Question of Palestine home
Department of Public Information
31 December 1951
OFFICE OF PUBLIC INFORMATION
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK
N. THE PALESTINE QUESTION
1. Reports of the Chief of Staff of the
Truce Supervision Organization on the
Work of the Mixed Armistice
On 12 March 1951, the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization submitted three reports dealing, respectively, with the activities of the Special Committee provided for in the Egyptian-Israel General Armistice Agreement (S/2047), with decisions taken by the Jordan-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission (S/2048), and with the status of operations of the Mixed Armistice Commissions at that date (S/2049).
A cablegram of 12 June 1951 (S/2194) supplemented the first report; it stated that the Special Committee of the Egyptian-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission had decided that the Commission did not possess the right to request Egypt not to interfere with the passage of goods to Israel through the Suez Canal (see below).
The second report stated that the Jordan-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission had agreed, on 14 February 1951, to consider,
inter alia, that about 1,600 metres of the disputed stretch of Wadi Araba in the Negeb Sector, was to be a Jordan-controlled territory, whereas the remainder of the stretch should be considered to be in Israel territory, it being understood that those two decisions should not in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either party in the ultimate peace settlement between them.
In the third report, the Chief of Staff said that the Israel project for straightening and deepening the bed of the Jordan River at the southern end of Lake Huleh had led to complaints by Syria to the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission. Syria had contended that the carrying out of the project would remove a natural military obstacle, in contravention of the Armistice Agreement. Following a request by the Mixed Armistice Commission for an opinion, the Chief of Staff had submitted a memorandum which concluded that: (1) in draining Lake Huleh, the Israelis would not enjoy any military advantage not equally applicable to the Syrians; (2) neither party to the Armistice Agreement enjoyed rights of sovereignty within the demilitarized zone and, therefore, any laws, regulations or ordinances in force prior to the Armistice Agreement, affecting areas in the demilitarized zone, should be held in abeyance; (3) until such time as Israel and Syria reached agreement, the Palestine Land Development Company was not justified in continuing the work and should be instructed forthwith to cease all operations within the demilitarized zone.
Israel, however, had contended that the Chief of Staff had gone beyond the scope of the request which was, Israel stated, simply to express an opinion on whether or not the work being done by Israel was a contravention of the Armistice Agreement.
On 10 March, the Chairman of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission had requested the Israel delegation to ensure that instructions were issued for stopping Israel's work on Arab-owned lands in the demilitarized zone until action had been taken by the Commission. The request of the Chairman, it was stated, had been ignored by the Israel authorities (see below).
On 3 November 1951, the Chief of Staff reported (S/2388) on the decisions made by the Egyptian-Israel, Jordan-Israel and Lebanese-Israel Mixed Armistice Commissions during the period
17 February to 31 October 1951.
On 30 May, the Egyptian-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission took, by majority vote, various decisions on the repatriation of Arabs who had been expelled from the demilitarized zone and on the interpretation of the provision of the Armistice Agreement relating to the division of the area into two zones. Israel and Egypt both appealed against those decisions to the Special Committee provided for in the Agreement. At meetings held on 23 September and 3 October, the Commission considered incidents in the Gaza strip area, along the demarcation line and the Egyptian international border.
On 8 and 15 March and 19 and 26 April 1951, the Jordan-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission took some unanimous decisions designed to improve existing arrangements along the armistice demarcation line between Jordan and Israel.
During the period under review, the Lebanese-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission had not had to take any major decision as only minor incidents had occurred along the demarcation line.
2. Consideration by the Security Council
of the Israel-Syrian Dispute over the
Drainage of the Huleh Marshes and
of Related Alleged Violations of
the Armistice Agreements
a. COMPLAINTS BY SYRIA AND ISRAEL
In a series of communications (S/2061, S/2065 and S/2074), dated 29 March, and 2 and 6 April 1951, Syria complained to the Security Council that Israel had violated its obligations under the Israel-Syrian General Armistice Agreement of 20 July 1949.
/ The violations, Syria charged, consisted mainly of:
(1) draining and deepening of the bed of the Jordan River between Lake Huleh and Lake Tiberias; (2) military occupation of the demilitarized zone by Israel forces; (3) firing on Syrian military outposts; (4) forcible evacuation of indigenous Arab inhabitants of the demilitarized zone and the demolishing of their villages; and
(5) bombing of El Hamma and of Syrian military outposts.
Israel, on the other hand, complained (S/2072) to the Security Council that Syria had violated its obligations under the General Armistice Agreement. The violations, it was stated, had reached their climax on 4 April 1951, when Syrian forces had penetrated the El Hamma district, situated within the demilitarized zone, and had attacked an Israel police patrol, killing seven and seriously wounding three others. Israel stated that, although the drainage work of the Huleh marshes had proceeded unhampered since October 1950 and with the knowledge of Syria and of the United Nations, attempts had subsequently been made by the Syrians to bring the work to a standstill by firing upon civilian workers within the demilitarized zone.
b. REPORT BY THE ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE TRUCE SUPERVISION ORGANIZATION
Meanwhile, in cabled reports (S/2067 and S/2084), the Acting Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine informed the Security Council that:
(1) He had requested the stoppage by the Israelis of work on the eastern bank of the Jordan River and the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission had met with a view to finding a solution to the dispute. In the course of the Commission's meetings, the Chairman had suggested that the Israelis should cease all work in connexion with the Huleh project until he had completed his investigation of the dispute, but the Israelis had refused to do so, contending that the Chairman was not competent to make such a request. The Israel delegation to the Commission had stated it was unwilling to continue taking part in the Commission's meetings if there were to be further discussion of the stoppage of work.
(2) On 4 April, news of fighting in El Hamma had reached the Commission. It became known later that, as a result of the incident, seven Israel policemen had been killed.
(3) Subsequently, Israel had informed the Acting Chief of Staff that the Israelis found themselves unable to attend further meetings under the chairmanship of Colonel Georges Bossavy, then Chairman of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission. Israel had charged that Syrian forces had killed the seven policemen. The next day, following Syrian complaints, United Nations observers had found evidence of aerial bombing and strafing of Syrian territory.
(4) On 6 April, three United Nations observers had been surrounded by a group of armed Israelis, near Mishmar Hay Yarden, and threatened with death. They had been told that the next time they were found there they would be shot.
(5) On 7 April, following complaints by Israel United Nations observers had confirmed that there had been no Syrian troops in the demilitarized zone of El Hamma.
(6) Some Arab civilians, inhabiting the demilitarized zone, had been evacuated from their villages and there had been evidence of damage to those villages caused by explosion.
(7) Israel and Syria had agreed on the following four points suggested by the Acting Chief of Staff: (a) all military and para-military forces to be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone; (b) fire not to be opened in any circumstances across demarcation lines or in the demilitarized zone; (c) United Nations observers to be given all facilities to carry out their assigned tasks, and (d) the authority of the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission in the demilitarized zone to be confirmed in accordance with the Israel-Syrian General Armistice Agreement.
c. RESOLUTION OF 8 MAY
The Security Council considered the question at its 541st, 542nd and 544th to 547th meetings held on 17 and 25 April, and on 2, 8, 16 and 18 May 1951.
At the 541st meeting of the Council on 17 April, the representative of Syria declared that the conflict stemmed from the fact that Arab landowners inhabiting the demilitarized zone were protecting their lands against expropriation by Israel. He denied Israel's claim to sovereignty over the demilitarized zone and that Syrian military or para-military forces had ever entered that zone. His Government was opposed to the drainage work for the following reasons:
(1) Israel would eventually enjoy a military advantage.
(2) The project would add new refugees to those already overloading Syria.
(3) Syria would be obliged to establish new military outposts in the drained area.
(4) Deepening of the bed of the Jordan River would render impossible the irrigation of Arab lands watered by the river.
(5) Syria, as a signatory to the Armistice Agreement, could not permit such a great enterprise to be effected in the demilitarized zone without being consulted.
(6) Since most of the area in the demilitarized zone had been under Syrian occupation, Syria would certainly insist in the future that the area be returned to it, and could not therefore allow a foreign company to start a project on that territory without its consent.
The representative of Israel rejected the Syrian charges and asserted Israel's sovereignty over the demilitarized zone. He expressed Israel's regret that it had found it necessary to take the aerial action of 5 April, following the killing of seven Israel policemen. The decision had been taken only under extreme provocation and because of the feeling that there was need for energetic self-defence. In draining the Huleh swamps, both within and outside the demilitarized zone, Israel, he stated, was well founded in international law; the drainage was not a violation of the military advantage clause of the Armistice Agreement, did not depend on the agreement of Syria, and was not an operation which could be legitimately suspended under the terms of the Armistice Agreement.
The Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization, invited by the Council to express his views, stated that the underlying issue of the dispute concerned the extent to which either party was or was not free to undertake civilian activities in the demilitarized zone. The question of territorial sovereignty in that zone was not covered by the Armistice Agreement and would, therefore, have to rest in abeyance while the Agreement was in effect, unless the parties mutually agreed to the contrary. Neither Israel nor Syria, he considered, could validly claim to have a free hand in the demilitarized zone over civilian activity. He thought that the dispute could have been avoided had there been more restraint and less determination to take unilateral decisions regarding administrative authority and civilian activity in the demilitarized zone. The machinery provided by the Armistice Agreement was, in his view, adequate to deal with the matter, had it been properly used.
At the 544th meeting of the Council on 2 May, the Chief of Staff answered questions by the representatives of Ecuador, France, Israel, the Netherlands, Syria, the United Kingdom and the United States concerning, principally, civilian control in the demilitarized zone and the Huleh project.
Also at the 544th meeting, the representative of Israel stated that there had been an attack by Syrian irregulars on Tel el Mutilla, within Israel territory, and asked the Council to order the prompt withdrawal of the aggressive forces.
Later reports dated 3, 4 and 6 May 1951 (S/2118, S/2120, S/2123 and S/2124) from the Acting Chief of Staff covered the work of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission, the alleged provocations by both parties, the negotiations between the Acting Chief of Staff and the two Governments concerned, and various investigations made by United Nations observer's into incidents both within and outside the demilitarized zone. Those reports stated that United Nations observers had found that armed Arabs, in civilian clothes, had occupied Israel-controlled territory at Tel el Mutilla and that fighting between civilian Arabs and Israelis had taken place in the Shamalneh sector, in the demilitarized zone. Observers in the Shamalneh area, it was stated, had seen no evidence of Syrian intervention and observers in Israel-occupied territory who had arrived where shells were alleged to have fallen had seen no sign of the impact of shells. It was reported that Israelis had occupied all positions held by the Arabs in the Shamalneh area, including one position in the demilitarized zone. Both parties, however, had agreed to observe a cease-fire.
In a letter dated 4 May (S/2125), the representative of Syria charged that on 2 May Israel forces had driven some cattle belonging to the Shamalneh Arabs into Israel territory after an exchange of heavy fire with the Arab villagers. The next day a new attack, supported by heavy artillery and mortars, had been launched against the Shamalneh Arabs. Syrian forces, it was stated, had neither taken part in nor answered the provocative and hostile acts of Israel.
At the 545th meeting on 8 May, the representatives of France, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States submitted a joint draft resolution (S/2130) calling upon the parties in the area to cease fighting.
The sponsors emphasized that what was important was to put an end to the fighting, which, they stated, was contrary to the Armistice Agreement and to the principles of the United Nations and was endangering the peace of the area. The information available was too conflicting to attempt an assessment of details; once the fighting had stopped the matter could be properly investigated.
The representatives of Brazil and the Netherlands strongly supported the joint draft. They stated that the continuance of current border clashes in the area would tend, through their natural development and the exacerbation of national feelings, to impair and jeopardize the chances of an equitable and fair solution of the problem. An effective cease-fire should be reached immediately.
The representative of Israel declared that Syrian armed forces had established themselves in Shamalneh, at the southern triangle of the demilitarized zone. Those forces had assaulted strategic heights in Israel territory, and had inflicted and suffered considerable casualties. That constituted aggression and was a flagrant violation of the Armistice Agreement. He argued that the reports of the Acting Chief of Staff were disjointed and merely recited the complaints without investigating or sifting the facts. Israel agreed with the central theme of the joint draft, and urged the observation by all parties of the exact terms of the Armistice Agreement. It must, however, reserve the rights to try to secure, not merely a cease-fire, but also a determination and condemnation of Syrian aggression.
The representative of Syria denied that his Government had any desire, at the present time, to occupy any part of the demilitarized zone; the destiny of that area was to be settled eventually in a peace treaty. He also denied that Syrian soldiers had actually invaded Israel territory or inflicted casualties on the Israelis.
He listed the following Syrian demands:
(1) Stoppage of work on the drainage project pending an understanding between the signatories of the Armistice Agreement and the free consent of the owners of the land; (2) immediate return of the Arab inhabitants to their homes; (3) payment of adequate indemnity to them by Israel; (4) withdrawal of all military or para-military forces from the zone, together with policemen not locally recruited; (5) restriction of the policing of the villages in the zone to locally recruited policemen; and (6) confirmation by the Security Council, as well as by the parties, of the powers of the Chief of Staff and the Mixed Armistice Commission in accordance with the Armistice Agreement.
If the Security Council did not take a firm stand in stopping the aggressive moves of Israel, he said, Syria would feel bound to resort to whatever means were at its disposal.
In the course of the meeting, both Israel and Syria submitted amendments (S/2315 and S/2137) to the joint draft.
The Israel amendment (S/2135) requested the withdrawal of all military and para-military forces which had penetrated into the demilitarized zone. The Syrian amendment (S/2137) likewise requested the withdrawal of all military and paramilitary forces from the demilitarized zone and in addition, requested the safe return of all civilian inhabitants to their villages within the demilitarized zone. After a brief recess, the President announced that both Governments had withdrawn their amendments.
The joint draft was adopted by 10 votes to none, with 1 abstention (USSR), by the Council at its 545th meeting on 8 May.
The USSR representative explained that he had abstained from voting on the joint draft because it referred to previous Council resolutions on which he had also abstained.
The resolution adopted (S/2130) read:
"The Security Council,
"1. Recalling its resolutions of 15 July 1948 ( S/902),
11 August 1949 (S/136), 17 November 1950 (S/1907 and Corr.1),
"2. Noting with concern that fighting has broken out in and around the demilitarized zone established by the Syrian-lsrael General Armistice Agreement of 20 July 1949 and that fighting is continuing despite the cease-fire order of the Acting Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization issued on
4 May 1951,
"3. Calls upon the parties or persons in the areas concerned to cease fighting and brings to the attention of the parties their obligations under Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Charter of the United Nations and the Security Council's resolution of 15 July 1948 and their commitments under the General Armistice Agreement, and accordingly calls upon them to comply with these obligations and commitments.
d. RESOLUTION OF 18 MAY
In a cablegram of 7 May (S/2126), Israel complained to the Security Council that regular detachments of the Syrian army had taken part in aggression against Israel territory.
