Question of Palestine home
Department of Public Information
31 December 1955
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK
THE PALESTINE QUESTION
COMPLAINTS CONSIDERED BY THE SECURITY COUNCIL
QUESTION AND ALLEGED EGYPTIAN RESTRICTIONS
ON ISRAEL-BOUND SHIPPING
The question of the detention in Egypt of the Israel vessel
was submitted to the Security Council on 14 October 1954, and the Council, having devoted five meetings to it in 1954, considered the matter further at two meetings held on 4 and 13 January 1955.
At the first of these meetings, the representative of Egypt informed the Council that the crew of the
had been released on 1 January 1955. He reiterated his Government's intention to free the ship, suggested that the cargo might be placed aboard a neutral vessel bound for Haifa, and that a sub-committee of the Mixed Armistice Commission should discuss arrangements for the ship's release.
The majority of the members of the Security Council commended the action of the Egyptian judicial authorities in dismissing the charges against the
crew. They nevertheless disagreed with the interpretation which the Egyptian Government had placed upon the Constantinople Convention of 1888 in order to justify its refusal to allow free passage of Israel ships through the Suez Canal. Egyptian security measures under articles IX and X of that Convention were limited in their scope by article XI, which expressly provided that such measures should not interfere with the free use of the Canal. Although the Security Council was not competent to impose observance of the Convention, it could, by virtue of its responsibility in respect of the maintenance of international peace and security and its right to supervise the application of the armistice agreements negotiated under its auspices, request Egypt not to interfere with Israel shipping through the Canal. Egypt had no right of visit, search and seizure in respect of ships passing through the Canal, because that right belonged only to belligerents and was denied to the parties by the very fact that they had signed an armistice agreement. Lastly, Egypt's action was contrary to the Council's resolution of 1 September 1951, which had called upon Egypt to terminate the restrictions on the passage of international shipping through the Suez Canal.
Since the Council had no draft resolution before it, the discussion ended on 13 January 1955 with a declaration by the President, who particularly stressed the fact that most representatives regarded the resolution of September 1951 as having continuing validity and effect. Hope was expressed that an attitude of conciliation would bring about an agreement for the ship's release.
On 10 August, in a communication alleging that a further breach of the resolution of 1 September 1951 had been committed in July, Israel informed the Council that the
was still detained in Egypt.
A further letter concerning certain Egyptian regulations restricting free passage of shipping through the Straits of Tiran into the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba) was sent by Israel to the Security Council on 27 September.
COMPLAINTS CONCERNING ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF GENERAL
THE GAZA INCIDENT OF
FEBRUARY AND ISRAEL COMPLAINT ALLEGING FRONTIER VIOLATIONS BY EGYPT
On 1 March 1955, Egypt informed the Security Council that on 28 February an Israel armed force had crossed the armistice demarcation line east of Gaza and attacked an Egyptian military camp. As a result of that attack and of the ambushing of Egyptian reinforcements, 37 members of the Egyptian armed forces and two civilians had been killed; another 30 members of the armed forces and two civilians had been injured. On 2 March, Egypt requested urgent consideration of this "violent and premeditated" Israel aggression.
On 3 March
Israel asked the Council to place on its agenda a complaint alleging continuous violations by Egypt of the General Armistice Agreement and of resolutions of the Council, to the danger of international peace and security, by means of:
(1) attacks of regular and irregular Egyptian armed forces against Israel armed forces; (2) assaults of raiders from Egyptian-controlled territory on lives and property in Israel;(3) failure of the Government of Egypt to adopt and enforce effective measures against such acts of violence; (4) assertion by Egypt of the existence of a state of war and the exercise of active belligerency against Israel, particularly the enforcement of blockade measures; (5) warlike propaganda and threats against the territorial integrity and political independence of Israel; and (6) refusal of Egypt to seek agreement by negotiations for an effective transition from the present armistice to peace.
March 1955, the Council adjourned consideration of the matter until the report of the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) had been received. At the next meeting, on 17 March, the USSR representative affirmed that it was obvious from the facts that the tension in the area resulted from the policy pursued by certain States in the Near and Middle East, a policy which, being directed not towards strengthening peace and cementing friendly relations among the States in that area, but towards the formation of military blocs, was bound to create a threat to the national independence and security of the countries in question.
At the same meeting, the Chief of Staff reported that on 6 March 1955 the Egypt-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission had found Israel responsible for the attack at Gaza and had decided that it was a violation of the General Armistice Agreement. Reviewing the general situation along the armistice demarcation line, the Chief of Staff said that the number of casualties prior to the Gaza incident reflected the comparative tranquillity which had prevailed in the area during the greater part of the period from November 1954 to February 1955. However, repeated minor incidents had helped to create a state of tension of which one of the main causes, though not the only cause, had undoubtedly been infiltration from Egyptian-controlled territory. The Chief of Staff recalled his suggestion in an earlier report that, in order to decrease tension along the demarcation line, the two parties should examine in an informal manner the possibility of agreeing on certain measures, namely: (1) institution of joint patrols along sensitive sections of the demarcation line; (2) negotiation of a local commanders' agreement; (3) erection of a barbed wire obstacle along certain portions of the demarcation line; and (4) manning of all outposts and patrols by regular Egyptian and Israel troops. In conclusion, the Chief of Staff said that he was still of the opinion that, if an agreement were effected along the lines suggested, infiltration could be reduced to an occasional nuisance -- "a kind of thieving which Israel must probably regard as inevitable" -- so long as there were vast numbers of poverty-stricken refugees on its border, with more than 200,000 in the Gaza strip alone.
