Lausanne Conference of 1949
The Lausanne Conference of 1949, was convened by the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) from 27 April to 12 September 1949 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Representatives of Israel, the Arab states Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, and the Arab Higher Committee and a number of refugee delegations were in attendance to resolve disputes arising from the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, mainly about refugees and territories in connection with Resolution 194 and Resolution 181. The meetings were suspended between 1 and 18 July.
Subject of the negotiations 
Amongst the issues discussed were territorial questions and the establishment of recognized borders, the question of Jerusalem, the repatriation of refugees (and whether the issue could be discussed separately from the overall Arab–Israeli conflict), Israeli counter-claims for war damages, the fate of orange groves belonging to refugees and of their bank accounts blocked in Israel.
The Lausanne Protocol 
On 12 May 1949, the parties signed the Lausanne Protocol. Annexed to the protocol was a working document, intended to be a basis for discussions, which turns out to be the partition map of Resolution 181 (which contains proposed borders). By signing the Protocol, Arab countries for the first time recognized the Resolutions 194 and 181 as basis for settlement of the Palestine question. Although Israel had signed the protocol, it ignored the document immediately, undermining the protocol by characterizing it as merely a "procedural device" without political significance.
As expressed in a diplomatic telegram to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion on 29 May 1949, US president Truman was apparently not very pleased with the "excessive Israeli claims to further territory" and its "rejection of the basic principles of the Resolution set forth by the GA on December 11th, 1948".
Basic positions 
The conditions for negotiation were complex. The Arab participants only wanted to act en bloc. Israel only wanted to negotiate with separate states. As the Arab delegations refused to talk directly with Israel, the Conciliation Commission shuttled back and forth between the parties. The Arabs wanted to negotiate on the basis of UN resolutions 194 and 181, They proposed immediate return of the refugees coming from the Arab territories on the partition map that were conquered by Israel. Israel rejected the principle of "repatriation of the refugees and payment of due compensation for their lost or damaged property, as well as for the property of those who do not wish to return" as formulated in Resolutions 194, and asked large amounts of land in return for return of a limited number of refugees. The questions of refugees and of territories were closely linked.
The negotiations 
Borders and return of refugees 
Israel's position on borders was that the borders should be based on the Green Line, with minor modifications, and "she flatly refused to return to the line of the 1947 partition plan." These borders were far beyond those in the partition plan. The Arabs, however, insisted that any deal had to be resolved on the basis of the partition plan, with territorial adjustments necessary pursuant to the Lausanne Protocol. The United States expected territorial compensation for any territorial acquisition beyond the boundaries of the Partition plan proposed in Resolution 181.
In May and June 1949, the Israeli delegation repeated Israel's standpoint that Arab refugees should be settled in other states and Israel would not allow their return to Israel apart from a limited number. In the Knesset, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett declared, that Israel considered itself not responsible in any way for the problem of the refugees.
Israel proposed that the "political frontier" between Israel and Egypt and Lebanon respectively should be the same as under the British mandate. On 29 May, Israel also put forward a proposal called the "Gaza Plan", whereby Israel would annex the Egypt controled Gaza Strip, and accept all its inhabitants and refugees, some 200,000 refugees and 70,000 Arabs in Gaza, as citizens of Israel, provided the international community would pay for refugee resettlement. Israel threatened to abstain from offering proposals concerning the number of refugees it would accept in the event that the Gaza area were not incorporated in Israel. The Gaza annexation proposal was done to "make a really constructive large-scale contribution to the refugee problem".
On 3 August 1949, the Israeli delegation declared that Israel was prepared to accept additional 100,000 refugees, contingent upon Arab agreement to a comprehensive peace and if its present (extended) territory remained the same. Sometimes this plan is referred to as "the 100,000 Offer". After deduction of the already returned refugees, however, Israel's offer was in effect only 80,000 refugees. Moreover, they were not allowed to return to their homes, but would be settled by Israel subject to its security and economic development plan. The Conciliation Commission considered the Israeli proposal as unsatisfactory. In return for repatriation of this limited number of refugees, Israel asked on 31 August not only annexation of all territories it conquered until the 1949 Armistice Agreements, but possibly even more.
Initially, Israel was asked to "break the ice" by making a good will gesture. Israel then announced that it would pay compensation to the refugees for their abandoned properties. The United States, however, applied considerable pressure to Israel to accept a number of refugees. Israel's position on refugees was that the Arab states were responsible for the Palestinian refugee problem since it was, according to Israel, their aggression that caused the initial tragedy, and that therefore it was an Arab problem. Arabs, however, said the responsibility for the situation was Israel's and "insisted ... that all the refugees should be allowed to choose between returning to their previous homes in what used to be Palestine and receiving compensation."
