Summary Record of the 297th Meeting (Closed)
Held at Headquarters, New York on Thursday, 5 March 1953, at 3:00 p.m.
2. Letter from the Arab Chamber of Commerce of Jerusalem.
3. The question of the application of compulsory ten per cent loan to blocked accounts released by Israel.
4. Report by Mr. Hadawi concerning progress of the work of individual assessment of Arab immovable property.
1. Letter from Mr. Zinder of the Delegation of Israel
Mr. CHAI (Acting Principal Secretary) explained that Mr. Zinder in his letter, had sought to correct the figure of fourteen million dollars which had been mentioned in a United Nations press summary as representing the total amount of the blocked accounts to be released by Israel. Mr. Chai had met with Mr. Zinder that day and had explained that the figure had not originated with the Commission whose position had always been that all blocked accounts were to be released, without mention of any specific overall sum. Mr. Zinder had stated that the Israel government itself had no official figure, but that if one was arrived at, it would be communicated to the Commission.
The Commission decided that no further action was necessary.
2. Letter from the Arab Chamber of Commerce of Jerusalem
Mr. CHAI (Acting Principal Secretary) brought to the attention of the Members of the Commission a letter from the Arab Chamber of Commerce in Jerusalem concerning alleged attempts by Israel to dispose of the Arab properties in Israel-occupied territories. He also pointed out that two cables on the same subject had been received by the Secretary-General and had been forwarded to the Commission for its information and that no action on them was called for.
With regard to the letter from the Arab Chamber of Commerce of Jerusalem, the Commission agreed that more information was required before any action could be taken, and decided to ask Mr. Vigier, of the Truce Supervision Organization, to make an informal inquiry into the matter.
3. Application of compulsory ten per cent loan to blocked accounts released by Israel
The Commission took note of the fact that Mr. Barco had been informed by Mr. Rafael, of the Israel Delegation, that he had raised the question of the compulsory loan with the Israel Foreign Office and that its official reply had been that the ten per cent loan would not be applied to Arab accounts released by the Israel Government.
4. Report by Mr. Hadawi concerning progress of the work of individual assessment of Arab immovable property
Mr. HADAWI (Secretariat) explained that his task consisted of the collection of particulars relating to the abandoned property and the preparation of the necessary schedules showing details of ownership, etc. His major difficulty was lack of necessary material. At present, he had only the micro-film to work from which showed only the area of the property, the name of the owner, the number of shares involved and whether or not the property was encumbered by mortgage. Furthermore, the micro-films were concerned with settled land only; data relating to holdings in towns and villages would have to be sought in the tax records. Mr. Hadawi added that technical difficulties slowed progress in reading the micro-films; many were under or over exposed and many contained errors in the calculation of shares. In many cases the original registers would have to be consulted, as well as the registers for non-settled areas which had not been micro-filmed.
Mr. Hadawi emphasized that no real progress could be made on the basis of the micro-films alone. He hoped that it would be possible to obtain the additional material gradually, so that the work could go forward on as complete a basis as possible even though limited as to staff and organization. He also suggested that two additional clerks be recruited who would be familiar with the work. In connexion with the additional records to be obtained, Mr. Hadawi stressed the danger of delay, pointing out that many of them were poorly stored and likely to become dispersed or damaged through neglect.
In reply to a question, Mr. Hadawi stated that only about ten per cent of the information needed on each parcel of land was to be found in the micro-films, which contained no data on buildings, trees, etc. or value. Without further documentation and plans it was not possible to complete the statistics for even a single village. He emphasized again the importance of obtaining the additional material in order to safeguard it from loss or damage.
After a brief discussion, Mr. BARCO (United States) suggested that it would be helpful from an administrative and budgetary point of view to have a detailed breakdown showing exactly the information now available and that which was still lacking.
The meeting rose at 4:20 p.m. and the Members of the Commission went to the library to inspect the work being done on the micro-films.
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