15. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy0


  • Dr. Joseph Johnson’s Proposals on the Palestine Refugee Problem

Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, Special Representative of the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission, is ready to launch a plan designed to insert the first “thin edge of the wedge” in seeking a solution. This is the result of more than a year’s quiet but intensive effort. We seek your general approval and support for Dr. Johnson’s proposals and the tentative course of action mapped out for the next few months, as described in the enclosure.1 If you approve on both counts, we think it desirable that you agree to see Dr. Johnson privately in the next few days to inform him.

Dr. Johnson has collaborated closely with the Department of State in preparation of both the plan and the tactics.

Dean Rusk2


THE Johnson Plan


1. Background

The PCC-Johnson initiative arose out of humanitarian considerations and:

Our wish to break fourteen-year deadlock as a step toward a peaceful solution of the Arab-Israel dispute, consistent with campaign assurances and political realities in the Near East;
Our concern that in the absence of progress, extremist elements in the Arab states might seek to use the refugees to “Algerianize” the Arab-Israel dispute;
The need, in the face of Congressional demand, to demonstrate action specifically in pursuit of a solution for the refugee problem and offering some eventual prospect of reducing the United States contribution to the refugee relief agency, UNRWA (which has totaled about $300 million and which continues at about $25 million annually, with prospect of steadily mounting requirements as the refugee population increases); and
The tactical purpose of expunging our commitments to existing United Nations resolutions on the refugees by an effort at implementation so strictly impartial and reasonable that, even out of failure, we would profit by being in a position to call for consideration of the refugee problem on a wholly new basis and/or gradually disengage the United States from its present financial involvement.

The initiative began with your letters of May 11, 1961, to Arab leaders,4 committing United States support to an equitable solution of the problem, and your conversation of May 30, 1961, with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion,5 in which the latter reluctantly agreed that an effort at solution was “worth a try”. Other significant steps have been: Dr. Johnson’s acceptance in August 1961 of appointment as Special Representative of the PCC (France, Turkey, the United States); his first exploratory trip in August-September 1961; the adoption, by an overwhelming majority, of a United States-sponsored resolution at the 16th General Assembly endorsing the PCC’s course;6 in April-May this year, Johnson’s “second round” of quiet discussions with Arab and Israel leaders of alternative approaches to the problem; and Dr. Johnson’s discussion with the Department of State, beginning July 17, of proposals for some practical first steps in the direction of final settlement.

2. Essentials of the Johnson Plan

Inasmuch as a negotiated settlement is manifestly unattainable in the foreseeable future, Dr. Johnson envisages backing into the problem in small steps. The first step consists essentially of trying to find out what the possibilities are for repatriation and resettlement. After learning from you that this Government generally approves his proposals and is prepared to give appropriate support, Johnson would submit to the PCC under cover of a Letter of Transmittal (Tab A),7 a brief, simple “Plan” (Tab B), supported by an operational “Explanation” (Tab C).8 These documents would also be given “confidentially”, and for information only, to the governments of the Arab host countries and Israel through their representatives [Page 35] in New York. After PCC approval, and if no categoric dissent has been made by the parties (no prior commitment would be sought from them), the PCC, hopefully about mid-September, would establish a small sub-office in charge of an (Acting) Administrator in United Nations Government House headquarters outside Jerusalem. A Notice would be distributed and Questionnaires would begin to be made available (about a thousand in the first few months, on individual application by mail). These would enable the refugee to make a voluntary expression of initial preference for repatriation to Israel as a law-abiding resident, or for compensation and resettlement in the Arab countries or elsewhere. It would be made clear that preferences would be regarded as confidential by United Nations officials, that they could be changed later, that implementation of preference could not be guaranteed, and that the first forms submitted would be the first processed.

