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The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI)

was founded in 1971 and works to strengthen international institutions and


the implementation of universal human rights norms. It is affiliated with the
American Jewish Committee.

E. Robert Goodkind, Chair, Administrative Council


Felice D. Gaer, Director

Copyright © 2008 Jacob Blaustein Institute


March 2008

Cover photo: Ad Hoc Committee Meeting on Palestine Question,


November 22, 1947. Photo courtesy of UN Photo/KB
Mandate
OF Destiny

The 1947 United Nations Decision


to Partition Palestine

THE JACOB BLAUSTEIN INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS


Table of Contents
Acknowledgments v

Introduction vii

International Commitments
on the Middle East: A Timeline, 1917-48 xii

Documents
1. Correspondence between Felix Frankfurter
and Prince Feisal of Saudi Arabia 1
2. Treaty of Peace between the
Principal Allied Powers and Turkey, Sèvres* 4

3. League of Nations Mandate for Palestine* 5

4. American-British Palestine Mandate


Convention* 9

5. United Nations General Assembly


Resolution 106 (S-1) 13

6. UNSCOP: Report to the


United Nations General Assembly* 15

7. Speech by Guatemalan Delegate


Dr. Jorge Garcia Granados
to the UN General Assembly 25

8. Speech by Soviet Ambassador


Andrei Gromyko
to the UN General Assembly 28

*These documents are excerpted.

iii
iv Contents

9. Speech by Egyptian Delegate


Mahmoud Bey Fawzi
to the UN General Assembly 36

10. Report of UN Ad Hoc Committee


on the Palestinian Question to the
United Nations General Assembly* 39

Photo Spread 50

11. United Nations General Assembly


Resolution 181 (II)
Recommending Partition of Palestine* 52

12. Verbatim Provisional Records,


United Nations General Assembly,
November 29, 1947* 59

13. First Special Report of the


UN Palestine Commission
to the Security Council, February 1948 62

14. United Nations Palestine Commission Report


to the General Assembly, April 10, 1948 70

15. Trygve Lie: In the Cause of Peace:


Seven Years with the United Nations* 76

16. Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for


Admission to the United Nations* 91

17. UN General Assembly Resolution 273


Admitting Israel to the United Nations 112

*These documents are excerpted.


Acknowledgments
The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights dedicates this
publication to Robert S. Rifkind, who served with distinction as chair of the
Administrative Council of the Institute from 2000-2007. Mr. Rifkind’s steadfast
belief in the efficacy of law and the indispensable need to guarantee and protect the
human rights of every person has been an inspiration to all of the members of the
Institute’s Council and staff. The role of international organizations in promoting
and protecting these rights is a core concern of the Blaustein Institute.
The Institute also wishes to acknowledge the many people who have con-
tributed to the research, writing, and publication of this study. We thank Eric Post,
Adam Goodkind, and Gabrielle Thal-Pruzan for their invaluable, indefatigable, and
often very creative research and editorial assistance. Further, for editing and design
assistance, we thank Roselyn Bell and Linda Krieg of the American Jewish Com-
mittee. For their help in obtaining library documents, we particularly thank Michele
Anish and Cyma Horowitz of the Blaustein Library of the American Jewish Com-
mittee, as well as the staff of the Dag Hammarskjold Library at the United Nations
and of the UN Photo Archive. Ramu Damodaran and Stefan Dujarric, both of the
UN Secretariat, helped us obtain access to important UN materials. We also appre-
ciate the advice and assistance of Dr. Eve Epstein and the United Nations Founda-
tion. Finally, special appreciation to Florina Jenkins for administrative assistance
and her steady hand in seeing all aspects of the project move forward.

E. Robert Goodkind Felice Gaer


Chair Director

v
Introduction
The sixtieth anniversary of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 rec-
ommending partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, was
commemorated on November 29, 2007. The UN’s interest in this topic sixty years
ago was not a matter of chance, nor a result of cursory events or momentary political
pressures. It emerged from a long history of international concern that had engaged
the attention of national governments, international organizations, and diplomats. It
absorbed these diplomats, organizations, and governments with great intensity.
The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights is con-
vinced that the development and emergence of the UN’s partition plan can readily
be understood from a series of international documents that are presented in this
volume. These documentary snapshots offer a picture of how hard the new interna-
tional organization, the United Nations, worked to reach a fair and equitable solu-
tion. They present a picture of the extensive deliberations, meetings, discussions,
visits, and careful weighing of the pros and cons of every course of action open to the
decision-makers. They also reveal the views and the acceptance or rejection of these
proposals by the states and political actors concerned, the difficulties faced immedi-
ately following the partition decision by the UN Commission charged with imple-
menting the plan, and what transpired when the State of Israel was proclaimed and
sought membership in the world body.
By gathering these documents that chart the diplomatic deliberations and deci-
sions that took place, we hope both to clarify the historical record that underpins the
current situation in the Middle East and to recall that international institutions took
very seriously their responsibility to promote peace and stability after World War II.

Background
The League of Nations, founded as a result of the Versailles Peace Conference after
World War I “to promote international cooperation” and “to achieve international
peace and security,” in September 1922 assigned to the United Kingdom a mandate to
administer and prepare for independence the territory of Palestine, which had been
relinquished by the Ottoman Empire in the Treaty of Sevres. [See Document 2: Treaty
of Peace between the Principal Allied Powers and Turkey, Sèvres (August 10, 1920), and
Document 3: League of Nations Mandate for Palestine (September 23, 1922).]
Two years after the British had received a mandate for Palestine from the
League of Nations, an agreement was signed between the United States and Britain,
specifically reaffirming the UK’s responsibility to put into effect the repeated inter-

vii
viii Mandate of Destiny

nationally recognized commitment to re-establish a national home for the Jewish


people in Palestine, and their historic connection to Palestine. [See Document 4:
American-British Palestine Mandate Convention (December 3, 1924).]
Decades of British responsibility and turmoil in the region, as well as conflict
within and about British policy for the region, crystallized with the League of
Nations rejection of Great Britain’s 1939 White Paper on Palestine—which would
aim for independence in ten years, but make further Jewish immigration subject to
Arab consent and limit land sales as well—as “not in accordance with the interpreta-
tion which the Commission had placed on the Palestine Mandate.”
In February 1947, following the end of World War II, with the British govern-
ment retreating from many of its global commitments, British Foreign Secretary
Ernest Bevin announced that his country would terminate its mandate for Palestine
and turn the problem over to the United Nations. The UN was seen as the successor
organization to the failed League of Nations, taking over many of its assets, issues,
and problems, arguably in a stronger and better structured global organization. In
April, Britain followed up by offering an accounting to the UN of its administration
of Palestine under the League’s mandate, and a request for a special session of the
UN General Assembly to consider the future government of Palestine. This placed
the subject squarely before the diplomats of the new world organization.
The UN created a Special Committee to investigate and propose solutions for
the “question of Palestine.” [See Document 5: United Nations General Assembly Resolu-
tion 106 (May 15, 1947).] The committee, known as UNSCOP (United Nations
Special Committee on Palestine), was comprised of representatives of eleven
nations—Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, Netherlands,
Peru, Sweden, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia. It was empowered to “ascertain and record
facts, and to investigate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of Palestine.”
The members of UNSCOP convened immediately and, within weeks, traveled
to Palestine and began a series of meetings, public and private, with all concerned par-
ties to the conflict. After an intensive three-and-a-half-month period of study,
UNSCOP issued its final report. The process involved sixteen public and thirty-six
private meetings and travel to and through Palestine, and to Lebanon, Jordan, and
Syria. In its final report, UNSCOP unanimously decided to end the British Mandate
and called, inter alia, for preservation of the Holy Places; a constitutional democracy
with rights guarantees; settling disputes peacefully; and preserving the economic unity
of Palestine. Additionally, a majority report (by seven members) recommended parti-
tion of Palestine into two states with an internationalized Jerusalem and a minority
Introduction ix

report (by three members) recommended local self-government of Jerusalem and


Arab sectors within a unitary state structure. These proposals, as part of the final
report of UNSCOP, were submitted for discussion by the UN General Assembly at
its September 1947 session. [See Document 6: United Nations Special Committee on
Palestine: Report to the United Nations General Assembly (August 31, 1947).]
Guatemalan delegate Dr. Jorge Garcia Granados addressed the General
Assembly in support of partition. He described how the hopefulness of the
UNSCOP members that they would find a workable solution ran up against the
realities of the Middle East, including what he described as “scowls and threatening
gestures with which the Arabs greeted every Jew” and “a rancor which makes an
effort at conciliation ... seem useless.” Noting that “in the present ... the Jews could
expect nothing from an Arab government but persecution, slavery, and death,”
Granados expressed regret at the “intransigent attitude” of the Arab leaders who
have become an “obstacle” to forging ties between the Jewish and Arab peoples, and
expressed the hope that as time passes, “new ideas and new generations will wipe out
the old grudges between these two peoples,” promoting an era of peace. [See Docu-
ment 7: Speech by Guatemalan Delegate Jorge Garcia Granados (November 1947).]
At its September 1947 second session, the UN General Assembly referred
three matters—the UNSCOP final report, a proposal of the United Kingdom, and a
Saudi–Iraqi proposal for recognition of a single-state solution—to yet another body:
a newly created Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question. Composed of all
UN members, the Ad Hoc Committee deliberated for two months, examining some
seventeen proposed resolutions submitted to it. It included both the Jewish Agency
and Arab Higher Committee in its deliberations, and set up three bodies to examine
the various proposals: a conciliation commission that tried to bring the parties
together and two subcommittees. Subcommittee 1 was asked to draw up a detailed
plan based on the majority proposals of UNSCOP; Subcommittee 2 was asked for a
detailed plan based on the Saudi-Iraqi proposal for a unitary state. The conciliation
commission reported their work had not been fruitful. Subcommittee 1 modified
the UNSCOP partition plan slightly and called for creation of another new body—
a five-member Palestine Commission—to implement it. Subcommittee 2 concen-
trated on three issues: (a) legal questions such as the competence of the UN to
address the issue and referrals to the world court proposed by Egypt, Iraq, and Syria;
(b) Jewish refugees and their relationship to the Palestinian question, recommend-
ing that countries of origin take back the refugees; and (c) the constitution and
future government of Palestine, recommending a unitary state. The Ad Hoc Com-
x Mandate of Destiny

mittee, voting on November 24 and 25, 1947, rejected each of Subcommittee 2’s rec-
ommendations, and adopted the recommendation of Subcommittee 1, for partition,
by 25-13 with 17 abstentions. [See Document 10: Report of Ad Hoc Committee on the
Palestinian Question to the United Nations General Assembly (25 November 1947).]
The Ad Hoc Committee Report was then sent to the General Assembly, which
examined it between November 26 and 29. Many representatives expressed their
views on the recommendations that emerged from the Ad Hoc Committee, includ-
ing notably Soviet Ambassador Andrei Gromyko, who advocated partition.
Gromyko concluded that “all the alternative solutions of the Palestinian problem
were found to be unworkable and impracticable,” including the option of “creating a
single independent Arab-Jewish state with equal rights for Arabs and Jews.”
Explaining that the solution advocated by the Soviet Union was based on “under-
standing and sympathy” for national self-determination of peoples, Gromyko noted
with regret that the study by UNSCOP and others revealed that “Jews and Arabs do
not wish, or are unable, to live together.” [See Document 8: Speech by Soviet Ambassa-
dor Andrei Gromyko to the United Nations General Assembly (November 1947).]
Egypt’s representative expressed a number of procedural arguments, including
that the General Assembly itself had no competence to “impose a solution” about
Palestine, and that, while the partition plan may have succeeded in the Ad Hoc
Committee’s vote, too few UN members—fewer than a majority of UN members—
had thus far voted in favor of partition. Fawzi warned that Egypt would not recog-
nize any resolution adopted by the General Assembly, as in his view, it lacked com-
petence on the issue. Instead, the whole matter should be sent to the world court for
an advisory opinion. [See Document 9: Speech to UN General Assembly by Egyptian
Delegate Mahmoud Bey Fawzi (November 1947).]
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a res-
olution to accept the UNSCOP and Ad Hoc Committee recommendations to par-
tition Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, and declare Jerusalem an
international territory. The Assembly approved the slightly revised partition plan by
a vote of 33-13 with 10 abstentions, reaching a two-thirds vote in favor of the plan.
[See Document 11: UN General Assembly Resolution 181(II) (November 29, 1947).]
In speeches following the General Assembly vote, the Arab states expressed
their opinions of UN Resolution 181. Amir Arslan of Syria called the Charter “dead,”
while the Saudi Arabian delegate said that they were not bound by the decision. Arab
spokesmen claimed the resolution had destroyed the United Nations. [See Document
12: Verbatim Provisional Records, UN General Assembly (November 29, 1947).]
The UN Palestine Commission was then created to oversee implementation of
Introduction xi

Resolution 181. Its first special report—on security issues in Palestine—was deliv-
ered to the Security Council in February 1948. The Commission warned: “Powerful
Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the
General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settle-
ment envisaged therein.” Included in this special report were excerpts of a commu-
nication to the Commission from the Arab Higher Committee. The Committee
states it will never accept partition or the idea of a Jewish state. [See Document 13:
Report of UN Palestine Commission: First Special Report to the Security Council: The
Problem of Security in Palestine, Document A/AC.219 (16 February 1948).]
The final report of the UN Palestine Commission, on April 10, 1948, conclud-
ed that the Jews cooperated with the Commission, but that the Arab states and the
Arab Higher Committee opposed Resolution 181(II). The report states that nonco-
operation from both the British mandatory power and the Arabs meant the Com-
mittee could not implement the UN resolution. Various problems that needed to be
addressed in Palestine were discussed in the report, such as: security, economy, the
status of Jerusalem, and food supplies. [See Document 14: UN Palestine Commission
Report to the General Assembly (April 10, 1948).]
In his memoirs, Trygve Lie, the first secretary-general of the United Nations,
gives a firsthand account of the proceedings at the UN concerning partition. He
reviews the history of UNSCOP and Resolution 181(II) and Jewish and Arab reac-
tions to the Partition Plan. When the Arab invasion of Israel began in May 1948,
Lie saw it as “armed defiance of the United Nations.” [Document 15: Trygve Lie, In
the Cause of Peace: Seven Years with the United Nations.]
We have included in this collection a speech to the Ad Hoc Political Commit-
tee of the United Nations delivered a year later, on May 5, 1949, by Abba Eban,
Israel’s permanent representative to the UN and later foreign minister. Eban makes
the case for Israel’s entrance into the UN, examining the earlier issues reviewed by
the UN with regard to Palestine as well as other topics that arose in the year that fol-
lowed, as independence was proclaimed and an armed conflict was in progress. Eban
argued that Israel had fulfilled the requirements of the UN Charter, and that a solu-
tion to the conflict could only be found in cooperation between Israel and its neigh-
bors. [Document 16: Abba Eban, Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations
(May 5, 1949).]
UN General Assembly Resolution No. 273, admitting Israel to membership in
the UN, regularizes the status of the State of Israel among the nations of the world.
[See Document 17: UN General Assembly Resolution 273, New York (May 11, 1949).]
We offer it as a conclusion to this documentary record.
International Commitments on the Middle East:
A Timeline, 1917-48

1917
2 November Government of United Kingdom guarantees reconstitution
of a “national home for the Jewish people in Palestine,”
signing Balfour Declaration.

1919
3 March Letters exchanged between Emir Feisal, who led
the Arab Hedjaz delegation to the Paris Peace talks,
and Judge Felix Frankfurter, representing the Zionists.
28 June Treaty of Versailles ends World War I and creates League of
Nations, an international organization of countries committed
to “promoting international co-operation and achieving
international peace and security.” The League Covenant
enters into force 10 January 1920, and its Assembly
first convenes on 15 November 1920.

1920
19-26 April In Treaty of San Remo, principal Allied powers entrust
United Kingdom with Mandate to govern Palestine.
10 August In Treaty of Sèvres, Allied Powers assign United Kingdom
responsibility for governance of Palestine, as the Ottoman
Empire renounces all claims to region.

1922 The League of Nations assigns Mandate for Palestine


to United Kingdom, asking it to prepare the territory
for independence.

1936 Peel Commission recommends partition of Palestine.

1939
May British issue a White Paper proposing an independent
Palestinian state in ten years, limiting Jewish immigration
and making it subject to Arab consent, and prohibiting
land sales to Jews.
June League of Nations says the new White Paper is “not in
accordance with the interpretation which … the Commission
had placed on the Palestine Mandate.”

xii
International Commitments on the Middle East: A Timeline xiii

1939-45 World War Two

1945
24 October United Nations Charter signed in San Francisco
establishing new world organization devoted to
preserving world peace and security.

1946
18 April League of Nations is formally dissolved.

