Summary Record of the 298th Meeting (Closed)
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Friday, 30 March 1953, at 2.30 p.m.
1. Cablegrams concerning the release off Arab accounts
2. Memorandum from the Governments of six Arab States concerning the disposition of private Arab property by the Government of Israel.
3. Communication from the permanent representative of Egypt.
4. Other business.
1. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
The agenda was adopted.
2. CABLEGRAMS CONCERNING THE RELEASE OF BLOCKED ARAB ACCOUNTS
The CHAIRMAN drew the Commission’s attention to the cables from Mr. Shields, the Administrative Officer for General Riley, and from Mr. Carver the Acting Director of UNRWA
Mr. ROSS (United States of America) thought that there might be a good deal to be said for sending someone to deal with the questions raised in the cablegrams, and he felt that Mr. Reedman would be the man. The activity that was going on was, to say the least, far from helpful. It was desirable to avoid having the Commission become involved in the details of the operation, but he felt that it would be useful to send a representative who would report to the Commission and would help smooth over the difficulties.
The CHAIRMAN had also thought of Mr. Redman in that connexion.
Mr. ROSS (United States of America) suggested that Mr. Reedmen might give his views on the situation.
Mr. REEDMAN said that he had only seen the cablegrams for the first time that morning. While it seemed that there might be one or two minor points of technical nature, it would appear that the main problem was a political one. There seemed to be an attempt to hold up the operation by somewhat legalistic means. That was obviously what had to dealt with, and it should be possible to overcome the difficulty, though it was not easy at that distance to say how that could be done.
Mr. ROSS (United States of America) asked Mr. Reedman whether he thought it would be useful for him to go to the spot as an observer on behalf of the Commission.
Mr. REEDMAN thought there certainly might be advantages in that course from the point of view of the Commission, since UNRWA did not feel able to enter into the question as a negotiator and therefore had to refer questions of the type at issue to the Commission as soon as they arose. The presence of a representative of the Commission would make direct contact possible.
Mr. ORDONNEAU (France) agreed that the Commission needed someone for the task and felt that Mr. Reedman was the best man for that purpose.
It was agreed that the Secretary-General should be asked to make Mr. Reedman’s services available,
The CHAIRMAN asked whether it was thought desirable to have a permanent representative of the Commission in Jerusalem.
Mr. ORDONNEAU (France) pointed out that his delegation had always wanted the Commission to be represented in Jerusalem. His personal opinion was that the Commission ought to proceed to Jerusalem before the next session of the General Assembly, especially in view of the request of the Egyptian representative.
Mr. ROSS (United States of America), referring to the communications from the representative of Egypt to the Secretary-General, thought that the Commission might advise the Secretary-General to reply orally that the Commission had the question under study. The members of the Commission might also talk to the representative of Egypt to find out what were the motives behind the request. In any case, he felt that the Commission needed time to study the question.
The CHAIRMAN agreed that it would be well to find out what the Egyptian representative wanted; the request might be due to the question of the sale of refugee property or it might be due to something else.
Mr. ROSS (United States of America) noted that the Egyptian representative knew that they all had a lot of work and could therefore be expected to understand that while the Commission did not wish to delay a decision unduly, it wished to give sufficient study to the matter.
The CHAIRMAN asked whether the Commission wished him to get in touch with the Egyptian Ambassador on the question.
Mr. CHAI (Acting Principal Secretary) pointed out that the Secretary-General had already replied to the communication from the representative of Egypt, which had been transmitted to the Commission by Dr. Protitch.
Mr. ORDONNEAU (France) agreed that it would. be useful if the Chairman would contact the representative of Egypt and suggested that the other members of the Commission might also do so.
Mr. BARCO (United States of America).wondered if the Commission could not do more to assist Mr. Reedman, perhaps by making some kind of official statement concerning the problem that had arisen. It was clear, as Mr. Reedman had said, that it was a political problem. A statement was being circulated in the area by the Arab Higher Committee urging the refugees not to co-operate. The refugees were being told that application for their funds would involve recognition of the Government of Israel, that to accept payment was to relinquish claims on the rest of their money, and that they were committing themselves in various other ways. Since the Commission had always taken the position that the release was an unconditional one, except that it was to be carried out in instalments, it would be desirable to issue a statement saying that it regretted the misunderstanding which had arisen. If the Commission did not do so, even Mr. Reedman’s presence might be taken as an indication that there was something to the rumors. A categorical denial might also have useful results as regards Israel. The same considerations applied to the story about a 10 per cent levy upon the accounts, which the Commission knew did not apply. A statement by the Commission might be a means of bringing the problem more before the various Governments concerned. After issuing such a statement, the Commission might send copies to the representatives of the Arab States pointing out that an action of benefit to the refugees was involved. In that connexion Mr. Barco said that he had recently seen Mr. Khalidy and had informed him of the situation, and Mr. Khalidy had asked him whether there was anything the Iraq delegation could do.
Mr. ROSS (United States of America) felt that it would be best not to draw specific attention to any of the difficulties such as the statement of the Arab Higher Committee. The Commission ought to make a statement in connexion with Mr. Reedman’s proposed mission and that statement should be of a positive nature so as to avoid creating a controversial situation and advertising the position of the Arab Higher Committee.
Mr. BARCO (United States, of America) agreed that the .sources of the rumors should not be identified.
It was agreed that a statement on the question should be drafted for approval by the members of the Commission.
3. MEMORANDUM FROM THE GOVERNMENTS OF SIX ARAB STATES CONCERNING THE DISPOSITION OF PRIVATE ARAB PROPERTY BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL
Mr. CHAI (Acting Principal Secretary) drew attention to the draft of a letter designed to secure clarification of certain points from Israel which he had put before the Commission as a suggestion.
Mr. ROSS (United States of America) wondered whether it would be better to write to Israel or to call attention orally. The Chairman might see Mr. Rafael and get his comments on the question, or the Israel delegation might be asked to meet with the Commission to answer questions on that subject. The alternative would be simply to have the Chairman transmit a copy of the memorandum to the Israel delegation, inviting its comments. Mr. Ross favoured the latter course, pointing out that at the same time the Commission could indicate that if the Israeli delegation so desired, the Commission would be glad to meet with it to discuss the matter.
The CHAIRMAN said that he had had an informal talk on the matter with Mr. Rafael who had said that he had no official information, but had suggested that if there had been any such sales, the proceeds would surely be kept for the refugee Mr. Rafael had undertaken to cable to Tel Aviv to obtain information on the question.
Mr. CHAI (Acting Principal Secretary) pointed out that the Arab letter to the Secretary-General had requested that the memorandum be transmitted to all Member Governments. The Government of Israel had therefore received a copy of the memorandums.
Mr. ORDONNEAU (France) felt that the best solution, since the Chairman had already talked to the representative of Israel, would be for him to see Mr. Rafael again and enquire about the reply to Mr. Rafael’s cable.
It was so agreed.
4. COMMUNICATION FROM THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF EGYPT
This question was discussed at the same time as item 2 of the agenda (see above).