SUMMARY RECORD OF THE FIFTY-SECOND MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Wednesday, 15 February 1950, at 5 p.m.
a) Examination of Report Submitted by the Mixed Committee of Experts on Blocked Accounts
The CHAIRMAN noted that in the light of the Report of the Mixed Committee of Experts to the General Committee an agreement between the two parties on the procedure for unblocking a portion of the assets of the Arab refugees could now be said to have taken shape.
The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY reported on the meeting which had taken place. The Mixed Committee had examined and adopted a draft Report to the General Committee (Annex 1 to the present Summary Record). He had explained to the Arab member and to the Israeli member of the Mixed Committee the procedure which would be followed if the General Committee approved the Mixed Committee’s Report. The Commission’s Economic Adviser would then go to London to discuss with the British Treasury the placing at the disposal of the Arab States of an amount in transferable sterling equivalent to the total sum advanced by them to Arab refugees; that sum would be repaid to the Treasury in Palestine pounds unblocked by the Israeli authorities. Once that transaction had been settled, two further points, inter alia, would remain outstanding and would require consideration by the General Committee and the Commission, viz., the nomination of the Trustee and the determination of a time-limit for repayment. It might not be possible to retain the expression “the end of hostilities” to denote a time-limit. In any case, it was preferable to proceed step by step and to concentrate for the time being on the forthcoming negotiations with the British Treasury. Subject to the approval of the General Committee, the Mixed Committee would be reconvened in due course to consider the outcome of the negotiations.
At the meeting of the Mixed Committee he had thought it wise to inform the Arab and Israeli members of the General Committee’s intention to issue a communiqué to the press. He had given them to understand that the General Committee would not object to acquainting them with the text of the communiqué beforehand. The Arab member of the Mixed Committee, Mr. Labbane, had made two remarks on the subject; in the first place he had made it quite clear that he wished to be apprised of the text of the communiqué before it was issued, and secondly, he had asked that the communiqué should include a reservation to the effect that the unblocking of the 100 pounds in question would not prejudice the refugees’ right to demand later the release of the whole of their bank accounts and other assets whether movable or immovable. Mr. Labbane had doubted had in mind the possibility for them to exercise that right at the time of the peace settlement. The Israeli member of the Mixed Committee, Mr. Rafael, had been prepared to trust the General Committee to draft the communiqué provided it was confined to a “statement of fact”; it would be otherwise if the communiqué took a different form.
The CHAIRMAN thought it should be stated in the name of the Commission that the meeting of the Mixed Committee and the results obtained by it represented considerable progress. He expressed his gratitude to the Principal Secretary and to Mr. Servoise. It was now possible to look forward to successes in other fields. A remarkable fact was that the measure in question would benefit the Arab refugees exclusively, without any reciprocal concession. The General Committee should welcome that new development, which would alleviate the lot of the refugees. The procedure described in the Mixed Committee’s Report appeared to him a reasonable and satisfactory, and he asked the members of the Committee whether they approved it.
The General Committee approved the Report of the Mixed Committee of Experts on Blocked Accounts, and the Procedure outlined therein.
b) Draft Press Release on the Blocked Accounts
After examining the draft press release prepared by the Secretariat, the General Committee approved it with the exception of one sentence which it requested the Secretariat to redraft. The new wording of the sentence in question would be submitted to the members of the General Committee the following day, during the meeting of the Commission.
The CHAIRMAN enquired of the members of the Committee whether they thought that a representative of the Commission should place himself at the disposal of the press to give any explanations which might be required on the origin of the problem of the release of blocked Arab accounts.
Mr. ERALP (Turkey) suggested that a statement should first be prepared, recalling the background of the question.
The CHAIRMAN pointed out that the General Committee would then be obliged to obtain the approval of the Arab,= and Israeli members of the Mixed Committee for two separate documents.
The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY suggested that it would be well not to go too fully into the nature of the procedure to be followed, so as not to give the United Kingdom authorities the impression that they were being informed indirectly through the press. He thought it better to begin the negotiations in London before issuing any statement on the subject.
The CHAIRMAN proposed that the General Committee should leave it to the Principal Secretary to give the press such explanations as he might think useful.
It was so agreed.
II. Egyptian proposals concerning the Gaza Refugees (Decision of the Commission of 13 February 1950 on the setting up of a Mixed Committee.