1947
February Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin says United Kingdom
wishes to refer Palestine Mandate to United Nations.
2 April UK requests special session of UN General Assembly
to consider future government of Palestine.
28 April UN General Assembly session addresses Palestine issue.
15 May General Assembly establishes Special Committee
on Palestine (UNSCOP).
26 May UNSCOP convenes at Lake Success.
15 June UNSCOP arrives in Palestine and begins series of hearings
and meetings; travels within Palestine.
20 July UNSCOP travels to Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
8 August UNSCOP Subcommittee travels to Germany and Austria.
31 August UNSCOP issues report. Unanimously decides to end
UK mandate, and calls for preservation of Holy Places;
constitutional democracy with rights guarantees;
settling disputes peacefully; preserving economic unity
of Palestine. Additionally, majority report (seven) recommends
partition of Palestine with an internationalized Jerusalem,
and minority report (three) recommends local self-government
of Jerusalem and Arab sections.
13-16 September UN General Assembly begins annual session.
23 September UN General Assembly establishes Ad Hoc Committee
on the Palestinian Question and refers UNSCOP report to it.
29 September Arab Higher Committee formally rejects UNSCOP plan.
xiv Mandate of Destiny

2 October Jewish Agency formally accepts UNSCOP partition plan.


22 October UN Ad Hoc Committee on Palestinian Question sets up
subcommittees to examine UNSCOP proposals for partition
and unitary state.
10 November Subcommittees conclude and recommend (1) measures
for partition and (2) measures for unitary state. Ad Hoc
Committee defeats proposal for unitary state by 16-16-23.
Accepts partition plan by vote 25-18-17 and sends to
General Assembly for final action.
25 November Report of Ad Hoc Committee on Palestinian Question
brought to UN General Assembly
29 November UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 181 to partition
Palestine and establish, by 1 October 1948, Jewish and Arab
states, and internationalized Jerusalem, by 33-13-10 vote. Arab
states reject Resolution 181 and declare UN Charter “dead.”

1948
16 February UN Palestine Commission sends first special report
to UN Security Council complaining that Arabs are “defying”
Resolution 181, “have infiltrated into” Palestine, and are
“defeating the resolution by acts of violence.”
10 April UN Palestine Commission issues report on implementation
of Resolution 181, concluding that while the Jewish Agency
has cooperated, its efforts to implement partition plan are
hampered by the governments of Arab states and the Arab
Higher Committee, who “actively opposed” the resolution.
14 May United Kingdom mandate over Palestine ends.
Declaration of statehood by Israel

1949
May 11 State of Israel admitted to United Nations.
Document 1: Correspondence between Felix Frankfurter
and Prince (Emir) Feisal of Saudi Arabia
March 3, 1919
In 1919, this correspondence between the Emir of Saudi Arabia, as a representative
of the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz (later Saudi Arabia), and Felix Frankfurter, as a
representative of the Zionist Organization (later an associate justice of the U.S.
Supreme Court), describes their mutual support for both the Jewish and Arab quest
to establish independent states, free from colonial or imperialist domination. Emir
Feisal expresses sympathy for the Zionist movement and affirms that both the Arab
and Zionist movements are nationalist not imperialist, and there is room for both in
the Middle East. He attributes controversy between Arabs and Jews to “people less
informed and less responsible” who have tried “to exploit” and misrepresent both
movements. Feisal says the differences are not matters of principle, but details that
can be “easily adjusted by mutual goodwill.” Feisal describes the Arabs and Jews as
“cousins in race” and yearns for cooperation and understanding between the two
peoples. He states that together they can bring about a “reformed and revived Near
East.”

Delegation Hedjazienne, Paris, March 3, 1919.


Dear Mr. Frankfurter: I want to take this opportunity of my first con-
tact with American Zionists to tell you what I have often been able to say
to Dr. Weizmann in Arabia and Europe.
We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in race, having suffered
similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and
by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first step towards the
attainment of their national ideals together.
We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest
sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully
acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organi-
zation to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and
proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them
through: we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home.
With the chiefs of your movement, especially with Dr. Weizmann,
we have had and continue to have the closest relations. He has been a
great helper of our cause, and I hope the Arabs may soon be in a position

1
2 Mandate of Destiny

to make the Jews some return for their kindness. We are working together
for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete
one another. The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist. Our
movement is national and not imperialist, and there is room in Syria for us
both. Indeed I think that neither can be a real success without the other.
People less informed and less responsible than our leaders and yours,
ignoring the need for cooperation of the Arabs and Zionists have been
trying to exploit the local difficulties that must necessarily arise in Pales-
tine in the early stages of our movements. Some of them have, I am afraid,
misrepresented your aims to the Arab peasantry, and our aims to the Jew-
ish peasantry, with the result that interested parties have been able to
make capital out of what they call our differences.
I wish to give you my firm conviction that these differences are not
on questions of principle, but on matters of detail such as must inevitably
occur in every contact of neighbouring peoples, and as are easily adjusted
by mutual goodwill. Indeed nearly all of them will disappear with fuller
knowledge.
I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in
which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which
we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the commu-
nity of civilised peoples of the world.
Believe me,
Yours sincerely,
(Sgd.) FEISAL.
5th March, 1919.

Royal Highness:
Allow me, on behalf of the Zionist Organisation, to acknowledge
your recent letter with deep appreciation.
Those of us who came from the United States have already been
gratified by the friendly relations and the active cooperation maintained
between you and the Zionist leaders, particularly Dr. Weizmann. We
knew it could not be otherwise; we knew that the aspirations of the Arab
and Jewish peoples were parallel, that each aspired to reestablish its
Correspondence between Felix Frankfurter and Prince (Emir) Feisal 3

nationality in its own homeland, each making its own distinctive contribu-
tion to civilization, each seeking its own peaceful mode of life.
The Zionist leaders and the Jewish people for whom they speak have
watched with satisfaction the spiritual vigour of the Arab movement.
Themselves seeking justice, they are anxious that the national aims of the
Arab people be confirmed and safeguarded by the Peace Conference.
We knew from your acts and your past utterances that the Zionist
movement—in other words the national aims of the Jewish people—had
your support and the support of the Arab people for whom you speak.
These aims are now before the Peace Conference as definite proposals by
the Zionist Organisation. We are happy indeed that you consider these
proposals “moderate and proper,” and that we have in you a staunch sup-
porter of their realisation. For both the Arab and the Jewish peoples there
are difficulties ahead—difficulties that challenge the united statesmanship
of Arab and Jewish leaders. For it is no easy task to rebuild two great civil-
isations that have been suffering oppression and misrule for centuries. We
each have our difficulties we shall work out as friends, friends who are ani-
mated by similar purposes, seeking a free and full development for the two
neighbouring peoples. The Arabs and Jews are neighbours in territory; we
cannot but live side by side as friends.
Very respectfully,
(Sgd.) Felix Frankfurter.
Document 2: Treaty of Peace between the Principal Allied
Powers and Turkey
Sèvres, August 10, 1920
The Treaty of Sèvres was a post-World War I agreement between the victorious
Allied powers and representatives of the government of Ottoman Turkey. As a result
of the treaty, Turkey renounced all rights over Arab Asia and North Africa, includ-
ing the area known as Palestine. The treaty stated that the United Kingdom was to
be responsible for Iraq and Palestine, and France would control Lebanon and an
enlarged Syria. Article 95 specifically stated that the Mandatory Power will be
tasked with implementing the Balfour Declaration.

Treaty of Peace Between the Principal Allied Powers and Turkey


Sèvres, August 10, 1920
Article 95
The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust, by application of the
provisions of Article 22, the administration of Palestine, within such
boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a
Mandatory to be selected by the said Powers. The Mandatory will be
responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on
November 2, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other
Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national
home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall
be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-
Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed
by Jews in any other country.

4
Document 3: League of Nations Mandate for Palestine
September 23, 1922
In September 1922, the League of Nations, an international organization created as
a result of the Versailles Treaty, decided that Palestine was to be under a British
Mandate. The British were charged with promoting local autonomy and preparing
Palestine for eventual independence. The British would administer Palestine for
over two decades before they handed their mandate back to the United Nations, the
world body that was created after World War II.

League of Nations Mandate for Palestine


together with a Note by the Secretary-General Relating
to its Applications to the Territory Known as Trans-Jordan
under the Provisions of Article 25
The Council of the League of Nations:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose of
giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League
of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the
administration of the territory of Palestine, which formerly belonged to
the Turkish Empire, within such boundaries as may be fixed by them; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the
Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration
originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Bri-
tannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establish-
ment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clear-
ly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil
and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or
the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and
Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connec-
tion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconsti-
tuting their national home in that country; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have selected His Britannic
Majesty as the Mandatory for Palestine; and
Whereas the mandate in respect of Palestine has been formulated in
the following terms and submitted to the Council of the League for
approval; and

5
6 Mandate of Destiny

Whereas His Britannic Majesty has accepted the mandate in respect


of Palestine and undertaken to exercise it on behalf of the League of
Nations in conformity with the following provisions; and
Whereas by the afore-mentioned Article 22 (paragraph 8), it is pro-
vided that the degree of authority, control or administration to be exer-
cised by the Mandatory, not having been previously agreed upon by the
Members of the League, shall be explicitly defined by the Council of the
League of Nations;
Confirming the said mandate, defines its terms as follows:
Article 1.
The Mandatory shall have full powers of legislation and of adminis-
tration, save as they may be limited by the terms of this mandate.
Article 2.
The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under
such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the
establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble,
and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safe-
guarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine,
irrespective of race and religion.
Article 3.
The Mandatory shall, so far as circumstances permit, encourage local
autonomy.
Article 4.
An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognized as a public body for
the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of
Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the
establishment of the Jewish National home and the interests of the Jewish
population in Palestine, and, subject always to the control of the Adminis-
tration, to assist and take part in the development of the country.
The Zionist organisation, so long as its organisation and constitution
are in the opinion of the Mandatory appropriate, shall be recognised as
such agency. It shall take steps in consultation with His Britannic
Majesty’s Government to secure the co-operation of all Jews who are will-
ing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish national home.
League of Nations Mandate for Palestine 7

Article 5.
The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine terri-
tory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of,
the Government of any foreign Power.
Article 6.
The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and
position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facili-
tate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in
co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settle-
ment by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not
required for public purposes.
Article 7.
The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a
nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as
to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up
their permanent residence in Palestine.
Article 8.
The privileges and immunities of foreigners, including the benefits of
consular jurisdiction and protection as formerly enjoyed by Capitulation or
usage in the Ottoman Empire, shall not be applicable in Palestine.
Unless the Powers whose nationals enjoyed the afore-mentioned
privileges and immunities on August 1st, 1914, shall have previously
renounced the right to their re-establishment, or shall have agreed to their
non-application for a specified period, these privileges and immunities
shall, at the expiration of the mandate, be immediately re-established in
their entirety or with such modifications as may have been agreed upon
between the Powers concerned.
Article 9.
The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that the judicial sys-
tem established in Palestine shall assure to foreigners, as well as to natives,
a complete guarantee of their rights.
Respect for the personal status of the various peoples and communi-
ties and for their religious interests shall be fully guaranteed. In particular,
the control and administration of Wakfs shall be exercised in accordance
with religious law and the dispositions of the founders.
8 Mandate of Destiny

Article 10.
Pending the making of special extradition agreements relating to
Palestine, the extradition treaties in force between the Mandatory and
other foreign Powers shall apply to Palestine […]
Article 22.
English, Arabic and Hebrew shall be the official languages of Pales-
tine. Any statement or inscription in Arabic on stamps or money in Pales-
tine shall be repeated in Hebrew, and any statement or inscription in
Hebrew shall be repeated in Arabic.
Article 23.
The Administration of Palestine shall recognise the holy days of the
respective communities in Palestine as legal days of rest for the members
of such communities.
Article 24.
The Mandatory shall make to the Council of the League of Nations
an annual report to the satisfaction of the Council as to the measures taken
during the year to carry out the provisions of the mandate. Copies of all
laws and regulations promulgated or issued during the year shall be com-
municated with the report.
Article 25.
In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary
of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled,
with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or
withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consid-
er inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision
for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to
those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsis-
tent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.
Article 26.
The Mandatory agrees that, if any dispute whatever should arise
between the Mandatory and another Member of the League of Nations
relating to the interpretation or the application of the provisions of the
mandate, such dispute, if it cannot be settled by negotiation, shall be sub-
mitted to the Permanent Court of International Justice provided for by
Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
Document 4: American-British Palestine Mandate Convention
December 3, 1924
Two years after the British received a mandate for Palestine from the League of
Nations, an agreement was signed between the United States and Britain, setting
forth goals and details of the mandate and how the British were expected to admin-
ister it. The convention specifically reaffirms the United Kingdom’s responsibility to
put into effect the internationally recognized commitment to reestablish a national
home for the Jewish people in Palestine and the historic connection of the Jewish
people with Palestine, and encourages the British to do everything possible to
ensure this reality. Relevant articles of the convention are presented below.

American-British Palestine Mandate Convention


of December 3, 1924
Whereas by the Treaty of Peace concluded with the Allied Powers,
Turkey renounces all her rights and titles over Palestine; and
Whereas article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations in the
Treaty of Versailles provides that in the case of certain territories which, as
a consequence of the late war, ceased to be under the sovereignty of the
States which formerly governed them, mandates should be issued, and
that the terms of the mandate should be explicitly defined in each case by
the Council of the League; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed to entrust the man-
date for Palestine to His Britannic Majesty; and
Whereas the terms of the said mandate have been defined by the
Council of the League of Nations, as follows:
The Council of the League of Nations:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose of
giving effect to the provisions of article 22 of the Covenant of the League
of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the
administration of the territory of Palestine, which formerly belonged to
the Turkish Empire, within such boundaries as may be fixed by them; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the
Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration
originally made on the 2nd November 1917, by the Government of his
Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the estab-

9
10 Mandate of Destiny

lishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being


clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the
civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,
or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and
Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connec-
tion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconsti-
tuting their national home in that country; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have selected His Britannic
Majesty as the Mandatory for Palestine; and
Whereas the mandate in respect of Palestine has been formulated in
the following terms and submitted to the Council of the League for
approval; and
Whereas His Britannic Majesty has accepted the mandate in respect
of Palestine and undertaken to exercise it on behalf of the League of
Nations in conformity with the following provisions; and
Whereas by the aforementioned article 22 (paragraph 8), it is provid-
ed that the degree of authority, control or administration to be exercised by
the Mandatory, not having been previously agreed upon by the members
of the League, shall be explicitly defined by the Council of the League of
Nations….
Article 26.
The Mandatory agrees that if any dispute whatever should arise
between the Mandatory and another member of the League of Nations
relating to the interpretation or the application of the provisions of the
mandate, such dispute, if it cannot be settled by negotiation, shall be sub-
mitted to the Permanent Court of International Justice provided for by
article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
Article 27.
The consent of the Council of the League of Nations is required for
any modification of the terms of this mandate.
Article 28.
In the event of the termination of the mandate hereby conferred upon
the Mandatory, the Council of the League of Nations shall make such
arrangements as may be deemed necessary for safeguarding in perpetuity,
under guarantee of the League, the rights secured by articles 13 and 14,
and shall use its influence for securing, under the guarantee of the League,
American-British Palestine Mandate Convention 11

that the Government of Palestine will fully honour the financial obliga-
tions legitimately incurred by the Administration of Palestine during the
period of the mandate, including the rights of public servants to pensions
or gratuities.
The present instrument shall be deposited in original in the archives
of the League of Nations, and certified copies shall be forwarded by the
Secretary-General of the League of Nations to all members of the League.
Done at London, the 24th day of July, 1922; and
Whereas the mandate in the above terms came into force on the 29th
September, 1923; and
Whereas, the United States of America, by participating in the war
against Germany, contributed to her defeat and the defeat of her Allies,
and to the renunciation of the rights and titles of her Allies in the territo-
ry transferred by them but has not ratified the Covenant of the League of
Nations embodied in the Treaty of Versailles; and
Whereas the Government of the United States and the Government
of His Britannic Majesty desire to reach a definite understanding with
respect to the rights of the two Governments and their respective nation-
als in Palestine;
The President of the United States of America and His Britannic
Majesty have decided to conclude a convention to this effect, and have
named as their plenipotentiaries:
The President of the United States of America:
His Excellency the Honourable Frank B. Kellogg, Ambassador
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States at London:
His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India:
The Right Honourable Joseph Austen Chamberlain, M.P., His
Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs:
who, after having communicated to each other their respective full
powers, found in good and due form, have agreed as follows:
Article 1.
Subject to the provisions of the present convention the United States
consents to the administration of Palestine by His Britannic Majesty, pur-
suant to the mandate recited above.
12 Mandate of Destiny

Article 2.
The United States and its nationals shall have and enjoy all the rights
and benefits secured under the terms of the mandate to members of the
League of Nations and their nationals, notwithstanding the fact that the
United States is not a member of the League of Nations.
Article 3.
Vested American property rights in the mandated territory shall be
respected and in no way impaired.
Article 4.
A duplicate of the annual report to be made by the Mandatory under
article 24 of the mandate shall be furnished to the United States.
Article 5.
Subject to the provisions of any local laws for the maintenance of
public order and public morals, the nationals of the United States will be
permitted freely to establish and maintain educational, philanthropic and
religious institutions in the mandated territory, to receive voluntary appli-
cants and to teach in the English language.
Article 6.
The extradition treaties and conventions which are, or may be, in
force between the United States and Great Britain, and the provisions of
any treaties which are, or may be, in force between the two countries
which relate to extradition or consular rights shall apply to the mandated
territory.
Document 5: United Nations General Assembly
Resolution 106 (S-1)
This resolution, adopted on May 15, 1947, created a Special Committee to investi-
gate and propose solutions for the “question of Palestine.” The committee was made
up of eleven nations from around the world, and given three-and-a-half months to
come up with solutions to the problem. The group traveled to the region, questioned
both sides in the conflict, and reported its findings to the General Assembly.

