SUMMARY RECORD OF THE FIFTY-FOURTH MEETING
held in Lausanne on Thursday
12 May 1949, at 10 a.m.
The CHAIRMAN informed the Commission that a letter had been received from Dr. Eytan stating that his delegation would sign the protocol subject to two reservations. In the first place, he recalled the terms of his letter of 9 May to the Commission, and his understanding that no communication on the subject was to be made to the press, as well as his statement that the signing of the protocol would in no way prejudice the right of his delegation to express itself freely on the matters at issue, on which it fully reserved its position. In the second place, he recalled his statement to the Commission on 3 May that his delegation could not be a party to any exchange of views with the Syrian delegation until an armistice agreement was concluded between Israel and Syria.
The Chairman had informed Mr. Ammoun of the second reservation, during a conversation that morning; the latter had stated that it would not modify the position of his delegation, since direct conversations with the Israeli delegation were not contemplated. Regarding the first reservation, the Chairman thought that before the protocol was signed the Commission should ask Dr. Eytan for clarification of the statement that his delegation “reserved its position” on matters at issue.
Concerning Dr. Eytan’s reservation on communications to the press, Mr. ETHRIDGE pointed out that he had already received a request from one newspaper for details regarding the signing of the protocol. It was useless to hope that the agreement could long be kept secret. It should be made clear to Dr. Eytan that the understanding would be only as effective as the delegations chose to make it; the Commission could not control release of information to the .press by the separate delegations. He did not wish the Commission to be placed in an embarrassing position by the inevitable leakage of information.
The CHAIRMAN endorsed Mr. Ethridge’s views; he had already expressed the same opinion to the Arab representatives, and agreed that the matter must be clarified with Dr. Eytan,
The Chairman reported that he had also mentioned to the Arab and Israeli representatives, in private conversations, the Commission’s intention to establish a Territorial Committee. He thought it probable, in the present circumstances, that the name of the Committee would have to be changed, since it would have to deal not only with territorial adjustments but with all other problems at issue, the discussion of which was envisaged in the protocol. Dr. Eytan had expressed his approval of the idea; Mr. Ammoun had made certain reservations, especially concerning the amount of initiative to be allowed the Committee.
The meeting was suspended at 10:30 a.m. and was resumed at 11:15 a.m.
The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY drew attention to a letter which had been received from Mr. Bulos, delegation secretary for the General Refugee Congress, concerning measures to be taken for the preservation of the Palestine orange groves, and observed that Mr. Bulos had asked for a meeting with the Commission at the earliest possible time.
The Commission agreed to receive the representatives of the General Refugee Congress, as well as representatives of the Arab .Higher Committee and the Jaffa Committee, at successive meetings the following morning,
The CHAIRMAN reported that he had just had telephone conversations with Mr. Ammoun of the Lebanese delegation and Mr. Atassi of the Syrian delegation, who found it difficult to accept the terms of Dr. Eytan’s reservation concerning exchange of views with the Syrian delegation. If, during future talks, the Israeli position were to affect Syrian participation in the exchange of views, the other Arab delegations would be forced to take a stand with Syria and decline to take part in negotiations. The Chairman had replied that in the opinion of the Commission, such a problem could be dealt with when and if it presented itself; for the time being, the important thing was that the protocol should be signed. The Arab representatives had stated that their delegations were ready to sign the protocol, but that in their opinion the Commission should reply to Dr. Eytan’s letter.
Mr. ETHRIDGE expressed the opinion that since there was no question of direct talks between the Israeli and Syrian delegations, but only of expression of views by both sides, both the reservation and the objection to it were irrelevant at the present time. He thought the question of a reply by the Commission to Dr. Eytan’s letter should be discussed as unimportant in the present circumstances.
The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Commission might possibly draft a note to Dr. Eytan stating that in its opinion the issue between Israel and Syria had no direct connection with the present negotiations and should not raise any difficulties, and that if problems did arise the Commission would take a position when the time name.
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