At a meeting on 23 March, the representative of Egypt stressed the complete responsibility of Israel for the Gaza attack. His delegation hoped that, in view of the gravity of the situation created by Israel aggression, the Council would apply Chapter VII of the Charter. The Council should request the punishment of those responsible. His Government reserved all its rights in respect of reparations.
At the same meeting, the representative of Israel stated that the Gaza incident was the result rather than the primary cause of the existing tension. The few violations ascribed to Israel in the reports of the Chief of Staff had arisen mostly from immediate response to Egyptian firing. Official reports showed that Egyptian violations had been more numerous and more generalized than any Israel action which had followed them. He therefore felt justified in seeking condemnation by the Council of the campaign of hostility organized in Gaza to which Israel had been subjected.
On 28 March, France, the United Kingdom and the United States submitted two joint draft resolutions referring respectively to the Gaza incident and to general conditions along the armistice demarcation line. In the first resolution adopted unanimously on 29 March, the Security Council, after noting that the Egyptian-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission had determined on
6 March 1955 that a prearranged and planned attack ordered by Israel authorities had been committed by Israel regular army forces against the Egyptian army forces in the Gaza strip on
28 February 1955, condemned that attack and called again upon Israel to take all necessary measures to prevent such actions.
After four amendments proposed by Israel had been withdrawn, the second resolution was also adopted unanimously, on 30 March. By it the Security Council requested the Chief of Staff to continue his consultations with the Governments of Egypt and Israel with a view to introducing practical measures to preserve security in the area, noted the concrete proposals already made by the Chief of Staff, and called upon the two Governments to co-operate with the Chief of Staff with regard to his proposals.
The majority of the members of the Security Council agreed in placing the responsibility on Israel for the incident of 28 February. The consensus was that although infiltration, often accompanied by violence, had been one of the main causes of tension in the area, no justification could be found for the Israel action based on a policy of retaliation, for that was a principle which the Security Council had constantly rejected.
PATTISH, FURTHER GAZA, AND NAHAL OZ INCIDENTS
On 4 April 1955, the representative of Israel submitted for consideration by the Security Council a complaint alleging repeated attacks by Egypt against Israel, with special reference to: (1) the armed assault at Pattish on 24 March 1955; (2) repeated attacks by mining and gunfire on Israel army units patrolling the Israel-Egyptian border at the Gaza strip between 26 March and 3 April 1955; (3) the attack on an Israel army patrol and on the village of Nahal Oz on 3 April 1955.
At the meeting of the Council held on 6 April, the representative of Israel reviewed the six condemnations of Egypt by the Mixed Armistice Commission during March 1955 and affirmed that those attacks had shifted the emphasis from infiltration as one of the main causes of tension between Israel and Egypt to overt acts of violence by Egyptian armed forces, inviting answering action by Israel. Since the Egyptian Government did not appear to take the matter seriously, the importance of a clear statement by the Security Council could not be overemphasized.
The representative of Egypt explained that, with the exception of six complaints, the questions which Israel wished to discuss were still on the agenda of the Mixed Armistice Commission or of the Special Committee.
/ The Council should not be requested to examine questions still under consideration by those bodies. Israel merely wished to turn the tables on Egypt and destroy the effect of the condemnation pronounced against Israel by the Council barely a week before in connection with the Gaza incident.
The Council decided to adjourn, pending receipt of the findings of the Mixed Armistice Commission.
On 14 April 1955, the Chief of Staff of UNTSO reported that the most important factor contributing to the increased tension following the action at Gaza on 28 February had been the mining of tracks used by Israel army vehicles. The mining of the tracks might well represent retaliatory action by certain elements following the Gaza incident. The most urgent step to be taken to improve the situation in the Gaza area was to institute joint patrols. Egypt was prepared in principle to set these up; the final reply from the Israel authorities had not yet been received. Both sides were prepared to meet in order to effect a local commanders' agreement, and had given verbal assurances that only disciplined regular and police forces were being employed. The Israel authorities favoured the erection of obstacles to help prevent infiltration, and the Egyptian authorities, while seeing difficulties in connection with that proposal, were prepared to consider ways and means of carrying it out. At the request of the Egyptian authorities, additional United Nations Military Observers were being posted in positions on the Egyptian side of the demarcation line. Commanders of troops in the area should be made responsible for preventing any initiation of hostile acts.
On 18 April, the representative of Egypt informed the Council that the Egyptian military authorities would shortly begin to construct barbed wire fences within Egyptian-controlled territory along the line running through certain essential positions on the demarcation line.
On 19 April, the representative of Egypt maintained in the Council that the Mixed Armistice Commission had blamed Israel for the use of forbidden arms and vehicles in the Nahal Oz incident of 3 April, and that the mine-laying had not been found to have been committed by military units or other elements under Egyptian control. Egypt had given tangible proof of its co-operative spirit by accepting in principle all the suggestions presented by the Chief of Staff to diminish tension on the demarcation line.