Resolutions Adopted on the Reports of the First Committee


106 (S-1) Special Committee on Palestine
Whereas the General Assembly of the United Nations has been
called into special session for the purpose of constituting and instructing a
special committee to prepare for special consideration at the next regular
session of the Assembly a report on the question of Palestine,
The General Assembly
Resolves that:
1. A Special Committee be created for the above-mentioned purpose
consisting of the representatives of Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia,
Guatemala, India, Iran, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay and
Yugoslavia;
2. The Special Committee shall have the widest powers to ascertain
and record facts, and to investigate all questions and issues relevant to the
problem of Palestine;
3. The Special Committee shall determine its own procedure;
4. The Special Committee shall conduct investigations in Palestine
and wherever it may deem useful, receive and examine written or oral tes-
timony, whichever it may consider appropriate in each case, from the
mandatory Power, from representatives of the population of Palestine,
from Governments and from such organizations and individuals as it may
deem necessary;
5. The Special Committee shall give most careful consideration to
the religious interests in Palestine of Islam, Judaism and Christianity;
6. The Special Committee shall prepare a report to the General
Assembly and shall submit such proposals as it may consider appropriate
for the solution of the problem of Palestine;

13
14 Mandate of Destiny

7. The Special Committee’s report shall be communicated to the Sec-


retary-General not later than 1 September 1947, in order that it may be
circulated to the Members of the United Nations in time for consideration
by the second regular session of the General Assembly;
The General Assembly
8. Requests the Secretary-General to enter into suitable arrangements
with the proper authorities of any State in whose territory the Special
Committee may wish to sit or to travel, to provide necessary facilities, and
to assign appropriate staff to the Special Committee;
9. Authorizes the Secretary-General to reimburse travel and subsis-
tence expenses of a representative and an alternative representative from
each Government represented on the Special Committee on such basis
and in such form as he may determine most appropriate in the circum-
stances.
Document 6: United Nations Special Committee on Palestine:
Report to the United Nations General Assembly
August 31, 1947
The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created by
the UN General Assembly Resolution 106 (S-1) on May 15, 1947, to explore a
solution to the hostilities between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, as the British had
decided to turn over responsibility for their mandate to the United Nations. The
committee was comprised of representatives of eleven nations from around the
world: Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, Netherlands,
Peru, Sweden, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia. It was empowered to “ascertain and record
facts, and to investigate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of Pales-
tine.” This report presents the committee’s findings and recommendations.
UNSCOP issued its final report following an intensive three-and-a-half-
month period of study, which included sixteen public and thirty-six private meetings
and travel to and throughout Palestine, and to Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria as well. In
its final report, UNSCOP unanimously decided to end the UK mandate, and called
for preservation of the Holy Places, constitutional democracy with rights guaran-
tees, settling disputes peacefully, and preserving the economic unity of Palestine.
Additionally, the majority report (seven) recommended partition of Palestine with
an internationalized Jerusalem, while the minority report (three) recommended
local self-government of Jerusalem and Arab sections. These proposals were submit-
ted for discussion by the UN General Assembly at its September–December 1947
session. The UNSCOP report’s recommendations are included here.

Section A. Recommendations approved unanimously

Recommendation I. Termination of the Mandate


It is recommended that
The Mandate for Palestine shall be terminated at the earliest practi-
cable date.
Comment
Among the reasons for this unanimous conclusion are the following:
(a) All directly interested parties—the mandatory Power, Arabs and
Jews—are in full accord that there is urgent need for a change in the status
of Palestine. The mandatory Power has officially informed the Committee

15
16 Mandate of Destiny

“that the Mandate has proved to be unworkable in practice, and that the
obligations undertaken to the two communities in Palestine have been
shown to be irreconcilable.” Both Arabs and Jews urge the termination of
the mandate and the grant of independence to Palestine, although they are
in vigorous disagreement as to the form that independence should take.
(b) The outstanding feature of the Palestine situation today is found
in the clash between Jews and the mandatory Power on the one hand, and
on the other the tension prevailing between Arabs and Jews. This conflict
situation, which finds expression partly in an open breach between the
organized Jewish community and the Administration and partly in organ-
ized terrorism and acts of violence, has steadily grown more intense and
takes as its toll an ever-increasing loss of life and destruction of property.
(c) In the nature of the case, the Mandate implied only a temporary
tutelage for Palestine. The terms of the Mandate include provisions which
have proved contradictory in their practical application.
(d) It may be seriously questioned whether, in any event, the Man-
date would now be possible of execution. The essential feature of the man-
dates system was that it gave an international status to the mandated terri-
tories. This involved a positive element of international responsibility for
the mandated territories and an international accountability to the Coun-
cil of the League of Nations on the part of each mandatory for the well-
being and development of the peoples of those territories. The Permanent
Mandates Commission was created for the specific purpose of assisting
the Council of the League in this function. But the League of Nations and
the Mandates Commission have been dissolved, and there is now no
means of discharging fully the international obligation with regard to a
mandated territory other than by placing the territory under the Interna-
tional Trusteeship System of the United Nations.
(e) The International Trusteeship System, however, has not automat-
ically taken over the functions of the mandates system with regard to
mandated territories. Territories can be placed under Trusteeship only by
means of individual Trusteeship Agreements approved by a two-thirds
majority of the General Assembly.
(f ) The most the mandatory could now do, therefore, in the event of
the continuation of the Mandate, would be to carry out its administration,
in the spirit of the Mandate, without being able to discharge its interna-
United Nations Special Committee on Palestine: Report to the UN General Assembly 17

tional obligations in accordance with the intent of the mandates system.


At the time of the termination of the Permanent Mandates Commission
in April 1946, the mandatory Power did, in fact, declare its intention to
carry on the administration of Palestine, pending a new arrangement, in
accordance with the general principles of the Mandate. The mandatory
Power has itself now referred the matter to the United Nations.

Recommendation II. Independence


It is recommended that
Independence shall be granted in Palestine at the earliest practicable
date.
Comment
(a) Although sharply divided by political issues, the peoples of Pales-
tine are sufficiently advanced to govern themselves independently.
(b) The Arab and Jewish peoples, after more than a quarter of a cen-
tury of tutelage under the Mandate, both seek a means of effective expres-
sion for their national aspirations.
(c) It is highly unlikely that any arrangement which would fail to
envisage independence at a reasonably early date would find the slightest
welcome among either Arabs or Jews.

Recommendation III. Transitional Period


It is recommended that
There shall be a transitional period preceding the grant of independ-
ence in Palestine which shall be as short as possible, consistent with the
achievement of the preparations and conditions essential to independence.
Comment
(a) A transitional period preceding independence is clearly impera-
tive. It is scarcely conceivable, in view of the complicated nature of the
Palestine problem, that independence could be responsibly granted with-
out a prior period of preparation.
(b) The importance of the transitional period is that it would be the
period in which the governmental organization would have to be estab-
lished, and in which the guarantees for such vital matters as the protection
of minorities, and the safeguarding of the Holy Places and religious inter-
ests could be ensured.
18 Mandate of Destiny

(c) A transitional period, however, would in all likelihood only serve


to aggravate the present difficult situation in Palestine unless it were relat-
ed to a specific and definitive solution which would go into effect immedi-
ately upon the termination of that period, and were to be of a positively
stated duration, which, in any case, should not exceed a very few years.

Recommendation IV. United Nations Responsibility


during the Transitional Period
It is recommended that
During the transitional period the authority entrusted with the task
of administering Palestine and preparing it for independence shall be
responsible to the United Nations.
Comment
(a) The responsibility for administering Palestine during the transi-
tional period and preparing it for independence will be a heavy one.
Whatever the solution, enforcement measures on an extensive scale may
be necessary for some time. The Committee is keenly aware of the central
importance of this aspect of any solution, but has not felt competent to
come to any conclusive opinion or to formulate any precise recommenda-
tions on this matter.
(b) It is obvious that a solution which might be considered intrinsi-
cally as the best possible and most satisfactory from every technical point
of view would be of no avail if it should appear that there would be no
means of putting it into effect. Taking into account the fact that devising a
solution which will be fully acceptable to both Jews and Arabs seems to be
utterly impossible, the prospect of imposing a solution upon them would
be a basic condition of any recommended proposal.
(c) Certain obstacles which may well confront the authority entrusted
with the administration during the transitional period make it desirable
that a close link be established with the United Nations.
(d) The relative success of the authority entrusted with the adminis-
tration of Palestine during the transitional period in creating the proper
atmosphere and in carrying out the necessary preparations for the assump-
tion of independence will influence greatly the effectiveness of the final
solution to be applied. It will be of the utmost importance to the discharge
of its heavy responsibilities that, while being accountable to the United
United Nations Special Committee on Palestine: Report to the UN General Assembly 19

Nations for its actions in this regard, the authority concerned should be
able to count upon the support of the United Nations in carrying out the
directives of that body.

Recommendation V. Holy Places and Religious Interests


It is recommended that
In whatever solution may be adopted for Palestine,
A. The sacred character of the Holy Places shall be preserved and
access to the Holy Places for purposes of worship and pilgrimage shall be
ensured in accordance with existing rights, in recognition of the proper
interest of millions of Christians, Jews and Moslems abroad as well as the
residents of Palestine in the care of sites and buildings associated with the
origin and history of their faiths.
B. Existing rights in Palestine of the several religious communities
shall be neither impaired nor denied, in view of the fact that their mainte-
nance is essential for religious peace in Palestine under conditions of inde-
pendence.
C. An adequate system shall be devised to settle impartially disputes
involving religious rights as an essential factor in maintaining religious
peace, taking into account the fact that during the Mandate such disputes
have been settled by the Government itself, which acted as an arbiter and
enjoyed the necessary authority and power to enforce its decisions.
D. Specific stipulations concerning Holy Places, religious buildings
or sites and the rights of religious communities shall be inserted in the
constitution or constitutions of any independent Palestinian State or
States which may be created.
Comment
(a) Palestine, as the Holy Land, occupies a unique position in the
world. It is sacred to Christian, Jew and Moslem alike. The spiritual inter-
ests of hundreds of millions of adherents of the three great monotheistic
religions are intimately associated with its scenes and historical events.
Any solution of the Palestine question should take into consideration
these religious interests.
(b) The safeguarding of the Holy Places, buildings and sites located
in Palestine should be a condition to the grant of independence.
20 Mandate of Destiny

Recommendation VI. Jewish Displaced Persons


It is recommended that
The General Assembly undertake immediately the initiation and
execution of an international arrangement whereby the problem of the dis-
tressed European Jews, of whom approximately 250,000 are in assembly
centers, will be dealt with as a matter of extreme urgency for the alleviation
of their plight and of the Palestine problem.
Comment
(a) The distressed Jews of Europe, together with the displaced per-
sons generally, are a legacy of the Second World War. They are a recog-
nized international responsibility. Owing however to the insistent
demands that the distressed Jews be admitted freely and immediately into
Palestine, and to the intense urge which exists among these people them-
selves to the same end, they constitute a vital and difficult factor in the
solution.
(b) It cannot be doubted that any action which would ease the plight
of the distressed Jews in Europe would thereby lessen the pressure of the
Palestinian immigration problem, and would consequently create a better
climate in which to carry out a final solution of the question of Palestine.
This would be an important factor in allaying the fears of Arabs in the
Near East that Palestine and ultimately the existing Arab countries are to
be marked as the place of settlement for the Jews of the world.
(c) The Committee recognizes that its terms of reference would not
entitle it to devote its attention to the problem of the displaced persons as
a whole. It realizes also that international action of a general nature is
already under way with regard to displaced persons. In view of the special
circumstances of the Palestine question, however, it has felt justified in
proposing a measure which is designed to ameliorate promptly the condi-
tion of the Jewish segments of the displaced persons as a vital prerequisite
to the settlement of the difficult conditions in Palestine.

Recommendations VII. Democratic Principles


and Protection of Minorities
It is recommended that
In view of the fact that independence is to be granted in Palestine on
the recommendation and under the auspices of the United Nations, it is a
United Nations Special Committee on Palestine: Report to the UN General Assembly 21

proper and an important concern of the United Nations that the constitu-
tion or other fundamental law as well as the political structure of the new
State or States shall be basically democratic, i.e., representative, in charac-
ter, and that this shall be a prior condition to the grant of independence.
In this regard, the constitution or other fundamental law of the new State
or States shall include specific guarantees respecting
A. Human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of
worship and conscience, speech, press and assemblage, the rights of organ-
ized labor, freedom of movement, freedom from arbitrary searches and
seizures, and rights of personal property; and
B. Full protection for the rights and interests of minorities, including
the protection of the linguistic, religious and ethnic rights of the peoples
and respect for their cultures, and full equality of all citizens with regard to
political, civil and religious matters.
Comment
(a) The wide diffusion of both Arabs and Jews throughout Palestine
makes it almost inevitable that, in any solution, there will be an ethnic
minority element in the population. In view of the fact that these two peo-
ples live physically and spiritually apart, nurture separate aspirations and
ideals, and have widely divergent cultural traditions, it is important, in the
interest of orderly society, and for the well-being of all Palestinians, that
full safeguards be ensured for the rights of all.
(b) Bearing in mind the unique position of Palestine as the Holy
Land, it is especially important to protect the rights and interests of reli-
gious minorities.

Recommendations VIII. Peaceful Relations


It is recommended that
It shall be required, as a prior condition to independence, to incorpo-
rate in the future constitutional provisions applying to Palestine those
basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations whereby a State
shall;
A. Undertake to settle all international disputes in which it may be
involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and
security, and justice, are not endangered; and
22 Mandate of Destiny

B. Accept the obligation to refrain in its international relations from


the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political inde-
pendence of any State, or in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of
the United Nations.
Comment
(a) A fundamental objective in the solution of the Palestine problem
is to achieve a reasonable prospect for the preservation of peaceful rela-
tions in the Middle East.
(b) Taking into account the charged atmosphere in which the Pales-
tine solution must be effected, it is considered advisable to emphasize the
international obligations with regard to peaceful relations which an inde-
pendent Palestine would necessarily assume.

Recommendation IX. Economic Unity


In appraising the various proposals for the solution of the Palestine
question, it shall be accepted as a cardinal principle that the preservation
of the economic unity of Palestine as a whole is indispensable to the life
and development of the country and its peoples.
Comment
(a) It merits emphasis that the preservation of a suitable measure of
economic unity in Palestine, under any type of solution, is of the utmost
importance to the future standards of public services, the standards of life
of its peoples, and the development of the country. Were the country less
limited in area and richer in resources, it would be unnecessary to lay such
stress on the principle of economic unity. But there are sound grounds for
the assumption that any action which would reverse the present policy of
treating Palestine as an economic unit particularly with regard to such
matters as customs, currency, transportation and communications, and
development projects, including irrigation, land reclamation and soil con-
servation—would not only handicap the material development of the ter-
ritory as a whole but would also bring in its wake a considerable hardship
for important segments of the population.
(b) Arab and Jewish communities alike would suffer from a complete
severance of the economic unity of the country. Each of the two commu-
nities, despite the inevitable economic disruptions incident to the present
United Nations Special Committee on Palestine: Report to the UN General Assembly 23

state of affairs in Palestine, makes vital contributions to the economic life


of the country, and there is a substantial degree of economic interdepend-
ence between them.
(c) Despite the degree of separateness in the economic life of the Jew-
ish and Arab communities in Palestine, the fact that unity exists in essen-
tial economic matters contributes to the material well-being of both
groups. If that economic unity were not maintained in essentials, people in
all parts of the country would be adversely affected.

Recommendation X. Capitulations
It is recommended that
States whose nationals have in the past enjoyed in Palestine the priv-
ileges and immunities of foreigners, including the benefits of consular
jurisdiction and protection as formerly enjoyed by capitulation or usage in
the Ottoman Empire, be invited by the United Nations to renounce any
right pertaining to them to the reestablishment of such privileges and
immunities in an independent Palestine.
Comment
(a) Article 9(1) of the Mandate for Palestine makes provision for a
judicial system which “shall assure to foreigners, as well as to natives, a
complete guarantee of their rights.” It is especially significant, in this
regard, that article 8 of the Mandate did not abrogate consular jurisdiction
and protection formerly enjoyed by capitulation or usage in the Ottoman
Empire, but merely left them in abeyance during the Mandate.
(b) On the termination of the Mandate, therefore, States having
enjoyed such rights prior to the Mandate will be in a position to claim the
re-establishment of capitulations in Palestine, and may demand, in partic-
ular, as a condition for waiving such right, the maintenance of a satisfacto-
ry judicial system.
(c) The Committee takes the view that, since independence will be
achieved in Palestine under the auspices of the United Nations, and sub-
ject to guarantees stipulated by the United Nations as a condition prior to
independence, there should be no need for any State to re-assert its claim
with respect to capitulations.
24 Mandate of Destiny

Recommendation XI. Appeal against Acts of Violence


It is recommended that
The General Assembly shall call on the peoples of Palestine to extend
their fullest cooperation to the United Nations in its effort to devise and
put into effect an equitable and workable means of settling the difficult
situation prevailing there, and to this end, in the interest of peace, good
order, and lawfulness, to exert every effort to bring to an early end the acts
of violence which have for too long beset that country.
Comment
(a) The United Nations, being seized with the problem of Palestine,
should exert every proper effort to secure there a climate as congenial as
possible to the application of a solution of the problem, both as regards the
transitional and post-transitional periods.
(b) The recurrent acts of violence, until very recently confined almost
exclusively to underground Jewish organizations, are not only detrimental
to the well-being of the country, but will also so augment the tension in
Palestine as to render increasingly difficult the execution of the solution to
be agreed upon by the United Nations.
Document 7: Speech by Guatemalan Delegate
Dr. Jorge Garcia Granados to the UN General Assembly
Guatemalan delegate Dr. Jorge Garcia Granados, who had been part of the
UNSCOP delegation, addressed the General Assembly in support of partition. He
describes how the hopefulness of the UNSCOP members that they would find a
workable solution ran up against the realities of the Middle East, including what he
describes as “words of hatred for the Jews,” “scowls and threatening gestures with
which the Arabs greeted every Jew,” and “a rancour which makes an effort at concil-
iation ... seem useless.” Noting that “in the present ... the Jews could expect nothing
from an Arab government but persecution, slavery, and death,” Granados regrets the
“intransigent attitude” of the Arab leaders who have become an “obstacle” to forging
ties between the Jewish and Arab peoples, and expresses the hope that as time pass-
es, “new ideas and new generations will wipe out the old grudges between these two
peoples,” promoting an era of peace.