The next day, the Acting Chief of Staff cabled (S/2127) that United Nations observers had visited positions taken by the Israelis at Tel el Mutilla on 6 May and had reported that they had seen a number of arms and large quantities of ammunition for automatic weapons. Two tags from empty boxes had Arabic inscriptions denoting two different units of the Syrian army. The observers also reported that, as of 7 May, the whole area had been quiet and that no incidents had been reported.
At the 546th meeting of the Security Council on 16 May, the representatives of France, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States submitted a joint draft resolution (S/2152/Rev.1 for text, see below) on the question.
They emphasized that the draft not only dealt with the settlement of past incidents but also was intended to ensure the most effective possible operation of the truce machinery and of the armistice regime. They expressed concern at the aerial bombing of El Hamma
/ and the disregard for the authority and orders of United Nations observers. They hoped that no new violence would take place owing either to acts of war or to the deportation of the civilian population from the demilitarized zone.
The joint draft, the sponsors said, was intended to clarify the responsibilities and duties of the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission who, they stated, was responsible under the Agreement for general supervision of the administration of the demilitarized zone. The question of sovereignty over this zone must be left open for a final territorial settlement. Meanwhile it had a special status under the Armistice Agreement; military activity was totally excluded and normal civilian life was gradually to be restored under the supervision of the Chairman of the Commission.
Representatives of Brazil, Ecuador, India and the Netherlands supported the joint draft, which, they considered, maintained the authority of the United Nations. It was essential that that authority should be confirmed not only in the Middle East but everywhere, because, if it were undermined, the danger of world war would be increased. The Security Council was fully justified in appealing to the parties to submit their case to the appropriate body. It was imperative that the Mixed Armistice Commission be provided with effective means for accomplishing its duties, and that full guarantees be assured to the Commission's officials when they exercised their functions in the area of dispute.
The representative of Israel criticized the joint draft. Its principal recommendation was that Israel should cease the drainage operations which had been in progress since October 1950, but, he said, there was nothing in the Armistice Agreement to limit or forbid such a project. The functions of the Chairman of the Commission derived from the Armistice Agreement, but this would cease to be an agreement between the parties under a resolution ascribing to the Chairman, in a matter not even covered by the Agreement, the power of arbitrary direction over the very Governments which had defined his functions. Moreover, the joint draft conferred a veto power on the very interests which were implacably opposed to the drainage project, for it was clear that neither Syria nor the landowners would ever agree to it. He also objected to the paragraph providing for the repatriation of Arab civilians inhabiting the demilitarized zone. That, he felt, was in complete conflict with the Armistice Agreement, which laid down procedures whereby all complaints, including the current one, should be investigated and judged by the Commission.
The representative of Syria said that the conflict did not derive only from the dispute over the seven acres, for the results of the drainage would be dangerous to the interests of Syria. The effectiveness of the buffer zone between Syria and Israel would be weakened, and a conflict between the two belligerents might easily occur. Syria, he declared, had not only accepted the cease-fire resolution but had also condemned the fighting from the very beginning. The Syrian army had never participated in the conflict; it was Israel, he stated, which wished to create provocations in order to influence the Security Council. Syria had never contested the interpretation of the Armistice Agreement by the Commission, whereas the Israelis, on many occasions, had insisted on their own understanding of the articles of the Agreement. Although the joint draft contained many points unfavourable to Syria, he would accept it.
In response to a question by the representative of the Netherlands, the sponsors of the joint draft resolution explained that it was not its purpose to suspend indefinitely the drainage operations in the demilitarized zone, but to enable the Chief of Staff to use his good offices in an effort to bring about a negotiated settlement between the owners of the affected lands and the Palestine Land Development Company. If, however, a settlement proved impossible, then the procedures and the machinery provided by the Armistice Agreement should be used, in order to make a final settlement possible.
The Security Council, at its 547th meeting on 18 May, adopted the joint draft resolution, by 10 votes to none, with 1 abstention (USSR). The resolution
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its past resolutions of 15 July 1948 (S/902), 11 August 1949 (S/1376), 17 November 1950 (S/1907 and Corr.1) and 8 May 1951 (S/2130) relating to the General Armistice Agreements between Israel and the neighbouring Arab States and to the provisions contained therein concerning methods for maintaining the armistice and resolving disputes through the Mixed Armistice Commissions participated in by the parties to the General Armistice Agreements;
"Noting the complaints of Syria and Israel to the Security Council, statements in the Council of the representatives of Syria and Israel, the reports to the Secretary-General of the United Nations by the Chief of Staff and the Acting Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization for Palestine and statements before the Council by the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization for Palestine;
"Noting that the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization in a memorandum of 7 March 1951 (S/2049, Section IV, paragraph 3), and the Chairman of the Syrian-lsrael Mixed Armistice Commission on a number of occasions have requested the Israel delegation to the Mixed Armistice Commission to ensure that the Palestine Land Development Company, Limited, is instructed to cease all operations in the demilitarized zone until such time as an agreement is arranged through the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission for continuing this project;
"Noting further that article V of the General Armistice Agreement gives to the Chairman the responsibility for the general supervision of the demilitarized zone;
"Endorses the requests of the Chief of Staff and the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission on this matter and calls upon the Government of Israel to comply with them;
"Declares that in order to promote the return of permanent peace in Palestine, it is essential that the Governments of Israel and Syria observe faithfully the General Armistice Agreement of 20 July 1949;
"Notes that under article VII, paragraph 8, of the Armistice Agreement, where interpretation of the meaning of a particular provision of the agreement, other than the preamble and articles I and 11, is at issue, the Mixed Armistice Commission's interpretation shall prevail;
"Calls upon the Governments of Israel and Syria to bring before the Mixed Armistice Commission or its Chairman, whichever has the pertinent responsibility under the Armistice Agreement, their complaints and to abide by the decisions resulting therefrom;
Considers that it is inconsistent with the objectives and intent of the Armistice Agreement to refuse to participate in meetings of the Mixed Armistice Commission or to fail to respect requests of the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission as they relate to his obligations under article V and calls upon the parties to be represented at all meetings called by the Chairman of the Commission and to respect such requests;
"Calls upon the parties to give effect to the following excerpt cited by the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization at the 542nd meeting of the Security Council on 25 April 1951, as being from the summary record of the Syria-lsrael Armistice Conference of 3 July 1949, which was agreed to by the parties as an authoritative comment on article V of the Syrian-Israel Armistice Agreement,
"'The questions of civil administration in villages and settlements in the demilitarized zone is provided for, within the framework of an Armistice Agreement, in sub-paragraphs 5(b) and 5(f) of the draft article. Such civil administration, including policing, will be on a local basis, without raising general questions of administration, jurisdiction, citizenship, and sovereignty.
"'Where Israel civilians return to or remain in an Israel village or settlement, the civil administration and policing of the village or settlement will be by Israelis. Similarly, where Arab civilians return
to or remain in an Arab village, a local Arab administration and police unit will be authorized.
"'As civilian life is gradually restored, administration will take shape on a local basis under the general supervision of the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission.
"'The Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission, in consultation and co-operation with the local communities, will be in a position to authorize all necessary arrangements for the restoration and protection of civilian life. He will not assume responsibility for direct administration of the zone.'
"Recalls to the Governments of Syria and Israel their obligations under Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Charter of the United Nations and their commitments under the Armistice Agreement nor to resort to military force and finds that:
"(a) Aerial action taken by the forces of the Government of Israel on 5 April 1951, and
"(b) Any aggressive military action by either of the parties in or around the demilitarized zone, which further investigation by the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization into the reports and complaints recently submitted to the Council may establish,
"Constitute a violation of the cease-fire provision provided in the Security Council resolution of 15 July 1948 and are inconsistent with the terms of the Armistice Agreement and the obligations assumed under the Charter;
"Noting the complaint with regard to the evacuation of Arab residents from the demilitarized zone;
"(a) Decides that Arab civilians who have been removed from the demilitarized zone by the Government of Israel should be permitted to return forthwith to their homes and that the Mixed Armistice Commission should supervise their return and rehabilitation in manner to be determined by the Commission; and
"(b) Holds that no action involving the transfer of persons across international frontiers, armistice lines or within the demilitarized zone should be undertaken without prior decision of the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission;
"Noting with concern the refusal on a number of occasions to permit observers and officials of the Truce Supervision Organization to enter localities and areas which were subjects of complaints in order to perform their legitimate functions, considers that the parties should permit such entry at all times whenever this is required, to enable the Truce Supervision Organization to fulfil its functions, and should render every facility which may be requested by the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission for this purpose;
"Reminds the parties of their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations to settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such manner that international peace and security are not endangered, and expresses its concern at the failure of the Governments of Israel and Syria to achieve progress pursuant to their commitments under the Armistice Agreement to promote the return to permanent peace in Palestine;
"Directs the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization to take the necessary steps to give effect to this resolution for the purpose of restoring peace in the area, and authorizes him to take such measures to restore peace in the area and to make such representations to the Governments of Israel and Syria as he may deem necessary;
"Calls upon the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization to report to the Security Council on compliance given to the present resolution;
"Requests the Secretary-General to furnish such additional personnel and assistance as the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization may request in carrying out the present resolution and the Council's resolutions of
8 May 1951 and 17 November 1950."
e. COMMUNICATIONS RECEIVED BY THE SECURITY COUNCIL SUBSEQUENT TO THE
RESOLUTION OF 18 MAY
Subsequent to the resolution of 18 May, the Security Council received communications from Syria, from the Chief of Staff, from Israel and from Jordan concerning the questions which had previously been brought before it. The Council did not discuss those communications during 1951.
(1) Communications from Syria
The communications from the Syrian representative to the United Nations, dated 21, 24 and 28 May and 11 and 12 June (S/2161, S/2168, S/2172, S/2191 and S/2193), protested against the decision of the Chief of Staff to authorize the Palestine Land Development Company to resume its work on non-Arab lands in the demilitarized zone and the non-implementation by Israel of the Council's decision concerning the return of Arab civilians to that zone.
(2) Reports of the Chief of Staff on the
Implementation of the Council's
Resolution of 18 May
In connexion with negotiations concerning the resumption of the drainage work, the Chief of Staff reported (S/2213 and Add.1) on 26 June that the Arab landowners had rejected any proposal to rent, sell or exchange any of their lands. He considered that, in view of the adamant stand of both parties, a dangerous situation might develop if the Palestine Land Development Company should decide to resume work on Arab-owned lands in the demilitarized zone before agreement was reached. The Council's decision of 18 May 1951 concerning the withdrawal of Israel police units had not, he reported, been implemented; these units continued to exercise general control over the demilitarized zone. On 8 July he reported (S/2234) that the Chairman of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission had interviewed 632 civilians, of 785 evacuated from the zone, and that approximately 260 persons had elected to return to the demilitarized zone.
(3) Fourth Interim Report of the Chief of Staff
In his fourth interim report (S/2300) of 16 August 1951, the Chief of Staff informed the Security Council of the following main points:
(a) The Palestine Land Development Company was planning to extend the scope of its present activities in the demilitarized zone. This involved the placing of survey crews and workmen on the east bank of the Jordan River (within the boundaries of the demilitarized zone) incidental to the construction of a temporary dam across the river, the result of which would be to stop completely the flow of the Jordan River for four or five days a week over an indefinite period. This would, in turn, apparently interrupt the flow of water into the series of canals used by Syrian and other Arab landowners for the irrigation of their crops in the area east of the River which is in Syrian territory. Israel representatives claimed, however, that the periodic flow of water on certain days of the week would be ample for the needs of these landowners. In a letter of 7 August to the Foreign Minister of Israel, the Chief of Staff had stated that such an extension of the work of the Palestine Land Development Company would greatly aggravate an already tense situation, and had urged that the Palestine Land Development Company be restrained from dispatching a survey team to the east bank of the Jordan River and from proceeding with the proposed emplacement of the dam over the Jordan.
(b) To date Israel continued to: (i) occupy Arab-owned Khouri farms, (ii) limit movements of the Arab civilians, (iii) impose restrictive measures on movements of United Nations observers within the demilitarized zone.
(c) With minor exceptions, there was no change in the situation of the Arab civilians who, during the disturbances of February and March 1951, had had to flee from their homes or had been removed from the demilitarized zone.
(d) The senior Israel delegate to the Mixed Armistice Commission had contended that Arab civilians in the demilitarized zone did not have the right of free passage to and from Syria for the purpose of trading with Syrians or to purchase the necessities of life.
(e) It had been impossible to secure agreement between Israel and Syria on an agenda which would enable the Mixed Armistice Commission to reconvene and discuss outstanding problems and complaints. The Syrian senior delegate insisted that Syrian complaints on items other than military should be discussed by the Commission, while the Israel delegation contended that those complaints were matters that came within the competence of the Chairman of the Commission, but not of the Commission itself. The result was that, since February, the Commission had not considered some 80 complaints which had been submitted to it.
(f) In a communication of 4 August to the Chief of Staff, the permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations had expressed concern at the non-functioning of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission, and in particular that no action had so far been taken by the Commission on Israel's complaint (S/2126) of 7 May 1951 regarding the invasion of Israel territory by Syrian forces at Tel el Mutilla (see above).
(4) Communication from Israel Concerning
Exchange of Letters with the Chief of Staff
In the light of the Chief of Staff's interim report, the permanent Israel representative to the United Nations, in a letter (S/2309) dated 22 August, brought to the Council's attention the exchange of letters, dated 4 and 8 August, between himself and the Chief of Staff. It was clear from that correspondence, he stated, that his Government and the Chief of Staff were trying to settle the outstanding problems in the demilitarized zone. These problems included, among others, the question of the police arrangements in the demilitarized zone, the organization of civilian life in the area, and the completion of the drainage project. In view of the statements made by representatives supporting the Council's resolution of 18 May 1951 (see above), the representative of Israel maintained, a primary obligation of the United Nations representatives in the area was to ensure the speedy removal of all obstacles obstructing the completion of the Huleh project. Israel, he said, would give its full support to the Chief of Staff's effort to "permit the Mixed Armistice Commission to reconvene in the very near future in order to discuss and settle all outstanding problems and complaints."
(5) Complaint by Jordan of Israel Interference
with the Flow of the River Jordan
On 7 June 1951 the Foreign Minister of Jordan cabled (S/2236) the Secretary-General of the United Nations, complaining that Israel was interfering with the natural flow of the waters of the River Jordan. A report of the Jordanian Director of Lands and Surveys, with a map illustrating the salinity of the River Jordan, was also transmitted. According to these documents, the quantity of water held by the Israelis had considerably lowered the normal level of the River Jordan, caused a catastrophic increase in the salinity of the River Jordan and had made irrigation no longer possible between Jisr Shekh Husein and the Dead Sea, thus affecting gravely the economy of the Jordan.