After verification of the refugee’s identity, former property holdings, preliminary estimate of amount of compensation or other payments to which he might be entitled, etc., completed questionnaires would form the basis for consultation with the refugee to answer his questions and obtain a definitive statement of preference in the light of the practical alternatives. Administering officials would then begin consultation with the appropriate government to seek implementation. Governments would determine the admissibility of individuals and the number of refugees to be admitted to their territories. Bodies, containing suitable representation from Israel and the Arab states as well as other interested United Nations members who now contribute to the United Nations’ Palestine refugee support (this excludes the Soviet Bloc), would be appointed to advise the administering officials (one of the main purposes of this being to assure the country of preference a significant role throughout the screening processes). The Administrator would report periodically on the degree of cooperation received from governments in implementing preferences.

Several “disincentives” to expression of preference for repatriation are built into Johnson’s plan. One of the more important is that a United Nations obligation to pay compensation would be assumed only in cases of refugees being resettled outside Israel. For those, compensation would take into account the value of (a) refugees’ immovable property, (b) refugees’ movable property, (c) communal properties left in what is now Israel, with addition of (d) a payment representing interest on (a). Refugees returning to Israel would be expected to seek restitution for properties lost or damaged through such special procedures as Israel might set up. (Under present Israel law there would be no means for the returning refugee to seek such restitution.) Every refugee would be eligible for a per capita re-integration allowance of $250 upon acceptance of one of the alternatives offered.

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As regards the ratio of refugees likely to express preference for resettlement to those opting for re-integration, it is quite possible that, at the first stage of completing the questionnaires, the majority of preferences might be for return to Israel. At the later stage of private interview with the refugee, however, it is expected that the number of persons expressing preference for repatriation would substantially decrease. The ratio in terms of actual movement, which it is believed can be ensured by the interview process and the several administrative and other controls built into the Johnson proposals, is generally expected to be about one refugee repatriated for every nine resettled in the Arab states or elsewhere.

Administrative and staff costs of the plan would be financed from the regular United Nations budget. Program costs, mainly compensation and the re-integration allowance, would be financed by voluntary contributions. Dr. Johnson believes maximum program costs during the first year of the plan’s operation (i.e., FY-1963) might be $100 million. Johnson is hopeful that Israel, which has the benefit of the approximately $500 million worth of property left behind by refugees, would contribute $40 million, the United States $30 million, and other nations and private sources $30 million.9

3. The United States Role

We have conducted this operation in a United Nations framework and will continue to do so since this will enhance the palatability of Johnson’s proposals. In the minds of the parties we are, however, closely identified with the effort. This is desirable as it would not otherwise be taken seriously. Significant elements of our further involvement during the coming year’s phase of ascertaining what opportunities for repatriation and resettlement exist would be as follows (a tentative Action Sequence is attached at Tab D):10

Your assurance to Dr. Johnson that we generally approve and are prepared to give appropriate support to his proposals.
Our subsequent assurance to Dr. Johnson personally that we will (1) try to provide up to $30 million in FY-1963 if the plan works in practice, [Page 37] (2) commit ourselves to provide $100,000 of this for use before the end of the current year, (3) help in obtaining financial support from other nations, including Israel, and (4) seek legislative authority for generous United States support of operations under the plan in future years if it works. (We think Congress would be responsive if there is demonstrable progress.)
Support of the plan with our co-members of the PCC.
Appropriate private communications from you to Ben-Gurion, Nasser, and perhaps Hussein urging their cooperation (see Tab D).
Intensive exploration with Israel of means for prompt and equitable hearing of claims of repatriated refugees to indemnification for property lost.
Support of the PCC-Johnson initiative at the 17th General Assembly if the plan has not been rejected out-of-hand, including a public declaration if necessary of our willingness to provide up to $30 million in support of the plan during the current fiscal year if it is effective and support is also provided by others and the program requires it.
Efforts with Congress and other nations to provide some refugee resettlement opportunities in the United States and elsewhere.

4. Anticipated Israel Objections

Fundamentally, Israel wants no repatriation of refugees and can be expected to try to build resistance among its supporters in this country to any plan involving anything but token repatriation. It argues a “population exchange” has taken place through the admission into Israel of 400,000-500,000 Jews from the Arab states. However, we believe Israel would consider taking back 100,000-150,000 Arabs if (a) the Arab countries are cooperating in resettlement of the remainder, (b) controls are built into the system to guarantee Israel control over the admissibility of individuals and ensure that it alone is free to determine the number of refugees ultimately repatriated, (c) there is assurance of generous United States support in meeting costs of repatriation and settlement in Israel, and (d) there is some further United States move in meeting long-standing Israel objectives, such as a security guarantee.