The representative of Israel drew attention to the statement in the report to the effect that the mining of the tracks used by Israel was the most important factor contributing to the increased tension in the border area. In respect of the incident of 3 April, Israel had been held responsible only for "technical violations" of the General Armistice Agreement, in fact, for shooting in self-defence. The mining of roads was certainly not a new development resulting from the events of
February, for Egypt had already been condemned for
similar incidents between
After a brief discussion, the President of the Council observed that the majority seemed to be of the opinion that there was no need for any new action by the Council, inasmuch as the facts brought to the Council's notice and the possible measures to avert frontier incidents in the area of the demarcation line between Egypt and Israel had been fully covered in the resolutions adopted by the Council on
and 30 March. He trusted that he was expressing the general view of the members of the Council in appealing to both sides to give full effect to those resolutions.
On 7 June, the President of the Security Council addressed a letter to the members of the Council voicing his concern over the situation along the Gaza demarcation line and the difficulties encountered by the Chief of Staff in carrying out the Council's resolution of 30 March. He stated that it might be necessary to call a meeting of the Council for the specific purpose of considering the extent to which that resolution was being observed.
NEW INCIDENTS IN THE GAZA AREA
On 30 and 31 August 1955, the representative of Israel informed the Security Council that since
August a succession of new and serious outbreaks of violence, such as had not been experienced since the signature of the Armistice Agreement, had occurred in the Gaza strip. He attributed them to the deliberate policy of the Egyptian Government.
On 6 September, the representative of Egypt reported that on
August Israel had embarked on large-scale military operations in the Gaza area, culminating in the Khan Yunis attack of 31 August, which had caused the death of some 36 Egyptian soldiers and Arab refugees.
A report of the Chief of Staff of the same date stressed that the repetition of such incidents could be avoided only if the forces of the opposing sides were separated by an effective physical barrier along the demarcation line.
The Security Council met on
September to consider how to bring the hostilities to an end and prevent further incidents in the Gaza area. The majority of the members stressed the advisability of refraining from introducing into the debate the question of responsibility for the recent deplorable incidents, and emphasized the necessity of enforcing the suggestions of the Chief of Staff. After the parties concerned had expressed their views, the Council unanimously adopted a draft resolution presented by France, the United Kingdom and the United States which, among other things, endorsed the suggestions of the Chief of Staff concerning the separation of the armed forces of both parties, declared that freedom of movement must be afforded to United Nations Observers in the area, and called upon the parties to co-operate with the Chief of Staff in achieving those ends.
INCIDENTS ON LAKE TIBERIAS
On 13 December, the representative of Syria informed the Security Council of a large-scale attack launched on the night of 11
by Israel armed forces in the area lying to the east of Lake Tiberias, and called for a meeting of the Council. Some 37 Syrian soldiers and 12 civilians were reported killed.
On 16 December, the representative of Syria stated in the Council that there was no justification for this attack, since the situation in the area had been relatively calm for the past two years. Moreover, the principle of retaliation advocated by Israel had been expressly rejected by the Council. It was therefore incumbent upon the Council to take deterrent measures against Israel, such as the adoption of economic sanctions or the expulsion of Israel from the United Nations.
The representative of Israel stated that Israel forces had undertaken the operation to avert further Syrian aggression and that this particular incident was the outcome of the policy of harassment initiated by Syrian artillery posts established close to the lake border and directed against Israel fishing and police boats. On 21 December, the representative of Israel further stated that evidence found on Syrian prisoners proved that Syrian outposts had been instructed, in violation of the General Armistice Agreement, to fire upon Israel boats approaching within a limit of between 250 and 400 metres from the Syrian shore.
In a report dated 15 December, and a supplement dated 30 December, the Chief of Staff stated that Israel had linked the Lake Tiberias attack with the shelling of Israel fishing boats and their police escorts on the lake. On the other hand, Syria affirmed that the General Armistice Agreement prohibited the use of such armed police boats in that part of the lake, which was a "defensive area". That might explain, the report went on, though it did not excuse, the Syrian standing orders to fire on Israel boats approaching within a range of 250 to 400 metres from the Syrian shore, although Israel had agreed in September 1954, at the request of the Chief of Staff, to modify the craft it was using as police boats. Nevertheless, there was a striking disparity between the scale of retaliation and the provocation which had been cited by the Israel Government. Lastly, the Chief of Staff made some practical suggestions to prevent the occurrence of further incidents in connection with fishing activities on Lake Tiberias.
On 22 December the representative of Syria introduced a draft resolution which, among other things, would condemn Israel for the "outrageous attack" of 11-12 December, call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply economic sanctions against Israel and decide to expel Israel from the United Nations. Israel should, moreover, pay adequate compensation for the loss of lives and properties.
The representative of Israel affirmed that there was certainly no Member of the Organization which had a lesser right to discuss Israel's obligations under the Charter than Syria, which had attempted to destroy Israel by armed force, refused to recognize Israel's statehood and advocated unremitting hostilities. The Syrian attitude concerning Lake Tiberias revealed the same persistent design to paralyse Israel by interfering with its lawful activities as did Egypt's policy to deny Israel the use of international waterways leading to Israel ports.
QUESTION AND ALLEGED EGYPTIAN RESTRICTIONS ON ISRAEL-BOUND SHIPPING
SECURITY COUNCIL, meetings 687, 688.
S/3362, S/3420, S/3442. Letters dated 14 February, 10 August
and 27 September from representative of Israel.
COMPLAINTS CONCERNING ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF GENERAL ARMISTICE
THE GAZA INCIDENT OF 28 FEBRUARY AND ISRAEL COMPLAINT ALLEGING FRONTIER VIOLATIONS BY EGYPT
SECURITY COUNCIL, meetings 692-696.