On 6 July, Jordan requested (S/2236) the Secretary-General to make the documents available to the representatives at the United Nations. On 22 October it asked him (S/2386) to bring the matters to the attention of the Security Council.
The Council did not discuss the matter during 1951.
(6) Further Communications by Israel and the
Chief of Staff Concerning the
Tel el Mutilla Incident
On 25 August 1951, Israel requested (S/2312) that its complaint of 7 May (S/2126) against Syria
/ concerning an attack by Syrian irregulars against Tel el Mutilla in Israeli territory should be re-examined, with a view to fixing the guilt of the Syrian Government. Israel stated that incriminating facts had been officially confirmed by the Syrian Government: Number 31 of the Official Gazette of the Syrian Republic, published in Damascus on
19 July, contained two announcements of decorations awarded to members of the Syrian army who participated in war operations in the region of Tel el Mutilla, Telabizeid and Telemutallaka.
The Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization submitted on 23 September 1951 a report (S/2359) on the fighting in the Tel el Mutilla area at the beginning of May 1951. He said that after his return from New York to the Middle East, he had studied the information available and interrogated the United Nations observers on the evidence they had collected; he had felt unable to submit conclusions to the Security Council until the Mixed Armistice Commission had discussed the complaints of the parties. The publication, however, in the Syrian Official Gazette of two orders (Numbers 1020 and 1021) of the National Ministry of Defense granting medals to soldiers who had participated in "war operations" threw new light on the events. The allegation that personnel of the Syrian army participated in this fighting in his opinion, could now be considered as having been proved.
On 25 September, the Chief of Staff forwarded, for communication to the members of the Security Council, a letter (S/2360) from the Syrian Minister of National Defence which he had received on
23 September. This document emphatically denied all participation of the Syrian army in the incidents which had occurred recently in the demilitarized zone, including the Tel el Mutilla affair, and claimed that the reports of the United Nations observers should be considered as the only official evidence, and that no Official Gazette or any other Syrian document could in any way constitute evidence against Syria.
An Israel communication of 19 October (S/2397) stated that the Chief of Staff's conclusion constituted a retroactive finding by the Security Council that the Syrian military action was a violation of Syria's obligations under the Security Council resolution of 15 July 1948,
/ under the Armistice Agreement, and under the United Nations Charter. The finding of the Chief of Staff made clear, it was stated, that the root cause of the political and military tensions in the Huleh area was a deliberate aggressive design by Syria to secure possession and control of territory outside its own international boundaries. Despite the evidence from its own Official Gazette, the Syrian Government, in its letter to the Chief of Staff, had presumed to deny that "a single shot from an individual or collective weapon" was fired by its forces.
(7) Chief of Staff's Progress Report of 6 November
In a report (S/2389) dated 6 November 1951 the Chief of Staff stated that after his return to the Middle East he had visited Tel Aviv and Damascus, and had had conversations with representatives of the two Governments with a view to hastening the solution of outstanding problems and to securing an agreement for the immediate resumption of the meetings of the Mixed Armistice Commission. Such a resumption had so far proved impossible. Syria maintained that, prior to the resumption of the meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission, Israel should comply fully with the Security Council resolution of
18 May concerning the demilitarized zone; that is, operation of the Palestine Land Development Company should cease, Arab civilians should be allowed to return, Israel police and troops should be withdrawn, and Arab civilians should be compensated for damages suffered.
On the other hand, Israel asked that the Syrian authorities:
(1) acknowledge Syria's responsibilities in the Tel el Mutilla affair; (2) acknowledge that the Huleh reclamation project should not be barred by six and a half acres of Arab-owned lands; and (3) remove the road block barring access to El Hamma.
3. Complaint by Israel of Egyptian Restrictions on the
Passage of Ships through the Suez Canal
On 12 June 1951, the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization, in pursuance of the Security Council resolution of
17 November 1950,
/ submitted a report (S/2194) to the Council on the activities of the Special Committee provided for in the Egyptian-lsrael Armistice Agreement.
/ He stated his opinion that Egyptian interference with the passage of goods to Israel through the Suez Canal was an aggressive and hostile act; it was contrary to the spirit of the Armistice Agreement and jeopardized its effective functioning. He pointed out, however, that the interference was not being committed by the Egyptian armed forces and, therefore, was not specifically covered by the Armistice Agreement. For that reason, he had felt bound to vote with Egypt in the Special Committee that the Mixed Armistice Commission did not have the right to demand that the Egyptian Government should not interfere with the passage of goods to Israel through the Suez Canal. He considered, nevertheless, that either the Egyptian Government must relax the interference in the spirit of the Armistice Agreement, or that the question must be referred to some higher competent authority, such as the Security Council or the International Court of Justice.
On 11 July, Israel requested (S/2241) urgent consideration by the Council of the item "Restrictions imposed by Egypt on the passage of ships through the Suez Canal." Israel stated that, in contravention of international law, of the Suez Canal Convention of 1888 and of the Egyptian-Israel Armistice Agreement, Egypt continued to detain, visit and search ships seeking to pass through the Suez Canal on the ground that their cargoes were destined for Israel. Israel brought the question before the Council as a matter jeopardizing the Armistice Agreement and endangering the peace and security of the Middle East. Quoting the opinion expressed by the Chief of Staff on 12 June 1951, Israel stated that, if the Security Council were to fail to act, the strength and equity of the armistice system and the authority of the United Nations officers charged with supervising the armistice would be injured.
The Council discussed the item at its 549th to 553rd, 555th, 556th and 558th meetings, on 26 July, 1, 16, 27, and 29 August and
1 September. The representatives of Israel, Egypt and Iraq were invited to participate in the discussions, without vote.
The representative of Israel described the Egyptian restrictions and said,
inter alia, that a long list of items, including ships, important categories of goods and, in particular, petroleum, were subject to seizure as contraband if found destined for Israel. Ships transporting such goods were detained for visit and search, and the goods were removed and liable to condemnation in a prize court. The Egyptian practice, it was stated, clearly constituted an act of war.
The Israel representative referred to the statement in the Security Council on 4 August 1949 by the Acting Mediator, that the Egyptian restrictions on shipping were inconsistent with both the letter and the spirit of the Armistice Agreements. He also referred to the adoption of the Council's resolution of 11 August 1949,
/ which requested the signatory Governments to observe the Armistice Agreements and reminded them that "these agreements include firm pledges against any further acts of hostility between the parties." That resolution had been considered as marking the end both of restrictions on the sale and purchase of arms and of restrictions on the free movement of shipping.
The Israel representative also recalled that, in its resolution of 17 November 1950,
/ the Council had reminded Egypt and Israel of their obligations under the Charter to settle their outstanding differences. He quoted the opinions expressed by the Chief of Staff, and stated that whatever technical decision had been reached by the Special Committee, the Security Council was obliged to take action to suppress acts of aggression.
The representative of Israel stated that in the course of the armed intervention, undertaken by the Arab States against Israel in May 1948 in defiance of Security Council resolutions, Egypt had sought to establish a general blockade against Israel and had begun to visit and search ships of all nationalities passing through the Suez Canal, thus violating the freedom of the seas and contravening the Suez Canal Convention of 1888, under which Egypt is bound to keep the Suez Canal "always... free and open in time of war as in time of peace" to all ships, without distinction of nationality.
Egypt had claimed that she was exercising a right of war. However, he stated, the Egyptian-Israel Armistice Agreement was a permanent and irrevocable renunciation of all hostile acts. The Acting Mediator's official interpretation in July 1949 that the Armistice Agreement "provides for a definitive end of fighting" and "incorporates what amounts to a non-aggression pact" had been reiterated by other United Nations representatives, by the Security Council's resolutions of 11 August 1949 and 17 November 1950 and by the Chief of Staff. Israel was not in a state of war with Egypt and denied that Egypt had the right to be at war with Israel. The representative of Israel said that the right of ships to traverse the high seas and international highways was a cornerstone of the law of nations. He drew attention to the economic damage caused by the blockade and emphasized that, if the Security Council acquiesced in its continuation, a fatal doubt would spread throughout the region concerning the impartial maintenance of the Armistice Agreement.
In reply, the representative of Egypt pointed out that on
12 June 1951, while the Chief of Staff was discharging his official duties, the Special Committee had reached a final decision that "the Mixed Armistice Commission does not have the right to demand from the Egyptian Government that it should not interfere with the passage of goods to Israel through the Suez Canal." The Armistice Agreement provided that such decisions by the Mixed Armistice Commission (both on questions of principle and on the interpretation of the Agreement) should be final, subject to appeal to the Special Committee. The obiter dicta, which had been quoted out of context by the representative of Israel, were not connected with the official duties of the Chief of Staff, and did not properly belong in the records of the Security Council.
The Egyptian representative maintained that the provisions of the Armistice Agreement concerning the taking of hostile action by armed forces were based on precedent and generally-accepted doctrines regarding armistices. He quoted various jurists to illustrate the distinction between a peace and an armistice, and pointed out that that distinction was clearly realized during the Council's debates. During an armistice, which was a mere cessation of hostilities, the right of visit and search over neutral merchantmen remained intact. Furthermore, the rights of the parties to an armistice agreement included the right of blockade, the right to capture neutral vessels attempting to break the blockade and the right to seize contraband of war. He gave relevant figures of visits and unloading, and argued that Egypt was exercising only a fraction of her rights under the armistice.
At the 550th meeting on 1 August, the Egyptian representative denied that Egypt had "detained" ships passing through the Suez Canal; Egyptian authorities had inspected some, but not all, ships passing through the Canal. The existence of a state of war in Palestine had been acknowledged by the Mediator in his interim report to the General Assembly in 1948 and in the Armistice Agreement, and, while it continued, Egypt had no choice other than to exercise her right of self-preservation, a right acknowledged by authorities on international law and safeguarded by Article 51 of the Charter.
The attitude of Israel was, he said, responsible for blocking the road to peace in the Middle East and for the Egyptian measures of which Israel complained. In particular, he alleged that Israel had not respected the armistice; that it had not carried out the resolutions of the United Nations with respect to the Palestine question; that it had not permitted the Palestinian Arab refugees to return to their homes or compensated them for their property; and that it had not paid the slightest attention or shown any respect for the resolutions of the United Nations on behalf of the basic human rights of those refugees. He cited examples to show that Israel had violated the Armistice Agreement and the General Assembly resolutions concerning the boundaries and internationalization of Jerusalem and the question of refugees. He also referred to the recent complaint concerning the waters of the Jordan, and accused Israel of systematic raids. The root of the trouble, he said, was the unlimited ambition of world Zionism, of which Israel was the spearhead. In the circumstances, it could not be expected that Egypt should allow the passage of war materials to Israel through its own territory.
As regards the allegation that Egypt had violated the Suez Canal Convention of 1888, the representative of Egypt read certain parts of an address delivered by the President of the Suez Canal Company at the meeting of the Company's General Assembly of Shareholders on 12 June 1951. The address, the Egyptian representative said, showed, among other things that:
(1) during 1950 and the five months following it, the Company's business had flourished, even more than in the previous corresponding period; (2) revenues had increased; (3) the reserve had been added to; (4) owing to extra profits, some refunds had been made to the shippers who dealt with the Company; (5) new projects had been carried out and others had been initiated; (6) the relations and co-operation between the Company and the Egyptian Government were at their best; and (7) any professed sorrow for the fate of the Company and of the Canal was entirely uncalled for.
In the whole address there was no mention, he said, of any violation of the Suez Canal Convention, of any hindrance to the traffic in the Canal or of any infringement of navigation in the Canal.
The representative of Egypt argued that the complaint of Israel was not receivable, since the powers and duties of the Security Council were limited and should be strictly regulated by the fundamental principles and purposes laid down in the Charter, which required that the adjustment or settlement of international disputes should be "in conformity with the principles of justice and international law".
In reply to the Egyptian legal arguments, the representative of Israel said that the questions before the Council could not be decided on the basis of the traditional pre-Charter law. The issue was whether, after the signature of the Charter and after the Egyptian-Israel Armistice Agreement had been in force for two and a half years, a Member State could ask the Security Council to respect its unilateral exercise of belligerent rights. Although he considered them irrelevant to the subject under discussion, he replied to charges made by the Egyptian representative, in particular, concerning violations of the Armistice Agreement, the Arab refugee problem, the question of the waters of the Jordan and the subject of immigration into Israel.
He maintained that, by allowing the Egyptian contention of a state of war to stand, the Council would be inviting each party to exercise belligerent rights and to intercept and control the other's trade and shipping. The Acting Mediator and the Chief of Staff would be repudiated, the Rhodes agreement in its original sense would be set aside and two resolutions of the Security Council determining the irrevocable end of all hostile acts would be superseded. On the other hand, if the Council requested the immediate cessation of those acts, it would become a matter of international record that no hostile acts were legitimate within the framework of the Armistice Agreement and the armistice machinery could begin to function smoothly. By abandoning any such doctrine of war, Egypt and Israel could renew the armistice as a prelude to a larger peace.
On 15 August, the representatives of France, the United Kingdom and the United States submitted a joint draft resolution (S/2298) providing,
inter alia, that the Security Council: (1) find that the maintenance of interference by Egypt with the passage through the Suez Canal of goods destined for Israel was inconsistent with the objectives of a peaceful settlement between the parties and the establishment of a permanent peace in Palestine, set forth in the Armistice Agreement (2) find that this practice could not, in the prevailing circumstances, be justified on the grounds that it was necessary for self-defence; and (3) call upon Egypt to terminate the restrictions on the passage of international commercial shipping and goods through the Suez Canal, wherever bound, and to cease all interference with such shipping beyond that essential to the safety of shipping in the Canal itself and to the observance of the international conventions in force.
The joint draft was subsequently revised (S/2298/Rev.1) by omitting from the third paragraph of the preamble a reference to the view expressed by the Chief of Staff in his report of 12 June.
The sponsors of the joint draft considered that the armistice agreement system between Israel and Egypt must be upheld and strengthened until a permanent peace was reached. They felt that, in dropping the restrictions, Egypt could make a positive contribution to the relief of tension in the Near East. The sponsors could not agree with the representative of Egypt that full belligerent rights could reasonably be exercised between the cessation of hostilities and the final peace treaty. What mattered, however, was not whether the restrictions had some technical basis, but whether their maintenance was reasonable, just and equitable. That, they said, was the principle on which the joint draft resolution had been formulated. The Egyptian Government was not being asked to give up any of the rights it could legitimately claim in regard to the passage of ships through the Canal. The normal administration of the Canal must obviously continue, and proper precautions must be taken to safeguard it and the ships which passed through it. The sponsors pointed out that the restrictions on shipping through the Canal which applied to Egypt had been terminated by the Security Council's resolution of 11 August 1949 and there could be no justification for the attempt to maintain similar restrictions against Israel.