PV. 126 28 November 1947


Mr. Garcia Granados (Guatemala)
The fact that Guatemala is in favour of the resolution on which we
are to vote today is well known to you, as it has been stated in the United
Nations Special Committee on Palestine, known as UNSCOP, in the Ad
Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, and in the Sub-Committee
which considered and revised the majority plan.
Our representatives went to Palestine filled with the hope that a solu-
tion might be found which would be satisfactory to both parties. I am sure
that all the members of UNSCOP were animated by the same spirit. Our
Chairman and the Committee as a whole sought many times to bring
about a settlement between the Arabs and the Jews. Our efforts were frus-
trated by the intransigent attitude of the Arab Higher Committee, which
would not give a hearing even to Judge Sandstrom, and which ordered all
its affiliated organizations to refuse to collaborate with the Committee
and to threaten and intimidate all Arabs who seemed to favour concilia-
tion.
Nothing daunted, UNSCOP made every possible approach to the
Arabs, visiting their towns and villages and taking no notice of the hostile
reception. Our representatives never failed to hold out the hand of friend-
ship; but in vain, for no Arab would grasp it.

25
26 Mandate of Destiny

We learned something on our trips. In town and country we heard


words of hatred for the Jews and noticed the scowls and threatening ges-
tures with which the Arabs greeted every Jew. Arab monuments, schools
and even factories were closed to the Jewish newspapermen accompanying
us, even when they were of European or American nationality, and repre-
sented internationally famous newspapers and news agencies. In Palestine,
a Jew may not visit the tomb of Abraham, the common ancestor of both
Arabs and Jews, nor the tombs of Isaac and Jacob, forefathers of the Jewish
race. No Jew dare risk entering the mosque which was once the great tem-
ple of Solomon, the most celebrated Holy Place of the Hebrew religion,
because if he did so, he would be killed.
Years of propaganda have filled the simple hearts of the Arabs with a
rancour which makes efforts at conciliation and the establishment of
friendly relations seem useless today.
These are the facts which we ascertained for ourselves. On these real-
ities, we must base our judgment.
At the hearings in Jerusalem, the Palestine Government frankly
declared through its representatives that it considered the Mandate
impracticable.
The apparently irreconcilable conflict between Arabs and Jews, on
the one hand, and between the Jews and the mandatory Power on the
other, proved to the Committee that this was indeed the case.
The Mandate, then, had to be terminated. Both peoples felt the
desire for independence. But this meant that UNSCOP must also submit
to the United Nations a plan for the future organization of the country.
The unitary State suggested by the Arab Higher Committee, with
the support of the neighbouring States, is impracticable. In the present
disturbed state of Palestine, the Jews could expect nothing from an Arab
Government but persecution, slavery and death. And the nations of the
world cannot deliberately condemn to extermination a hard-working,
honest community, which has established a culture of its own in the land
of its fathers, and which is inspired by a deep and indomitable national
spirit.
The United Nations is faced, in Palestine, with a thirty-year-old
problem, and, since we cannot put the clock back, there is no remedy but
partition. We put forward this proposal with full realization of its difficul-
Speech by Dr. Jorge Garcia Granados to the UN General Assembly 27

ties, but with the conviction that its determined purpose makes it the only
remedy for a conflict which otherwise threatens to become perpetual.
Furthermore, the creation of a Jewish State is a reparation owed by
humanity to an innocent and defenceless people which has suffered
humiliation, and martyrdom for two thousand years.
The Palestine Arabs must know that we who vote in favour of this
resolution have no desire to harm their interests, and that the intransigent
attitude of their leaders is the only obstacle to the attainment of liberty by
both peoples and to the forging of ties of brotherhood between them.
We hope that as the years go by and friendly human relations are
established, new ideas and new generations will wipe out the old grudges
between these two great peoples, and that they will become closely united
in peace and prosperity.
Document 8: Speech by Soviet Ambassador Andrei Gromyko
to the United Nations General Assembly
Soviet Ambassador Andrei Gromyko gave this speech in support of partition as the
United Nations was preparing to vote on UNSCOP’s recommendations. In it,
Gromyko, who later served for twenty-eight years as the Soviet Union’s foreign min-
ister, discusses alternative solutions proposed to the problem of Palestine and con-
cludes that “all the alternative solutions of the Palestinian problem were found to be
unworkable and impracticable,” including the option of “creating a single independ-
ent Arab-Jewish state with equal rights for Arabs and Jews.” Explaining that the
solution advocated by the Soviet Union was based on “understanding and sympathy”
for the anti-colonial national aspirations of the Arabs and support of national self-
determination of peoples, in which he also includes the Jews, Gromyko notes with
regret that the study by UNSCOP and others has shown that “Jews and Arabs do
not wish, or are unable, to live together.” He complains about the British inability
and unwillingness to cooperate with the United Nations to solve the problem, and
rebuts the argument by some states, “mainly ... the Arab states,” that the issue is
beyond the competence of the United Nations organization, stating its advocates
“were unable to adduce any convincing arguments apart from various general and
unfounded statements.”

Mr. Gromyko (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics): The Union of


Soviet Socialist Republics, as everyone knows, has had no direct material
or other interests in Palestine; it is interested in the question of Palestine
because it is a Member of the United Nations and because it is a great
Power that bears, just as do other great Powers, a special responsibility for
the maintenance of international peace. These facts determine the stand
taken by the Government of the USSR on the question of Palestine. The
views of the delegation of the USSR have already been expressed fully
enough at the special session of the General Assembly, in May 1947, as
well as in the course of the debates during the present session. I shall not,
therefore, repeat what has already been stated earlier by the USSR delega-
tion when the question of the future of Palestine was being considered.
But I believe that a few additional remarks will not be useless, in view of
the fact that the General Assembly at this or a following meeting will have

28
Speech by Andrei Gromyko to the UN General Assembly 29

to take a momentous decision that will decide the future of Palestine. It is


natural, therefore, for every delegation to regard it as a duty not only to
take up a definite position by voting for a particular proposal but also to
give reasons for the stand it takes.
When the question of the future of Palestine was under discussion at
the special session of the General Assembly, the Government of the USSR
pointed to the two most acceptable solutions of this question. The first was
the creation of a single democratic Arab-Jewish State in which Arabs and
Jews would enjoy equal rights. In case that solution were to prove unwork-
able because of Arab and Jewish insistence that, in view of the deteriora-
tion in Arab-Jewish relations, they would be unable to live together, the
Government of the USSR through its delegation at the Assembly, pointed
to the second solution, which was to partition Palestine into two free,
independent and democratic States—an Arab and a Jewish one.
The special session of the General Assembly, as you know, set up a
Special Committee on Palestine which carefully studied the question of
Palestine in order to find the most acceptable solution. After the work of
this Committee had been completed, we were gratified to find that its rec-
ommendation, or to be more exact, the recommendation of the majority of
the Committee, coincided with one of the two solutions advanced by the
USSR delegation at the special session. I have in mind the solution of par-
titioning Palestine into two independent democratic States—an Arab and
a Jewish one.
The USSR delegation, therefore, could not but support this alterna-
tive which was recommended by the Special Committee. We now know
that not only did the Special Committee which studied the problem of the
future of Palestine accept the alternative of partition, but that this propos-
al gained the support of an overwhelming majority of the other delega-
tions represented in the General Assembly. The overwhelming majority
of Member States of the United Nations reached the same conclusion as
had been reached by the USSR Government after a comprehensive study
of the question how the problem of the future of Palestine should be
resolved.
We may ask why it is that the overwhelming majority of the delega-
tions represented in the General Assembly adopted this solution and not
30 Mandate of Destiny

another. The only explanation that can be given is that all the alternative
solutions of the Palestinian problem were found to be unworkable and
impractical. In stating this, I have in mind the project of creating a single
independent Arab-Jewish State with equal rights for Arabs and Jews. The
experience gained from the study of the Palestinian question, including
the experience of the Special Committee, has shown that Jews and Arabs
in Palestine do not wish or are unable to live together. The logical conclu-
sion followed that, if these two peoples that inhabit Palestine, both of
which have deeply rooted historical ties with the land, cannot live togeth-
er within the boundaries of a single State, there is no alternative but to
create, in place of one country, two States—an Arab and a Jewish one. It
is, in the view of our delegation, the only workable solution.
The opponents of the partition of Palestine into two separate, inde-
pendent, democratic States usually point to the fact that this decision
would, as they allege, be directed against the Arabs, against the Arab pop-
ulation in Palestine and against the Arab States in general. This point of
view is, for reasons that will be readily understood, particularly empha-
sized by the delegations of the Arab countries. But the USSR delegation
cannot concur in this view. Neither the proposal to partition Palestine into
two separate, independent States nor the decision of the Ad Hoc Com-
mittee that was created at that session and which approved the proposal
which is now under discussion, is directed against the Arabs. This decision
is not directed against either of the two national groups that inhabit Pales-
tine. On the contrary, the USSR delegation holds that this decision corre-
sponds to the fundamental national interests of both peoples, that is to say,
to the interests of the Arabs as well as of the Jews.
The representatives of the Arab States claim that the partition of
Palestine would be an historic injustice. But this view of the case is unac-
ceptable, if only because, after all, the Jewish people has been closely
linked with Palestine for a considerable period in history. Apart from that,
we must not overlook—and the USSR delegation drew attention to this
circumstance originally at the special session of the General Assembly—
we must not overlook the position in which the Jewish people found
themselves as a result of the recent world war. I shall not repeat what the
USSR delegation said on this point at the special scission of the General
Assembly. However, it may not be amiss to remind my listeners again
Speech by Andrei Gromyko to the UN General Assembly 31

that, as a result of the war which was unleashed by Hitlerite Germany, the
Jews, as a people, have suffered more than any other people. You know
that there was not a single country in Western Europe which succeeded in
adequately protecting the interests of the Jewish people against the arbi-
trary acts and violence of the Hitlerites.
In connexion with the proposal to partition Palestine, the representa-
tives of some Arab States referred to the USSR and attempted to cast
aspersions on the foreign policy of its Government. In particular, the rep-
resentative of Lebanon twice exercised his ingenuity on the subject. I have
already pointed out that the proposal to divide Palestine into two separate
independent States, and the position which the USSR has taken in this
matter, are not directed against the Arabs, and that, in our profound con-
viction, such a solution of this question is in keeping with the basic
national interests not only of the Jews but also of the Arabs.
The Government and the peoples of the USSR have entertained and
still entertain a feeling of sympathy for the national aspirations of the
nations of the Arab East. The USSR’s attitude towards the efforts of these
peoples to rid themselves of the last fetters of colonial dependence is one
of understanding and sympathy. Therefore, we do not identify with the
vital national interests of the Arabs the clumsy statements made by some
of the representatives of Arab States about the foreign policy of the USSR
in connexion with the question of the future of Palestine. We draw a dis-
tinction between such statements, which were obviously made under the
stress of fleeting emotions, and the basic and permanent interests of the
Arab people. The USSR delegation is convinced that Arabs and the Arab
States will still, on more than one occasion, be looking towards Moscow
and expecting the USSR to help them in the struggle for their lawful
interests, in their efforts to cast off the last vestiges of foreign dependence.
The delegation of the USSR maintains that the decision to partition
Palestine is in keeping with the high principles and aims of the United
Nations. It is in keeping with the principle of the national self-determina-
tion of peoples. The policy of the USSR in the sphere of Nationality prob-
lems, which has been pursued ever since its creation, is a policy of friend-
ship and self-determination of peoples. That is why all the nationalities
that inhabit the USSR represent a single united family that has survived
desperate trials during the war years in its fight against the most powerful
32 Mandate of Destiny

and most dangerous enemy that a peace-loving people has ever met.
The solution of the Palestine problem based on a partition of Pales-
tine into two separate states will be of profound historical significance,
because this decision will meet the legitimate demands of the Jewish peo-
ple, hundreds of thousands of whom, as you know, are still without a
country, without homes, having found temporary shelter only in special
camps in some western European countries. I shall not speak of the condi-
tions in which these people are living; these conditions are well known.
Quite a lot has been said on this subject by representatives who share the
USSR delegation’s point of view in this matter, and which support the
plan for partitioning Palestine into two States.
The Assembly is making a determined effort to find the most equi-
table, most practical, most workable and at the same time the most radical
solution to the Palestine problem. In doing so, the Assembly bases itself
on certain irrefutable facts which led to the Palestinian question being
raised in the United Nations. What are these facts? Fact number one is
that the mandate system has been found wanting. I shall say more: the
mandate system has failed. That the mandate system has failed we know
even from the statements of the United Kingdom representatives. These
statements were made at the special session as well as at the present ses-
sion of the Assembly. It was just because the system of governing Palestine
by mandate had failed, had proved inadequate, that the United Kingdom
Government turned to the United Nations for help. The United Kingdom
asked the Assembly to take the appropriate decision and thus to undertake
itself the settlement of the problem of the future of Palestine.
Fact number two: the United Kingdom Government, having turned
to the United Nations, stated that it could not be responsible for imple-
menting all the measures which will have to be put into effect in Palestine
in connexion with a possible decision of the General Assembly. In so
doing, the United Kingdom Government has recognized that the General
Assembly can, by virtue of the rights and powers conferred upon it by the
Charter, assume responsibility for settling the question of the future of
Palestine.
The USSR delegation considers it advisable, nevertheless, to draw the
Assembly’s attention to the fact that up to now the Assembly has not been
getting from the United Kingdom the kind of support which we have the
Speech by Andrei Gromyko to the UN General Assembly 33

right to expect. On the one hand, the United Kingdom Government has
applied to the Assembly for help in settling the question of the future of
Palestine; on the other hand, the United Kingdom Government during
the discussion of the question at the special session as well as during the
current session of the Assembly, has entered so many reservations that
willy-nilly one asks oneself whether the United Kingdom is really anxious
to have the Palestinian problem settled through the United Nations.
At the special session of the General Assembly, the United Kingdom
representative, on the one hand, declared that the United Kingdom is pre-
pared to implement the United Nations decisions, provided that the
responsibility for the action that would possibly have to be taken did not
rest with the United Kingdom alone.
By this declaration, the United Kingdom delegation made it
unequivocally clear to the other States that it was prepared to cooperate
with the United Nations in the solution of this problem.
On the other hand, however, at that same special session, the United
Kingdom representative stated that his Government was prepared to give
effect to the relevant decisions of the General Assembly only if the Arabs
and Jews agreed on some kind of a solution of the problem. It will be clear
to everyone that these two statements contradict each other. If the first
statement shows the readiness of the United Kingdom to cooperate with
the United Nations in this matter, the second statement shows that the
United Kingdom Government may disregard the Assembly’s decision.
Similar reservations have been made by the United Kingdom repre-
sentative during the present session. We have heard, today, Sir Alexander
Cadogan’s statement on this matter. He repeated in a slightly modified
form the idea that the United Kingdom was prepared to implement the
Assembly’s decision provided the Jews and the Arabs came to an agree-
ment. But we all know that the Arabs and the Jews have failed to reach an
agreement. The discussion of this problem at the present session shows
that an agreement between them is impossible. There seems to be no
prospect of any such agreement being reached between Arabs and Jews.
This is the opinion not only of the USSR delegation but of all those
delegations that have come to the conclusion that a definitive decision on
this question must be reached during the present session.
All these reservations by the United Kingdom delegation show that
34 Mandate of Destiny

the United Kingdom has no real desire, even now, to cooperate fully with
the United Nations in solving this problem. While the vast majority of the
delegations represented at the General Assembly were in favour of reach-
ing forthwith a definite decision on the question of the future of Palestine,
in favour of partitioning Palestine into two States, the United Kingdom
Government declares that it will comply with the Assembly decision only
when the Jews and the Arabs agree between themselves. I repeat that to
put forward such a stipulation is almost tantamount to burying this deci-
sion even before the General Assembly has taken it. Is that how the Unit-
ed Kingdom should behave in this matter, especially now, when, after
lengthy discussion, it has become clear to everyone, including the United
Kingdom, that the overwhelming majority of countries are in favour of
partitioning Palestine?
In the course of the first session in which the question of the future of
Palestine first arose, it was still possible, at least to understand the reserva-
tions made by the United Kingdom delegation. But now, after the views of
the overwhelming majority of the United Nations Members have become
clear, the lodging of such reservations is tantamount to stating in advance
that the United Kingdom does not consider itself bound by any solution
the General Assembly may adopt.
The USSR delegation cannot share this view. We have a right to
expect the cooperation of the United Kingdom in this matter. We have a
right to expect that, should the Assembly adopt a certain recommenda-
tion, the United Kingdom will take that recommendation into account,
especially since the present regime in Palestine is hated equally by both
Arab and Jew. You all know what the attitude towards that regime is, espe-
cially on the part of the Jews.
I think I should also mention yet another aspect.
From the very outset of these discussions, a number of delegations,
mainly the delegations of Arab States, have tried to convince us that this
question was ostensibly not within the competence of the United Nations.
In so claiming they were unable, as might have been expected, to adduce
any convincing arguments apart from various general and unfounded
statements and declarations.
The General Assembly, as well as the United Nations as a whole, not
only has a right to consider this matter, but in view of the situation that
Speech by Andrei Gromyko to the UN General Assembly 35

has arisen in Palestine, it is bound to take the requisite decision. In the


view of the USSR delegation, the plan for the solution of the Palestinian
problem which has been drawn up by the Ad Hoc Committee, and
according to which the practical implementation of the measures neces-
sary to give it effect rests with the Security Council, is in full accord with
the interest of maintaining and strengthening international peace and
with the interest of increasing cooperation between States. It is precisely
for this reason that the USSR delegation supports the recommendation to
partition Palestine.
The USSR delegation, unlike some other delegations, has from the
outset taken a clear-cut, definite and unequivocal stand in this matter. It is
consistently maintaining this stand. It has no intention of maneuvering
and manipulating votes as unfortunately is done at the Assembly, especial-
ly in connexion with the consideration of the Palestinian question.
Document 9: Speech by Egyptian Delegate Mahmoud Bey Fawzi
to UN General Assembly
In this speech, Egypt’s representative expresses a number of procedural arguments
aimed at swaying the European members of the United Nations: that the United
Kingdom would not implement any decision of the General Assembly unless the
Jews and Arabs agreed to it; that the General Assembly itself had no competence to
“impose a solution” about Palestine; and that, while the partition plan may have suc-
ceeded in the Ad Hoc Committee’s vote, too few UN members—less than a major-
ity of UN members—had thus far voted in favor of partition. Regretting that “power
politics” was “insidious” at the General Assembly session, Fawzi then sets forth a
warning that Egypt will not recognize any resolution adopted by the General
Assembly as a whole. He declares the General Assembly lacks competence on the
issue, suggests the whole matter be sent to the world court for an advisory opinion,
reminds that any GA decision is merely “a recommendation” to states, and that, if
the partition plan succeeds, Egypt “will not adopt and we will not implement the
proposed recommendation.”