Israel fears a great number of preferences for repatriation will be recorded. However, the plan does leave in Israel’s hands full control, both as regards individuals and in terms of ultimate numbers, of those permitted to return. Israel can without prejudice cease cooperation at any time if the Arab countries do not cooperate in resettlement. What we now contemplate is a small beginning in a process over which it will be possible to exercise full administrative controls (by restraints on distribution and processing of questionnaires, making preferences confidential, guidance interviewing, assuring Israel of a full role in the screening process of each individual refugee, and ultimately by the willingness [Page 38] to restrict if necessary our financial contribution). The plan is clearly weighted in favor of resettlement. We can perhaps further ease Israel’s qualms by a secret bilateral assurance that (a) we would not support return of refugees in such numbers as to endanger Israel’s security or economic well-being, and (b) we would provide financial help (plus a security assurance). Ultimately, of course, Israel would gain enormously from the dissipation and restoration to useful lives of the 1,100,000 refugees who now constitute a focus of hatred and agitation on its frontiers, thus standing as an important obstacle to Israel’s acceptance by its neighbors. We think there is considerable incipient support among Israel’s friends in the United States for a fair and practical solution of the refugee problem, provided it can be shown to safeguard Israel’s genuine interests and to be likely to promote peace in the Near East.

5. Anticipated Arab Objections

Arab objections will be (a) the absence of a prior commitment in principle by Israel to accept any and all refugees who opt to return, (b) the plan’s clear recognition of Israel’s existence and sovereignty, and (c) the weighting of the scales by provision for compensation only in the event of resettlement. Individual Arab states will have special concerns; e.g., Lebanon’s desire to rid itself of the Moslem refugees threatening its confessional balance; Jordan’s apprehension that its 500,000 refugees may endanger the government, which could be charged with “betrayal” of Palestinian interests; the UAR problem with the overcrowded Gaza strip, including the great difficulties it would have in absorbing an appreciable number of refugees into Egypt proper.

Answers to general Arab concerns (a), (b), and (c) are that the Arabs themselves have consistently pressed for implementation of paragraph 11 of Resolution 194 and will have a poor case in world forums if they now back off; this plan offers a better prospect of more repatriation and more generous compensation than they will get any other way; and it has never been decided that the United Nations should assume the same responsibility for facilitating payment of compensation to repatriated refugees as it has under the Resolution for those resettled. This is a reasonable and realistic plan; if the Arabs reject it, another real chance to implement paragraph 11 is unlikely. As with Israel, we think the concerns of individual Arab states can to some extent be dealt with by bilateral United States assurances.

6. Conclusion

United States prestige is already engaged to a considerable degree in this approach to the Palestine refugee problem. Other than through our approval of the plan in the PCC context, we are not suggesting further public commitment unless and until this thin edge of the wedge is a going concern. The same is true of its financial aspects. Elements of the [Page 39] Johnson proposals will be distasteful to both parties, but we think it will stand international examination as the most practical, impartial course, offering greatest real advantages to each side, which could be devised in the circumstances. The parties cannot be expected to agree to it in advance, and we are not seeking this, but acquiescence. Therefore, there is good reason to move quickly on the first small steps. Before the General Assembly debate on the refugees which must take place this fall (and which we hope to delay until mid-November), we have the opportunity to use our involvement to maximum effect, in our effort to ensure acquiescence and have a minimal, controllable structure operating in the area. We rate the chances of success as slight, but they will be even less if nothing has been done before Assembly debate commences. If the plan has not been launched by then, and it is put to the Assembly, discussion there would force its public rejection by one and probably both sides. If something has been gotten under way, on the other hand, we will be in an excellent position, as last year, to ask endorsement and support for it by the Assembly, with rejection of impractical proposals put up for tactical reasons by either party to the dispute. Furthermore, we judge present circumstances to be the best we are likely to obtain for launching this plan for some considerable time to come. This is the case because of new stresses in Israel-Arab relations and Arab-United States relations that we anticipate may occur as the result of Israel’s planned water withdrawals from the Jordan system and the possibility that the United States might supply missiles to Israel.