Furthermore, Egypt had been given ample opportunity to lift the restrictions. A number of maritime countries had made diplomatic representations to the Egyptian Government, and the proceedings of the Security Council had frequently been postponed to permit further efforts to achieve a satisfactory settlement which would obviate the need for Council action all to no avail. Now the time has come for the Council to make a decision. The principles of international law must be respected; the Suez Canal Convention of 1888 must be implemented; the armistice must be effectively observed; and the endless difficulties affecting other States as a result of the restrictions must be removed. Respect for international principles and for the legitimate interests of States, as required of Egypt by the draft resolution, could contribute to the peace and prosperity of all and, consequently, to the peace and prosperity of Egypt, they said.
The representatives of Brazil, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Turkey and Yugoslavia spoke in support of the joint draft. Since there were at that time no real hostilities between Israel and Egypt, and since it had been the purpose of the armistice to put an end to hostilities, the restrictions imposed by Egypt seemed to them to be incompatible with the armistice and its authorized interpretation, and with the purpose of the United Nations in endorsing it. The restrictions also appeared to prejudice, unjustifiably, the interests of other States. The Security Council, they argued, should not allow the thesis of the existence of a state of war to justify the resort to hostile acts by any of the parties to the Armistice Agreement. If the Council accepted the Egyptian thesis, it would be bound to recognize reprisals by Israel. Obviously, the resultant exchange of hostile acts could hardly lay the foundation of a definite solution to the Palestine question.
The representative of Brazil considered that the Suez question merely reflected the more important problem of effecting an understanding between Israel and the neighbouring Arab States. After the decision on this question had been reached, the Palestine Conciliation Commission should be urged to prevail upon the interested parties to cooperate fully with it to reach a settlement of the various question in dispute, and should suggest specific solutions to specific problems for consideration by the parties.
The representative of Ecuador said that freedom of transit through international waterways was a matter of concern to all countries. He would vote for the joint draft on the understanding that its provisions did not affect this principle.
The representative of the Netherlands believed that Egypt could not consider itself actively a belligerent more than two years after the signing of an armistice agreement and was not therefore justified in exercising the belligerent right of visit, search and seizure for any legitimate purpose of self-defence.
The representative of Turkey declared that a more conciliatory attitude on the question of shipping through the Suez Canal would not have prejudiced Egypt's general policy with regard to trade relations with Israel. Turkey would support the joint draft because of the importance of maintaining the delicate armistice system intact until the establishment of lasting peace and normal conditions.
The representative of Yugoslavia was convinced that an early general settlement in the Middle East was in the best interest of all parties concerned and was a vital component of the more general problem of relaxing world tensions. He supported the joint draft as aimed at promoting such a settlement.
The representative of Iraq considered that the legal arguments advanced by the representative of Egypt had not been refuted. The only arrangement between Egypt and Israel was an armistice agreement; the rights and privileges of a peace settlement could not be exercised when such a settlement did not exist. The representative of Israel had said that the restrictions imposed by Egypt had created unsettled conditions in the area. But it was Israel, he said; which was responsible for the diversion of the Arab States from economic and social reform to war alertness, and which had expelled one million persons from its country. Israel had also, he charged, committed constant frontier violations, and its leaders had declared aggressive and expansionist intentions.
He objected to various provisions of the joint draft resolution. For example, paragraph 5 stated that the armistice regime was of a permanent character, but, clearly, the armistice was not permanent since the belligerents had to conclude peace subsequently. This paragraph also stated that neither party could reasonably assert that it was actively a belligerent, but the parties were still technically belligerents, as the representative of Egypt had clearly explained. The joint draft, he stated, did not take the interests and rights of the Arabs into reasonable consideration. If the United Nations wished to introduce some settlement and order in the Middle East, they should ask Israel to comply with the existing resolutions, especially on the question of refugees.
The representatives of China and India said they would abstain from voting on the joint draft. The representative of China considered that it still remained to be proved that the measures adopted by Egypt were in violation of general international law, the Suez Canal Convention and the Armistice Agreement. Armistice was the first step to peace, but that did not mean the termination of a state of war. He felt that it was unreasonable to suppose that the neutralization of the Canal under the Suez Canal Convention cancelled every right of the territorial Power. It was generally admitted that the Armistice Agreements did not provide for the question, at issue. The measures complained of undoubtedly hindered the restoration of peace in the Near East, but the same might be said of measures affecting refugees. The representative of China considered that the time had come for the Security Council to stop dealing piecemeal with one dispute after another under the general heading of the Palestine question. The various pending questions concerning Palestine should be put together and a final, general, co-ordinated solution should be sought, aimed at achieving a general peace.
India, said its representative, had hoped that the Security Council would not formally take up the question under discussion. That question was a complicated one, involving considerations of national rights and obligations and of international law. It had been said that the problem was not whether there was a basis for the rights claimed by Egypt, but whether those rights should actually be exercised. But, if there was a basis for the rights, their exercise could not very well be described as hostile and aggressive. The representative of India considered that the Security Council was not the most appropriate body to adjudicate on questions involving complicated legal issues. The joint draft resolution sought to avoid the legal issues involved, but questions regarding the legal rights of the parties could not be brushed aside as mere technicalities. He did not consider that the joint draft would contribute usefully to the early restoration of peace and stability in the Middle East.
The representative of Egypt contended that France, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States were parties to the dispute and must, therefore, under Article 27, paragraph 3 of the Charter,
/ abstain from voting. He stated that by the middle of August 1951, the Netherlands had protested to the Egyptian Government no less than three times; Turkey at least once; the United Kingdom, at least ten times; the United States, twelve times; and France, 22 times. Most of those protests were lodged with Egypt even while the hostilities in Palestine were still taking place. In each of the protests, the position was unequivocally taken by the complaining country that it was a directly interested party which was disputing the right of Egypt to impose the restrictions. It was, therefore, distinctly evident that a dispute existed between Egypt and those countries. Accordingly, at the 555th meeting of the Security Council on 27 August, he submitted a draft resolution (S/2313) providing that the Security Council request the International Court of Justice to give its advisory opinion on the following question:
"In the light of the Charter of the United Nations, particularly paragraph 3 of Article 27, and in view of the debate in the Security Council, are France, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America obliged to abstain from voting on the question of the restrictions imposed by Egypt in relation to the passage through the Suez Canal of some war materials to Israel?"
At the same meeting, the representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the delegations of the five countries, said that the matter under discussion had been brought to the Security Council by Israel and the complaint was directed against Egypt; if there was a dispute, the parties to it were Israel and Egypt and not other States. The representative of Egypt had also maintained that the five States ought to abstain on general principles, since it was improper to act both as judge and as a party. There was no precise analogy, however, between the Security Council and a court of law, he said. The Council had the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and it was inevitable that, on many questions which came before it, a number of members would be concerned. The Egyptian argument would prevent the Council from taking a decision for the peaceful settlement of a dispute involving a universally-accepted principle, such as the freedom of the seas. The five Powers did not feel that their concern in removing' the restrictions was such as to prevent them from expressing a just and reasonable opinion. They had come to the conclusion that Article 27, paragraph 3, did not prevent them from voting on the joint proposal.
The representative of France said that in demanding the observance of the principle that there should at all times be freedom of transit through the Suez Canal for all ships, no State would be acting for itself alone; it would also be acting on behalf of all the others.
The representative of Egypt stated that as long as the five States maintained their position on the question of abstention under Article 27, paragraph 3, there would be no point in the Egyptian draft resolution being sponsored by a member of the Security Council, since it would not be approved by the requisite majority.
In a cable (S/2321) dated 31 August 1951, the Secretary-General of the Arab League transmitted, for the information of the Security Council, a resolution unanimously adopted by the Political Committee of the Arab League concerning the restrictions imposed on the passage of ships through the Suez Canal. The resolution stated: (1) that the question concerned not only Egypt, but all the Arab States; (2) that, in taking these steps, Egypt was simply putting into effect the decisions already taken by the Council of the Arab League for the protection of each of its members; and (3) that the League would continue the examination of this question and consider what steps should be taken in view of the developments in the Security Council.
At the Council's 558th meeting on 1 September, the joint draft resolution was adopted by a vote of 8 in favour, none against, and 3 abstentions (China, India and the USSR).
The representative of Israel expressed appreciation of the Council's rejection of the concept of one-sided belligerence, and said that Israel was ready to discuss all outstanding questions with Egypt.
The representative of France stated that Egypt had been given a full opportunity to reconsider its decisions. There was no question of presenting Egypt with an ultimatum, but the Council had been obliged to find a way out of the impasse, and hoped that Egypt's compliance with its request would lead to greater security and prosperity for Egypt and for all the States in the Near East
The representative of Egypt said that the representative of Israel had spoken of peace, but it was not peace when a million persons were expelled from their country and denied the most elementary human rights. No single suggestion for a solution had, he said, been made to Egypt; it had always been proposed that Egypt should surrender unconditionally. Even after the adoption of the resolution, the assumption on which the Israel claim was based had still to be proved in his previous statements he had fully reserved his Government's position.
The resolution adopted by the Council (S/2322) read:
"The Security Council
"1. Recalling that in its resolution of 11 August 1949, (S/1376) relating to the conclusion of Armistice Agreements between Israel and the neighbouring Arab States it drew attention to the pledges, in these Agreements against any further acts of hostility between the Parties;
"2. Recalling further that in its resolution of 17 November 1950 (S/1907) it reminded the States concerned that the Armistice Agreements to which they were parties contemplated the return of permanent peace in Palestine', and therefore urged them and the other States in the area to take all such steps as would lead to the settlement of the issues between them;
"3. Noting the report of the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization to the Security Council of 12 June 1951 (S/2194);
"4. Further noting that the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization recalled the statement of the senior Egyptian delegate in Rhodes on 13 January 1949, to the effect that his delegation was inspired with every spirit of co-operation, conciliation and a sincere desire to restore peace in Palestine,' and that the Egyptian Government has not complied with the earnest plea of the Chief of Staff made to the Egyptian delegate on 12 June 1951, that it desist from the present practice of interfering with the passage through the Suez Canal of goods destined for Israel;
"5. Considering that since the Armistice regime which has been in existence for nearly two and a half years, is of a permanent character, neither party can reasonably assert that it is actively a belligerent or requires to exercise the right of visit, search, and seizure for any legitimate purpose of self-defence;
"6. Finds that the maintenance of the practice mentioned in paragraph 4 above is inconsistent with the objectives of a peaceful settlement between the parties and the establishment of a permanent peace in Palestine set forth in the Armistice Agreement;
"7. Finds further that such practice is an abuse of the exercise of the right of visit, search and seizure;
"8. Further finds that that practice cannot in the prevailing circumstances be justified on the ground that it is necessary for self-defence;
"9. And further noting that the restrictions on the passage of goods through the Suez Canal to Israel ports are denying to nations at no time connected with the conflict in Palestine valuable supplies required for their economic reconstruction, and that these restrictions together with sanctions applied by Egypt to certain ships which have visited Israel ports represent unjustified interference with the rights of nations to navigate the seas and to trade freely with one another, including the Arab States and Israel;
"10. Calls upon Egypt to terminate the restrictions on the passage of international commercial shipping and goods through the Suez Canal wherever bound and to cease all interference with such shipping beyond that essential to the safety of shipping in the Canal itself and to the observance of international conventions in force."
4. Report of the United Nations
Conciliation Commission for Palestine
Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 194 (III)
/ of 11 December 1948, which called for periodic progress reports, the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine submitted a progress report (A/1985), covering its activities from 23 January to 19 November 1951.
a. PROGRESS REPORT OF THE COMMISSION
In this report, the Commission recalled that, following its return to the Middle East at the end of January 1951, it had remained at its headquarters in Jerusalem and maintained its contact with the Governments and authorities concerned, as well as with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and with the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization.
On 29 March 1951, the Commission was informed by Israel that, following the seizure by Iraq, of the Iraqi Jews property, it had decided that the value of Jewish property seized in Iraq would be taken into account in the settlement of the obligations assumed in respect of compensation for Arab property abandoned in Israel.
The Commission's main preoccupation had been the organization of the Refugee Office, which it had been instructed to establish by General Assembly resolution 394 (V)
/ of 14 December 1950. The setting up of this Office was completed on 22 May 1951 with the arrival in Jerusalem of its director, Holger Andersen.
At the end of July, the members of the Commission met in special session in Geneva and decided, on the basis of the Assembly's resolution, to invite the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and the Government of Israel to discuss with the Commission solutions to the problems outstanding between them. On 10 August the Governments concerned were invited to send their representatives to a conference to be held in Paris, beginning on 10 September 1951. In accepting this invitation, the Arab Governments reaffirmed their attitude on the refugee question and called for the implementation of the United Nations resolutions concerning the Palestine problem. On the other hand, the Government of Israel, in accepting the Commission's invitation, insisted once more on the need for direct negotiations with the Arab States, whether under the auspices of the Commission or not.
The Conference was held in Paris from 13 September to
19 November. The Chairman of the Commission had first explained to the parties the procedure that the Commission intended to follow, and its reasons for adopting that procedure. A comprehensive pattern of proposals was then presented by the Commission to the Arab delegations on 17 September and to the delegation of Israel on
It was suggested that a declaration of pacific intentions by the parties in the form of a preamble should precede discussion of the proposals. The text of the Commission's preamble and proposals read as follows:
"In accordance with the obligations of States Members of the United Nations and of signatories to Armistice Agreements, the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and the Government of Israel solemnly affirm their intention and undertake to settle all differences, present or future, solely by resort to pacific procedures,
refraining from any use of force or acts of hostility, with full respect for the right of each party to security and freedom from fear of attack, and by these means to promote the return of peace in Palestine.