The President: I now call upon the representative of Egypt.


Mahmoud Bey Fawzi (Egypt): If I comprehend the draft resolution
offered by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question to the
General Assembly for adoption, if I correctly gauge its purport and its
purpose, it would call upon the General Assembly to recommend to the
United Kingdom and to all other Members of the United Nations the
adoption and the implementation of the plan of partition. The General
Assembly has been notified that the United Kingdom would not imple-
ment any policy which is not acceptable to both Arabs and Jews. We just
heard this repeated a few moments ago by the representative of the Unit-
ed Kingdom.
He added that the United Kingdom is not prepared to undertake the
task of imposing a policy in Palestine by force of arms and that, in consid-
ering any proposal to the effect that it should participate with others in the
enforcement of a settlement, it must take into due consideration both the
inherent justice of the settlement and the extent to which force would be
required to give effect to it.

36
Speech by Mahmoud Bey Fawzi to UN General Assembly 37

I think it must be clear by now that the General Assembly is not


competent to impose any solution in this matter. More than that, if I have
not misunderstood the situation, a majority of the States here represented
have either denied or doubted the power of the General Assembly to make
even a recommendation on partition. When a vote was taken yesterday
afternoon by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, the
favourable report on the partition plan could muster the support of only
twenty-five out of fifty-seven Members of the United Nations. That was
less than a majority of the Members of the United Nations.
Is the voice of the United Nations in this most important matter, in
this most vital matter, to be merely the voice of a minority? If so, let us
frankly say to the whole world that, despite all the pressure exerted in
favour of partition, a majority of the United Nations could not stomach
this violation of the principles of the Charter. It is to the credit of this
majority and of the United Nations as a whole that they could not stom-
ach this violation of the principles of the Charter.
A Danish amendment (document A/AC.14/ 43/Rev. 1) was adopted
at the thirty-fourth meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian
Question only because of the mere twenty-five who later gave their
approval to the partition plan. Some of those twenty-five, including the
Danish delegation, were doubtful as to the legal power of the General
Assembly in relation to partition. However, all that the Danish amend-
ment could accomplish, in fact, as was stated by the representative of Pak-
istan yesterday, was nothing more than to add a zero to a zero.
I can understand the influences which made even this result possible.
Power politics was not merely dominant in the conclusions of the Com-
mittee; it was also insidious. Yet, it is dissipated by the fact that the great
manipulators are contemporaneous in their unity, but are in reality divided
in their purposes.
We have been told about the situation in which one of the great Pow-
ers finds itself, about the predicament in which it thinks, or perhaps feels,
that it is entangled. We have been told concerning that great Power, that
being confronted with the imminence of a general national election, its
candidates seek the vote of a single component state, and that vote
depends on the Jewish electorate of a single city. Thus is its policy dictated
38 Mandate of Destiny

with regard to a Palestine which is more than five thousand miles away.
That is what we have been told. We do not wish to believe it; we wish to
hope it is not true.
If the General Assembly’s resolution is passed, I must reiterate that
we shall take it for what it is: a mere recommendation addressed to the
Egyptian Government. I must, in terms of no equivocation, reiterate our
position as it has been stated throughout the deliberations of the Ad Hoc
Committee on the Palestinian Question. This position is:
1. We are of the opinion that the General Assembly is not competent
to make the proposed recommendation to Egypt or to any other State;
2. In view of the difference of opinion on this question of compe-
tence, we requested, more than forty days ago, that the General Assembly
should ask the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion. We
still would like to enlightened by such an opinion from the Court;
3. Failing an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice,
Egypt will be guided only by its own views as to the powers conferred on
the General Assembly by the Charter;
4. As at present advised, we will not adopt and we will not implement
the proposed recommendation by the General Assembly if it obtains the
necessary vote and is adopted;
5. As a sovereign, equal Member of the United Nations, Egypt
reserves its full rights under the Charter.
Document 10: Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the
Palestinian Question to the United Nations General Assembly
25 November 1947
At its September 1947 second session, the UN General Assembly referred three
matters—the UNSCOP final report, a proposal of the United Kingdom, and a
Saudi-Iraqi proposal for recognition of a single-state solution—to a newly created
Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question. Composed of all UN members,
the Ad Hoc Committee deliberated for two months, examining some seventeen
proposed resolutions submitted to it. It included both the Jewish Agency and Arab
Higher Committee in its deliberations, and set up three bodies to examine the vari-
ous proposals: a conciliation commission that tried to bring the parties together and
two subcommittees. Subcommittee 1 was asked to draw up a detailed plan based on
the majority proposals of UNSCOP; Subcommittee 2 was asked for a detailed plan
based on the Saudi-Iraqi proposal for a unitary state.
The conciliation commission reported their work had not been fruitful. Sub-
committee 1 modified the UNSCOP partition plan slightly as to the dates of inde-
pendence, the boundaries of each state, including those of an internationalized
Jerusalem, and the implementation body to be in charge of the transition (a new
five-member Palestine Commission), and other matters. Subcommittee 2 concen-
trated on three matters: (a) legal questions such as the competence of the UN to
address the issue and the recommendation to refer the matter to the world court, as
proposed by Egypt, Iraq, and Syria; (b) the issue of Jewish refugees and its relation-
ship to the Palestinian question, recommending that the countries of origin take
back the refugees; and (c) the constitution and future government of a unitary Pales-
tinian state. The excerpted report below describes the results of the Ad Hoc Com-
mittee’s deliberations and its decisions voted upon on November 24 and 25, 1947.
The Ad Hoc Committee rejected each of the three recommendations of Subcom-
mittee 2, and then voted to adopt the recommendation of Subcommittee 1, on par-
tition, by 25-13 with 17 abstentions. The report was then sent to the General
Assembly, which considered it between November 26-29.

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question


Rapporteur: Mr. Thor Thors (Iceland)
1. The General Assembly, at its ninetieth meeting held on 23 Sep-
tember 1947, established an Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Ques-
tion, to which it referred the following items:

39
40 Mandate of Destiny

(a) Question of Palestine: item proposed by the United Kingdom


(document A/286)
(b) Report of the Special Committee on Palestine (A/364)
(c) Termination of the Mandate over Palestine and the recognition of
its independence as one State: item proposed by Saudi Arabia and by Iraq
(A/317 and A/328).
2. The Ad Hoc Committee, at its first meeting held on 25 September
… also decided to invite the Arab Higher Committee and the Jewish
Agency for Palestine to be represented at its deliberations in order to sup-
ply such information or render such assistance as the Committee might
require. The invitation was accepted. Representatives of the Arab Higher
Committee and of the Jewish Agency attended the meetings of the Ad
Hoc Committee.
3. At its second meeting, held on 26 September, the Committee
heard a preliminary statement by the representative of the United King-
dom. He recalled that the United Kingdom representative at the special
session of the General Assembly had indicated that his Government
would be in the highest degree reluctant to oppose the Assembly’s wishes
in regard to the future of Palestine. He added that the British Government
was not, however, prepared to impose by force of arms a settlement which
was not acceptable to both the Arabs and the Jews of Palestine and that, in
the absence of a settlement, it must plan for an early withdrawal of British
forces and of the British administration from Palestine.
At the same meeting, the Chairman of the Special Committee on
Palestine introduced the report of the Special Committee.
4. At its third meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee heard the representa-
tive of the Arab Higher Committee, who rejected the recommendations of
the Special Committee on Palestine and advocated the establishment on
democratic lines, in the whole of Palestine, of an Arab State which would
protect the legitimate rights and interests of all minorities. At the fourth
meeting the representative of the Jewish Agency indicated its readiness to
accept, subject to further discussion of the constitutional and territorial
provisions, the majority plan of the Special Committee on Palestine.
5. A general discussion of the three items of the agenda followed
those preliminary statements.… The representative of the United King-
dom, in the course of the fifteenth meeting, stated that his previous
Report of Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question to the UN General Assembly 41

announcement of the decision to withdraw the British forces and admin-


istration from Palestine was designed to induce both parties to face the
consequences of failure to agree, to emphasize the urgency of the matter
and to leave the United Nations unhampered in its recommendations as to
the future government of Palestine. In no case, however, would the British
Government accept responsibility for the enforcement of recommenda-
tions either alone or in the major role.
6. After the general discussion the representatives of the Jewish
Agency and of the Arab Higher Committee were again given an opportu-
nity at the seventeenth and eighteenth meetings to state their views. They
made declarations which confirmed their earlier statements.
7. At its nineteenth meeting the Committee discussed its future pro-
cedure. Seventeen draft resolutions had been submitted, some referring to
the problem as a whole, others to certain of its aspects. The Chairman
proposed that no vote on matters of principle should be taken at that
stage, but that the Committee should establish: (1) a conciliation group
which would try to bring the parties together, as suggested by the delega-
tion of El Salvador (A/AC.14/3); (2) a Sub-Committee entrusted with
drawing up a detailed plan based on the majority proposals of the Special
Committee on Palestine, as provided by the draft resolution of the United
States of America (A/AC.14/17), amended by the Canadian delegation
(A/AC.14/23); and (3) a Sub-Committee to draw up a detailed plan in
accordance with the proposal of Saudi Arabia and Iraq for the recognition
of Palestine as an independent unitary State and the proposal to the same
effect submitted by the delegation of Syria (A/AC.14/22). The Chair-
man’s plan received wide support. Several delegations favoured, however,
that the Committee first take decisions on matters of substance and then
entrust to a sub-committee the working out of details. A proposal to that
effect, moved by the representative of the Soviet Union, was not adopted
(fourteen votes in favour; twenty-six against) and the Committee
approved the procedure suggested by the Chairman.
8. At its twentieth meeting the Committee considered the question of
the composition of the conciliation group and of the two Sub-Committees
which it had decided to create.… The Chairman was authorized to name
the members of that Sub-Committee as well as those of Sub-Committee
2, which was to work out the details of the plan for one State in Palestine.
42 Mandate of Destiny

The Sub-Committees were asked to submit their reports not later than 29
October, subject to an extension of that time limit if necessary.…
By virtue of the authority vested in him by the Committee, the
Chairman appointed, on 22 October, the following members to serve on
the Sub-Committees:
(a) Sub-Committee 1: Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Poland,
South Africa, United States of America, Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics, Uruguay, Venezuela
(b) Sub-Committee 2: Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq,
Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen….
12. Representatives of the United Kingdom attended the meetings of
the two Sub-Committees in order to furnish information and assistance.
A representative of the Jewish Agency sat in Sub-Committee 1 and a rep-
resentative of the Arab Higher Committee in Sub-Committee 2, to give
such information and assistance as might be required. The Arab Higher
Committee did not accept an invitation to sit with the members of Sub-
Committee 1 when the latter discussed the question of boundaries. The
Arab Higher Committee was prepared to assist and furnish information
only with regard to the question of the termination of the Mandate and
the creation of a unitary State.…
14. The reports of Sub-Committee 1 (A/AC.14/34) and Sub-Com-
mittee 2 (A/AC.14/32) were submitted to the Ad Hoc Committee on 19
November (twenty-third meeting). At the same meeting, the Ad Hoc
Committee was informed by the Chairman, speaking on behalf of the
conciliation group, that their efforts had not been fruitful. Both parties
seemed to be confident as to the success of their case before the Assembly
and there appeared to be little hope of conciliation, at least at the present
time.
15. The report of Sub-Committee 1 recommended the adoption of a
draft resolution embodying a plan of partition with economic union. The
plan followed, in its general lines, the proposals of the majority of the Spe-
cial Committee on Palestine (two independent States, a City of Jerusalem
under an international regime, and economic union of these three units).
A new solution was proposed for the problem of implementation, in view
of the statements of policy made by the representatives of the Mandatory
Power on that problem. A Commission of five members appointed by the
Report of Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question to the UN General Assembly 43

General Assembly would be sent to Palestine and would perform, under


the guidance of the Security Council, the functions assigned to it by the
General Assembly for the preparation of the independence of the Arab
and Jewish States and of the establishment of the Economic Union and
Joint Economic Board provided for by the plan. As regards the City of
Jerusalem, its statute would be elaborated by the Trusteeship Council.
16. The report of Sub-Committee 2 recommended the adoption of
three draft resolutions. According to the first, the General Assembly,
before recommending a solution of the Palestine problem, would request
the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on certain legal
questions connected with or arising from that problem, including ques-
tions concerning the competence of the United Nations to recommend or
enforce any solution contrary to the wishes of the majority of the people of
Palestine. The second draft resolution recommended an international set-
tlement of the problem of Jewish refugees and displaced persons, and stat-
ed principles and proposed machinery for the co-operation of Member
States in such a settlement. The third resolution provided for the creation
of a provisional government of the people of Palestine to which the
authority of the Mandatory Power would be transferred, as a preparatory
step to the setting up of an elected Constituent Assembly. The Constitu-
tion framed by the latter would inter alia contain guarantees as regards the
Holy Places, human rights and fundamental freedoms. Such guarantees
were enumerated in the draft resolution.
17. The discussion of the two reports began at the twenty-fourth
meeting. At the twenty-fifth meeting the representative of the United
Kingdom recalled the general principles contained in the statement made
to the Committee on behalf of his Government at the second meeting (see
paragraph 3 above). …
19. The two Sub-Committees reviewed their respective plans of
implementation. Representatives of the United Kingdom attended the
meetings to answer questions and furnish information. While Sub-Com-
mittee 2 decided not to alter its plan, Sub-Committee 1 revised certain of
its proposals in the light of the British statements.…
22. The discussion of the two reports was pursued during four meet-
ings (twenty-seventh to thirty-first). During the twenty-eighth meeting,
the representative of the Jewish Agency renewed the offer he had made in
44 Mandate of Destiny

Sub-Committee 1 to transfer to the Arab State a part of the Beersheba


area and a portion of the Negeb along the Egyptian frontier, if such an
offer could satisfy certain delegations which were in favour of partition,
but had suggested an extension of territory for the Arab State in the South
of Palestine. Following the statement of the Jewish Agency, the delegation
of the United States proposed a revision of the boundaries of the two
States in conformity with the suggestion of the Jewish Agency
(A/AC.14/38).
23. After the close of the discussion on the two reports, the represen-
tatives of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and of the Arab Higher Com-
mittee made final statements (thirty-first meeting).
24. At the beginning of the thirty-second meeting, the Chairman put
to the vote the first draft resolution proposed by Sub-Committee 2, pro-
viding for the reference to the International Court of Justice for an adviso-
ry opinion of eight legal questions connected with or arising from the
Palestine problem. At the request of the representative of France, two
votes were taken, one on the first seven questions, the other on the eighth
question which read as follows:
Whether the United Nations, or any of its Member States, is competent
to enforce, or recommend the enforcement of, any proposal concerning
the constitution and future government of Palestine, in particular, any
plan of partition which is contrary to the wishes, or adopted without the
consent, of the inhabitants of Palestine.
The proposal to refer to the International Court of Justice the first
seven questions was rejected by a vote of eighteen in favour, twenty-five
against, with eleven abstentions. The proposal to refer to the Court the
eighth question was rejected by a vote of twenty in favour, twenty-one
against, with thirteen abstentions.
25. The recommendations contained in the second draft resolution
proposed by Sub-Committee 2 relating to an international solution of the
problem of Jewish refugees and displaced persons were then put to the
vote, paragraph by paragraph.
By seventeen votes in favour, fourteen against and twenty-three
abstentions, the Committee adopted the first recommendation.
By eighteen votes in favour, sixteen against, with twenty-one absten-
tions, the Committee adopted the second recommendation.
Report of Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question to the UN General Assembly 45

The Committee rejected by fifteen votes in favour, eighteen against,


with twenty-two abstentions, the third recommendation providing for the
setting up of a Special Committee which would recommend to the Mem-
bers of the United Nations the acceptance of a scheme of quotas of Jewish
refugees and displaced persons to be resettled in their respective territories.
After the Committee had, by a show of hands, adopted or rejected
various paragraphs of the preamble of the resolution, the final text com-
prising the first two recommendations and the adopted paragraphs of the
preamble, was voted upon as a whole. That text was as follows:
The General Assembly, having regard to the unanimous recommenda-
tion of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine that the
General Assembly undertake immediately the initiation and execution
of an international arrangement whereby the problem of the distressed
European Jews will be dealt with as a matter of extreme urgency for the
alleviation of their plight and of the Palestine problem;
Bearing in mind that genuine refugees and displaced persons constitute
a problem which is international in scope and character;
Being of the opinion that where repatriation proves impossible, solution
should be sought by way of resettlement in the territories of the Mem-
bers of the United Nations which are willing and in a position to absorb
these refugees and displaced persons;
Having adopted resolution 62 (I) on 15 December 1946 calling for the
creation of an international refugee organization with a view to the solu-
tion of the refugee problem through the combined efforts of the United
Nations; and
Taking note of the assumption on 1 July 1947 by the Preparatory Com-
mission of the International Refugee Organization of operational
responsibility for displaced persons and refugees:
Recommends:
That the countries of origin should be requested to take back the Jewish
refugees and displaced persons belonging to them, and to render them
all possible assistance to resettle in life.