S/3365, S/3367. Letters dated I and 2 March from representative
S/3368, S/3376, S/3380. Letters dated 3 and 25 March from
representative of Israel.
S/3373. Report by Chief of Staff of UNTSO concerning incident of
28 February near Gaza.
S/3378. France, United Kingdom, United States draft resolution.
RESOLUTION, as proposed by France, United Kingdom and United
States, S/3378, adopted unanimously by the Council on 29 March.
"The Security Council,
its resolutions of 15 July 1948, 11 August 1949, 17 November 1950, 18 May 1951 and 25 November 1953;
the report of UNTSO and statements by the representatives of Egypt and Israel;
that the Egyptian-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission on 6 March 1955 determined that 'prearranged and planned attack ordered by Israel authorities' was 'committed by Israeli regular arm, forces against the Egyptian regular army force' in the Gaza strip on February 28th, 1955;
this attack as a violation of the cease-fire provisions of the Security Council resolution of 15 July 1948 and as inconsistent with the obligations of the parties under the General Armistice Agreement between Egypt and Israel and under the Charter;
upon Israel to take all necessary measures to prevent such actions;
its conviction that the maintenance of the General Armistice Agreement is threatened by any deliberate violation of that Agreement by one of the parties to it, and that no progress towards the return of permanent peace in Palestine can be made unless the parties comply strictly with their obligations under the General Armistice Agreement and the cease-fire provisions of its resolution of July 15, 1948."
S/3381, S/3382, S/3383. Letters dated 28 and 29 March from
representative of Israel containing proposals for amendment of three-Power draft resolution (S/3379).
S/3379. France, United Kingdom, United States draft resolution.
Resolution, as proposed by France, United Kingdom and United States, S/3379, adopted unanimously by the Council on 30 March.
"The Security Council,
of those sections of the report by the Chief of Staff of UNTSO which deal with the general conditions on the Armistice Demarcation Line between Egypt and Israel, and the causes of the present tension;
that all possible steps shall be taken to preserve security in this area, within the framework of the General Armistice Agreement between Egypt and Israel;
the Chief of Staff to continue his consultations with the Governments of Egypt and Israel with a view to the introduction of practical measures to that end;
that the Chief of Staff has already made certain concrete proposals to this effect;
the Governments of Egypt and Israel to co-operate with the Chief of Staff with regard to his proposals, bearing in mind that, in the opinion of the Chief of Staff, infiltration can be reduced to an occasional nuisance if an agreement were effected between the parties on the lines he has proposed;
the Chief of Staff to keep the Council informed of the progress of his discussions."
PATTISH, FURTHER GAZA, AND NAHAL OZ INCIDENTS
SECURITY COUNCIL, meetings 697, 698.
S/3390 and Add.1. Report by Chief of Staff of UNTSO to Secretary-General on incidents between Egypt and Israel, since Gaza incident of 28 February.
S/3385, S/3389. Letters dated 4 and 11 April from representative of Israel.
S/3386, S/3393. Letters dated 5 and 18 April from representative of Egypt.
S/3406. Letter dated 7 June from President of Security Council.
NEW INCIDENTS IN THE GAZA AREA
SECURITY COUNCIL, meeting 700.
S/3425 and Corr.1, S/3426, S/3427, S/3428, S/3433, S/3434. Letters dated 29, 30 and 31 August, 2, 6 and 7 September from representative of Israel.
S/3430 and Corr.1. Report dated 5 September from Chief of Staff of UNTSO concerning recent incidents between Egypt and Israel in area of Gaza strip.
S/3430/Add.l. Telegram from Chief of Staff of UNTSO dated 6 September concerning emergency meeting of Egyptian-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission.
S/3431. Letter dated 6 September from representative of Egypt.
S/3432. Letter dated 7 September from Permanent Representatives of France, United Kingdom, United States, together with joint draft resolution.
RESOLUTION, as proposed by France, United Kingdom and United States, S/3432, adopted unanimously by the Council on 8 September.
"The Security Council,
its resolution of 30 March 1955 (S/3379);
received the report of the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization (S/3430 ):
with grave concern the discontinuance of the talks initiated by the Chief of Staff in accordance with the above-mentioned resolution;
the recent outbreak of violence in the area along the Armistice Demarcation Line established between Egypt and Israel on 24 February 1949:
with approval the acceptance by both parties of the appeal of the Chief of Staff for an unconditional cease-fire;
"2. Calls upon
both parties forthwith to take all steps necessary to bring about order and tranquility in the area, and in particular to desist from further acts of violence and to continue the cease-fire in full force and effect;
the view of the Chief of Staff that the armed forces of both parties should be clearly and effectively separated by measures such as those which he has proposed;
that freedom of movement must be afforded to United Nations Observers in the area to enable them to fulfill their functions;
"5. Calls upon
both parties to appoint representatives to meet with the Chief of Staff and to co-operate fully with him to these ends; and
the Chief of Staff to report to the Security Council on the action taken to carry out this resolution."
INCIDENTS ON LAKE TIBERIAS
SECURITY COUNCIL, meetings 707, 709.
S/3455, S/3505. Letters dated 3 November and 13 December from representative of Syria.
S/3516 and Add.1, and Add.1/Corr.1. Report dated 15 December by Chief of Staff of UNTSO to Secretary-General of United Nations on Lake Tiberias incident of night of 11-12 December.