"I. That an agreement be reached concerning war damages arising out of the hostilities of 1948, such an agreement to include, in the Commission's opinion, mutual cancellation of such claims by the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and the Government of Israel;
"2. That the Government of Israel agree to the repatriation of a specified number of Arab refugees in categories which can be integrated into the economy of the State of Israel and who wish to return and live in peace with their neighbours;
"3. That the Government of Israel accept the obligation to pay, as compensation for property abandoned by those refugees not repatriated, a global sum based upon the evaluation arrived at by the Commission's Refugee Office; that a payment plan, taking into consideration the Government of Israel's ability to pay, be set up by a special committee of economic and financial experts to be established by a United Nations trustee through whom payment of individual claims for compensation would be made;
"4. That the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and the Government of Israel agree upon the mutual release of all blocked bank accounts and to make them payable in pounds sterling;
"5. That the Government of Israel and the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria agree to consider, under United Nations auspices, and in the light of the experience gained during the past three years, the revision or amendment of the Armistice Agreements between them, especially with regard to the following questions:
"(a) Territorial adjustments, including demilitarized zones;
"(b) The creation of an international water authority to deal with the problems of the use of the Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers and their tributaries, as well as the waters of Lake Tiberias;
"(c) The disposition of the Gaza strip;
"(d) The creation of a free port at Haifa;
"(e) Border regulations between Israel and her neighbours with special attention to the need for free access to the Holy Places in the Jerusalem area, including Bethlehem;
"(f) Health, narcotics and contraband control along the demarcation lines;
"(g) Arrangements which will facilitate the economic development of the area: resumption of communications and economic relations between Israel and her neighbours."
The Arab delegations raised questions concerning the Commission's structure and mediatory functions as well as its terms of reference, maintaining that the Commission was exceeding its mandate in submitting proposals that would involve reopening discussions on points which had already been the subject of General Assembly decisions. The Commission had replied that it had acted according to the terms of reference which had been determined by resolution 194 (III) and subsequent resolutions.
At a meeting on 25 September, the four Arab delegations declared that they were unable to associate themselves with the text suggested by the Commission in its preamble, as they regarded the Armistice Agreements as constituting already valid, continuing non-aggression pacts, beyond which they considered it unnecessary to go.
On 21 September, the delegation of Israel informed the Commission that it was willing to subscribe to a declaration such as that indicated in the opening statement. Subsequently, it suggested that this affirmation by the parties of their specific intentions take the form of a non-aggression pact to supplement the Armistice Agreements.
The Israel formulation, the Commission pointed out, thus went beyond the preliminary statement which the Commission considered practicable, while the Arab formulation fell short of the Commission's intentions.
On 24 and 26 October, respectively, the Commission submitted to the Arab delegations and to the delegation of Israel detailed explanations of the five points constituting its comprehensive pattern of proposals. Both parties agreed to submit their comments on the Commission's proposals. Those comments were submitted on
14 November. On nearly all the points, the Commission stated, the positions of the two parties appeared completely opposed.
With regard to the question of war damages, for example, Israel maintained that the Arab States were the aggressors in the Palestine conflict and could not escape the moral and material responsibility for their belligerent acts. Israel did not therefore agree to the mutual cancellation of war damages. The Arab delegations asserted that the Mandatory Power, Jewish terrorists and the United Nations were responsible for the Palestine conflict and that therefore mutual cancellation of war damage claims between the Arab States and Israel would not contribute to a just and durable settlement of the Palestine question.
Concerning the repatriation of refugees, Israel stated that major considerations of security and of political and economic stability made the return of Arab refugees impossible. The Arab States maintained that there could be no limitations on the return of the refugees.
With regard to the question of compensation, Israel reaffirmed that it was ready to contribute to the settlement of the question of compensation for Arab property abandoned in Israel territory, bearing in mind the following factors:
(1) the property had been abandoned as a direct consequence of Arab aggression, (2) Israel's ability to pay was affected by hostile Arab economic measures against it, and (3) Jewish property had been abandoned in Arab Palestine and, chiefly, in Iraq. The Arab States took the following stand: (1) on the question of principle they stated that the United Nations shared with Israel responsibility for paying compensation to refugees; if Israel could not pay, the United Nations must assume the obligation; and (2) on the question of procedure they expressed the opinion that compensation should be evaluated on the basis of the actual value of the property.
In respect of blocked accounts, Israel said,
inter alia, that a settlement of the question must include the unfreezing of Jewish accounts blocked in Iraq. The Arab States accepted the proposal regarding the mutual release of blocked accounts and urged its prompt implementation.
Finally, Israel welcomed the Commission's move to enlarge the scope of the Armistice Agreements. Egypt had no objection in principle. Jordan had no comments to make. Lebanon stated that the revision of the Agreements should not go beyond their present framework. Syria stated that the proposal to revise them brought into focus the Palestine problem in its entirety. The proposal appeared to be prompted by a desire to ratify a
fait accompli and to secure final acceptance of a situation brought about by force and in defiance of United Nations decisions.
The Commission stated that, having been unsuccessful in persuading the parties to discuss the proposals in a fair and realistic spirit, it decided to terminate the Paris Conference and communicated that decision to the parties on 19 November.
In its conclusions, the Conciliation Commission stated that it had been unable to make substantial progress in the task given to it by the General Assembly, although it had employed all the procedures at its disposal under the relevant Assembly resolutions.
Both parties, it stated, had expressed their desire to co-operate with the United Nations towards the achievement of stability in Palestine, but neither side, the Commission believed, was ready to seek that aim through full implementation of the General Assembly resolutions. In particular, Israel was not prepared to implement the resolution of 11 December 1948, under which refugees wishing to return to their homes should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date. On the other hand, the Arab Governments were not prepared to implement paragraph 5 of the same resolution, which called for the final settlement of all questions outstanding between them and Israel.
The Commission considered that further efforts to settle the Palestine question could nevertheless be usefully based on the principles underlying the proposals it had submitted to the parties at the Paris Conference. If and when the parties were ready to accept those principles, general agreement or partial agreement could be sought through direct negotiations with United Nations assistance or mediation. Finally, the Commission suggested that consideration be given to the need for co-ordinating all United Nations efforts aimed at the promotion of stability, security and peace in Palestine.
b. CONSIDERATION BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
(1) Discussions in the Ad Hoc Political Committee
The report of the Conciliation Commission
/ was considered by the Assembly at its sixth session, at the 33rd to 41st meetings of the Ad Hoc Political Committee from 7-15 January 1952. The Chairman of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine and the representative of Jordan, the latter at his own request (A/AC.53/L.26), were invited to participate in the discussions.
The Commission's report was criticized by the representatives of Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, among others. They considered that the report did not place adequate emphasis on the plight of the refugees, the people most directly affected by the Palestine struggle. Instead of stressing the Assembly's resolutions, which repeatedly emphasized the right of the Palestine Arabs to repatriation to their homeland and the need for the restitution of their property, the Commission had put forward a proposal which was tantamount to a suggestion that Israel should be asked to take back only as many refugees as it was prepared to accept and it had not even specified the number to be thus repatriated. The proposal, they argued, was a clear violation of General Assembly resolution 194(III), was contrary to the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination and exceeded the Commission's terms of reference.
The representatives of the Arab States and, in particular, of Lebanon, stated that the truth about the tragic situation in the Palestine area had been distorted by Israel's propaganda. For four years, Israel had, in effect, ignored the series of decisions adopted by the General Assembly on the internationalization of Jerusalem, the territorial status of Palestine and the repatriation of the Arab refugees. Nearly a million refugees remained destitute and desperate and a prey to subversive propaganda. Israel had expanded its territory by conquest beyond that granted it by the United Nations, and its masses of immigrants threatened to overflow into the neighbouring States and to create an explosive situation in the entire area. Israel hoped, despite the Assembly's decision on the internationalization of Jerusalem, that circumstances would ultimately favour its domination of the whole of that city.
Although the Israel Government had declared that it was unable to allow the return of all the Arab refugees, it had found no difficulty in allowing the annual immigration into its territory of from 200,000 to 300,000 Jews. According to official publications and Jewish sources, between May 1948 and May 1951 the population of Israel had risen from 650,000 to 1,325,000. Israel had needed no assistance from the Arab Stares to receive those immigrants, which it had been estimated would cost approximately $1,500 million, out of an annual budget of some $150 million. In the light of those figures, the Arab representatives questioned the Conciliation Commission's statement that Israel could not receive a small proportion of Arab refugees unless the Arab States helped in the country's economic development.
Israel's policy, moreover, they stated, threatened the security of neighbouring States. According to recent figures, Israel's imports far exceeded its exports; the desirable export rate had been estimated at £(Israel) 64 million whereas in 1950 Israel's exports had only been £(Israel) 17 million. The deficit had hitherto been covered by funds collected abroad, but so abnormal a situation could not be expected to endure. A population which could not exist on the resources of its own soil would be tempted to embark upon the conquest of the lands it needed.
The representatives of the Arab States argued that negotiations with Israel would be pointless, since its very nature made it dependent upon the application of Zionist policy, which was not to make a home for the Jewish people but to create the metropolis of an empire. Israel's policy must of necessity be directed towards perpetual expansion, as was shown in the tempo of Jewish immigration.
Nevertheless, not wishing to be accused of ill will, the Arab States had attended the Paris Conference and their delegations had declared that their respective Governments, as signatories of the Armistice Agreements, reaffirmed their intention to respect the undertakings given there. They reiterated that declaration. The Arab States, they said, had no aggressive designs against anyone: but they could not be asked to go further and deliberately to contribute to the expansion of a neighbouring State whose policy constituted a threat to peace.
The representative of Israel stated that the primary reason for the failure of the Conciliation Commission to carry out its mandate and for the absence of any progress toward a settlement of the Palestine problem was the refusal of the Arab representatives to engage in direct negotiations with Israel. The Arab States had refused Israel's offers in the last three years to negotiate a nonaggression pact or a revision of the Armistice Agreements and had rejected Israel's expressed willingness to discuss the Arab refugee problem either separately or within the general context of international relations. That implied the Arab States' determination not to reach a settlement of outstanding differences and thus to frustrate the prospects of peace in the Middle East.
It was the refusal of the Arab Governments to recognize the statehood of Israel, a Member of the United Nations endowed with all the attributes of sovereignty, which blocked efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Palestine problems, he said.
The Arab argument that population pressures within Israel would inevitably lead to aggressive expansion of the new State lost all validity when the fact was considered that, despite mass immigration, there were still large stretches of barren lands in Israel. Moreover, population density in Israel was only 200 per square mile, compared with 280 in Lebanon and 1,400 in the inhabited areas of Egypt. Israel, its representative argued, might more logically claim that the population pressures in the neighbouring countries constituted a threat to its existence. Moreover, if the Arab premise regarding the effects of population pressures was to be accepted, it should be applied to other countries like the United Kingdom, Belgium or Italy where population density far exceeded that of Israel.
Israel did, in fact, he said, have the highest known immigration rate, and it did need to export goods to the value of £(Israel) 64 million to achieve economic stability. However, Israel was confident that through increased productivity resulting from progress in its industrial revolution, through the elaboration of methods for securing a balance of payments and through the selection of immigrants, the country would achieve that stability. Those matters, however, were solely within its own jurisdiction.
Israel considered that the solution of the refugee problem lay in regional resettlement and not in the integration of the Arab refugees in the State of Israel. The refugee problem, it was stated, had been caused, not by the creation of the State of Israel, but by the Arab attempt to prevent the emergency of the new State by force of arms in defiance of international authority.
The Arab States, by their assault upon Israel, had spread panic among thousands of Palestine Arabs and, therefore, bore initial moral responsibility for the plight of the refugees.
Moreover, Israel had already taken in some 500,000 European refugees, remnants of the Nazi holocaust. It had given refuge to some 300,000 persons from Arab countries who had sought freedom in the rising Jewish State. It was unfair to expect a small country like Israel to assume a third refugee problem created by Arab aggression.
The representative of Israel declared that there was a basic distinction between the problems of the absorption of Jewish refugees by Israel and the reintegration of the Palestine Arabs. Each immigrant selected for Israel must be dedicated to the survival and prosperity of his adopted homeland and to its defence against future threats to its existence. The Arab refugee, permeated by the bitterness and vindictiveness which characterized the attitude of the Arab States toward Israel, could not meet these standards. The Arab refugee was bound to the Arab States by culture, language, history and religion. Accordingly, his happiness could best be assured by resettlement in those lands rather than by forcing his integration into an alien country.
The objective of Israel's policy was to reach a formal understanding with its Arab neighbours. Should their hostility continue, Israel would go on working out its destiny in co-operation with the many friendly communities, peoples and governments that lay beyond its immediate neighbourhood, but it appealed to the Arab States to establish normal relations and thus contribute to the prosperity of the area.
(2) Draft Resolutions Submitted in the
Ad Hoc Political Committee
In the course of the debate, four draft resolutions were submitted: (1) a joint draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.22) by France, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States; (2) a USSR draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.24); (3) a Pakistani draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.28) and (4) an Israel draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.29). Several amendments to the four-Power draft resolution were also presented.
The four-Power draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.22 ) submitted at the 33rd meeting on 7 January, would refer to Assembly resolutions 194 (III) and 394(V); note that agreement had not been reached between the parties on a final settlement of outstanding questions; and state that the governments concerned had the primary responsibility for reaching settlement. It would therefore:
(i) urge the governments concerned to seek agreement with a view to an early settlement of their outstanding differences in a spirit of justice and realism and on the basis of mutual concessions, making full use of United Nations facilities;
(ii) express appreciation of the efforts of the Conciliation Commission;
(iii) note with regret that the Commission had been unable to fulfil its mandate;
(iv) state that the Commission should nevertheless continue to be available to the parties;
(v) authorize the Commission at its discretion to designate a representative or representatives to assist it in carrying out its functions;
(vi) decide that the Commission's headquarters should be transferred to the Headquarters of the United Nations, a representative of the Commission being maintained at Jerusalem;
(vii) request the Commission to render progress reports periodically to the Secretary-General for transmission to Member States; and
(viii) request the Secretary-General to provide the necessary staff and facilities.
Amendments to the four-Power draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.22) were presented by Colombia (A/AC.53/L.25) and Canada (A/AC.53/L.27).
Colombian amendment (A/AC.53/L.25 ), submitted at the 36th meeting on 10 January, proposed to:
(i) replace the first paragraph of the preamble by a text recalling all the General Assembly resolutions on Palestine;
(ii) insert, after the second operative paragraph, a new paragraph to urge the governments concerned to observe strictly the Assembly's resolutions and to seek agreement with a view to an early settlement of their outstanding differences "in a spirit of justice and realism and on the basis of mutual concessions", making full use of United Nations facilities; and
(iii) add, after the fifth operative paragraph, a new paragraph requesting the Conciliation Commission to ensure the strict observance of the Assembly's resolutions and to report to the next session of the Assembly on the manner in which the governments concerned had observed those resolutions.
Canadian amendment (A/AC.53/L.27), submitted at the 37th meeting on 11 January, proposed to:
(i) delete the third, fourth and fifth paragraphs of the preamble and the first and fifth paragraphs of the operative part of the joint draft resolution;
(ii) insert a new third operative paragraph, whereby the General Assembly would state that the governments concerned had the primary responsibility for reaching a settlement of their outstanding differences;
(iii) amend the fourth operative paragraph to state that the Conciliation Commission should continue to be available to the parties in accordance with past resolutions of the General Assembly, to assist them in reaching agreements on outstanding questions; and
(iv) amend the sixth operative paragraph to have the Assembly decide that, without prejudice to the maintenance of a representative in Jerusalem, the headquarters of the Conciliation Commission should be transferred to the Headquarters of the United Nations.