That those Jewish refugees and displaced persons who cannot be repatri-
ated should be absorbed in the territories of Members of the United
Nations in proportion to their area, economic resources, per capita
income, population and other relevant factors.
46 Mandate of Destiny

The vote on the above text was sixteen in favour, sixteen against, with
twenty-six abstentions.
26. The third resolution of Sub-Committee 2 providing for the con-
stitution and future government of Palestine, as a unitary, democratic, and
independent State, with safeguards for minorities, was rejected by a vote
of twelve in favour, twenty-nine against, with fourteen abstentions.
27. The Committee then considered the amendments which had
been submitted respecting the plan recommended by Sub-Committee 1.…
Paragraph 3 in the same section B of Part I was also modified as a
result of the adoption of a Netherlands amendment (A/AC.14/36) giving
wider scope to the Boundary Commission.…
Paragraph 8 of Chapter 2 of section C was altered by the adoption of
an amendment put forward separately by the delegations of the Nether-
lands (A/AC.14/36) and Pakistan (A/AC.14/40) providing for the dele-
tion from the paragraph of provisions regarding expropriation of land for
other than public purposes. The vote was twelve in favour and nine against
the amendment.
The delegation of the Netherlands submitted an amendment
(A/AC.14/36) to add a new paragraph 9 to Chapter 2 of section C. The
amendment was withdrawn on the understanding that it might be resub-
mitted to the plenary meeting of the General Assembly in a revised form.
The delegation of Canada submitted an amendment (A/AC.14/45) to
paragraph 1 of Chapter 3 of section C respecting citizenship, which was
adopted.
The delegation of the United States of America submitted an
amendment (A/AC.14/42) to add a new paragraph to paragraph 9 of sec-
tion D. The amendment was adopted.…
The delegation of Pakistan submitted an amendment (A/AC.14/40)
to delete the whole of Part II dealing with boundaries and to provide for a
Boundary Commission, appointed by the Security Council, to recom-
mend boundaries in accordance with the principle that not more than ten
percent of the land, exclusive of state or waste lands, in the Arab or Jewish
State should be owned by Jews or Arabs respectively. The amendment was
rejected by a vote of eight in favour and twenty-two against.
The Committee adopted the amendment submitted by the delega-
tion of the United States of America (A/AC.14/38) to Part II, providing
Report of Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question to the UN General Assembly 47

that the town of Beersheba and the area to the northeast thereof and a
portion of the Negeb along the Egyptian frontier should be excluded from
the area of the proposed Jewish State and incorporated in the proposed
Arab State.
The delegation of Sweden submitted an amendment (A/AC.14/35)
to delete from paragraph 2, section C of Part III, in connection with the
administrative staff of the Governor of the City of Jerusalem, the phrase
“and chosen whenever possible from the residents of the City on a non-
discriminatory basis.” The amendment was rejected by a vote of ten in
favour and fifteen against. The paragraph was adopted with the phrase in
question amended to read as follows: “and chosen whenever practicable
from the residents of the City and of the rest of Palestine on a non-dis-
criminatory basis.”…
29. The amended draft resolution embodying the Plan of Partition
with Economic Union was adopted by a vote of twenty-five in favour,
thirteen against, with seventeen abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist
Republic, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Domini-
can Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Iceland, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama,
Peru, Poland, Sweden, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of
South Africa, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United States of Amer-
ica, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Against: Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pak-
istan, Saudi Arabia, Siam, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.
Abstentions: Argentina, Belgium, China, Colombia, El Salvador,
Ethiopia, France, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexi-
co, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Yugoslavia.
Absent: Paraguay and Philippines.
30. Before the vote, the representatives of New Zealand, Syria, and
Iraq had made statements explaining their votes. After the roll-call, the
representative of Egypt also made a statement in connection with his vote.
31. The Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question therefore
recommends to the General Assembly the adoption of the following draft
resolution on the future government of Palestine embodying a Plan of
Partition with Economic Union:
48 Mandate of Destiny

A/516
Future Government of Palestine
The General Assembly,
Having Met in special session at the request of the Mandatory Power
to constitute and instruct a Special Committee to prepare for the consid-
eration of the question of the future government of Palestine at the second
regular session;
Having Constituted a Special Committee and instructed it to investi-
gate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of Palestine, and to
prepare proposals for the solution of the problem; and
Having Received and Examined the report of the Special Committee
(document A/364) including a number of unanimous recommendations
and a plan of partition with economic union approved by the majority of
the Special Committee;
Considers that the present situation in Palestine is one which is likely
to impair the general welfare and friendly relations among nations;
Takes Note of the declaration by the Mandatory Power that it plans to
complete its evacuation of Palestine by 1 August 1948;
Recommends to the United Kingdom, as the Mandatory Power for
Palestine, and to all other Members of the United Nations the adoption
and implementation, with regard to the future government of Palestine, of
the Plan of Partition with Economic Union set out below;
Requests that
(a) The Security Council take the necessary measures as provided for
in the Plan for its implementation;
(b) The Security Council consider if circumstances during the transi-
tional period require such consideration, whether the situation in Palestine
constitutes a threat to the peace. If it decides that such a threat exists, and
in order to maintain international peace and security, the Security Council
should supplement the authorization of the General Assembly by taking
measures, under Articles 39 and 41 of the Charter, to empower the Unit-
ed Nations Commission, as provided in this resolution, to exercise in
Palestine the functions which are assigned to it by this resolution;
(c) The Security Council determine as a threat to the peace, breach of
the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter,
any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution;
Report of Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question to the UN General Assembly 49

(d) The Trusteeship Council be informed of the responsibilities


envisaged for it in this Plan;
Calls Upon the inhabitants of Palestine to take such steps as may be
necessary on their part to put this Plan into effect;
Appeals to all Governments and all peoples to refrain from taking any
action which might hamper or delay the carrying out of these recommen-
dations; and
Authorizes the Secretary-General to reimburse travel … expenses of
the members of the Commission … and to provide to the Commission
the necessary staff to assist in carrying out the functions….
See General Assembly Resolution 181 for the remainder of the resolution.
50 Mandate of Destiny

Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, right, greets UN delegates just after Chatting informally after the partition vote are
the final meeting of the General Assembly that approved (l. to r.) Guillermo Sevilla-Sacasa, the Nicaraguan UN delegate,
the partition plan by a vote of 33 to 13. Warren R. Austin, the American UN ambassador,
UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie, and UN General Assembly
President Oswaldo Aranho of Brazil.

Prince Faisal ibn Saud,


foreign minister of Saudi Arabia,
arrives at the UN General Assembly’s
second Special Session on Palestine.

Photos courtesy of United Nations Photo


Photo Spread 51

The vote is taken to approve the resolution to partition Palestine into two states
at the second UN General Assembly session on Palestine, on November 29, 1947.

Jewish youngsters in Palestine greet UN observers.

Mr. Aubrey S. Eban, permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations,


addresses the Trusteeship Council during preliminary discussion of
internationalization of Jerusalem.
Document 11: UN General Assembly Resolution 181(II)
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolu-
tion to accept the UNSCOP recommendations and partition Palestine into two
states, one Arab and one Jewish, and to declare Jerusalem an international territory.
The Assembly approved the partition plan by a vote of 33-13 with 10 abstentions,
reaching a two-thirds vote in favor of the plan. The Arab governments and Arab
League rejected the proposal, and declared that the UN was “murdered” and that the
charter was “dead.” The following text is excerpted to exclude technical details.

Resolution No. 181 (II) of 29 November 1947


Recommending a Partition Plan for Palestine
A
The General Assembly,
Having met in special session at the request of the mandatory Power
to constitute and instruct a Special Committee to prepare for the consid-
eration of the question of the future Government of Palestine at the sec-
ond regular session;
Having constituted a Special Committee and instructed it to investi-
gate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of Palestine, and to
prepare proposals for the solution of the problem, and
Having received and examined the report of the Special Committee
(document A/364)1 including a number of unanimous recommendations
and a plan of partition with economic union approved by the majority of
the Special Committee,
Considers that the present situation in Palestine is one which is likely
to impair the general welfare and friendly relations among nations;
Takes note of the declaration by the mandatory Power that it plans to
complete its evacuation of Palestine by 1 August 1948;
Recommends to the United Kingdom, as the mandatory Power for
Palestine, and to all other Members of the United Nations the adoption
and implementation, with regard to the future Government of Palestine,
of the Plan of Partition with Economic Union set out below;

1. See Official Records of the General Assembly, Second Session, Supplement No. 11, Volumes I-IV.

52
UN General Assembly Resolution 181(II) 53

Requests that:
(a) The Security Council take the necessary measures as provided for
in the plan for its implementation;
(b) The Security Council consider, if circumstances during the transi-
tional period require such consideration, whether the situation in Palestine
constitutes a threat to the peace. If it decides that such a threat exists, and
in order to maintain international peace and security, the Security Council
should supplement the authorization of the General Assembly by taking
measures, under Articles 39 and 41 of the Charter, to empower the United
Nations Commission, as provided in this resolution, to exercise in Pales-
tine the functions which are assigned to it by this resolution;
(c) The Security Council determine as a threat to the peace, breach of
the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Char-
ter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolu-
tion;
(d) The Trusteeship Council be informed of the responsibilities
envisaged for it in this plan;
Calls upon the inhabitants of Palestine to take such steps as may be
necessary on their part to put this plan into effect
Appeals to all Governments and all peoples to refrain from taking any
action which might hamper or delay the carrying out of these recommen-
dations, and
Authorizes the Secretary-General to reimburse travel and subsistence
expenses of the members of the Commission referred to in Part I, Section
B, Paragraph 1 below, on such basis and in such form as he may determine
most appropriate in the circumstances, and to provide the Commission
with the necessary staff to assist in carrying out the functions assigned to
the Commission by the General Assembly.2
B
The General Assembly,
Authorizes the Secretary-General to draw from the Working Capital
Fund a sum not to exceed $2,000,000 for the purposes set forth in the last
paragraph of the resolution on the future government of Palestine.*

2. At its one hundred and twenty-eighth plenary meeting on 29 November 1947 the General Assembly,
in accordance with the terms of the above resolution elected the following members of the United Nations
Commission on Palestine: Bolivia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Panama, and Philippines.
54 Mandate of Destiny

Plan of Partition with Economic Union


Part I. Future Constitution and Government of Palestine

A. Termination of Mandate, Partition and Independence


The Mandate for Palestine shall terminate as soon as possible but in
any case not later than 1 August 1948.
The armed forces of the mandatory Power shall be progressively
withdrawn from Palestine, the withdrawal to be completed as soon as pos-
sible but in any case not later than 1 August 1948.
The mandatory Power shall advise the Commission, as far in advance
as possible, of its intention to terminate the Mandate and to evacuate each
area.
The mandatory Power shall use its best endeavours to ensure that an
area situated in the territory of the Jewish State, including a seaport and
hinterland adequate to provide facilities for a substantial immigration,
shall be evacuated at the earliest possible date and in any event not later
than 1 February 1948.
3. Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International
Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall
come into existence in Palestine two months after the evacuation of the
armed forces of the mandatory Power has been completed but in any case
not later than 1 October 1948. The boundaries of the Arab State, the Jew-
ish State, and the City of Jerusalem shall be as described in Parts II and III
below.
4. The period between the adoption by the General Assembly of its
recommendation on the question of Palestine and the establishment of the
independence of the Arab and Jewish States shall be a transitional period.

B. Steps Preparatory to Independence


1. A Commission shall be set up consisting of one representative of
each of five Member States. The Members represented on the Commis-
sion shall be elected by the General Assembly on as broad a basis, geo-
graphically and otherwise, as possible.
2. The administration of Palestine shall, as the mandatory Power
withdraws its armed forces, be progressively turned over to the Commis-
sion, which shall act in conformity with the recommendations of the Gen-
UN General Assembly Resolution 181(II) 55

eral Assembly, under the guidance of the Security Council. The mandato-
ry Power shall to the fullest possible extent co-ordinate its plans for with-
drawal with the plans of the Commission to take over and administer
areas which have been evacuated.
In the discharge of this administrative responsibility the Commission
shall have authority to issue necessary regulations and take other measures
as required. The mandatory Power shall not take any action to prevent,
obstruct or delay the implementation by the Commission of the measures
recommended by the General Assembly.
3. On its arrival in Palestine the Commission shall proceed to carry
out measures for the establishment of the frontiers of the Arab and Jewish
States and the City of Jerusalem in accordance with the general lines of
the recommendations of the General Assembly on the partition of Pales-
tine. Nevertheless, the boundaries as described in Part II of this Plan are
to be modified in such a way that village areas as a rule will not be divided
by state boundaries unless pressing reasons make that necessary.
4. The Commission, after consultation with the democratic parties
and other public organizations of the Arab and Jewish States, shall select
and establish in each State as rapidly as possible a Provisional Council of
Government. The activities of both the Arab and Jewish Provisional
Councils of Government shall be carried out under the general direction
of the Commission.
If by 1 April 1948 a Provisional Council of Government cannot be
selected for either of the States, or, if selected, cannot carry out its func-
tions, the Commission shall communicate that fact to the Security Coun-
cil for such action with respect to that State as the Security Council may
deem proper, and to the Secretary-General for communication to the
Members of the United Nations.
5. Subject to the provisions of these recommendations, during the
transitional period the Provisional Councils of Government, acting under
the Commission, shall have full authority in the areas under their control
including authority over matters of immigration and land regulation.
6. The Provisional Council of Government of each State, acting
under the Commission, shall progressively receive from the Commission
full responsibility for the administration of that State in the period
between the termination of the Mandate and the establishment of the
State’s independence.
56 Mandate of Destiny

7. The Commission shall instruct the Provisional Councils of Gov-


ernment of both the Arab and Jewish States, after their formation, to pro-
ceed to the establishment of administrative organs of government, central
and local.
8. The Provisional Council of Government of each State shall, within
the shortest time possible, recruit an armed militia from the residents of
that State, sufficient in number to maintain internal order and to prevent
frontier clashes.
This armed militia in each State shall, for operational purposes, be
under the command of Jewish or Arab officers resident in that State, but
general political and military control, including the choice of the militia’s
High Command, shall be exercised by the Commission.
9. The Provisional Council of Government of each State shall, not
later than two months after the withdrawal of the armed forces of the
mandatory Power, hold elections to the Constituent Assembly which shall
be conducted on democratic lines.
The election regulations in each State shall be drawn up by the Provi-
sional Council of Government and approved by the Commission. Quali-
fied voters for each State for this election shall be persons over eighteen
years of age who are (a) Palestinian citizens residing in that State; and (b)
Arabs and Jews residing in the State, although not Palestinian citizens,
who, before voting, have signed a notice of intention to become citizens of
such State.
Arabs and Jews residing in the City of Jerusalem who have signed a
notice of intention to become citizens, the Arabs of the Arab State and
the Jews of the Jewish State, shall be entitled to vote in the Arab and Jew-
ish States respectively.
Women may vote and be elected to the Constituent Assemblies.
During the transitional period no Jew shall be permitted to establish
residence in the area of the proposed Arab State, and no Arab shall be per-
mitted to establish residence in the area of the proposed Jewish State,
except by special leave of the Commission.
10. The Constituent Assembly of each State shall draft a democratic
constitution for its State and choose a provisional government to succeed
the Provisional Council of Government appointed by the Commission.
The Constitutions of the States shall embody Chapters 1 and 2 of the
UN General Assembly Resolution 181(II) 57