Finally, if we have tried, in a way the international community will regard as honorable and serious, but have failed, our prestige will be high as the nation which has fulfilled its moral responsibility in seeking the fair solution, and we will be in position to urge a new approach to the problem or state our intention gradually to disengage from it.

Tab B11




Paragraph 11 reads:

Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest [Page 40] practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations.

To initiate operations, the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, on authority contained in resolutions of the General Assembly, would, with the approval (or cooperation) of the Secretary-General, appoint such officials as may be needed to administer the proposals described herein. Initially, the senior official should be called Acting Administrator. In due course, an Administrator would be designated. A central office would be established, temporarily, in Government House in Jerusalem.
Initial Preferences: The administering officials would first make available to refugees suitable questionnaires on which each could on an entirely voluntary basis indicate confidentially his initial preference for repatriation, or for compensation and resettlement. In the early stages, because of inevitable limitations associated with the start of such a technically complex operation, questionnaires would be available only on application by individuals or heads of family.
Consultation: The administering officials would start processing completed questionnaires in order of receipt. This would involve verification of the identity of the refugees; consultation with the Government of Israel to determine opportunities for repatriation and with Arab host governments and others to determine opportunities for resettlement; preliminary computation of the payments to which the refugee might be entitled. As the processing of each questionnaire is completed, the administering officials would communicate with the refugee to inform him of the results, to try to answer his questions, and to obtain a definite statement of preference in the light of this information.

Carrying Out Refugee Preferences: On the basis of this definitive statement of preference, the administering officials would set about assisting in implementation, so far as and as soon as possible, in consultation with the appropriate government.

The Acting Administrator would be authorized to designate certain impartial bodies to give advice on controversial matters; such as in cases of disagreement, the admissibility of individuals to the country of preference. Governments would retain the ultimate right to decide on the acceptance of refugees. The Administrator would have the duty to report from time to time on the degree of cooperation received from governments. [Page 41] Depending on these reports, the appropriate United Nations body would consider what, if any, further action to take.

Compensation, Assistance in Re-Integration, and Pending: Staff costs for implementing these proposals should be financed from the regular budget of the United Nations. Programme costs, mainly compensation and such financial assistance as the United Nations may provide toward helping the refugee to become self-supporting regardless of where he might ultimately reside, should be financed by voluntary contributions from governments and the general public.

Tab C12


I. Determination of Refugee Preferences

A. General

1. The proposals advanced for implementation of paragraph 11 of General Assembly Resolution 194(III) envisage essentially a three-fold process:

  • —an opportunity for refugees voluntarily to indicate confidentially their initial preference for repatriation, or for compensation and resettlement (see paragraph 4);
  • —subsequent private consultations with refugees to answer questions as to what in more concrete terms would be involved in individual cases with regard to the preferences just mentioned;
  • —the implementation of refugee preferences insofar as and as soon as possible.

2. The United Nations as an instrument of international cooperation must have a central role in this endeavor to facilitate the implementation of paragraph 11. In a larger sense, this will involve leadership in launching the process and in keeping it under constant surveillance. Specifically, as administrator of the scheme, the United Nations’ function will include consultations with governments concerned and the refugees, exchange of information among the parties concerned, representing refugees before governmental authorities, disbursement of funds, etc. It is very similar in many ways to the role of the United Nations High [Page 42] Commissioner for Refugees. The success of the effort, however, will depend only partly on the United Nations and the skill with which it administers the operation. Success will require cooperation from Israel and the Arab states concerned in compliance with their responsibilities as Members of the United Nations, as well as cooperation from the refugees themselves. Support will also have to be forthcoming from other members of the United Nations and Specialized Agencies, particularly as regards necessary financing.