The Canadian amendment was accepted by the sponsors of the four-Power draft resolution at the 39th meeting of the Committee on 12 January. A revised version of the four-Power draft was accordingly submitted (A/AC.53/L.22/Rev.1).
Amendments were submitted to the revised four-Power draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.22/Rev.l) by (i) Colombia (A/AC.53/L.25/Rev.l); (ii) Afghanistan (A/AC.53/L.30 and Rev.1); and (iii) the Philippines (A/AC.53/L.32). Indonesia and Iran presented a sub-amendment (A/AC.53/L.31) to the revised Colombia amendment).
The Colombian amendment, (A/AC.53/L.25/Rev.l) submitted at the Committee's 40th meeting on 14 January, deleted from the text of the second paragraph of its original amendment (A/AC.53/L.25 see above) the words "and realism and on the basis of mutual concessions". Colombia accepted the sub-amendment by Iran and Indonesia (A/AC.53/L.31), submitted at the 41st meeting on 15 January. The sub-amendment proposed that the Conciliation Commission, whose headquarters should remain in Jerusalem, should consist of seven members.
The Afghanistan amendment (A/AC.53/L.30), submitted at the 40th meeting on 14 January and re-submitted at the 41st meeting on 15 January in a revised form (A/AC.53/L.30/Rev.l), would add at the end of the third operative paragraph (the new paragraph proposed by Canada, see above) the words "in conformity with the resolutions of the General Assembly on Palestine"; and amend the fourth operative paragraph to the effect that the Conciliation Commission should continue its efforts to secure the implementation of the resolutions of the Assembly on Palestine, and accordingly should be available to the parties to assist them in reaching agreement on outstanding questions.
The amendment was accepted by the sponsors of the revised joint draft resolution.
The Philippine amendment (A/AC.53/L.32) to the second operative paragraph of the revised joint draft (stating that the Commission had been unable to fulfil its mandate) submitted at the 41st meeting on 15 January, would have the Assembly express particular concern regarding the repatriation of refugees and regarding a just and equitable evaluation and compensation for the properties of those not wishing to return.
(2) The USSR draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.24), submitted at the 35th meeting of the Committee on 9 January, proposed the abolition of the Conciliation Commission in view of the latter's failure to cope with its allotted tasks of settling the questions at issue in Palestine between the parties.
(3) The Pakistani draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.28 and Corr.1), submitted at the 37th meeting on 11 January, would call upon the General Assembly, inter alia,
(i) instruct the Conciliation Commission to implement the Assembly resolutions on the Palestine problem;
(ii) decide to empower the Refugee Office, provided for in General Assembly resolution 394 (V), to administer the movable and immovable properties of the refugees and to collect and pay to the refugees the blocked accounts, rents and other rights pertaining to them in the territory under the control of Israel or elsewhere;
(iii) urge the governments and authorities concerned to assist the Conciliation Commission and the Refugee Office in carrying out the provisions of the resolution and of the previous resolutions on Palestine;
(iv) decide that the Conciliation Commission should be composed of seven members, the four additional members to be designated by the General Assembly before the end of the current session; and
(v) instruct the Conciliation Commission to submit to the Secretary-General progress reports on its activities for communication to Member States.
(4) The Israel draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.29), submitted at the 39th meeting on 12 January, was divided into two parts. In part A, the General Assembly would resolve to discontinue the Conciliation Commission for Palestine. In part B, the General Assembly would resolve to establish for 1952 a United Nations Good Offices Committee with its seat at the Headquarters of the United Nations, consisting of the representatives of France, Turkey and the United States, which would be available to the parties at their request to assist them in the achievement of a peaceful settlement of questions outstanding between them.
The sponsors of the four-Power draft resolution recalled that the Conciliation Commission for Palestine had been established so that a United Nations organ might be available to assist the parties concerned to settle their outstanding differences and thus prepare for the restoration of stability and peace in the Near East. Unfortunately, despite the Commission's efforts which deserved the appreciation of Member States, unfavourable political circumstances had prevented the Commission from carrying out its task. Nevertheless, the United Nations could not afford to discontinue its efforts to achieve an over-all settlement. The sponsors shares the Commission's belief that, given goodwill by the parties, the principles underlying the Paris proposals might yet serve as a basis for further efforts towards a settlement. They considered it essential that the Conciliation Commission should be maintained and made available to assist the parties at all times in reaching final agreement. In the interests of world peace, every effort should be made to bring tranquillity to Palestine.
The representatives of the following countries, among others, spoke in support of the four-Power draft, either in its original or amended form: Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, India, Liberia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Yugoslavia. They considered that some form of conciliation body was obviously necessary, and the Conciliation Commission was well qualified for the task. The Commission's work had been valuable, although the results hitherto obtained had been negative. It had done well in the proposals which it had submitted to the parties, and could not be blamed for the refusal of the parties to accept its proposals.
They stated that when there was a difference of opinion, such as that between Israel and the Arab States, as to the execution and implementation of certain Assembly resolutions, a conciliation commission should help to bring together the divergent points of view. They also felt that the United Nations, which had been responsible for the establishment of the State of Israel, should not discontinue its efforts to bring about an understanding between the parties concerned.
Representatives of the Arab States, including those of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, and the representative of Pakistan spoke against the four-Power draft.
The representatives of the Arab States maintained that the draft was unjust and impracticable. It was the United Nations, the authors of the partition resolution, and Israel, not the Arab States, which had the responsibility for reaching a settlement in Palestine. The Arabs had made all the concessions they could reasonably be expected to make; in return they had received little or nothing. It was now for the Jews, who had gained most, to make concessions. The Arabs would recognize Israel only after it had proved its willingness to respect human rights, the Charter and the Assembly's decisions.
If the Conciliation Commission were to continue its work, it should do so within the framework of previous Assembly resolutions. No mention was made in the joint draft of the Palestine Arabs' right to return to that part of the country earmarked for them under the partition plan.
The Commission, moreover, it was stated, had failed to carry out its responsibilities in Palestine. It was not likely to achieve greater success in New York, though it might be prevented from evading its responsibilities by being enlarged or given a more explicit mandate. It was emphasized, however, that the sponsors of the joint draft were convinced that nothing of real value could be done by the Commission; they lacked the goodwill to try another solution and were, in fact, trying to shelve the whole Palestine question.
The representative of Pakistan criticized the draft as inadequate and lacking in understanding and human sympathy. It gave platitudinous advice to the parties, ignored the contents of the Conciliation Commission's report and called for the Commission's continuation, despite the fact that it had lost the very spirit of its terms of reference and that the representatives serving on it, as shown in the report, were merely following the instruction of their Governments.
In submitting his draft resolution, the USSR representative stated that the Conciliation Commission, as could be seen from its report, had acted in the interests of the United States and, instead of aiding the parties concerned, had attempted to impose its own decisions upon them, thus exceeding its mandate. The members of the Commission had acted on the instructions of their Governments, and the Commission's actions had reflected the views of those Governments and not those of the United Nations. It was therefore not surprising that the Commission's work was a failure. To maintain the Conciliation Commission was not only useless but dangerous. The Palestine problem, the representative of the USSR said, could not be solved in accordance with the interests of the Palestinian peoples until the United States and the other countries of the "Atlantic bloc" had ceased to interfere in the affairs of Palestine and of the countries of the Near and Middle East, leaving the populations of those countries to settle their differences among themselves.
The representatives of Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Ukrainian SSR spoke in support of the USSR draft. They argued that the Conciliation Commission's activities had not contributed to an improvement of relations between the Arab States and Israel or to the strengthening of peace in the Middle East, and the best solution was to bring to an end a body whose work had not promoted the interests of the people of Palestine.
The representatives of Brazil, Denmark, India, Liberia, Yemen and Yugoslavia, among others, spoke against the USSR draft resolution. If it discontinued the Conciliation Commission, the United Nations would be renouncing its responsibility for finding a solution, they stated. The fact that a solution had not yet been found was not a reason for the United Nations to abdicate all responsibility in the Palestine question. Since the stage of direct negotiation had not yet been reached, the United Nations must continue its endeavours to bring the parties together and must keep in being an organ of conciliation for that purpose.
The representative of Pakistan, supported by the representatives of Indonesia, Iraq and Lebanon, spoke in favour of the Pakistani draft resolution. They believed that it offered the most effective way of settling the Palestine question.
The representative of India considered that the Pakistani draft was somewhat premature, as it dealt with the refugee problem which the
Ad Hoc Political Committee had not yet considered. He was nevertheless prepared to support the draft if put to the vote, subject to certain reservations.
The representative of Israel declared that one of the causes of failure to reach a settlement of the Palestine question was the basic refusal of the Arab States to recognize that Israel was a State, and therefore to recognize its constituted authority and sovereign rights. That refusal, he said, was illustrated by the proposal in the Pakistani draft for the appointment of a custodian who would be a kind of international economic high commissioner within the borders of Israel. Obviously, no such action, he argued, was possible in respect of a sovereign State.
Until the Arab States were prepared to negotiate a peace settlement, the representative of Israel said, the Conciliation Commission had no useful function, and its existence might even do more harm than good by obscuring an intransigence that should be revealed. He considered that there was no justification for the presence in Jerusalem of an agent of the Commission, as proposed in the four-Power draft. Jerusalem was the seat of the United Nations Chief of Staff under the armistice system, and it would be advisable to avoid any duplication of United Nations representation there.
Submitting his draft resolution, he said that his Government considered that the primary responsibility for achieving a peace settlement lay with the States directly concerned. Until Arab policy aimed at reaching a settlement with Israel, no attempt at mediation would be of any avail. In the absence of such a settlement, Israel held that the Armistice Agreements should be meticulously observed. Israel also considered that, while the General Assembly resolutions on the Palestine question might be invoked by any government in the course of negotiation, the parries concerned should retain their undisputed right as sovereign States to conclude any agreement in which they might mutually concur. His Government, he said, hoped that the United Nations would make its good offices available to the parties, should they be in need of such assistance.
The representatives of Brazil, China, Denmark and India, among others, spoke against the Israel draft. The Israel proposal to establish a United Nations good offices committee which would be available to the parties at their request implied, they said, that the United Nations would be unable to act unless the parties requested it to do so and would deprive the United Nations of its genuine responsibility in the matter.
Those representatives and also the representative of Liberia were not in favour of the proposal in the draft to abolish the Conciliation Commission.
At its 41st meeting on 15 January, the
Ad Hoc Political Committee voted on the draft resolutions and amendments before it in the order of their submission. It voted first on the individual paragraphs of the revised four-Power draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.22/Rev.l) with the amendments to them.
It adopted the first and second paragraphs of the Colombian amendment (A/AC.53/L.25/Rev.1), by 26 votes to 16, with
11 abstentions, and 23 votes to 20, with 13 abstentions, respectively. It rejected the third paragraph of the Colombian amendment by 20 votes to 19, with 17 abstentions.
The Philippine amendment (A/AC.53/L.32) was adopted by 28 votes to 13, with 16 abstentions.
Paragraph 1 of the Afghanistan amendment (A/AC.53/L.30/Rev.1) was adopted by 46 votes to 4, with 5 abstentions, and paragraph 2 by 43 votes to 7, with 6 abstentions.
The Indonesian-Iranian sub-amendment ( A/AC.53/L.31) to the Colombian amendment to original paragraph 5 ( now paragraph 6), regarding the designation of four additional members to the Conciliation Commission, was adopted by 24 votes to 22, with 11 abstentions, with the exception of the words "whose headquarters shall remain in Jerusalem". Those words were rejected by 25 votes to 17, with 12 abstentions. The first part of the paragraph reading "Decides that, without prejudice to the maintenance of a representative in Jerusalem," was rejected by 20 votes to 15, with 17 abstentions; the second part reading "the headquarters of the Conciliation Commission for Palestine should be transferred to the Headquarters of the United Nations," was rejected by 22 votes to 22, with 8 abstentions. The other paragraphs of the joint draft resolution, to which no amendments had been proposed, were adopted in votes varying from 52 to none, with 5 abstentions, to 46 to 7, with 2 abstentions.
The revised four-Power draft resolution, as a whole, as amended, was adopted by 43 votes to 13, with 2 abstentions.
The draft resolution submitted by the USSR (A/AC.53/L.24) was rejected by 48 votes to 5, with 1 abstention.
The draft resolutions submitted by Pakistan (A/AC.53/L.28 and Corr.1) and by Israel (A/AC.53/L.29) were then withdrawn.
(3) Consideration by the General Assembly in Plenary Session
The report of the
Ad Hoc Political Committee (A/2070) was considered by the General Assembly at its 364th and 365th plenary meetings on 26 January. The Assembly also had before it a report of the Fifth Committee (A/2080) on the financial implications of the draft resolution proposed by the Ad Hoc Political Committee.
In its report, the Fifth Committee stated that, in considering the financial implications, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General (A/C.5/489), together with the thirteenth report of 1952 of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/2072). The Advisory Committee recommended, and the Fifth Committee concurred, that the financial implications of the proposed resolution covering both the Conciliation Commission and the Truce Supervision Organization for Palestine should contain estimates based on the following possible decisions: (1) with the seat of the Conciliation Commission at New York, a total of $450,000; (2) with the seat of the Commission at Jerusalem, a total of $700,000; and (3) with the seat of the Commission at Geneva, a total of $650,000.
In the course of the discussion which took place in the Fifth Committee, the USSR representative stated that his delegation did not approve of the resolution recommended by the
Ad Hoc Political Committee concerning the Conciliation Commission in view of the fact that, since its establishment in 1948, the Commission had failed to carry out the duties entrusted to it by the General Assembly. He said that the USSR delegation would also be compelled to vote against the provision of any further appropriations both for the Conciliation Commission and for the Truce Supervision Organization.
The representative of Canada submitted an amendment (A/2083) to the draft resolution recommended by the
Ad Hoc Political Committee which was designed to simplify paragraphs 2 and 4 of the draft resolution. In place of a detailed reference in paragraph 2 of the draft to certain aspects of past resolutions of the General Assembly, the Canadian amendment proposed merely to make a general reference to the Assembly's resolutions themselves. With respect to paragraph 4 of the draft, the Canadian amendment would omit the words "strictly to observe the resolutions of the General Assembly," and would instead emphasize the duties of the parties themselves to seek agreement on all outstanding questions, in conformity with the resolutions of the Assembly on Palestine.