Declaration provided for in section C below and include, inter alia, provi-
sions for:
(a) Establishing in each State a legislative body elected by universal suf-
frage and by secret ballot on the basis of proportional representation,
and an executive body responsible to the legislature;
(b) Settling all international disputes in which the State may be involved
by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and securi-
ty, and justice, are not endangered;
(c) Accepting the obligation of the State to refrain in its international
relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity
or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsis-
tent with the purpose of the United Nations;
(d) Guaranteeing to all persons equal and non-discriminatory rights in
civil, political, economic and religious matters and the enjoyment of
human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion,
language, speech and publication, education, assembly and association;
(e) Preserving freedom of transit and visit for all residents and citizens
of the other State in Palestine and the City of Jerusalem, subject to con-
siderations of national security, provided that each State shall control
residence within its borders.
11. The Commission shall appoint a preparatory economic commis-
sion of three members to make whatever arrangements are possible for
economic co-operation, with a view to establishing, as soon as practicable,
the Economic Union and the Joint Economic Board, as provided in sec-
tion D below.
12. During the period between the adoption of the recommendations
on the question of Palestine by the General Assembly and the termination
of the Mandate, the mandatory Power in Palestine shall maintain full
responsibility for administration in areas from which it has not withdrawn
its armed forces. The Commission shall assist the mandatory Power in the
carrying out of these functions. Similarly the mandatory Power shall co-
operate with the Commission in the execution of its functions.
13. With a view to ensuring that there shall be continuity in the func-
tioning of administrative services and that, on the withdrawal of the
armed forces of the mandatory Power, the whole administration shall be in
the charge of the Provisional Councils and the Joint Economic Board,
respectively, acting under the Commission, there shall be a progressive
58 Mandate of Destiny

transfer, from the mandatory Power to the Commission, of responsibility


for all the functions of government, including that of maintaining law and
order in the areas from which the forces of the mandatory Power have
been withdrawn.
14. The Commission shall be guided in its activities by the recom-
mendations of the General Assembly and by such instructions as the
Security Council may consider necessary to issue.
The measures taken by the Commission, within the recommenda-
tions of the General Assembly, shall become immediately effective unless
the Commission has previously received contrary instructions from the
Security Council.
The Commission shall render periodic monthly progress reports, or
more frequently if desirable, to the Security Council.
15. The Commission shall make its final report to the next regular
session of the General Assembly and to the Security Council simultane-
ously.
Document 12: Verbatim Provisional Records,
United Nations General Assembly
November 29, 1947
In these speeches explaining their votes before the UN General Assembly, several
Arab states express their opinions of UN Resolution 181(II). Amir Arslan of Syria
calls the Charter “dead,” while the Saudi Arabian delegate says that his government
does not feel not bound by the decision. The speakers deny the validity of the reso-
lution, claim it does not apply to them, and say that it destroys the United Nations.

H. R. H. Amir Faisal al Saud (Saudi Arabia): We came to the Gen-


eral Assembly filled with hope that both the large and small nations would
direct their efforts towards the elevation of moral standards. We came here
filled with hope that all nations would unanimously respect and uphold
human rights and justice, and that this Organization would be an instru-
ment for establishing international peace and security. At the same time,
we had hoped that it would afford a sound basis for mutual understanding
among all peoples. But alas! Today’s resolution has dissipated our hopes.
We have pledged ourselves before God and history to fulfill the
Charter in good faith, thereby respecting human rights and repelling
aggression. However, today’s resolution has destroyed the Charter and all
the covenants preceding it.
We have felt, like many others, the pressure exerted on various repre-
sentatives of this Organization by some of the big Powers in order that the
vote should be in favour of partition. For these reasons, the Government
of Saudi Arabia registers, on this historic occasion, the fact that it does not
consider itself bound by the resolution adopted today by the General
Assembly.
Furthermore, it reserves to itself the full right to act freely in whatev-
er way it deems fit, in accordance with the principles of right and justice.
My Government holds responsible those parties that hampered all means
of cooperation and understanding.
Mr. Ayub (Pakistan): Sir Mohammed Zafrullah Khan, head of the
Pakistan delegation, was obliged to leave New York this morning, but he
desired me to read to the General Assembly a statement which he would
have liked to make if he had been present at this meeting and had witnessed
the vote that took place a few minutes ago. The statement reads as follows:

59
60 Mandate of Destiny

A fateful decision has been taken. The die has been cast. In the words of
the greatest American, “We have striven to do the right as God gives us
to see the right.” We did succeed in persuading a sufficient number of
our fellow representatives to see the right as we saw it, but they were not
permitted to stand by the right as they saw it. Our hearts are sad but our
conscience is easy. We would not have it the other way round.
Empires rise and fall. History tells us of the empires of the Babylo-
nians, the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans, the Arabs, the Per-
sians and the Spaniards. Today, most of the talk is about the Americans
and the Russians. The holy Koran says: We shall see the periods of rise
and fall as between nations, and that cycle draws attention to the univer-
sal law. What endures on earth is that which is beneficent for God’s
creatures.
No man can today predict whether the proposal which these two
countries have sponsored and supported will prove beneficent or the
contrary in its actual working.
We much fear that the beneficence, if any, to which partition may
lead will be small in comparison to the mischief which it might inaugu-
rate. It totally lacks legal validity. We entertain no sense of grievance
against those of our friends and fellow representatives who have been
compelled, under heavy pressure, to change sides and to cast their votes
in support of a proposal the justice and fairness of which do not com-
mend themselves to them. Our feeling for them is one of sympathy that
they should have been placed in a position of such embarrassment
between their judgment and conscience, on the one side, and the pres-
sure to which they and their Governments were being subjected, on the
other.
Pakistan desires to wash its hands of all responsibility for the deci-
sion that has just now been taken. It will, therefore, take no part in the
election of the United Nations Commission which will be set up to
implement that decision.
Mr. Jamali (Iraq): In San Francisco we had high hopes for the world.
Today, those hopes are shattered. We always thought that, after all,
humanity was a bulwark of peace and a bulwark of justice. Today, that
faith is destroyed. We did our best during the last few weeks to expound
the spirit and the letter of the Charter and apply it to Palestine. The fact
that we failed to win your support is not the result of a lack of good will on
the part of the members of this Assembly. It was not due to a lack of
Verbatim Provisional Records, UN General Assembly 61

understanding and appreciation on the part of most of you. On the con-


trary, we understand very well that it was great pressure and great influ-
ence that worked itself through UNSCOP, through the Ad Hoc Commit-
tee and through the General Assembly to direct the matter in a course
which led to this conclusion.
We believe that the decision which we have now taken is a very seri-
ous one. It is one that undermines peace, justice and democracy. In the
name of my Government, I wish to state that it feels that this decision is
anti-democratic, illegal, impractical and contrary to the Charter. It contra-
dicts the spirit and letter of the Charter. Therefore, in the name of my
Government, I wish to put on record that Iraq does not recognize the
validity of this decision, will reserve freedom of action towards its imple-
mentation, and holds those who were influential in passing it against the
free conscience of mankind responsible for the consequences.
Amir Arslan (Syria): Even before the Assembly took this decision, I
think that most of the delegations had suspected a dictatorial attitude. It is
useless to speak about it at length, but as it is customary to allow those
condemned to death to speak freely to their executioners, we shall address
ourselves to ours.
Gentlemen, the Charter is dead. But it did not die a natural death; it
was murdered, and you all know who is guilty.
My country will never recognize such a decision. It will never agree to
be responsible for it. Let the consequences be on the heads of others, not
on ours.
H. R. H. Prince Seif El Islam Abdullah (Yemen): The Yemen dele-
gation has stated previously that the partition plan is contrary to justice
and to the Charter of the United Nations. Therefore, the Government of
Yemen does not consider itself bound by such a decision for it is contrary
to the letter and spirit of the Charter. The Government of Yemen will
reserve its freedom of action towards the implementation of this decision.
Document 13: First Special Report of the UN Palestine
Commission to the Security Council: Document A/AC.21/9
16 February 1948
The UN Palestine Commission was created to oversee implementation of Resolu-
tion 181. Its first special report was delivered in February 1948. In the judgment of
the commission, “Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are
defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate
effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.” Included in this special
report are excerpts of a communication to the commission by the Arab Higher
Committee. The committee states that it will never accept partition or the idea of a
Jewish state and will “never submit or yield to any power going to Palestine to
enforce partition.”(See paragraph II, 6.)

First Special Report to the Security Council:


The Problem of Security in Palestine
The United Nations Palestine Commission herewith presents to the
Security Council a special report on the problem of security in Palestine,
with particular reference to the maintenance of law and order and to the
implementation of the resolution of the General Assembly on the Future
Government of Palestine.

I. Main Considerations
1. In its First Monthly Progress Report to the Security Council (Sec-
tion 13), the Commission had informed the Security Council that it was
devoting most serious attention to the various aspects of the security prob-
lem.…
2. It is because of the extreme gravity of the situation in Palestine
now, and the anticipated worsening of the conditions there, that this spe-
cial report is presented to the Security Council at this time. The commis-
sion realizes that both the future well-being of the people of Palestine and
the authority and effectiveness of the United Nations are deeply involved.
3. The Commission has appraised the security situation in Palestine
on the basis of a considerable volume of information, official and unoffi-
cial, available to it from a diversity of sources. These sources have included
official reports and appraisals from the Mandatory Power; reports and

62
First Special Report of the UN Palestine Commission to the Security Council 63

comments from the Jewish Agency for Palestine; statements by the Arab
Higher Committee; and dispatches from the press of the world. On the
strength of this information the Commission has concentrated its atten-
tion on the following main considerations:
A. The security situation in Palestine continues to be aggravated not
only in the areas of the proposed Jewish and Arab States, but also in the
City of Jerusalem, even in the presence of British troops.
B. The Commission will be unable to establish security and maintain
law and order, without which it cannot implement the resolution of the
General Assembly, unless military forces in adequate strength are made
available to the Commission when the responsibility for the administra-
tion of Palestine is transferred to it.
C. Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are
defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a
deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.
4. The question of providing an international force to assist the Com-
mission in the maintenance of law and order in Palestine during the tran-
sitional period repeatedly arose in the discussions of the Ad Hoc Commit-
tee of the General Assembly and its Subcommittee 1 which elaborated the
Plan of Partition with Economic Union. It was generally considered that
the matter fell within the competence of the Security Council, which
would subsequently take such action in the matter as circumstances might
dictate.
5. Although the security aspects of the problem are referred to the
Security Council by this report, the Commission intends to continue with
such of the vast amount of preparatory work essential to the implementa-
tion of the recommendations as can be undertaken without the assistance
of the Security Council sought herein.

II. The Security Situation in Palestine Today


1. In its First Monthly Progress Report to the Security Council the
Commission pointed out in Section 13 that:
a. The information given to the Commission by the representatives of
the Mandatory Power and of the Jewish Agency for Palestine coincided
in substance as regards the general insecurity in Palestine and the steady
decline in the security position there;
64 Mandate of Destiny

b. The information available to the Commission at the time led to the


conclusion that the situation in Palestine as regards security is more
likely to worsen than to improve;
c. The Commission envisaged the possibility of a collapse of security on
the termination of the Mandate “unless adequate means are made avail-
able to the Commission for the exercise of its authority.”
2. Information available to the Commission since the submission of
its First Monthly Report to the Security Council confirms the above con-
clusions as regards security, emphasizes the increasing gravity of the situa-
tion, and reveals more clearly the existence of a determination to oppose
by force the Assembly’s plan of partition.
3. The representative of the Mandatory Power informed the Com-
mission at its sixteenth meeting on January 1948, that as regards Arabs
and Jews in Palestine “elements on each side were engaged in attaching or
in taking reprisals indistinguishable from attacks,” and that as a result,
were it not “for the efforts of the security forces over the past month, the
two communities would by now have been fully engaged in internecine
slaughter.” He further stated that “the Government of Palestine fear[s]
that strife in Palestine will be greatly intensified when the Mandate is ter-
minated,” and that, therefore, “the commission will be faced with the
problem of how to avert certain bloodshed on a very much wider scale
than prevails at present.”
4. Statements made to the Commission by the representative of the
Jewish Agency for Palestine and in memoranda submitted by that Agency
have corroborated the appraisals of the security situation in Palestine
made by the Mandatory Power.…
6. The Secretary-General has been informed by the Arab Higher
Committee that [it] is determined to persist in its rejection of the parti-
tion plan and in its refusal to recognize the resolution of the Assembly and
“anything deriving therefrom.” The subsequent communication of 6 Feb-
ruary to the Secretary-General from the representative of the Arab High-
er Committee set forth the following conclusions of the Arab Higher
Committee Delegation:
a. The Arabs of Palestine will never recognize the validity of the extort-
ed partition recommendations or the authority of the United Nations to
make them.
First Special Report of the UN Palestine Commission to the Security Council 65

b. The Arabs of Palestine consider that any attempt by the Jews or any
power or group of powers to establish a Jewish State in Arab territory is
an act of aggression which will be resisted in self-defense by force.
c. It is very unwise and fruitless to ask any commission to proceed to
Palestine because not a single Arab will co-operate with the said com-
mission.
d. The United Nations or its commission should not be misled to
believe that its efforts in the partition plan will meet with any success. It
will be far better for the eclipsed prestige of this organization not to
start on this adventure.
e. The United Nations prestige will be better served by abandoning, not
enforcing such an injustice.
f. The determination of every Arab in Palestine is to oppose in every
way the partition of that country.
g. The Arabs of Palestine made a solemn declaration before the United
Nations, before God and history, that they will never submit or yield to
any power going to Palestine to enforce partition.

The only way to establish partition is first to wipe them


out—man, woman and child.
7. The Commission has no reason to doubt the determination and
force of the organized resistance to the plan of partition by strong Arab
elements inside and outside of Palestine. In an official report, dated 4 Feb-
ruary 1948, the Mandatory Power states that:
1. The High Commissioner for Palestine reported on 27 January that
the security position had become more serious during the preceding
week with the entry into Palestine of large parties of trained guerrillas
from adjacent territory. A band of some 300 men had established itself
in the Safad area of Galilee, and it was probably this band or part of it
which carried out an intensive attack during that week on Yechiam set-
tlement, using mortars and heavy automatics as well as rifles.
2. On the same date, the High Commissioner further reported that a
second large bank of some 700 Syrians had entered Palestine via Trans-
Jordan during the night of 20-21 January. This band had its own mech-
anized transport, its members were well equipped and provisioned, and
wore battle dress. The party appears to have entered Trans-Jordan from
Syria and then crossed into Palestine at a point at which the entry of
Syrians was not expected. The Syrian and Lebanese frontiers are
66 Mandate of Destiny

manned on the Palestine side by both troops and police, although the
nature of the border country makes it extremely difficult to secure the
entire frontier against illegal entry, especially at night. On arrival in
Palestine, this band appears to have dispersed, and it is thus now
impracticable to deal with it by military action. So far as is known, its
numbers have not engaged in illegal activity beyond the possession of
arms.
3. Arab morale is considered to have risen steadily as a result of these
reinforcements, of the spectacular success of the Hebron Arabs in liqui-
dating a Haganah column near Surif, and of the capture and successful
dismantling by the Arab National Guard of a Jewish van filled with
explosives which was to have been detonated in an Arab locality. Even
the relatively serious loss of life and damage to property caused by Jew-
ish reprisals, have, in the High Commissioner’s view, failed to check the
revival of confidence in the fellaheen and urban proletariat. Panic con-
tinues to increase, however, throughout the Arab middle classes, and
there is a steady exodus of those who can afford to leave the country.
4. Subsequent reports dated 2 February indicate that a further party of
troops belonging to the “Arab Liberation Army” arrived in Palestine via
the Jisr Djamiyeh Bridge during the night of 29-30 January. The party,
numbering some 950 men transported in 19 vehicles, consisted largely
of non-Palestinian Arabs, all in uniform and well armed. It is now dis-
persed in small groups throughout villages of the Nablus, Jenin, and
Tulkarm sub-districts. The security forces have taken action to prevent
further incursions across the Jisr Djamiyeh and the Sheikh Husseini
Bridges.
8. A subsequent communication from the Mandatory Power under
date of 9 February 1948, also reports that:
A report has been received from Jerusalem to the effect that it is now
definitely established that a second party of some seven hundred guer-
rillas (believed to be under the command of Fawzi Bay al Kankji)
entered Palestine via Djamiyeh Bridge on 29th/30th January. It is
understood that this band dispersed rapidly among the villages of
Samaria and that there is now in that district a force of not less than
1400. Although this force has dispersed, it remains cohesive and is
increasingly exercising considerable administrative control over the
whole area. As an instance of this, the force has of its own accord and in
collaboration with Arab National Committee, already dealt with local
bandits and other petty crimes. The presence of this force, which
exhibits a surprising degree of discipline, has been warmly welcomed by
First Special Report of the UN Palestine Commission to the Security Council 67

the inhabitants of Samaria. It appears anxious to avoid becoming


involved with the British Security forces. The secrecy which clouds the
entry of the second contingent is due to a deliberate and successfully
imposed policy of silence.
Individual attacks by Arabs on British troops and police have increased.
These are due partly to a desire to obtain arms even at the price of mur-
der, and partly to nervousness, particularly in rural areas, caused by the
frequent use by the Jews of British uniforms in order to facilitate offen-
sive action.
9. The main facts controlling the security situation in Palestine today
are the following:
a. Organized efforts by strong Arab elements inside and outside Pales-
tine to prevent the implementation of the Assembly’s plan of partition
and to thwart its objectives by threats and acts of violence, including
armed incursions into Palestinian territory.

b. Certain elements of the Jewish community in Palestine continue to


commit irresponsible acts of violence which worsen the security situa-
tion, although that Community is generally in support of the recom-
mendations of the Assembly.

c. The added complication created by the fact that the Mandatory


Power, which remains responsible for law and order in Palestine until
the termination of the Mandate, is engaged in the liquidation of its
administration and preparing for the evacuation of its troops.…

IV. The Problem of Security with Special Reference to the Militia


1. The Commission is determined to make every possible effort to
seek the co-operation of the Arabs of Palestine. The attitude of the Arab
Higher Committee, however, creates a situation the consequences of
which must be faced. Under the present circumstances, confronted with
the opposition of powerful Arab interests, the Commission would not be
able to select and establish in the proposed Arab State a Provisional
Council of Government which would act “under the general direction of
the Commission,” and would at the same time enjoy sufficient authority
and popular support to function effectively. It will be equally impossible,
under present circumstances, to establish in the Arab State an armed mili-
tia over which the Commission is to exercise “general political and mili-
tary control.” In any event, unless the Commission will be able to proceed
68 Mandate of Destiny

to Palestine well in advance of the termination of the Mandate, the possi-


bility for exchanging every effort to consult with Arabs will be lost.
2. According to the statements made by the Jewish Agency for Pales-
tine, it would be technically possible to establish the militia of the Jewish
State before the termination of the Mandate. The refusal of the Mandato-
ry Power to allow the formation of such militia until the termination of
the Mandate, however, will entail delay in the implementation of the
Assembly’s plan, and renders much more difficult the problem of the secu-
rity of the Jewish State when the Mandate is relinquished. The militia of
the Jewish State, if and when it is adequately armed and equipped, can,
however, be responsible only for the security of that State, and it would be
contrary to the Assembly’s plan if a militia were to be used on the other
side of the border for preventive or retaliatory action, however necessary
such action might appear to be.
3. If power in the territory of the Arab State should be seized by
forces hostile to the plan of the General Assembly and beyond the control
of the Commission, then the provisions of the resolution affecting the
Economic Union as well as the Arab State will be unfulfilled, and the
establishment of the Jewish State and of the international regime for the
City of Jerusalem will be gravely jeopardized.
4. The plan of the General Assembly provided for the establishment
of two States and the City of Jerusalem, in each of which the Commis-
sion, until the end of the transitional period, is to exercise definite powers
of direction and control. If the exercise of authority by the Commission
cannot extend to all these entities, an entirely new situation arises to
which the Commission has the duty to draw the attention of the Security
Council.