The issue of Jerusalem was relegated to a subcommittee: the Committee on Jerusalem. The Arab delegations accepted a permanent international regime under United Nations supervision as proposed in the Resolutions 181 and 194. Israel rejected this and instead prefered a division of Jerusalem into a Jewish and an Arabic zone, and international control and protection only for Holy Places and sites.
Other issues 
Besides the delegations representing Israel and the Arab states, there were three delegations representing the refugees. Included were members of the General Refugee Congress that had been formed in Ramallah in March 1949. Other notable representatives were members of the Jaffa and District Inhabitants Committee.
While the main issue at Lausanne was the fate of the refugees, also some of the issues relating to refugee property were discussed. The Israelis "explained the activities of the Custodian of Absentee Property". The discussion covered whether property issues could be addressed separately from the overall Arab–Israeli conflict, Israeli counter claims for war damages, the fate of the refugee orange groves, and the fate of refugee bank accounts blocked in Israel. Israel insisted on discussing the refugee and the property issue only as a part of the resolution of the entire conflict, while the Arabs insisted on dealing with the refugee issues separately, on their repatriation.
Comments by Israeli "New Historians" 
- According to Fishbach, Israel emerged from Lausanne frustrated with the role played by the UNCCP. Israel formally notified the UNCCP in the fall of 1949 that it felts its role should not be one of initiating proposals but rather mediating between the Arabs and Israel who would respond directly to one another's initiatives. For the Arabs, movement on the refugee issue remained the sine qua non of any wider discussion with the Israelis and so they too came away disappointed from Lausanne."
- According to Benny Morris, the "Arab delegations arrived united in the demand that Israel declare acceptance of the principle of repatriation before they would agree to negotiate peace.... The Israeli delgation, he Sharett said, had 'come prepared to tackle [the refugee problem] with sincerity and above all in the spirit of realism.' 'Realism' meant no repatriation."
Benny Morris wrote:"The insufficiency of the '100,000 Offer,' the Arab states' continuing rejectionism, their unwillingness to accept and concede defeat and their inability to publicly agree to absorb and resettle most of the refugees if Israel agreed to repatriate the rest, the Egyptian rejection of the 'Gaza Plan,' and America's unwillingness to apply persuasive pressure on Israel and the Arab states to compromise—all meant that the Arab–Israeli impasse would remain and that Palestine's displaced Arabs would remain refugees, to be utilized during the following years by the Arab states as a powerful political and propaganda tool against Israel.
- Ilan Pappe writes: On 12 May 1949, the conference achieved its only success when the parties signed the Lausanne Protocol on the framework for a comprehensive peace, which included territories, refugees, and Jerusalem. Israel agreed in principle to allow the return of a number of Palestinian refugees. This Israeli agreement was made under pressure from the United States, and because the Israelis wanted United Nations membership, which required the settlement of the refugees problem. Once Israel was admitted to the UN, it retreated from the protocol it had signed, because it was completely satisfied with the status quo, and saw no need to make any concessions with regard to the refugees or on boundary questions. Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett had hoped for a comprehensive peace settlement at Lausanne, but he was no match for Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who saw the armistice agreements that stopped the fighting with the Arab states as sufficient, and put a low priority on a permanent peace treaty.
Among the Arabs, only King Abdullah of Transjordan (today's Jordan) worked for a permanent peace treaty with Israel, in part because he had annexed the West Bank and wanted the Israelis to recognize this. When Abdullah's secret negotiations and agreements with Israel were exposed, he was assassinated on 20 July 1951 in Jerusalem by a Palestinian. In the end, no agreement was reached. The failure to settle the refugee question led to the establishment of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to care for the needs of refugees.
- According to Yagil Levy, the sides agreed on a protocol based on the Arabs' acceptance of the principle of partition in Palestine, implying recognition of Israel, and Israeli acceptance of the principle of the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees. Nevertheless, Israel, inspired by its newly defined security interests, signed the document but successfully impeded its translation into a political agreement (Levy, 1997, p. 60). The Israelis insisted on discussing solutions to refugee problems only in the context of an overall settlement of the Arab–Israeli conflict. This agreed with the commission's stance that the interrelation of all the aspects of the problem was too obvious to be overlooked." The Israeli government briefly offered to repatriate 100,000 refugees, but only as part of a final settlement in which all other refugees were absorbed by Arab states. Compensation would be paid, but not to individual refugees or Arab states, only to a "common fund" and only for land that had been under cultivation prior to being abandoned; not for any movable property or uncultivated land. The common fund would be reduced by an amount of compensation to Israel for war reparations. The Commission found this proposal to be unsatisfactory and declared that
- 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.