B. Administration

3. To initiate operations, it is proposed that the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, on authority contained in existing resolutions, should with the approval of the Secretary General appoint such officials as may be needed to administer the scheme. The senior of these should initially be designated Acting Administrator. As operations progress and demands on the staff increase, the administrative network would be expanded and an Administrator designated. Headquarters should temporarily be established in Government House in Jerusalem. Staff costs should be financed from the regular budget of the United Nations. Program costs should come from voluntary contributions from Members of the United Nations and Specialized Agencies. The United Nations administering officials should be accorded the usual facilities, privileges, and immunities normally available to any United Nations entity. The Acting Administrator should be authorized to invite certain Member Governments, including notably the Arab host states and Israel, to designate representatives upon whom he could call for advice.

C. Initial Preferences

4. As soon as possible after the necessary staff have been appointed, refugees should be invited to indicate their initial preferences for repatriation, or for compensation and resettlement. This would be accomplished by an appropriate notice and questionnaire, and such other means as may be indicated, to make clear to the refugee:

the intent of the operation—namely, to implement paragraph 11 insofar as and as soon as possible;
the general outlines of the plan; and
the role of the United Nations administering officials.

The submission of completed questionnaires would be an entirely voluntary act by the refugees, and they should be assured that the administering officials will treat information received as confidential. They would also be assured that they could change their minds later. While at this stage preferences would be essentially between a return or not, as envisaged in the first part of paragraph 11, it might speed the subsequent [Page 43] processing applications if refugees were also afforded a chance to be somewhat more specific in their options. For example, the refugee ought to have a chance to indicate whether, in the event he cannot return to his former home (in the sense of domicile), he nonetheless wishes to return to some similar or adjacent place in what is now Israel and seek from the competent Israel authorities compensation for his property, or whether in such event he would prefer to receive compensation and settle in the Arab world or elsewhere. In the latter eventuality he may also wish to indicate more precisely where he would wish to resettle. The proposed texts of the (a) Notice, (b) Preference Questionnaire, and (c) Property Questionnaire which would be made available to the refugees will be found in Annex A.13

To the extent possible, provision should be made for refugees to respond as members of a family, if they wish to do so. At present it seems likely that some refugees would prefer to return or resettle only as members of a family, but that others would prefer to act as individuals.

5. In the beginning, because of inevitable limitations associated with the start of such a technically complex operation, questionnaires would be available only on application by individuals or heads of family. Completed questionnaires would, similarly, be returned to the appropriate administering officials, and they would be dealt with in order of receipt. It would be explained that the processing of the first questionnaires received would of necessity be a comparatively slow process until sufficient qualified staff had been recruited and routine administrative procedures had been developed and made efficient through experience. Later, when administrative details had become routine, and adequate cooperation was assured, questionnaires might be made more widely and readily available, such as through UNRWA in essentially the same manner as has already been done in the case of application forms for the release of blocked accounts. The Acting Administrator might also then begin establishing branch offices in areas where refugees are located. These offices could provide the services of confidential scribes (Arabic speaking but not from the area) to refugees who cannot read or write and would also facilitate the process of consultation described immediately below. It could be assumed that when this stage is reached the processing of questionnaires would proceed rapidly, although it must always be expected that there will be some purely administrative limit to the number of questionnaires that even the most efficient organization could deal with in any year.

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D. Consultation

6. As questionnaires are returned, the administering officials would start processing them. This would involve mainly:

Verification of the identity of refugees by such means as may be available, including comparison with the records of the Conciliation Commission which would by that time have been made available to the administering officials;
If the refugee’s initial preference were to return, the administering officials would proceed to determine by the means available to them, including consultations with the Government of Israel, the possibilities thereof. This would involve putting together information concerning the former home of the refugee, the alternative places where he might be repatriated in Israel if his home does not exist, and the financial assistance to which he might be entitled;
If the refugee’s preference were to accept compensation and settle outside what is now Israel, the administering officials would proceed to determine the possibilities thereof by means available to them, including consultation with the governments of the Arab or other states where the refugee might have indicated that he would wish to resettle. This would involve putting together information generally similar to that required in the case of an option in favor of repatriation (see b above);
The administering officials would endeavor to establish on a preliminary basis the general magnitude of the compensation or other financial assistance to which the refugee would be entitled.