S/3518, S/3524. Letters dated 21 and 29 December from representative of Israel.
S/3519. Syria draft resolution.
OTHER DOCUMENTS RELATING TO PALESTINE QUESTION
S/3343 and Add.1. Report by Chief of Staff of UNTSO to Secretary-General concerning complaints as to observance of General Armistice Agreement between Israel and Syria.
S/3394. Cablegram from Chief of Staff of UNTSO to Secretary-General concerning arrangements between Jordan and Israel in Jerusalem area.
S/3448, S/3454, S/3462, S/3482. Letters dated 22 October, 1 and
22 November, and 8 December from representative of Israel.
S/3451 and Corr.1. Letter dated 28 October from Permanent Representative of Syria.
S/3456, S/3514. Letters dated 3 November and 15 December from representative of Egypt.
A/2897. United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine. Fourteenth progress report for period 31 December 1953 to
31 December 1954.
ASSISTANCE TO PALESTINE REFUGEES
REPORT OF UNRWA
The Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) submitted to the 10th session of the General Assembly his annual report covering the period 1 July 1954 to 30 June 1955, as well as a special report covering another category of claimants for relief. The Assembly had also before it a special report from the Advisory Commission of the Agency.
The Director, recalling in his report that the Agency had entered its sixth year of existence, stated that it was still confronted with a twofold task: first, of providing subsistence, medical care and shelter for the refugees, and secondly, of assisting the refugees in order to help them to become self-supporting.
In the field of relief, the Agency's programme included distribution of food, provision and maintenance of health and educational services, provisions of shelter, and projects for land development and community welfare. Approximately 906,000 refugees, half of whom were children under 15, were on the Agency's register, representing an increase of some 20,000 from the previous year. There were no major changes in the distribution of refugees, which was as follows: Syria, 88,179; Lebanon, 103,600; Gaza, 214,601; Jordan, 499,606.
There had been no change in the quantity of basic foodstuff distributed to each refugee. However, the number of refugees benefiting from supplementary feeding programmes had registered some increase. While there were no evident signs of malnutrition among the refugees, the margin of safety provided by the existing basic distribution of foodstuff was small. The report observed that, as a complete ration, the quantity of basic food supplied (providing about 1600 calories a day in winter and 1500 in summer) was inadequate in calory content and, as it consisted largely of flour, dietetically unbalanced.
As regards shelter, the Agency had successfully continued its efforts to increase and improve camp accommodations and other shelters. But much still remained to be done with respect to refugee shelter. The Agency's programme depended upon the availability of funds, upon the assistance of authorities in the host countries in obtaining suitable camp sites, and upon the co-operation of the refugees themselves. In the past, some of the refugees had refused to accept improved quarters, on the ground that it would be in the nature of permanent resettlement. There had been evidence, however, of a better understanding among the refugees that to live in improved shelter was not prejudicial to their political rights and that it was advantageous to themselves and their children.
The Agency's health education programme had proved very successful. In addition to establishing a school health service, it had concentrated on the provision of public health measures and preventive medicine.
The Agency's expanded welfare services continued to complement its self-support programme in the sense that they were designed to offset the effects of years of unemployment by maintaining morale and thus encouraging refugees to prefer work to dependence on charity. Group activities included welfare and community centres for libraries, literacy classes, handwork, scouting and so on. The sewing centres and the quasi-commercial arts and crafts centres produced goods for a wide sale. In addition, individual case work continued to help those whose needs had not been met by the general social services.
The clothing shortage continued to be a serious problem despite the praiseworthy work of the voluntary agencies. The minimum needs of the refugees had not yet been met. Since the needs had recently increased, a sum had been provided in the next budget for partial relief of this problem.
The keystone of the programme continued to be the education of the young. In its 304 schools, and in government and private schools it subsidized, the Agency provided primary and secondary education for 160,718 children in 1955. In addition, 300 scholarships were granted to refugee students in Egyptian, Lebanese and Syrian universities.
In the field of adult education, the Agency's programme was expanded to include 39 fundamental education centres. Nearly 50,000 persons were enrolled in the various programmes, 10,000 of whom were re-educating or retraining themselves in the knowledge and skills they had lost during seven years of idleness.
The Director's report stated that relief costs per person per year, including administrative expenses, again averaged about $27.00. If no major proportion of the refugees became self-supporting for some years, it was possible that, because of the natural increase of the refugee population, a gradual increase in the Agency's expenditures on relief purposes might prove necessary. While there was pressing need to improve standards of relief, and it was desirable to do so, such improvement was dependent on the assured availability of funds over a continuing period.
Regarding the long-term projects for assisting the refugees to become self-supporting, the Director reported that the Agency had completed some of its earlier projects, had continued work on others, and had initiated new ones. Progress towards rendering refugees self-supporting was necessarily slow. The main obstacles were (1) the absence of a solution to the Palestine problem along the lines of the General Assembly resolution regarding repatriation and compensation; (2) the meagreness of the physical resources made available for development; and (3) the attitude of the refugees and, in some cases, of the governments of the area. The attitude of the refugees and the policies of the Near East governments continued to be conditioned by the strong desire of the refugees to return to their homeland. That feeling had not diminished, and its strength could not be exaggerated. Since repatriation meant for the majority of refugees a return to the conditions prevailing prior to 1948, it was not known how many of them, given the choice, would in fact accept repatriation if that meant a return to altered conditions, or how many would prefer compensation. Unless the refugees were given this choice, or unless some other political settlement could be reached, the demand for repatriation, the report stressed, would remain an obstacle to reintegration and self-support.
