
Mr. BARCO (United States) said they must bear in mind the effect that delay would have upon the Arab delegations; they would be suspicious and might assume that the Commission’ wished for time in order to make substantial changes to its proposals in the light of objections made by Israel. There was an element of risk in both methods; the Commission must weigh the relative wisdom of each in the light of that fact. If it was really necessary to delay the presentation of the proposals to the Arab representatives, the Commission must make clear that the proposals were ready and that the delay was only granted at Israel’s request because of her unpreparedness to reply.
Mr. de AZCARATE pointed out that the four delegations representing the Arab countries has prepared their joint reply in time, whereas that of Israel, with only one Government to consult, had failed to do so. He was of the opinion that in the present atmosphere of mistrust even Mr. Barco’s suggested procedure would not dissipate Arab suspicions. He thought it would be very dangerous to deviate from the procedure as it stood.
The CHAIRMAN agreed that it was important not to give the Arab parties any reason for supposing that the Commission had an ulterior motive or intended any change of attitude. He agreed, however, that it would be quite proper to hold the proposals over till the following morning. If Israel did not wish to receive them then, it was within its rights in refusing to do so; but its unpreparedness was not a reason for the Commission to refrain from presenting them. He agreed that if the Commission decided delay was necessary, it might suitably ask the Arabs to treat the proposals as confidential on the grounds that one of the parties had not yet received them.
Mr. ARAS (Turkey) pointed out that if the Israel request were granted and the proposals held back until the following day, that would have the advantage of giving Israel an opportunity of changing its attitude and agreeing to receive them.
Mr. FISHER (Political Officer) suggested a way to avoid raising the issue of a change of procedure: the Commission could hear the Arabs in the morning and the Israel representative in the afternoon as planned, and transmit the proposals by special messenger to both parties on the following morning, thus using an identical procedure in the case of both parties.
Mr. ARAS (Turkey) suggested that the Commission should refrain from transmitting the proposals until Wednesday, for it would equally be unwise to give the impression of taking a dictatorial stand towards Israel. He was prepared, however, to fall in with the decision of the Chairman of the Commission in the matter.
The CHAIRMAN thought that the correct decision would be to keep to the procedure already indicated, namely to hear the Arab representatives on that day (Monday) and to hand them the proposals as promised. If Israel was not prepared to reply on the proposed day and therefore not to receive the proposals then, the Commission had no objection, but it could not for that reason postpone presenting them to the Arabs.
After a further exchange of views, the CHAIRMAN proposed that the Commission should hear the Arab representatives that morning as planned and present the Commission’s proposals to them, with the request that they be considered confidential until they had been presented to the Israel representative.
It was so decided.
Présentation par la Commission des Propositions aux Parties - 237e séance de CCNUP (Paris) – Compte rendu