SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 325TH MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on 9 March 1955, at 11:00 a.m.o
1. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
The agenda was adopted.
2. REAPPRAISAL OF THE COMPENSATION QUESTION (Dossier on Compensation dated 2 March 1955)
3. SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT ON COMPENSATION ANNOUNCED IN THE CONCILIATION COMMISSION’S 14th PROGRESS REPORT
The CHAIRMAN observed that the dossier on compensation which had been prepared and circulated by the Secretariat contained a large mount of interesting material and he regretted that he had not yet had time to examine it thoroughly. It contained the germs of action which might ultimately be taken by the Commission and certainly called for careful study by the Governments represented on the Commission. However, the Commission was faced with a more immediate problem, namely, the fulfillment of the intention announced in the Fourteenth Progress Report to issue a special supplementary report on the Compensation issue.
Mr. ORDONNEAU (France) and Mr. ASIROGLU (Turkey) both remarked on the usefulness of the dossier and expressed their regrets at not having had an opportunity to study it carefully.
The CHAIRMAN pointed out that the dossier suggested certain alternative courses of action, based on an approach different from that followed in the past. Up to now, the position had been that prior to any negotiations on compensation it would be necessary to settle on the total amount of compensation to be paid and the readiness of Israel to undertake such an obligation. The dossier suggested a reversal of that procedure, taking as an example the instalment system adopted in the blocked accounts release operation. The suggestion merited careful consideration. The Chairman felt, however, that while considering the dossier it would be desirable to proceed with the report, which would not contain recommendations or conclusions for future action but simply set the stage for whatever the Commission might ultimately decide to do. The United States Government felt that a well-documented, historical resumé of the entire question, without committing the Commission either as to conclusions or time of publication would be extremely useful: Its purpose would be to provide a definitive treatise on the origins and development of the compensation question. At the same time, the Commission could continue to consider, on a delegation and governmental level, the statements and ideas set forth in the dossier.
Mr. ORDONNEAU (France) agreed as to the advantages to be obtained from such a resumé and thought that further consideration should be given to the Chairman’s suggestion.
Mr. ASIROGLU (Turkey) also favoured the proposal for a detailed report, but thought that the Commission needed more time to go into the various implications before taking concrete steps.
The CHAIRMAN fully agreed that further consideration was called for, but thought that the Secretariat could meanwhile asked to begin the necessary technical preparations. It might also be desirable to enlist the aid of other departments of the Secretariat; the Secretary-General perhaps could be informed of the Commission’s intention to go thoroughly into the question and be requested to provide additional technical assistance as required.
The Chairman then observed that the recent incident in Gaza had arrested what seemed to begin improvement in the general climate in the area. For that reason, it might prove to be unpropitious to raise publicly the compensation question. But it was possible that whatever was to emerge from the present situation, if co-ordinated, might introduce beneficial results. If the Commission itself could draw attention to the importance of co-ordinating with other organs the various aspects of the problem, it was possible that the present situation might evolve so that the Palestine problem could receive broader thinking and more general application than it had in the past.
After further discussion it was agreed to ask the Acting Principal Secretary to inform the Secretary-General of the Commission’s feeling that the compensation question required an extensive review and to seek his assistance where required that the Secretariat would begin preparation of an historical account of the compensation question which would not attempt to commit the Commission to any future course of action or forecast any course of action that the Commission would meanwhile give consideration to the points raised in the dossier before reaching conclusions as to its future plans.
4. DECISION REGARDING THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE OF THE OFFICE FOR IDENTIFICATION AND VALUATION OF ARAB REFUGEE PROPERTY (Draft letter to the Jordan Government)
The CHAIRMAN recalled that the Commission had not yet reached a decision as to whether or not to concentrate the property identification work in Jerusalem, and whether or not to accelerate its pace. His view was that if in the course of the Commission’s reappraisal of the compensation question, the possibility of a new approach were to emerge during the ensuing year, it would, in his opinion, not be practicable to change now the present arrangements as to staffing or location. As a result of its reappraisal, however, the Commission could take a further look at the situation in two or three months’ time. The Chairman added that any decision would have to await a settlement of Mr. Hadawi’s case, and asked the Acting Principal Secretary for a report on that question.
Mr. CHAI (Acting Principal Secretary) stated that after the last meeting he had informed the Secretary-General of the Commission’s views of the Secretary-General had then asked the Legal and Security Council Affairs Departments to prepare a report, which they had done, in conjunction with the Bureau of Personnel. The matter had then, with the approval of the Secretary-General, been referred to the Joint Disciplinary Committee for action. Mr. Chai estimated that the case might be disposed of in from one to two months.
The Commission agreed to postpone its decision regarding the future of the identification work, pending its own reappraisal of the compensation question as a whole and until the case of Mr. Hadawi had been settled. It decided to request the Acting Principal Secretary to convey to the proper authorities its feeling that, in all fairness to Mr. Hadawi, the latter’s case should be dealt with without undue delay. The Commission also decided to instruct its Representative upon his return to Jerusalem, to undertake preliminary enquiries regarding recruitment and other practical matters in connexion with a possible future consolidation of the identification work.
With regard to the draft letter to the Jordan Government, the CHAIRMAN recalled that during the past year no progress had been made in obtaining Jordan’s permission to examine the Land and Taxation documents in its possession. The draft letter was intended as a reminder that the Commission regretted the delay and hoped that the Jordan Government would be able to reconsider its position. The Chairman felt that the penultimate paragraph should be redrafted in a simpler form.
It was agreed that the letter should be redrafted and recirculated to the Members of the Commission for final approval.
It was also agreed that a letter of thanks should be addressed to the Government of Israel, which had agreed to permit the sub-office to consult certain categories of documents at Government House.