Apart from this most difficult issue, there were technically various possibilities for assisting the refugees to become self-supporting. The Assembly had encouraged the formulation of long-term plans for large-scale projects. In this regard, the Agency had completed studying the Yarmuk-Jordan Valley and Sinai projects. However, the implementation of both projects depended on two things: first, on political decisions outside the Agency's control, and secondly, on the time required for their construction and the permanent settlement of refugees, which would take several years. Moreover, the two projects at best could not absorb more than 260,000 refugees. Resistance to self-support programmes was particularly evident in the case of large-scale development projects, since the refugees feared that to accept settlement on them would mean giving up hope of repatriation. However, none of the large-scale projects referred to had progressed to a point where refugees had had in fact an opportunity to decide whether or not to participate.
Another aspect of the Agency's plans concerned smaller projects to which political objections did not apply in the same degree. These included various small agricultural enterprises by refugees and rent-free housing schemes, as well as a number of educational and vocational projects training refugees for professions and trades. Although not significant in terms of the over-all refugee problem, these projects had helped many people to become self-supporting and the Agency would welcome any assistance by the host governments in their further development.
The Director's report also dealt with the education and training of the children of refugees, the finances of the Agency, relationships with governments on whose territories refugees were located, and the special situation in Gaza. The Director drew the attention of the General Assembly to certain conclusions reached by the Agency, among which were the following: (1) unless the refugees were given an opportunity to choose between repatriation and compensation, it would not be feasible to carry out fully the reintegration of the refugees in the economic life of the Near East; (2) assuming the satisfactory solution of the political problems involved, significant areas of land in the Jordan Valley and Western Sinai could be brought under irrigation and made available to refugees; (3) with the co-operation of the governments of the area, certain projects could be developed to enable substantial numbers of the refugees to become self-supporting; (4) the educational facilities of the Agency should be improved and expanded; (5) the Agency must have assurance of sufficient funds to enable it to improve further the standards of relief; and (6) funds must be made available in time to enable planning and to meet obligations.
In his special report concerning other claimants, the Director noted that there were two broad categories of claimants which were seeking relief from the Agency and did not receive it. One consisted of those who had suffered serious loss as a result of the troubles in 1948 but who did not fall within the definition of persons eligible for relief. The other category consisted of persons, particularly some of the children in Jordan, who, although falling within the definition of eligibility, were not receiving full relief services from the Agency.
On the basis of sample studies the report concluded that approximately 150,000 out of the Jordan frontier population of 181,000 were in definite need of assistance. In the Gaza strip the number of needy not receiving aid from UNRWA was placed at about 60,000 out of the total non-refugee population of approximately 100,000. Others in need, according to the report, were 2,700 families in Egypt, and approximately 11,000 Bedouins not currently on the Agency's ration lists.
The special report of the Advisory Commission of the Agency noted that little progress had been made in the basic settlement of the refugee problem and recognized that relief would have to be continued for a long time. The Advisory Commission approved proposals for improvement of relief standards subject to availability of funds and made certain suggestions of a financial nature to enable the Agency to function more adequately. It also made suggestions concerning programmes and projects which would provide the refugees with employment, education and opportunities of training for vocations.
CONSIDERATION BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
At the 10th session of the General Assembly, the Ad Hoc Political Committee considered at 12 meetings between 14 and 30 November 1955 the question of assistance to Palestine refugees.
On 14 November, the Director of UNRWA, in presenting his report, stated that the refugees were one of the most important causes of the continued tension in the Near East and at the same time the victims of it. So far only a relatively small number of people had been rehabilitated, and the relief rolls grew steadily, owing to natural increase. Rehabilitation had been rendered difficult by human, political and economic factors. The non-implementation of the General Assembly resolution referring to repatriation and compensation was one of the main reasons why refugees resisted in varying degrees the rehabilitation work of the Agency. A great majority of the refugees considered participation in a rehabilitation project tantamount to renunciation of the rights guaranteed to them by the United Nations. While he thought that the Yarmuk-Jordan and Sinai projects should be pursued, he did not consider that the reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East was feasible unless they were given an opportunity to choose between rehabilitation and repatriation, or unless some other political solution of the Palestine problem could be arranged.
Relief would continue to be needed for several years, regardless of the ultimate work of the Agency. To provide opportunities for self-support to the refugees also entailed great and continuing effort. He hoped that the Assembly would find acceptable both the relief budget and the improvement of relief standards, as approved by the Advisory Commission. He hoped also that Member States would act to ensure prompt availability of the needed funds. He pointed out that, with improvements, the cost of relief would amount to less than $30.00 per person per year.
The Director estimated that UNRWA needed $26.8 million to maintain current relief standards, $1.7 million to improve those standards, $16 million for its education programme and foreseeable small-scale rehabilitation projects, 2,76 million to start the Yarmuk-Jordan and Sinai projects, and $14 million to carry the Agency through the period between the expenditure of funds and the receipt of contributions.