7. Having completed this process, the administering officials would then communicate with the refugee indicating a readiness to respond to questions and to discuss what he might expect with regard to his initial preference.

8. The refugee would then be invited to indicate definitively his wishes in order of preference. The invitation would make clear that the refugee could freely state his preference (or not express any preference for the time being), but that he might not get his first preference.

II. Carrying Out Refugee Preferences

A. General

9. As soon as the refugee had indicated a preference on the basis of information made available to him during the consultation stage, the administering officials would then endeavor to secure its timely implementation, in cooperation with the governments concerned.

B. Repatriation

10. By the time this stage was reached, the Administrator would have established, with the Government of Israel, detailed procedures for the processing of the applications for repatriation. The administering [Page 45] officials, initially at least, would perform essentially a coordinating and catalytic function between the Israel authorities and the refugees. The Israel authorities would naturally wish to reassure themselves that there is no a priori reason why the refugee should not be admitted on security grounds. The refugee for his part would naturally have to undertake to live as a law-abiding resident of Israel. Israel has, with other sovereign states, the power to decide which individuals may be admitted; paragraph 11, however, clearly creates with regard to the refugees a special situation. It is, therefore, proposed that the Administrator designate or create a body to which cases where disagreement arises on admissibility of individual refugees can be referred for impartial opinion. Israel would still have to make the ultimate decision. The Administrator should regularly include in his reports information on the disposition of such cases.

11. Once refugees are admitted to Israel it will no doubt be in Israel’s interest to see to it that the administering officials have every opportunity to inform themselves regarding the treatment afforded to the refugees. While it is to be hoped that the effective implementation of paragraph 11 will lead to the improvement of relations between Israel and her Arab neighbors, it would be unwise to overlook the fact that these relations are not normal. In this situation the Administrator as an impartial observer will perform an obviously useful function.

12. It will be noted that nothing has been said about the number of refugees who might be admitted to Israel in any year or in the long run. Establishing such ceiling figures as part of the suggestions herein advanced would appear to be contrary to both the letter and the spirit of paragraph 11. In line with the basic assumptions noted above, however, Israel will of necessity always have the right to make the decision as to how many refugees can be admitted both in any given period and ultimately. It is to be expected that in so doing Israel will act in good faith. The Administrator and ultimately the Assembly will, of course, retain the responsibility for making a judgment as to whether Israel is doing so.

C. Compensation and Re-Integration Allowance

13. The United Nations will assist in ensuring that compensation for properties left behind in what is now Israel be paid to those refugees who owned such property and who prefer not to return. Such compensation will be calculated by the administering officials on the basis of the following factors:

the value in 1947-48 of immovable property left behind by the refugee when he departed from his home;
an estimate of the value of movable property;
adjustment for the loss of interest on immovable property;
the value of communal property.

If wisely used, compensation would contribute to the development of the society or country where invested and would help to provide jobs [Page 46] for the non-propertied refugees so that, with the help of a re-integration allowance, they could take an honorable and productive place wherever they live.

14. The United Nations should endeavor to provide to all the Palestine refugees, at the time when their preference is implemented and on a per capita basis, a re-integration allowance. This allowance would serve in lieu of compensation for the disturbance factor in the refugees’ lives and would also assist each refugee family in becoming self-supporting wherever it lived. The amount of re-integration allowance paid to each refugee should be the same; it is suggested this be the current equivalent of US $250 per person.

15. Compensation and the re-integration allowance should be paid from a special fund established for the purpose by the General Assembly, the Administrator to have as one of his primary functions the administration of the compensation and re-integration funds. The international community would be invited to contribute to the fund on a voluntary basis. Contributors might include not only governments of States Members of the United Nations and of the Specialized Agencies but also the general public. As the property for which compensation will be paid is now in Israel, it is assumed that Israel will make a substantial contribution.

16. It is suggested that a basic principle of compensation of Palestine refugees should be that it is paid to individuals. It is, of course, appreciated that governments have an interest in this matter and have the power to establish such conditions on the use of compensation payments and re-integration allowances by the inhabitants of their territory as they may feel would be desirable in terms of their countries’ economic well-being, and the self-support of individual refugees. It would be a duty of the Acting Administrator to work out with the governments concerned arrangements designed to assist in the achievement of these objectives.

