UNP Files: Lot 59 D 237

Memorandum by James M. Ludlow of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs ( Hickerson )1


Status of Palestine Situation

At Harding Bancroft’s suggestion I am submitting herewith for your information a brief summary of the problems in the Palestine situation with which UNA is concerned.

1. Activities of the Palestine Conciliation Commission. The PCC has reassembled in Jerusalem and its Secretariat has undertaken certain [Page 593] studies on the assessment of compensation due Arab refugees and possible procedures for repatriation of refugees to Israel. Holger Andersen of Denmark has accepted the position of Director of the new office to be established under the PCC pursuant to the General Assembly’s resolution of December 14, 1950 to handle problems relating to compensation and repatriation. He will assume his duties about May 1 since he is currently engaged in another assignment for the United Nations.

The PCC and the UNRWA have held two meetings in Beirut to delineate their respective responsibilities concerning the handling of the Arab refugee problem. The major issue between them presently is the role which the PCC should have with regard to the resettlement of Arab refugees. The PCC believes that political negotiations with the Arab States and Israel may, of necessity, have to deal with certain aspects of resettlement while UNRWA believes that anything related to resettlement is entirely within their jurisdiction. While I share the PCC viewpoint, I believe that any differences on this subject can be satisfactorily ironed out between Ambassador Palmer and Ambassador Blandford.

Another matter of concern affecting the two Commissions is a proposal made by Israel to the United Nations Negotiating Committee on Palestine and Korean relief. The Israelis have made an offer of 1,000,000 Israeli pounds to the Negotiating Committee for Palestine refugee relief on the condition that Israel shall be relieved of individual claims of compensation. This is a distortion of the suggestion made by certain Departmental officers to the Israelis last fall but the unfortunate effect of the proposal has been that if a contribution of any size is now to be expected serious consideration must be given to relating any such contribution to a procedure for satisfying claims of compensation against Israel. Ambassador Palmer quite strongly opposes any such linking of the two, but he has been requested to reconsider the problem, in view of the fact that NEA and UNE are seriously concerned over possible Congressional opposition to any substantial United States contribution if Israel does not make a relatively substantial contribution. I have acceded to NEA’s and UNE’s wishes on this representation to Ambassador Palmer in view of their greater knowledge of the Congressional problem. Personally I share Palmer’s concern and feel that the size of the Israeli offer will have little if any effect on Congressional action on our contribution.2

[Here follow sections concerning the health and responsibilities of General Riley.]

4. Jordan-Israeli Relations. Serious border incidents have occurred in recent months involving Jordan and Israel. One major incident occurred in the Negev where the Israelis were stopped by Jordanian road blocks from using the road which the Israelis built to short cut a road already existent to the extreme south. The short cut as surveyed appeared in part to run through Jordan. A solution agreeable to both sides has been reached in the Mixed Armistice Commission. The tension for some time was quite high between the countries. Another serious [Page 594] incident occurred when Israeli troops raided the small village of Sharafat, clearly within Jordan territory on the road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. This, too, has been settled although not without acrimony. Some encouraging efforts at private negotiation have been made by secret meetings between King Abdullah and Samir Pasha of Jordan and Reuven Shiloah of Israel. Samir Pasha has been acting both as Jordanian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister but has recently given up the latter post to Admar Tuquan Bey, one of Jordan’s observers at the Fifth General Assembly. Samir Pasha is reputed to be generally disposed to assist King Abdullah in reaching some sort of peaceful settlement with Israel but recent border incidents have so embittered him that chances of real progress have been considerably lessened. In an effort apparently to improve the working of the Jordan-Israeli Armistice Commission King Abdullah has replaced the senior Jordan representative, Nashashibi with Akmar Khalil and has in turn made Nashashibi under secretary in the Foreign Ministry. The result of these moves has been to increase the possible resistance at the top level in the Jordan Foreign Office to any further extensive negotiations.

5. Jerusalem. King Abdullah of Jordan has appointed a curator for the protection of Holy Places in Arab-held Jerusalem. This may be considered to be Jordan’s answer to any further United Nations efforts to internationalize the city or protect the Holy Places. We may anticipate therefore that acceptance of any United Nations proposals on Jerusalem by Israel and Jordan in the future will be highly unlikely.

  1. Memorandum addressed also to Mr. Popper.
  2. In telegram 207 from Jerusalem (Palun 402), May 9, Ambassador Palmer in substance reiterated his views as outlined by Mr. Ludlow above. (357.AC/5–951)