The representatives of Egypt, Iran, Iraq. Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, as well as the representative of Jordan who was invited to participate, asserted that the solution lay in repatriation and that failure to settle the refugee problem as mainly caused by Israel's refusal to comply with United Nations resolutions on the subject. The only realistic solution lay in giving the refugees the opportunity to choose between repatriation and compensation. Only then would implementation of other resolutions concerning the reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East become feasible. Other points made by the Arab representatives were: refugees needed additional relief, and relief would be needed for a long time; it was necessary to extend relief to additional claimants who had hitherto not been provided for; Israel should be asked to pay rental for the use of refugee property in Israel, and the sum collected could be used to assist the refugees. The representatives of Syria and Saudi Arabia said that the wishes of the refugees should be ascertained by a plebiscite. If an appropriate portion of territory in Israel could be returned to its Arab owners in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions, then about half a million refugees could be taken off relief, the requirements of the frontier villagers could be met, the problem of the Gaza strip and the Bedouin could be solved, and the need for international assistance could be reduced. The Agency would then be able to reintegrate the refugees by repatriation and resettlement. The representative of Iraq contended that, under the Armistice Agreement, the existing demarcation lines had not been intended as political or territorial boundaries. Israel had occupied some of its territory through conquest, and this territory must eventually be returned to its lawful owners if a true solution of the Palestine question as a whole were to be achieved.
The representative of Israel said that the military action taken by the Arab States against his country was responsible for the creation of the refugee problem. Consequently, the international community was entitled to expect the Arab countries to devote their resources to meet that responsibility. The work of UNRWA in caring for the refugees was praise-worthy. However, the most urgent and immediate task confronting it was to proceed with projects that would enable at least a portion of refugees to become self-supporting. The Arab Governments perpetuated the existence of the problem, and prevented the effective solution which lay in their power, by holding in suspense all the major rehabilitation projects. The resettlement of the refugees in Arab countries was in the interests of the refugees as well as the Arab States, while their repatriation would constitute a danger to Israel and thereby increase existing tensions. The General Assembly had adopted many resolutions on the refugee question. Those adopted in 1950 referred to reintegration, assistance to rehabilitation schemes and the possibility that Arab States might absorb the refugees. It was obvious the problem could not be settled merely by invoking past resolutions. Israel had made great efforts and proposed to continue those efforts to assist in the solution of the refugee problem. Such a solution, however, would exclude further repatriation of Arab refugees into Israel. Hence Israel did not approve the proposal of the Director of UNRWA that the refugees should be given the choice between repatriation and compensation. The rehabilitation programme should be preserved, resettlement schemes pressed and the expanding labour opportunities in the Arab world made use of, while serious discussion of compensation and related problems should be undertaken. Israel welcomed the proposed international loan to pay compensation for the land abandoned by the refugees.
In conclusion, the representative of Israel pointed out that as his country's present territorial position rested on a foundation of law, any revision of its boundaries required mutual consent. He stated that the refugee problem continued to exist only because of the refusal of Arab States to absorb some of the refugees. If they had co-operated, there would only remain the question of the right of the refugees to compensation and other rights arising out of their status as former inhabitants of what was now the State of Israel. His Government would not have hesitated to face the latter problem in a helpful spirit, for it would have been a question of solving what were juridical matters in an atmosphere free from tension.
On 28 November, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States submitted a joint draft resolution which would,
direct the Agency to pursue its programmes for the relief and rehabilitation of refugees, bearing In mind the limitations imposed upon it by the extent of contributions, and appeal 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. It requested the governments of the area to make a determined effort, without prejudice to paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (III), to seek and carry out projects capable of supporting substantial numbers of refugees, and noted further the serious need of other claimants for relief. Finally, it requested the Director of UNRWA to continue to submit annual reports and budgets to the General Assembly.
Introducing the joint draft resolution, the representative of the United Kingdom stated that his Government hoped that the Jordan Valley and Sinai projects would be embarked upon at an early date. His delegation did not agree with the criticism that the policy of rehabilitation of the refugees pursued by the Agency was a futile one. The projects proposed by the Director not only would enable a quarter of the refugees to become self-supporting, but also would help expansion of the economies of the host countries. Therefore, the objective to he sought was the multiplication of rehabilitation schemes. The education and technical training programmes of the Agency were also of great value since they would ensure the future economic sufficiency of the refugees. Progress in that field should be accelerated.
The representative of the United States, a co-sponsor of the draft resolution, observed that it was similar to the Assembly resolution of the previous year which had been received favourably. He agreed with the Director that if the Agency was to be enabled to carry out its tasks, it was necessary to find a speedy settlement of certain political aspects of the Palestine question -- for example, the question whether the refugees were to be repatriated or compensated -- and of certain other outstanding differences between Israel and the Arab States. However. inability to settle those problems must not prevent the United Nations from carrying out programmes to make the refugees self-supporting. It was essential in this regard, however, to obtain the consent and co-operation of the Arab States. The United States was continuing its efforts towards a political settlement and was pledged to continue its material contributions. The need to provide relief to the additional claimants mentioned in the Director's reports was obvious, and the United States Government was prepared to make available larger quantities of foodstuff to organizations willing to aid those claimants.
The representative of Turkey, the other co-sponsor of the draft resolution, agreed with the Director of UNRWA that a solution of the problem of the refugees required a prior political settlement. However, pending this, the governments of the area should agree to implement the proposed projects in order to help the refugees to become self-supporting. The implementation of the projects would be without prejudice to the right of the refugees to repatriation and compensation.