17. With regard to compensation for communal property, it is suggested that this might well be paid to the governments concerned approximately in proportion to the number of refugees who settle in the country and for use in assisting them as needed.

18. There may be some refugees returning to what is now Israel who when they left owned immovable property there, and whose immovable property has been destroyed, damaged, or is not available to them. If such refugees seek compensation for these properties, they will do so from the appropriate authorities of Israel. The manner in which these claims are dealt with obviously will affect greatly the reintegration of these refugees as citizens of Israel. Israel should be urged to act on such compensation claims expeditiously and with sympathy. It is hoped that Members of the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies will assist Israel financially to this end.

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19. The operation of the scheme would be facilitated if Israel were to provide through the administering officials assurances that its Arab citizens would have a certain priority in acquiring, through purchase, the lands and other properties of refugees who prefer not to return but to claim compensation. In the circumstances that prevail in this area, this would have at least two advantages: it would help to satisfy the land hunger of Israel’s Arab citizens and it would encourage acceptance of compensation by refugees who would otherwise be loath to take it because it might be regarded as “sale of a birth right”. Assurances that their lands and properties might remain in Arab hands, although these Arabs were citizens of Israel, would help to remove this psychological obstacle.

D. Resettlement of Those Choosing Not To Return

20. As in the case of repatriation, the administering officials would start processing applications for compensation and resettlement as soon as received, and at the same time would start consultations with the governments concerned with regard to opportunities for the resettlement of refugees who had indicated this course as their preference. This would involve essentially the same kind of administrative action between the State or States concerned and the refugees as in the case of repatriation. The Administrator may find it advisable to establish procedures designed to safeguard the states of potential resettlement. Also, and as in the case of repatriation, the Administrator and ultimately the Assembly would have the obligation to judge whether the states concerned were cooperating in the implementation of the paragraph.

21. It is, of course, to be appreciated that conditions among the Arab states, and in particular their potential for accepting refugees for resettlement on a permanent basis, differ.

22. In the cases of refugees who would prefer to resettle in states other than those where they now are, in or outside the Arab world, procedures would have to be negotiated. It is, of course, to be hoped that those states will cooperate in assisting such resettlement on humanitarian grounds, as they now cooperate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees when he seeks from them opportunities for the emigration of refugees.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 886.411/8-762. Secret. Drafted by Crawford on August 2.
  2. At best, this proposal represents a “long shot”. The alternative is to do nothing, which has many risks too. DR [Footnote in the source text.]
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.
  4. Secret. The source text bears no drafting information.
  5. For text, see vol. XVII, pp. 110113.
  6. See ibid., Document 57.
  7. Reference is to U.N. General Assembly Resolution 1725 (XVI), adopted on December 20, 1961; for text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pp. 680-681.
  8. Tab A, entitled “To the Chairman of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine from its Special Representative,” is not printed.
  9. Tabs B and C are printed below.
  10. It would be desirable that this ratio (Israel 40%, the United States 30%, and other sources 30%) be maintained if possible as the basis for contributions in succeeding years if the plan gathers and maintains momentum for the five-ten years which it is estimated would be required to settle permanently all the 1,100,000 refugees now registered. Assuming 100% claims over the decade, Dr. Johnson estimates the costs of the completed operation at about $1.2 billion. Therefore, the United States share, exclusive of what side assistance we provide Israel (much of which would be expected to come from the estimated $225 million in Israel currency which will be accruing to us over the next decade as a result of our past aid programs), might run as high as $360 million or an average of $36 million a year over ten years. In later phases, however, this would be to some extent offset by reductions in our annual $25 million support to UNRWA. [Footnote in the source text.]
  11. Attached but not printed.
  12. Confidential.
  13. Confidential.
  14. Attached but not printed are a “Notice to all Palestine Refugees,” a “United Nations Preference Questionnaire,” and a “Property Questionnaire.”