The Arab delegations insisted on dealing with the refugee problem separately from an overall settlement, and refused to deal directly with the Israeli delegation. The commission found that
- 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.
and that no constructive progress towards a solution of existing problems would be possible unless all the parties to the dispute, at the outset of the discussions, expressed their determination to respect each other's right to security and freedom from attack, to refrain from warlike or hostile acts against one another, and to promote the return of permanent peace in Palestine.
Overall, for reasons that were beyond the Commission's task of facilitation, this movement did not come to pass. The respective attitudes of the parties on this matter—attitudes which produced a complete deadlock as regards the refugee question—are well known. The Arab States insisted upon a prior solution of the refugee question, at least in principle, before agreeing to discuss other outstanding issues. In their opinion, a solution of the refugee problem could be reached only as a result of unconditional acceptance by Israel of the right of refugees to be repatriated. Israel, on the other hand, has maintained that no solution of the refugee question involving repatriation could be envisaged outside the framework of an over-all settlement.
- UNCCP, Fourth progress report, 1 September 1949 (doc.nr. A/992 d.d.22-09-1949)
- UNCCP, 12 May 1949, Summary record of a meeting (doc.nr.A/AC.25/SR/LM/9)
- UNCCP, Third progress report, 13 June 1949 (doc.nr. A/927 d.d.21-06-1949):
"To this document was annexed a map on which was indicated the boundaries defined in the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947, which has thus been taken as the basis of discussion with the Commission. It is understood that any necessary adjustments of these boundaries could be proposed."
- Philip Mattar (2005). Encyclopedia of the Palestinians. Infobase Publishing. pp. 236–237, 298–299. ISBN 978-0-8160-5764-1. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
- Top Secret Truman/Ben-Gurion telex, May 29, 1949. Retrieved 29 April 2013
- Ahron Bregman (2003). A history of Israel. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-0-333-67631-8. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
- Michael Chiller-Glaus (2007). Tackling the intractable: Palestinian refugees and the search for Middle East peace. Peter Lang. pp. 140–. ISBN 978-3-03911-298-2.
- Letter dated 29 August 1949 (doc.nr. A/AC.25/AR/17)
- UNCCP, Meeting between the Conciliation Commission and the delegation of Israel, 11 June 1949 (doc.nr. A/AC.25/SR/LM/20)
- UNCCP, second progress report, 5 April 1949 (doc.nr. A/838 d.d.19-04-1949)
- Letter dated 29 May 1949 addressed by Mr. Walter Eytan, Head of the Delegation of Israel (doc.nr. A/AC.25/IS.19 d.d. 30-05-1949)
- Summary record of a meeting on 3 August 1949, 3 August 1949 (doc.nr. A/AC.25/SR/LM/30)
- UNCPP, 1 September 1949, Letter dated 31 August 1949 (doc.nr. A/AC.25/IS.36)
- UN Committee on Jerusalem, Meeting between the Committee on Jerusalem and the delegations of the Arab states, 20 June 1949 (doc.nr. A/AC.25/Com.Jer./SR.33)
- Letter dated 31 May 1949, addressed by Mr. Walter Eytan, Head of the Delegation of Israel (doc.nr. A/AC.25/Com.Jer/9 d.d. 01-06-1949)
- Michael Fischbach, Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab–Israeli Conflict
- Fischbach, Michael R (2003). Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab–Israeli Conflict. Columbia University Press. pp. 90–103. ISBN 0-231-12978-5.
- Benny Morris (2004). The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem revisited. Cambridge University Press. pp. 558–. ISBN 978-0-521-00967-6.
- Pappe, Ilan (1992). The Making of the Arab–Israeli Conflict 1947–1951. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-85043-819-6.Chapter 9: The Lausanne Conference.
- Pappe, 1992, Chapter 10: The Final Quest for Peace.
- Fischbach, Michael R. (2003). Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab–Israeli Conflict. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12978-5
- Levy, Yagil (1997). Trial and Error: Israel's Route from War to De-Escalation. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-3429-X
- Pappe, Ilan (1992). The Making of the Arab–Israeli Conflict 1947–1951. I.B. Tauris, London. ISBN 1-85043-819-6
- Schulz, Helena Lindholm (2003). The Palestinian Diaspora. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26820-6
- Resolution 194 text
- General Progress Report and Supplementary Report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, Covering the Period from 11 December 1949 to 23 October 1950 (U.N. General Assembly Official Records, 5th Session, Supplement No. 18, Document A/1367/Rev. 1)
- Progress Report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, Covering the Period from 23 January to 19 November 1951 (U.N. General Assembly Official Records, 6th Session, Supplement No. 18, Document A/1985)