Question of Palestine home
8 March 1957
Agenda item 66
QUESTION CONSIDERED BY THE FIRST EMERGENCY SPECIAL SESSION
OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FROM 1 to 10 NOVEMBER 1956
Report of the Secretary-General in pursuance of resolutions I and II
adopted by the General Assembly on 2 February 1957 (A/RES/460
1. The General Assembly, on 2 February 1957, adopted a resolution (A/RES/460) in which, after recalling its previous resolutions on the same subject, the Assembly called upon Israel to complete its withdrawal behind the Armistice Demarcation Line without further delay.
2. The Foreign Minister of Israel, on 1 March, announced in the General Assembly the decision of the Government of Israel to act in compliance with the request in this resolution. The same day the Secretary-General instructed the Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force, as a matter of the utmost urgency, to arrange for a meeting with the Israel Commander-in-Chief, in order to agree with him on arrangements for the complete and unconditional withdrawal of Israel in accordance with the decision of the General Assembly.
3. On 4 March, the Foreign Minister of Israel confirmed to the General Assembly the Government of Israel's declaration of 1 March. The same day the Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force met at Lydda with the Israel Commander-in-Chief. Technical arrangements were agreed upon for the withdrawal of Israel and the entry of the United Nations Emergency Force in the Gaza Strip during the hours of curfew on the night of 6/7 March. Arrangements were made for a similar take-over of the Sharm-al-Shaik area on 8 March.
4. On 6 March, General Burns reported that the "United Nations Emergency Force troops are now in position in all camps and centres of population in Gaza Strip". At that stage the operation had been carried out according to plan and without incidents. At 0400 GMT 7 March all Israelis had withdrawn from the Gaza Strip with the exception of an Israel troop unit at Rafah camp. By agreement, that last Israel element was to be withdrawn by 1600 GMT 8 March. Full withdrawal from the Sharm-al-Shaik area would be effected by the same time.
5. On 7 March, the Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force notified the population of Gaza that "the United Nations Emergency Force, acting in fulfilment of its functions as determined by the General Assembly of the United Nations with the consent of the Government of Egypt, is being deployed in this area for the purpose of maintaining quiet during and after the withdrawal of the Israeli defense forces. Until further arrangements are made, the United Nations Emergency Force has assumed responsibility for civil affairs in the Gaza Strip.....UNRWA will continue to carry out its responsibility and will continue to provide food and other services as in the past. UNEF and UNRWA will do their best to relieve pressing needs which may arise from the present situation."
6. The Secretary-General, thus, is now in a position to report full compliance with General Assembly resolution I of 2 February 1957 (A/RES/460).
7. On 2 February, the General Assembly adopted a second resolution (A/RES/461) "recognizing that withdrawal by Israel must be followed by action which would assure progress towards the creation of peaceful conditions" in the area. Under the terms of this resolution, the completion of withdrawal puts its operative paragraphs into full effect.
8. In the resolution on action to follow a withdrawal, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General, in consultation with the parties concerned, to carry out measures referred to in the resolution and to report as appropriate to the General Assembly. The Secretary-General will now devote his attention to this task. The stand of the General Assembly in the resolution is to be interpreted in the light of the report of the Secretary-General of 24 January (A/3512), which the Assembly noted "with appreciation".
9. Specifically, the General Assembly called upon the Governments of Egypt and Israel scrupulously to observe the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement between Egypt and Israel of 24 February 1949 and stated that it considered that, after full withdrawal of Israel from the Sharm-al-Shaik and Gaza areas, the scrupulous maintenance of the Armistice Agreement "requires a placing of the United Nations Emergency Force on the Egypt-Israel Armistice Demarcation Line".
10. The Assembly further stated that it considered that the maintenance of the Armistice Agreement requires the implementation of "other measures as proposed in the Secretary- General's report", with due regard to the considerations set out therein, with a view to assist in achieving situations conducive to the maintenance of peaceful conditions in the area. This statement, as it was formulated, read together with the request to the Secretary-General to consult with the parties, indicates that the General Assembly wished to leave the choice of these "other measures" to be decided in the light of further study and consultations.
11. Arrangements made by the Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force provided for an initial take-over in Gaza by the Force. This was in accordance with the statement of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on 22 February, that "the take-over of Gaza from the military and civilian control of Israel... in the first instance would be exclusively by UNEF". Instructions from the Secretary-General to the Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force reflected the position thus reported to the General Assembly. The notification by the Commander quoted in section I above indicates the basis for this initial take-over as well as its extent. The same statement indicates the importance of the role that UNRWA can play in the initial take-over.
12. In accordance with decisions of the General Assembly, UNRWA has important functions in relation to the refugees in Gaza, which constitute the major part of the population of the area. Because of these normal functions and of the additional contributions which that agency can make in aiding the non-refugee population, UNRWA is of essential assistance to the United Nations Emergency Force in its present operation. Therefore, and on the assumption that this course is in accordance with the General Assembly's wishes, the Director of UNRWA has agreed with the Secretary-General in this phase of the development to extend its immediate assistance beyond its normal functions. This would be done in fields which are related to those functions and in which a sharing of responsibilities devolving on the United Nations Emergency Force at the initial take-over seems indicated. The Secretary-General wishes to express his appreciation for this assistance, of which he feels he can avail himself within the terms established for the United Nations Emergency Force as they have to be applied in the present phase of its activities. To the extent that UNRWA in this context is incurring additional costs, the reason for which is within the sphere of the responsibilities of the United Nations Emergency Force, a question of compensation will arise for later consideration.
13. The United Nations may also incur other additional costs than those caused by the assistance rendered by UNRWA. The Emergency Force may be in need of expert advice that can properly be provided by the Secretariat. If members of the Secretariat are taken over by the United Nations Emergency Force on a secondment basis, the cost obviously will be finally provided for as UNEF expenditures under the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly. In other cases costs should be carried by the Secretariat in the normal way.
14. The Secretary-General finally wishes to inform the General Assembly that arrangements will be made through which, without any change of the legal structure or status of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, functions of UNTSO in the Gaza area will be placed under the operational control of the Force. A close co-operation between UNTSO and UNEF will be maintained.