357.AC/9–950: Telegram

The United States Representative on the Palestine Conciliation Commission (Palmer) to the Secretary of State


228. Palun 394. Re Depcirtel August 31.1 USDel PCC submits following comments:

No Arab Government now appears ready envisage peace with Israel or likely commit itself at GA request to discuss directly with Israel question of resettlement of refugees.

Even as between Jordan and Israel it cannot be expected that special committee talks on present specific agenda or additional agenda within framework of Rhodes Agreement will open way to direct overall discussions leading to full peace settlement as long as deterioration of refugee situation continues without prospect of some promising solution and as long as distrust of Abdullah on part of large number of refugees remains unchanged and attitude of Palestinians in Jordan Cabinet and Parliament is one of general insistence on territorial rectification, which Israel will not consider, and particular concern for their own individual property losses which Israel is not prepared to pay.

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Although all Arab governments continue to regard refugee questions as natural and effective basis for their condemnation of Israel they appear to be genuinely concerned over plight of refugees both in its humanitarian aspects and in its possible influence on local and international political developments and seem to realize hopelessness of insistence on repatriation and to recognize consequent urgent need for assurance of compensation and for support of resettlement. But they are ahead of present Arab public opinion and have no assurance of any acceptable alternative to repatriation.

We believe Arab Governments in deciding to request that the question of Palestine refugees and payment of compensation due these and the implementation of GA resolution regarding this question be placed on GA agenda anticipate that its discussion will afford them opportunity to air fully Arab views and grievances re all aspects of Palestine question that are of immediate concern to Arab States, including territorial claims in their natural relationship to refugee problem, and to appeal to international community with initial insistence on right of refugees to return to their homes but with recognition of possible widespread refugee acceptance of compensation for property losses if assured in fair amount and with emphasis on need for urgent action to provide for refugees not repatriated nor sufficiently compensated the opportunities and the means for rehabilitation.

Sincere settlement as an alternative to repatriation is regarded by Arabs as an easy way out for Israel and as unfair to refugees and since Arab States ready to accept refugees for resettlement have clearly indicated their determination to decide for themselves their capacity for any such resettlement and the conditions of acceptance with due regard for political and economic considerations, it is difficult to conceive of their agreeing to discuss this question with Israel. Nor does it seem likely that even in response to UN suggestions through GA they would be prepared to discuss with Israel question of repatriation or compensation without some prior encouragement as to attitude of Israel.

  1. Sent to Arab capitals, Jerusalem (for the USPCC), and Tel Aviv, not printed; it requested an analysis of the motives behind the Arab decision to place an item on refugees on the agenda of the General Assembly. The message also suggested the possibility that protracted and heated discussion of the item might result in the Assembly calling on the Arabs and Israelis to discuss directly with each other questions of refugee repatriation, compensation, and resettlement, and possibly other aspects of the Palestine problem. (320/8–3150)