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John F. Kennedy Administration: State Department Reaction to UN General Assembly Palestine Refugee Debate

(December 5, 1962)

This is a circular telegram from the Department of State to certain posts offering guidance regarding the U.N. General Assembly Palestine refugee debate.

1053. Depcirtel 970. GA Palestine Refugee Debate. Considering strong opposition to substantive treatment Johnson proposals in UNGA evinced not only by Arabs and Israelis but also by our Turkish and French PCC colleagues, and bearing in mind our objective that this debate give PCC initiative fresh impetus benefiting from excellent work of past year, guidance reftel modified as follows:

Mission should inform our PCC colleagues we prepared join them in urging Johnson defer submission report. We suggest meeting be convened with Johnson for this purpose afternoon December 7. We think Dr. Johnson should additionally be informed by PCC that (a) full PCC report, of which his work would form major element, might be issued in due course if he and PCC consider this desirable in light evolution of post-GA discussions; (b) during GA debate Johnson could properly refer questions re status his report to PCC Members who would state that PCC had conveyed to Johnson its view that interim report by him would not now serve useful purpose; (c) PCC very much hopes he can remain on scene; and (d) PCC Members would use their best influence with parties ensure post-GA discussions bear fruit.

PCC colleagues' support should be sought for revised draft PCC report developed in light consultations with them (text by separate tel). US draft resolution unchanged, except you authorized substitute first preambular para from last year's res, plus reference to Res 1725, for our present first preambular para. We believe this would make it more acceptable to both parties.

With Israelis, Mission should take position we desire avoid debating matters of substance. Low-key debate will contribute to continuation useful explorations, which Israel has said it desires, following debate. We confident Israel will be comparatively temperate in its remarks and will not bring Johnson Plan elements into public discussion. We have consistently made clear our opposition to introduction any partisan proposals, including direct negotiations resolutions. If, despite our advice, Israel's friends introduce Brazzaville-type resolution we expect Israel's influence will be used prevent it being brought to vote. Should it come to vote, we would vote against it. Our draft resolution cites para 11. While we realize Israel will object to mention para 11 in draft resolution, citation unavoidable and inclusion from outset improves chances keeping citation innocuously placed.

FYI: Israelis will undoubtedly seek this year as in past a special relationship of tactical coordination with USG. Mission should of course consult with Israeli Del in normal friendly manner but make clear consultation on handling of debate is necessarily a multilateral process. End FYI.

With Arabs, Mission should point out we initially hoped for thorough airing of Johnson elements in debate to win international understanding and support for them. However, we willing heed Arab counsel that keeping Johnson elements out of debate will create better atmosphere for continuation PCC initiative following debate provided there is cooperation in keeping debate low-key. We have consistently made clear our opposition to all partisan proposals including that for direct negotiations. We hope these will not be introduced. We will vote against them if they are pressed to vote. We hoped there would by this time be more tangible progress toward refugee solution that we might have used within USG to justify UNRWA extension. In view resistance of parties and lack of tangible results, we unable justify, and therefore cannot now support, more than minimal UNRWA extension to insure refugee welfare is provided for during coming year while PCC search for political solution continues.

Conversations with other dels should stress our desire to keep substance disentangled from present deplorable debate in expectation PCC will continue useful work with renewed impetus thereafter. In essence, what we seek is well deserved pat on back for PCC that will help it in its dealing with reluctant and insufficiently cooperative parties.

Draft speech materials also being forwarded by separate tel.


Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000.