The representatives of the following countries spoke in support of the Canadian amendment: Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, France, Haiti, Israel, Lebanon, the Philippines, Syria, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay. Some of the representatives favoured the amendment; others accepted it in a spirit of compromise. It was considered that the wording proposed in the Canadian amendment was clearer and, in substance, more in keeping with the task of conciliation appropriate to the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine.
The USSR representative submitted an amendment (A/2071) calling upon the Assembly to abolish the Conciliation Commission. He expressed the opinion that abolition of the Commission would clear up the situation in Palestine and remove a harmful body which for a number of years had constituted one of the obstacles to a settlement of the Palestine question. It would, furthermore, open the door to a settlement of the problem in the interests of the peoples of Palestine and not of the Powers which were endeavouring to subject those peoples, and the peoples of the whole Near and Middle East, to their command and domination.
The representatives of the Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Ukrainian SSR spoke against the draft resolution recommended by the
Ad Hoc Political Committee and in support of the USSR amendment. They advanced arguments similar to those given by the USSR representative.
At the 365th plenary meeting on 26 January, the representative of Iran, in agreement with the representative of Indonesia, suggested that paragraph 6 of the draft resolution recommended by the
Ad Hoc Political Committee (which proposed that the membership of the Conciliation Commission should be enlarged from three to seven members) be deleted. The Assembly agreed, without objection, to the deletion of paragraph 6. It adopted by 48 votes to none, with 9 abstentions, the part of the Canadian amendment referring to paragraph 2 of the draft resolution, and by 46 votes to 1, with 8 abstentions, that part referring to paragraph 4. The draft resolution as a whole, as amended, was then adopted by 48 votes to 5, with 1 abstention.
The representative of Israel explained that, had the voting been by paragraphs, he would have voted against the first paragraph of the preamble, and would have abstained on paragraph 5 of the operative part.
The representative of Iraq stated that his delegation had abstained on both parts of the Canadian amendment as well as on the draft resolution as a whole. The Canadian amendment, in his opinion, was evasive. Peace in Palestine, and throughout the Middle East, was possible only if two facts were recognized. The first was that the Arabs had a right to their own homes and lands in Palestine, and the second was that Palestine was a Holy Land, holy not only to the Jews but to Christians, Moslems and Jews alike, and therefore it could not be predominantly Jewish. His delegation, he said, understood that, as a result of the Assembly having adopted the present resolution on Palestine, all of the United Nations resolutions adopted so far on the Palestine problem stood, and that they should all be observed. Only in that way could there be some basis for a settlement in Palestine and the Middle East. Otherwise, the Conciliation Commission and its efforts were doomed to failure.
The resolution adopted (512 (VI)) read:
"The General Assembly,
"Recalling all the resolutions adopted at previous sessions of the General Assembly on the Palestine problem,
"Having examined the progress report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine,
"1. Expresses its appreciation to the Conciliation Commission for Palestine for its efforts to assist the parties to reach agreement on their outstanding differences;
"2. Notes with regret that, as stated in paragraph 87 of the report, the Commission has been unable to fulfil its mandate under the resolutions of the General Assembly;
"3. Considers that the governments concerned have the primary responsibility for reaching a settlement of their outstanding differences in conformity with the resolutions of the General Assembly on Palestine;
"4. Urges the governments concerned to seek agreement with a view to an early settlement of their outstanding differences in conformity with the resolutions of the General Assembly on Palestine, and for this purpose to make full use of United Nations facilities;
"5. Considers that the Conciliation Commission for Palestine should continue its efforts to secure the implementation of the resolutions of the General Assembly on Palestine and accordingly should be available to the parties to assist them in reaching agreement on outstanding questions;
"6. Requests the Conciliation Commission for Palestine to render progress reports periodically to the Secretary-General for transmission to the Members of the United Nations;
"7. Requests the Secretary-General to provide the necessary staff and facilities for carrying out the terms of the present resolution."
5. Assistance to Palestine Refugees
In accordance with General Assembly resolution 302 (IV)
/ creating the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWAPRNE), the Director of the Agency, on 28 September 1951, submitted an annual report (A/1905) covering the period 1 May 1950, when UNRWAPRNE took over from its predecessor the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees (UNRPR), to 30 June 1951. On 29 November 1951, together with the Advisory Commission, he submitted a special report (A/1905/Add.1) containing recommendations for the future conduct of the programme of assistance to the Palestine refugees.
a. REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF UNRWAPRNE
The report of the Director of UNRWAPRNE (A/1905) explained that the headquarters of UNRWAPRNE was at Beirut, and that five districts had been established at Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and Israel, each under a chief district officer responsible to the Director for the over-all programme in his district. Districts were subdivided into areas, each under a Palestine refugee official. The total number of international staff, as of 30 June 1951, was 133 of twenty nationalities, and there were 5,840 local recruits employed in administration, ration distribution and servicing functions. The term of office of the Director of UNRWAPRNE, Howard Kennedy, expired on
30 June 1951. The Secretary-General, in consultation with members of the Advisory Commission (established by the General Assembly to advise and assist the Director of UNRWAPRNE), appointed John B. Blandford, Jr., to succeed him. Mr. Blandford reached the area on
4 July 1951.
The General Assembly in resolution 393 (V) had recommended that the funds at the disposal of the Director of UNRWAPRNE for the year ending 30 June 1952 should be in the proportion of $20 million for relief and $30 million for a reintegration fund. Members and non-members were asked to make voluntary contributions to assure that these funds would be available. The report stated that the income and expenditure during the period from the commencement of UNRWAPRNE operations on 1 May 1950 to 30 June 1951 was $44,761,290 (with a deficit of $2,665,039 resulting from UNRPR activities) and $35,586,929, respectively, resulting in an excess of income over expenditure of $6,509,322. Those countries making contributions in cash were: the United States ($27,450,000), the United Kingdom ($6,200,000), France ($2,285,714), Canada ($894,313), Israel ($50,000), the Dominican Republic ($5,000), Luxembourg ($2,000), and Jordan ($93,606). Those countries making contributions in kind were: Canada (canned and salted fish, wheat and flour in the amount of $506,000), Pakistan (wheat in the amount of $90,000), Norway
(sardines and smoked herrings in the amount of $60,000), Saudi Arabia (petrol in the amount of $37,650), Ethiopia (wheat in the amount of $25,500), Israel (petrol in the amount of 513,354) and Belgium (blankets in the amount of $6,000). Those countries in the Near East making direct contributions were: Egypt ($1,961,300), Iraq ($980,000), Lebanon ($457,800), Syria (3570,100), Jordan ($323,900) and Israel ($51,000). Certain specialized agencies, Red Cross Societies, church groups and other voluntary agencies also made contributions either in cash or in kind.
The report stated that, by June 1951, there were 875,998 persons registered on UNRWAPRNE relief rolls, compared with 957,000 when the Agency took over. They were distributed as follows: Lebanon - 106,753; Syria - 80,499; Jordan - 65,450; Gaza - 199,789; and Israel - l23,507. About one third of all the refugees were living in 60 organized camps that varied in size from a few hundred to over 20,000 persons; the other two thirds lived scattered among towns and villages of the host countries. The type of shelter provided for refugees in camps was, for the greater part, tents; but sometimes also barracks or other buildings were utilized.
For supplies of clothing the Agency had had to rely mainly on donations from voluntary agencies, although the Agency's weaving schemes in Jordan and Gaza produced over 1 million metres of cloth, of which one third was made under Agency auspices into garments. In spite of these efforts, the average of distribution was just under one garment per refugee, and their clothing, after three years, had become shabby and ragged; many of the women had sold their embroidered peasant dresses to raise money, and the majority of the men employed on Agency road-building projects had no shoes. Both blankets and the tent-flies issued as additional protection were often diverted from their proper use and cut up for clothing.
The standard monthly food ration for teach refugee consisted of flour, sugar, rice, pulses, margarine, vegetables and oil which provided a daily average of 1,600 calories per head, including the issue of UNICEF milk to children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, who formed about half the total population. In past winters, the scale fad been raised to 1,700 calories. Undernourished children and old people were also given supplementary feeding on medical certificates.
The report stated that the United Nations, in particular certain of the Great Powers, were considered by the refugee to be entirely responsible for both his past and present misfortunes, and for his future fate. They said that they had lost faith in United Nations action since, after more than 30 months, the General Assembly resolution recommending their return home, although not revoked, had never been implemented and no progress had been made towards the payment of compensation to them. The relief given by the Agency was therefore considered as a right, and as such was regarded as inadequate. The desire to go back to their homes was general among all classes; it was proclaimed orally at all meetings and organized demonstrations, and, in writing, in all letters addressed to the Agency and all complaints handed in to the area officers. This sense of injustice, frustration and disappointment, the report noted, had made the refugee irritable and unstable. There were occasional strikes, demonstrations and small riots.
Road construction, which formed the most important part of the whole UNRWAPRNE works programme, it was stated, employed at its peak some 5,110 men. In Lebanon, two roads of a total length of
18 kilometres were planned, and of this approximately 8 kilometres, or 44 per cent, were constructed. In Syria, one road of 26 kilometres was undertaken, and 16 kilometres of the earthwork were finished. In Jordan, five roads of a total length of 67.25 kilometres were planned, and, of this, 60 kilometres were finished and 3.5 kilometres partly completed. The total cost to the Agency of the road-building programme was approximately $814,000. The total area dealt with, for both soil conservation and afforestation, amounted to 4,031 hectares (about 10,000 acres). Mixed broadleaf and coniferous forests were sown, check-dams were built across the gullies, and strips following the contour lines were constructed. The programme cost $272,320 and employed about 3,144 men in the peak month of December 1950. Road-building and afforestation together accounted for over 43 per cent of the total cost of the works programme undertaken. The rest was spent on projects of lesser importance, such as an irrigation scheme on private land in Syria, municipal improvement in Lebanon, a school and a sanatorium in Jordan, and various types of experimental and other housing projects in Jordan, Gaza and Syria.
The health of the refugees was under the technical supervision of the World Health Organization. WHO contributed $42,857 in 1950 and again in 1951 toward the health programme administered by the Agency. It also provided two medical officers and services of various consultants. The number of clinics operated by UNRWAPRNE was 81. Most of them were fixed, stationary ones, although a few mobile clinics were used to serve refugees in villages. The main clinic divisions were: general medical, skin and dressings, ophthalmic, school health, prenatal and infant welfare. Venereal diseases and tuberculosis clinics were held in some areas or combined in general clinics in others. Attendance at these clinics averaged 601,000 monthly. Hospital beds provided either in Agency-operated hospitals or other hospitals subsidized by the Agency was 1,808. The total number of daily beneficiaries of supplementary feeding was 30,890.
For the fourteen-month period May 1950 through June 1951, the expenditure of the Agency on its social welfare programme amounted to some $460,000. The total amount of UNICEF milk distributed during the same period was 621,168 kilogrammes of whole milk and 5,470,049 kilogrammes of skim milk. The total amount spent for the assistance of Palestine refugees by UNICEF since the beginning of its operations amounted to over eleven million dollars. UNICEF also continued to provide various additional supplies, such as $150,000 worth of Czechoslovak textiles and shoes and 591,000 worth of children's clothing. During the same period, 588,319 kilogrammes of clothing and 115,919 kilogrammes of footwear donated by United Nations agencies, Red Cross Societies, church groups and other voluntary agencies were distributed to the refugees.
When UNRWAPRNE began work, it entered into an agreement with UNESCO for the expansion of the education programme, with UNESCO assuming technical supervision. It was decided to allot a monthly sum of 825,000 from the UNRWAPRNE budget for elementary education, while UNESCO provided $53,000 for the eight remaining months of 1950. These allocations were subsequently increased so that, in the first half of 1951, UNRWAPRNE spent an average of $42,000 monthly on education, including vocational training. Part of this was covered by UNESCO, which set aside $80,850 as its contribution to the programme of the year. Out of a total of 225,282 refugee children from six to fourteen years old, 93,634, or over 42 per cent, were receiving elementary education in 114 schools, as well as in 84 other schools financially assisted by the Agency.
In accordance with General Assembly resolution 393 (V), UNRWAPRNE placed increasing emphasis upon works leading to reintegration rather than temporary employment of refugees on public works. In abandoning the work relief schemes, the Agency decided to offer small loans to individuals or groups who could thereby become self-supporting. Owing to political and economic factors in the other countries, Jordan was the only country in which such loans were being granted. Approved projects included such varied businesses as a lime kiln, a machine repair shop, a stone crusher, an upholstery shop, a confectionery business, a tractor hire service, a tobacco plantation and a dry cleaning and laundry business. By the end of June 1951, about 100 persons had been taken off the ration lists, and a further 800 were due to come off at varying dates in the future. The total sum approved for small loans amounted to the equivalent of some $70,000. Including two larger schemes for a cement-pipe factory and clothing. factory, the Agency had advanced a total of some $116,063.
b. SPECIAL REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR AND ADVISORY COMMISSION OF UNRWAPRNE
In the special report (A/1905/Add.1), the Director and the Advisory Commission of UNRWAPRNE recommended that the Assembly endorse and urge contributions. for a $250 million programme of assistance to Near East governments for the relief and reintegration of Palestine refugees, to be carried out over a period of approximately three years starting 1 July 1951. It was proposed that the programme provide $50 million for relief and $200 million for reintegration, and that local governments should assume the maximum possible administrative responsibility at the earliest possible date. Every effort, the report stated, should be made by the Agency and the governments to arrange for the transfer of relief administration to the governments not later than 1 July 1952. It was intended that relief expenditures be reduced in suitable proportion to reintegration expenditures, with both ceasing at the end of the period.
Under the programme, it was proposed, Near East governments would recommend to the Agency allocation of funds over the three-year period as among countries and types of projects. Governments would also recommend specific projects and contribute, as far as possible, land and services. They would co-ordinate the refugee reintegration programme with their national programmes for general economic development. The Agency would make available funds, contractual services, technical assistance and contributions in kind to governments and other instrumentalities approved by governments for the refugee programme. The Agency would also continue to be available to facilitate technical assistance programmes designed to assist general economic development.
c. CONSIDERATION BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
(1) Discussion by the
Ad Hoc Political Committee
Ad Hoc Political Committee considered the question of assistance to Palestine refugees at its 42nd to 47th
/ meetings between 16 and 22 January 1952. At the invitation of the Chairman statements were made by the Director of UNRWAPRNE at the 42nd meeting and by the representative of the Palestine Arab refugees in Lebanon at the 45th meeting on 19 January.
France, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, at the 42nd meeting, cabled a joint draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.34). The joint draft, among other things, would have the General Assembly:
(a) commend UNRWAPRNE for developing a constructive programme which would contribute to the welfare of the refugees and of the countries in the area concerned;
(b) endorse the programme recommended by UNRWAPRNE, which envisaged the expenditure of $50 million for relief and $200 million for reintegration of Palestine refugees, to be carried out over a period of about three years, starting 1 July 1951;
(c) urge the governments concerned to assist in the carrying out of this programme;
(d) express the view that the governments concerned should assume the maximum possible administrative responsibility for reintegration projects at the earliest possible date; express the view that UNRWAPRNE and the governments concerned should arrange for the transfer by I July 1952 of relief administration to the countries in which the refugees were situated, with UNRWAPRNE continuing to provide certain assistance;
(e) authorize UNRWAPRNE to transfer funds, allocated for relief, to reintegration; and urge Member Governments to make the voluntary contributions necessary to carry out the programme.
Before the draft resolution was formally introduced, however, the representative of Egypt raised a point of order against its consideration by the Committee, on the grounds that the draft resolution impinged in certain respects upon the sovereignty of the Near Eastern States directly concerned, and was irrelevant to the item under consideration, namely, the question of assistance to Palestine refugees.
At the following meeting, the Chairman announced that private consultations were being held between the sponsors of the four-Power draft and the delegations of the Near Eastern States directly concerned and that, pending the conclusion of those consultations, both the point of order previously raised and the draft had been withdrawn.
The representatives of, among others, Australia, Brazil, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States spoke in support of the three-year plan drawn up by UNRWAPRNE, which, they felt, was designed to provide homes and jobs for the refugees and was therefore calculated to improve their lot. The plan also pointed the way to the reintegration of the refugees and the termination of relief at the end of the proposed three-year period. The problem of assistance to the Palestine refugees, they stated, was not a question of politics or of prestige; it was a question of common humanity. They urged speed in implementing the plan drawn up by UNRWAPRNE, so that the refugees might be given the opportunity of earning their own living, by being provided with adequate skills which they could use profitably, wherever that future might lie. It was pointed out that 45 per cent of the 870,000 refugees were aged fifteen years or younger. Whatever the views of representatives might be regarding the causes of the Palestine conflict or the responsibility of various authorities for its results or its remedies, the United Nations should not delay in giving what help it could.
The representatives of Egypt and Lebanon declared their willingness to support the recommendations of UNRWAPRNE, subject to the reservation that those recommendations should not prejudice the right of the refugees to repatriation and compensation.
The representative of Iraq also welcomed all humanitarian efforts and all constructive programmes for alleviating the sufferings of the refugees until a final solution of the problem, based on law and justice, was achieved. He congratulated the Director of UNRWAPRNE for the way in which he had dealt with the problem, but could not agree with him in his allusion to the responsibility of the Arab States of the Middle East, or in his implication that the resettlement of the refugees in the Arab countries was final. The Arab States, he said, could not accept that view.
The representatives of Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, as well as the representative of the Palestine Arab Refugees in Lebanon, expressed the view that the repatriation of the refugees was the only possible solution of the problem in keeping with justice and the terms of General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948,
/ which had been confirmed by a number of subsequent resolutions. It was the only solution that would contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in the Middle Ease. The refugees should be allowed to return to the part of Palestine assigned to the Arabs and which was at present occupied by the Jews; those not wishing to return to their homes should receive fair and equitable compensation.
Any other solution, the representatives of the Arab States said, would merely exacerbate the situation and complicate the task of the United Nations. If the United Nations did not speedily take the necessary steps, the refugees would withdraw their confidence, and their disappointment would create such tension in the Middle East that peace might be endangered.
These representatives considered that the problem of the refugees should not be linked with the question of the economic development of the Middle East. The refugee problem, they argued, was a direct consequence of the intervention of the United Nations in the Palestine question and would remain the responsibility of the Organization until a just and lasting solution had been found. The economic development of the Middle East, on the other hand, was entirely the affair of the States in the area, which should be left to work out their own plans without foreign interference. The relief programme was, of course, a worthy project; but the refugees should not depend forever on assistance; the duty of the United Nations was to ensure execution of the resolution of December 1948 providing for their repatriation. The recommendations of UNRWAPRNE were, they considered, a palliative and not a solution of the problem.
At the 46th meeting on 21 January, France, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States introduced a new draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.36) (for text, see below).
These representatives said the new draft was the result of consultations between the sponsors and the delegations of the States most directly concerned, and had been revised to meet various points raised in the debate. For example, certain paragraphs of the original text had referred to assistance or aid to the countries in the area. In the corresponding paragraphs of the new draft, the central purpose was now made clear, namely, assistance to the Palestine refugees rather than to the countries of the area.
The object of the new draft was to put into effect the proposals made by the Director and the Advisory Commission of UNRWAPRNE which during the debate had been generally agreed to be constructive, sound and practical. The programme recommended was fundamentally humanitarian, economic and non-political. On the understanding that the refugees' interests with regard to repatriation and compensation were not prejudiced, the programme proposed to help them to become self-supporting.
The problem of the refugees was urgent and could not be deferred until circumstances permitted a political settlement in the Middle East. Two steps should be taken by the United Nations at once. First, it should continue to provide direct assistance, as long as necessary, although the understanding had always been that such international aid could only be a temporary measure. Secondly, ways and means must be found to provide the necessary economic setting in which the refugees would be able to support themselves. The special report proposed to achieve that end through projects of reintegration worked out in co-operation with the governments in the area.
The representatives of, among others, Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, Indonesia, Liberia, New Zealand and Uruguay supported the new four-Power draft resolution, either wholeheartedly or as an interim measure, pending final solution of the problem. They considered that the new draft was a substantial improvement on the earlier text, and they hoped that the spirit which had prevailed in the consultations with the sponsors would guide the States concerned in settling all the differences outstanding between them.
The representatives of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen said that they were inclined to support the principles underlying the new text, but they felt that it would be valueless if dissociated from the draft resolution on the report of the Conciliation Commission which the
Ad Hoc Political Committee had adopted at its 41st meeting on 15 January (see above). That resolution contained political guarantees indispensable to a proper approach to the humanitarian aspects of the refugee problem, and recognized that the only just and equitable solution was repatriation and compensation under the terms of previous General Assembly resolutions on Palestine. The question of financial assistance to the refugees was indissolubly linked with that imperative consideration. Relief measures, however effective, were only a palliative; the permanent remedy was repatriation.
The four-Power draft resolution (A/AC.53/L.36) was adopted by 44 votes to none, with 7 abstentions, by the
Ad Hoc Political Committee at its 47th meeting on 22 January.
The representative of Pakistan explained that he had voted for the draft, because: (1) he was glad to associate his delegation with the congratulations addressed to the Director of UNRWAPRNE; (2) he attached great importance to paragraph 2 of the operative part, which confirmed the provisions of previous resolutions of the Assembly on the question, thus making clear the meaning that should be attached to the expression "reintegration" of the refugees; and (3) he considered the Palestine question to be indivisible and the problem of assistance to the refugees to be inseparable from the political aspect.
The representative of Iraq said he had voted for the draft because, although it did not provide any final solution, it did suggest temporary action pending the return of the refugees to their homes. That was the aim towards which the United Nations should be directed, and only thus would the refugees be enabled to recover their dignity in a normal life.
(2) Consideration by the General Assembly in Plenary Session
The report of the
Ad Hoc Political Committee (A/2070) dealing with the question of assistance to Palestine refugees was considered by the General Assembly at its 364th and 365th plenary meetings on 26 January 1952. The Assembly also had before it a report of the Fifth Committee (A/2080) on the financial implications of the draft resolution proposed by the Ad Hoc Political Committee.
In its report, the Fifth Committee stated that in considering the financial implications, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General (A/C.5/492), together with the sixteenth report of 1952 of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/2075). The Secretary-General, fully appreciating the difficult financial situation in which UNRWAPRNE might at times find itself pending the receipt of contributions, concurred in the necessity for an authorization to finance the Agency's operations, should the need arise, through advances from the Working Capital Fund. He suggested that for the whole duration of the programme, the Working Capital Fund resolutions adopted by the Assembly should include a provision authorizing him, in consultation with the Advisory Committee, to advance the Agency "such sums deemed to be available" and not exceeding $5 million to finance its operations, these sums to be repaid not later than the end of the calendar year in which the advances were made.
The Advisory Committee concurred in this proposal and recommended that for 1952, if the Assembly adopted the resolution proposed by the
Ad Hoc Political Committee, the resolution relating to the Working Capital Fund adopted by the General Assembly on
21 December 1951,
/ should be supplemented by a provision giving the Secretary-General the suggested authorization.
The Assistant Secretary-General in charge of Administrative and Financial Services indicated that, in view of the heavy charges falling on the Working Capital Fund, especially during the first half of 1952, it might not prove feasible to advance the total of $5 million to the Agency, and it was for this reason that the words "such sums deemed to be available" were proposed for inclusion in the text.
The Fifth Committee, approved the proposal of the Advisory Committee by 35 votes to none, with 6 abstentions.
The representative of Canada submitted an amendment (A/2078) to the draft resolution recommended by the
Ad Hoc Political Committee to add to paragraph 12 (see below) a provision specifically authorizing the Negotiating Committee for Extra-Budgetary Funds to seek contributions from non-members as well as Members. The representative of Canada stated that, although this authority might be implied, it seemed preferable to eliminate any doubt about the Committee's functions.
He went on to state that Canada did not feel satisfied with previous contributions made by other and comparable countries. Assistance to Palestine refugees, he indicated, like many other humanitarian projects, needed a broader response than had been given in the past. One of the principal factors which would influence Canada in deciding whether to make a contribution in 1952 would be the degree of financial support which was forthcoming from countries like Canada, which are neither Great Powers nor nations with special interests in the area.
The Canadian amendment ( A/2078) was adopted by 47 votes to none, with 7 abstentions. The draft resolution, as amended, was then adopted by 49 votes to none, with 5 abstentions.
The representative of Iraq explained that he had voted in favour of the resolution for the reasons he had explained in the
Ad Hoc Political Committee. He also hoped that the resolution would take into consideration the fact that there were 128,000 Arabs on the borders who were not registered as refugees but who should be given due recognition.
The resolution adopted (513 (VI)) read:
"The General Assembly
"Recalling its resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949, as amended by resolution 393 (V) of
2 December 1950,
"Having examined the report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East and the special joint report of the Director and the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency,
"Having considered the three-year programme of relief and reintegration recommended by the Director and the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency,
"1. Commends the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the development of a constructive programme which will contribute effectively to the welfare of the refugees;
"2. Endorses, without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (111) of 11 December 1948 or to the provisions of paragraph 4 of resolution 393 (V) of 2 December 1950 relative to reintegration either by repatriation or resettlement, the programme recommended by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the relief and reintegration of Palestine refugees, which envisages the expenditure of $US 50 million for relief and $200 million for reintegration over and above such contributions as may be made by local governments, to be carried out over a period of approximately three years starting as of l July 1951;
"Recognizing the concern of the United Nations in the problem of the Palestine refugees,
"3. Urges the governments of the countries in the area to assist, with due regard to their constitutional processes, in the carrying out of this programme and to extend to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, a subsidiary organ established by the General Assembly, their co-operation in the elaboration of specific projects and in the general performance of its functions;
"4. Invites the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to explore with the governments concerned arrangements looking towards their assuming administration of reintegration projects at the earliest possible date;
"5. Requests the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to explore with the governments concerned the desirability and practicability of transferring the administration of relief to those governments at the earliest possible date, and considers that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency should continue to carry the cost of the supply programme, subject to paragraphs 2 and 6, and to provide assistance for the health, welfare and education programme along with the duty of making such inspection and such verification of accounts as may be necessary;
"6. Considers that relief expenditures should be reduced in suitable proportion to reintegration expenditures;
"7. Decides that the amount of $20 million provided for direct relief in resolution 393 (V) of 2 December 1950 should be increased to $27 million for the fiscal year ending 30 June 1952;
"8. Decides that, consequent upon paragraph 2 above, the amount of $30 million provided in resolution 393 (V) of 2 December 1950 for reintegration should be increased to not less than $50 million, and credited to the reintegration fund provided for in that resolution for the fiscal year ending 30 June 1952;
"9. Approves the budget recommended by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the fiscal year 1 July 1952 to 30 June 1953, of the equivalent of $118 million of which $100 million shall be available for reintegration and $18 million for relief;
"10. Authorizes the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to transfer funds allocated for relief to reintegration;
"11. Urges the governments of Member States to make voluntary contributions to the extent necessary to carry through to termination the programme set forth in paragraph 2 above;
"12. Requests that negotiation regarding contributions for the proposed three-year programme be carried out with Member and non-member States by the Negotiating Committee for Extra-Budgetary Funds established by resolution 571 B(VI), adopted by the General Assembly on 7 December 1951;
"13. Expresses its appreciation of the assistance afforded to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency by the specialized agencies and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund and urges them to render all services possible to strengthen the programme of refugee relief and reintegration, and to co-operate with the Secretary-General and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in ensuring that the total assistance of the United Nations to Palestine refugees is rendered with the maximum of co-ordination and efficiency;
"14. Expresses its appreciation to the numerous religious, charitable and humanitarian organizations whose programmes have afforded valuable supplementary assistance to Palestine refugees, and again requests them to continue and expand to the extent possible the work which they have undertaken on behalf of the refugees."
/ See Y.U.N., 1948-49, pp. 184-86.
/ See also p. 293.
/ See pp. 286-87.
/ See p. 289.
/ See Y.U.N., 1947-48, pp. 436 and 441.
/ See Y.U.N., 1950, p. 320.
/ See Y.U.N., 1948-49, pp. 184-85.
/ See Y.U.N., 1948-49, pp. 186-89.
/ See Y.U.N., 1950, p. 320.
/ See pp. 293-94.
/ "This paragraph provides,
inter alia, that in the pacific settlement of disputes. a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.
/ See Y.U.N., 1948-49, pp. 174-76.
/ See Y.U.N., 1950, p. 334.
/ "The General Assembly, at its 341st plenary meeting on 13 November 1951, decided to include the report of the Conciliation Commission and the report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East together as item 24 on its agenda. The
Ad Hoc Political Committee to which the item was referred decided to discuss the two reports separately.
/ See Y.U.N., 1948-49, pp. 211-12.
/ At the 47th meeting on 22 January 1952, the representative of Israel stated that as an expression of Israel's grief and protest against the hanging of two Jews in Iraq, Israel's delegation was withdrawing from the meeting and would not take part in any meetings that morning. He explained that despite an intercession on the part of the President of the General Assembly, which had been made at the request of Israel, the Jews had been hanged. After the Chairman of the
Ad Hoc Political Committee ruled the remarks of the Israel representative out of order, the representative of Iraq declared that the men had been executed in pursuance of the sentence of the competent court, and the matter was within the domestic jurisdiction of Iraq.
/ See Y.U.N., 1948-49, pp. 174-176
/ See pp. 153-54.