The CHAIRMAN said that the Committee had before it an extract from a summary record from which it appeared that at its last meeting the Commission had decided to set up a Mixed Committee for the study of the Egyptian proposals concerning the Gaza refugees. He himself was not sure that the Commission had actually so decided. In his view, the setting up of such a Committee should be envisaged within the broader framework of the establishment of a series of Mixed Committees. The Commission should first decide on the principle of establishing such Committees, their programmes, membership, terms of reference and the order in which they were to be set up.
The Egyptian proposals had a limited scope; it would be desirable for the terms of reference of the Mixed Committee in question, if such a Committee was contemplated, to be on broader lines, enabling it to take cognizance of the whole question of the Gaza area and of relations between Egypt and the State of Israel within that area.
If the other members of the General Committee agreed, the Committee might propose, in a report to the Commission, that a Mixed Committee should be set up for the Gaza area within the new and broader framework envisaged, that it should be the first Committee to be so set up, that it should be given fairly wide terms of reference so that its competence might cover not only the questions raised by Egypt but any others which might be referred to it by the Commission, that its membership should be decided in the light of the anticipated membership of the other possible Committees and of the necessity for splitting up the delegations of the parties concerned and the members of the Commission among such Committees. The number of persons available was indeed very small, and a most careful and judicious distribution would be necessary.
Mr. ERALP (Turkey) thought the Chairman should take up the matter with the Egyptian delegation before the General Committee came to any decision. In reply to a remark by the CHAIRMAN to the effect that in his view the General Committee could not take up the question of a mixed committee for Gaza separately, without considering it in conjunction with the series of committees to be set up, he expressed the view that the Commission could usefully make a start by setting up a committee for Gaza; its establishment would doubtless be facilitated by the fact that the initiative came from one of the Arab delegations. In those circumstances it might be useful to approach the Egyptian delegation, giving it to understand that the General Committee was now studying the question of setting up a committee.
The CHAIRMAN was not convinced of the advisability of isolating that particular case from the general problem whose solution Mr. de Boisanger was seeking in a series of conversations. For the General Committee to approach the Egyptian delegation on the question of setting up one particular committee might be detrimental to the course of Mr. de Boisanger’s conversations.
The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY pointed out that the Commission, which was to meet the following morning, might be asked what were its real intentions when it approved the suggestions made by Mr. de Boisanger.
The CHAIRMAN was of the opinion that the Commission should also be presented with a concrete proposal.
Mr. TOUSSAINT (France) thought that Mr. de Boisanger had felt that the Egyptian proposal paved the way for the setting up of a mixed committee, so that it would be advisable to take advantage of it. The body thus established would of course have to be integrated in the general framework of future mixed committees, but that did not seem likely to offer any particular difficulties.
The CHAIRMAN, while recognising the possible advantages of an approach to the Egyptian delegation, thought it might be liable to weaken the moral effect of the proposals which the Commission had to make on 24 February.
Mr. ERALP (Turkey) observed that on the contrary the best thing to do was to proceed by imperceptible stages, avoiding anything in the nature of a surprise.
The CHAIRMAN, without objecting in principle to the approach suggested, thought it advisable to consult the Commission and proposed that the General Committee refer to the Commission the various views which had been expressed.
III. Separated Arab families.
The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY informed the Committee that he had received confirmation of the return to Israel of the 115 members of separated Arab families earlier reported to him.
On the CHAIRMAN’s proposal, the General Committee decided that there were no grounds for giving publicity to that confirmation.
The Mixed Committee of Experts on Blocked Accounts met on 15 February in Geneva. The Arab and Israeli members of the Committee, to whom the report of the economic adviser on his conversations in Cairo and Tel-Aviv (Com.Gen.W/8 Rev.1) had previously been communicated, declared themselves in agreement with the principles of procedure proposed in that document.
The Committee takes note of the Israeli Government’s proposal to guarantee the eventual release of €Pal.100 to each Arab refugee holding a blocked banking account in Israel.
The Mixed Committee of Experts recommends to the General Committee that the Chairman of the Mixed Committee of Experts should begin conversations immediately with the institutions concerned for the purpose of studying the appropriate technical measures for the implementation of the proposed procedure.
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Comptes bloqués (incluant un rapport au comité général du comité mixte d'experts sur les comptes bloqués), les réfugiés de Gaza, les regroupements familiaux - Comité général de la CCNUP 52e séance à Genève - Compte rendu analytique Français