The representatives of Afghanistan, Argentina, India, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and Poland stressed the importance of the implementation of the resolution concerning repatriation and compensation. The representative of Iran suggested that refugees could be repatriated in yearly quotas and stages. If Israel accepted the principle that the refugees should be given the choice between repatriation and compensation, the other governments could then be expected to plan for the rehabilitation of those not repatriated.
Many representatives, including those of Australia, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Panama, believed that a solution of the refugee problem could only be brought about through compromise. Some believed that Israel could admit at least a certain number of refugees, perhaps in stages, and the Arab States could accept resettlement for the rest. It was also pointed out that it would be unrealistic to ask Israel to admit all the refugees.
All speakers paid tribute to the effective way in which the Agency's work was being carried out.
Acting at the request of the representative of Iraq, the Ad Hoc Political Committee also heard a statement by Dr. Izzat Tannous, a Palestine refugee, Secretary-General of the Arab Palestine Office for Refugees in Beirut.
Replying to the points raised in the discussion, the Director of UNRWA said that the ability of the Agency to discharge its responsibilities depended on the tangible as well as moral support given to it by the governments of the area. In addition to his usual duties, he was prepared to work on the lines which the present debate had brought to light. If it became possible to proceed with the projects outlined in his report, he hoped the requisite funds would be made available to the Agency. Regarding the delays in the receipt of contributions, he would have to continue the expedient of borrowing temporarily from the rehabilitation funds. Granting rations to eligible children in Jordan depended on the extent of savings which would result from the improved registration system. His proposal to issue 10,000 additional rations might also be implemented if the savings were substantial. He understood the provisions of the joint draft resolution to mean that the Agency was not authorized to assist the additional claimants, except in the special cases already provided for in the past years.
On 30 November, the Ad Hoc Political Committee adopted the joint draft resolution by a roll-call vote of 38 to none, with 19 abstentions. At its 550th plenary meeting on 3 December, the General Assembly adopted without debate the draft resolution recommended by the Ad Hoc Political Committee by 38 votes to none, with 17 abstentions.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY -- 10TH SESSION
AD HOC POLITICAL COMMITTEE, meetings 13-24.
A/2978. Annual report of Director of UNRWA covering period
1 July 1954 to 30 June 1955.
A/2978/Add.l. Special Report of Director on Other Claimants for
A/3017. Special report of Advisory Commission of UNRWA.
A/AC.80/4. Letter dated 10 October from Ambassador of Jordan to
United States addressed to Secretary-General.
A/AC.80/5. Note by Director of UNRWA.
A/AC.80/L.4. Letter dated 17 November from Chairman of delegation
of Iraq to Chairman of Ad Hoc Political Committee.
A/AC.80/L.6. United Kingdom, United States, Turkey draft
resolution (adopted by roll-call vote of 38 to none, with
19 abstentions). The vote was as follows:
Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, [Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Yugoslavia.
Afghanistan, Burma, Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Ukrainian SSR, USSR, Venezuela, Yemen.
A/3057. Report of Ad Hoc Political Committee.
PLENARY MEETING 550
RESOLUTION 916(x), as recommended by Ad Hoc Political Committee, A/3057, adopted by the Assembly on 3 December by 38 votes to none, with 17 abstentions.
"The General Assembly,
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 and 818 (1X) of 4 December 1954,
the annual report and the special 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 Advisory Commission of the Agency,
the budgets for relief and rehabilitation prepared by the Director of the Agency,
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 for reintegration of refugees endorsed in paragraph 2 of resolution 513 (VI) and that the situation of the refugees therefore continues to be a matter of grave concern,
the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to pursue its programmes for the relief and rehabilitation of refugees, bearing in mind the limitations imposed upon it by the extent of the contributions for the fiscal year;
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);
the Governments of the area, without prejudice to paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (III), to make a determined effort, in co-operation with the Director of the Agency, to seek and carry out projects capable of supporting substantial numbers of refugees;
"4. Notes with gratification
that the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan and the Agency have made substantial progress toward resolving the difficulties which impede the granting of rations to all qualified refugee children in Jordan;
the serious need of the other claimants for relief as described in the special report prepared by the Director pursuant to paragraph 6 of resolution 318 (1X), namely, the frontier villagers in Jordan, the non-refugee population of the Gaza strip, a number of the refugees in Egypt, and certain of the Bedouin;
to private organizations to give them increased assistance to the extent that local Governments cannot do so;
all Governments and individuals to support these private organizations with food, goods and services;
the Negotiating Committee for Extra-Budgetary Funds, after the receipt of the budgets from the Director of the Agency, to seek such funds as may be required by the Agency;
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. Expresses its thanks
to the Director and the staff of the Agency for their continued faithful efforts to carry out their mandate, and requests the Governments of the area to continue to facilitate the work of the Agency and to ensure the protection of its personnel and property;
the Director of the Agency to continue to submit the reports referred to in paragraph 21 of resolution 302(IV) as well as the annual budgets."
/ For developments on this question prior to January 1955, see
pp. 70 to 72.
/ A committee set up under the Israel-Egyptian Armistice Agreement to hear appeals against decisions of the Mixed Armistice Commission.
/ The Security Council continued its discussion of the question at six meetings in January 1956 and finally, on 19 January, unanimously adopted a resolution (S/3538) which, after noting that there had been interference by the Syrian authorities with Israel activities on the lake, affirmed that such interference in no way justified the Israel action; condemned the attack of 11 December as a flagrant violation of the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement, and called on both parties to co-operate with the Chief of Staff and to carry out the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement in good faith.