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Admission of Failure, Report of the Palestine Conciliation Commission to the Sixth Session of the General Assembly

(July 5, 1998)

By late 1951 the Palestine Conciliation Commission admitted failure to carry out its mandate. The concluding paragraphs of its report to the General Assembly follow.

G. Conclusions 

79. In its work during the past year - and indeed during the three years of its existence - the Conciliation Commission has been unable to make substantial progress in the task given to it by the General Assembly of assisting the parties to the Palestine dispute towards a final settlement of all questions outstanding between them.

80. In the course of its efforts to accomplish that task, the Commission has successively employed all the procedures which were at its disposal under the relevant General Assembly resolutions. At Lausanne, in the spring of 1949, it tried to render that assistance in the role of an intermediary between the parties; at Geneva, in 1950, the Commission attempted to bring about direct negotiations between the parties through the medium of Mixed Committees; and, finally, at its recent conference in Paris, the Commission assumed the functions of a mediator and, in that role, submitted to the parties for their consideration a comprehensive pattern of concrete proposals towards a solution of the Palestine question.

81. This pattern of proposals comprised practical arrangements for a solution of the refugee question, and a method of revising or amending the Armistice Agreements concluded between Israel and her neighbours with a view to promoting the return to peace in Palestine.

82. In linking those two issues together in a comprehensive pattern of proposals the Commission took account of two factors: (a) that the Armistice Agreements, although of a military character, were designed as a means of transition from war to peace and provided for procedures by which that aim could be attained; and (b) that positive progress in the transition from war to peace in Palestine is impossible if the refugee problem remains unsolved.

83. This final effort at the Paris conference was no more successful than the prior attempts by the Commission during the past three years. Despite that lack of progress, the Commission recognises that both sides have expressed their desire to co-operate with the United Nations towards the achievement of stability in Palestine; but the Commission believes that neither side is now ready to seek that aim through full implementation of the General Assembly resolutions under which the Commission is operating.

84. In particular, the Government of Israel is not prepared to implement the part of paragraph 11 of the General Assembly resolution of 11 December 1948 which resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.

85. The Arab Governments, on the other hand, are not prepared fully to implement paragraph 5 of the said resolution, which calls for the final settlement of all questions outstanding between them and Israel. The Arab Governments in their contacts with the Commission have evinced no readiness to arrive at such a peace settlement with the Government of Israel.

86. The Commission considers that further efforts towards settling the Palestine question could yet be usefully based on the principles underlying the comprehensive pattern of proposals which the Commission submitted to the parties at the Paris Conference. The Commission continues to believe that if and when the parties are ready to accept these principles, general agreement or partial agreement could be sought through direct negotiations with United Nations assistance or mediation.

87. The Commission is of the opinion, however, that the present unwillingness of the parties fully to implement the General Assembly resolutions under which the Commission is operating, as well as the changes which have Occurred in Palestine during the past three years, have made it impossible for the Commission to carry out its mandate, and this fact Should be taken into consideration in ally further approach to the Palestine problem.

88. Finally, in view of its firm conviction that the aspects of the Palestine problem are interrelated, the Commission is of the opinion that in any further approach to the problem it is desirable that consideration be given to the need for co-ordinating all United Nations efforts aimed at the promotion of stability, security and peace in Palestine.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs