179. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Jordan1

608. You should immediately approach highest effective level government to which accredited and, in context mutual concern with refugee problem, state we wish share with it our anxiety re SPC discussion of UNRWA Director’s report.2 You should speak along following lines:

Arab UN representatives (led by Shukairi, Dimechkie and Iraqis) are pressing for inclusion in UNRWA resolution of paras enlarging PCC and designating a Custodian of Refugee Property in Israel charged with turning over revenues of these properties to refugees.
While appreciating Arab desire assist refugees, USG has carefully considered pros and cons of these two amendments and must state in all frankness it does not believe introduction of these proposals at this time will further constructive progress toward mutually satisfactory resolution of refugee problem. Hence USG has indicated to Arab UN representatives that it will oppose proposals.
UN Resolution 1456 (XIV), which requested PCC make further efforts to secure implementation of para 11 of UN Resolution 194 (III), called for review of UNRWA mandate (which will inevitably entail review refugee problem) at 16th UNGA. Until that time USG believes PCC should have reasonable opportunity to carry out its difficult [Page 395] mandate without new complications. Depending on results PCC has achieved in interim, USG might not object discussing possibility PCC recomposition at 16th UNGA.
Re Custodian proposal, it obvious Israel would no more accept custodial official than would Arab states where Jewish property is held (e.g., Iraq). In any case this proposal represents highly detrimental intrusion upon fundamental responsibility of PCC with respect to refugee property. PCC has already succeeded in unblocking Arab bank accounts. It has actively been engaged in identifying and evaluating refugee property and has undertaken intensive and detailed study of compensation problem (as well as repatriation problem) with view to finding just solution.
USG hopes government to which you accredited shares our view acrimonious debate of refugee problem now will only exacerbate problem. USG wishes caution that such debate could adversely affect USG’s ability to continue to support UNRWA program. We doubt addressee countries wish assume heavy responsibility which would be entailed if rash action in New York made unfavorable impact on major contributing countries including US where administration change will shortly take place.
If question arises what USG has in mind, you may state that it had been USG hope that in view of review of refugee question expected next year, this year’s resolution could be along lines of previous years’ resolutions, specifically that of last year (1456). If this not satisfactory to Arabs, USG perfectly willing have no resolution at all this year since procedurally no resolution is needed.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/12–1060. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Eilts and Meyer; cleared by Cargo and Palmer; and approved and signed for Herter by Jones. Also sent to Beirut and repeated to Baghdad, Jidda, Cairo, and USUN.
  2. For text of this report, September 1, 1960, see U.N. Doc. A/4478.
  3. Following further discussions at the United Nations, the Special Political Committee agreed on December 19 to continue discussion of the refugee question at the resumed session of the 15th General Assembly in the spring of 1961. Documentation on the discussions in December are in Department of State, Central File 325.84.