V. The City of Jerusalem


1. The City of Jerusalem, which has been conceived as a de-milita-
rized enclave in the proposed Arab State, even if established, would be
incapable of defending itself against attacks if British security forces were
not replaced by another non-Palestinian force.
2. It is hardly necessary to point out the consequences of an intensi-
fied struggle between communities in this Holy City of three world faiths.
The repercussions would be immediate throughout Palestine and would
quickly extend far beyond its borders. It is scarcely an exaggeration to state
First Special Report of the UN Palestine Commission to the Security Council 69

that the whole of mankind is interested in the maintenance of internal


peace in Jerusalem.
3. The United Nations would be dealt a severe blow if its effort to
maintain the sacred character of the City and to preserve it as a possible
center of peace and harmony should end in a sanguinary struggle between
religious communities. To invite even a regularly constituted and con-
trolled militia of either State to defend or secure the City would not only
be contrary to the plan of the General Assembly but would inflame pas-
sions and might provoke religious war.

VI. Provisions of the Plan Which Cannot Be Fulfilled


Without the Assistance of an Armed Force
1. Apart from the impossibility of maintaining security and order
without the assistance of non-Palestinian military forces, there are provi-
sions in the recommendations of the General Assembly which, under
existing circumstances, cannot be fulfilled in the absence of such forces.
2. The first duty assigned to the Commission “on its arrival in Pales-
tine” is to “proceed to carry out measures for the establishment of the fron-
tiers of the Arab and Jewish States and the City of Jerusalem.” The bound-
ary commission, composed of neutral members, which the United Nations
commission intends to constitute, will not be in a position to start its work
under the protection of British security forces, since the Mandatory Power
holds to the position that such work, being part of the implementation of
the Assembly’s plan, may be undertaken only after the termination of the
Mandate. In view of the Arab opposition to the plan of partition, an entire-
ly untenable situation would be created if the boundary commission would
have to rely on the security forces of the other party for its protection. This
eventuality obviously would not be considered by the Commission.
3. The same considerations apply to the work of the United Nations
Commission itself, to that of the members of the Preparatory Economic
Commission (paragraph B.11 of the plan), and of the staff which will
assist the Commission in discharging its duties. Their freedom of action,
their very liberty of movement cannot depend exclusively on the protec-
tion they may receive from only one side. This would be contrary to the
dignity and efficiency of a Commission of the United Nations endowed
with powers of direction and control over the very authorities from which
it would have to ask protection.…
Document 14: United Nations Palestine Commission Report
to the General Assembly
April 10, 1948
The final report of the UN Palestine Commission concludes that the Jews cooperat-
ed with the commission and the Arab states and the Arab Higher Committee
opposed Resolution 181(II). The report states that the opposition of the British
Mandatory power and noncooperation from the Arabs meant that the commission
could not implement the UN resolution. The document outlines various problems
that remained to be addressed in Palestine, such as security, economy, the status of
Jerusalem, and food supplies.

VI. Conclusions
A. Review of the Facts Which Have Prevented the Implementation
of the Assembly’s Resolution
1. The Commission, on 9 January 1948, took up its task of imple-
menting the General Assembly’s resolution of 29 November 1947, which
had been supported by thirty-three Members of the United Nations.
The Commission appreciates the able assistance rendered to it by the
Secretary-General and his staff, who have extended full co-operation to
the Commission in carrying out the Assembly’s decision.
2. The Jewish Agency for Palestine co-operated with the Commis-
sion in its task of implementing the Assembly’s resolution. The Govern-
ments of the Arab States and the Arab Higher Committee not only with-
held their co-operation from the Commission, but actively opposed the
Assembly’s resolution. As the Commission reported to the Security
Council in its first Special Report (S/676) on 16 February 1948, “Powerful
Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolu-
tion of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to
alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.” Armed Arab bands from
neighbouring Arab States have infiltrated into the territory of Palestine
and together with local Arab forces are defeating the purposes of the reso-
lution by acts of violence. The Jews, on the other hand, are determined to
ensure the establishment of the Jewish State, as envisaged by the resolu-
tion. The resulting conditions of insecurity in Palestine have made it
impossible for the Commission to implement the Assembly’s resolution
without the assistance of adequate armed forces.

70
UN Palestine Commission Report to the General Assembly 71

3. The policy of the mandatory Power, and particularly its refusal to


take any measure which might be construed as involving it in the imple-
mentation of the Assembly’s resolution, has had the following conse-
quences:
(a) The provisions of the Assembly’s resolution for a progressive transfer
of administration from the mandatory Power to the Commission have
not been complied with. The mandatory Power has insisted on retaining
undivided control of Palestine until the date of termination of the Man-
date and on relinquishing the whole complex of governmental responsi-
bilities on that day, except for the areas still occupied by British troops.
In the view of the mandatory Power the progressive transfer of authori-
ty refers only to those areas.
(b) The Commission could not proceed to Palestine until two weeks
prior to the termination of the Mandate. The insistence of the manda-
tory Power on this point, even though the Commission has been pre-
pared to restrict its activities in Palestine prior to 15 May 1948, to
preparatory work and would not attempt to exercise any authority there,
made it impossible for the Commission to take the necessary preparato-
ry measures to ensure continuity in administration after the date of ter-
mination of the Mandate.
(c) The Commission could not take any measures to establish the fron-
tiers of the Arab and Jewish States and the City of Jerusalem, since the
mandatory Power informed the Commission that it could not facilitate
the delimitation of frontiers on the ground.
(d) The refusal of the mandatory Power to permit any Provisional
Council of Government, whether Arab or Jewish, if selected, to carry
out any functions prior to the termination of the Mandate, made it nec-
essary for the Commission, in accordance with part I.B.4 of the resolu-
tion of the General Assembly, to communicate that fact to the Security
Council and to the Secretary-General.
(e) The refusal of the mandatory Power to permit the taking of prepara-
tory steps toward the establishment of the armed militia, envisaged by
the resolution for the purpose of maintaining internal order and pre-
venting frontier clashes, has made it impossible to implement the
Assembly’s resolution in that respect.
4. In its first two reports to the Security Council, the Commission
foresaw the prospect of a security vacuum in Palestine immediately fol-
lowing the termination of the Mandate. The Commission also stated that
it was confronted with a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement
72 Mandate of Destiny

envisaged in the resolution of the General Assembly. The Commission


accordingly had decided “to refer to the Security Council the problem of
providing that armed assistance which alone would enable the Commis-
sion to discharge its responsibilities on the termination of the Mandate.”
On 15 March 1948, in its second Monthly Progress Report to the Securi-
ty Council (S/695), the Commission reported the impossibility of imple-
menting, within the prescribed time-limit, the provision of the Plan of the
General Assembly concerning the Provisional Councils of Government,
and the impossibility of taking preparatory steps for the formation of
armed militias. It pointed out that the policy of the mandatory Power
together with the steady deterioration of conditions in Palestine left little
hope for the achievement of continuity in administrative services and for
an orderly transfer of authority to the Commission. The Commission also
stated that “unless security is restored in Palestine, implementation of the
resolution of the General Assembly will not be possible.” The Commis-
sion has received no guidance or instructions from the Security Council,
and no armed assistance has been made available to it.
5. The Commission, therefore, has the duty to report to the General
Assembly that the armed hostility of both Palestinian and non-Palestinian
Arab elements, the lack of co-operation from the mandatory Power, the
disintegrating security situation in Palestine, and the fact that the Security
Council did not furnish the Commission with the necessary armed assis-
tance, are the factors which have made it impossible for the Commission
to implement the Assembly’s resolution.
B. Review of the Problems Which Require an Urgent Solution
1. Irrespective of the ultimate decision of the General Assembly on
the future government of Palestine, there are a number of urgent matters
which should be dealt with in order to preserve the greatest possible meas-
ure of order and essential services in Palestine. Among the matters requir-
ing immediate attention are the following:
(a) Security
(i) Consultations in connexion with the terms of the
proposed directive to the General Officer Commanding
regarding the functions and responsibilities of British
troops remaining in Palestine after 15 May;
UN Palestine Commission Report to the General Assembly 73

(ii) Details of the arrangements for transfer of the arms,


stores, equipment, depots, etc. of the Palestine Police
Force;
(iii) The security of Jerusalem and the Holy Places, and
the recruitment of a non-Palestinian police force for
Jerusalem;
(iv) The safeguarding of the physical property and
preservation of the assets of the Government of Pales-
tine.
(b) Administrative
(i) Arrangements to ensure continuity in essential trans-
portation and communications services such as airports,
railways, posts, telegraph, telephone and radio;
(ii) Arrangements to ensure continuity in the health and
prison administration, and in the judiciary;
(iii) Preservation and transfer of the files of the depart-
ments of Government;
(iv) Access to Haifa and its harbour after 15 May 1948.
(c) Economic and financial
(i) Arrangements for the importation and distribution
of food supplies;
(ii) Representation of Palestine before the International
Emergency Food Council;
(iii) Releases after 15 May 1948 from the sterling bal-
ances blocked by the United Kingdom Government’s
Treasury Order of 22 February 1948;
(iv) The future of the Palestine Currency Board;
(v) Maintenance of import and exchange controls;
(vi) The continuity of essential fiscal arrangements,
including customs and budgetary matters;
(vii) Disposition of the assets and liabilities of Palestine;
(viii) Payments for services which will be provided to
British Forces after 15 May in such matters as railway,
road and harbour facilities.
74 Mandate of Destiny

2. With respect to the food situation in Palestine, the Commission


has been advised by the mandatory Power that, unless immediate provi-
sion is made for the further import of food supplies, on 15 May Palestine’s
stock of cereals will not exceed two weeks’ supply. The mandatory Power
has stated that the Government of Palestine cannot advance money for
the procurement of further supplies as it has no monies available for this
purpose, that the United Kingdom Government is not prepared to
advance the money, and that it has no confidence that the Commission
would be able to implement within a reasonable time a guarantee to reim-
burse it out of the future revenues of Palestine. The United Kingdom
Government is prepared to undertake procurement of food supplies for
the period 15 May to 30 June on an agency basis only, provided they are
furnished with funds to the amount of one to one-and-a-half million
pounds sterling. In view of the urgency of this matter, the Commission is
presenting a special report on the subject to the Security Council with a
request for its guidance, in accordance with part I.B.2 of the Plan.
3. With respect to the City of Jerusalem, the Commission empha-
sizes the sacred character of this Holy City of Christianity, Islam and
Judaism. The danger to the City and its Holy Places of violence and battle
between hostile communities, and the possible widespread repercussions
resulting therefrom, is obvious. The Commission calls to the attention of
the Assembly the extreme urgency of the matter referred to in paragraph
VI. D.3 (e) of this report, and reports that the question of securing the
services of the Jerusalem Police Force following the termination of the
Mandate is still the subject of discussions with the mandatory Power and
with the Secretary-General. The Commission feels bound to point out,
however, that a successful solution of this question will not provide for the
security of Jerusalem in the case of civil war in Palestine. It will be of assis-
tance to the internal protection of life and property in the City.
4. With respect to the Palestine Police Force, the mandatory Power
has advised the Commission that the force will be dissolved on 15 May
and that its arms, stores, equipment and depots will be left to be taken over
by such persons as the Commission may designate. A considerable num-
ber of police or other personnel will be required to take over and safeguard
the large stocks of armaments that are the property of the Palestine Police
Force. Otherwise there is grave danger that these stocks may be aban-
doned or may fall into the hands of irresponsible elements in Palestine.
UN Palestine Commission Report to the General Assembly 75

5. With respect to matters of administration, the mandatory Power


has advised the Commission that the contracts of all employees of the
Government of Palestine will be terminated on 15 May and that the
Commission would be free to re-engage any employees who might wish to
continue in government service in Palestine. Immediate steps clearly
should be taken to preserve as much as possible of the personnel and
machinery of administration and to safeguard the files and physical prop-
erty of the various departments of Government. In the case of transporta-
tion, communications, health, fiscal matters and other essential services, it
will be necessary to re-employ or recruit a large staff, in order to prevent a
complete break-down in administration in Palestine after 15 May.
6. The Commission has been prevented from concluding arrange-
ments, even in respect of such vital matters as food supplies, the creation
of a non-Palestinian police force for Jerusalem, the organization of an
emergency police force to take over the stores and armaments of the Pales-
tine Police Force, and the recruitment of personnel to carry on the func-
tions of administration in Palestine, by the fact that it has no funds avail-
able for such purposes. Even though such expenditures would be reim-
bursable out of future revenues of Palestine, the Commission would
require a substantial working capital fund out of which immediate neces-
sary expenditures could be met.
7. The steadily deteriorating situation in Palestine leads to the
inescapable conclusion that, in the absence of forces adequate to restore
and maintain law and order in Palestine following the termination of the
Mandate, there will be administrative chaos, starvation, widespread strife,
violence and bloodshed in Palestine, including Jerusalem. These calami-
tous results for the people of Palestine will be intensified unless specific
arrangements are made regarding the urgent matters outlined above well
in advance of 15 May 1948.
(Signed) Karel Lisicky (Czechoslovakia) Chairman
Raul Diez de-Medina (Bolivia) Vice-Chairman
Per Federspiel (Denmark)
Eduardo Morgan (Panama)
Vicente J. Francisco (Philippines)
Document 15: Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace:
Seven Years with the United Nations*
In his memoirs, Trygve Lie, the first secretary-general of the United Nations, gives a
firsthand account of the proceedings at the UN. He reviews the history of
UNSCOP and Resolution 181(II) as well as Jewish and Arab reactions to the Parti-
tion Plan. When the Arab invasion of Israel began in May 1948, Lie describes it as
“armed defiance of the United Nations.” His memoirs offer insight from someone
who influenced events on the ground.

The Palestine Challenge


Chapter X
The plight of Jews and Arabs.—Partition decided but sabotaged.—Issue of the
authority and power of the United Nations.—Shifting United States posi-
tion.—Offer to resign.—“War” on the United Nations.
The partition of Palestine and the consequent creation of the state of
Israel became one of the most dramatic chapters of early United Nations
history. As Secretary-General, I put the full weight of my office consis-
tently behind the Organization’s decision from the time it was first taken.
A corresponding consistency did not always prevail in every other quarter.
The problem was complex. Christianity, Islam, and the Jewish faith,
all are inheritors of the ancient Hebrew civilization and tradition. Reli-
gious differences and rivalries were therefore bound to influence the dis-
cussions from the very outset. Then there was the human-rights issue,
with its background on the one side of age-old persecution of the Jews,
climaxed by Hitler’s attempt to extirpate all members of the Jewish faith
or “race” from European soil, and on the other side the problem of justice
to the Arabs living in the ancient Jewish homeland. Extreme nationalism,
always strongest in the youngest states, added fuel to the fire. Cutting
across all this was the conflict between the old feudalism of the East and
twentieth century social concepts. Finally, there were strategic considera-
tions, there might be oil, and no great power appeared to be entirely disin-
terested.

* Reprinted with the permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, from
In the Cause of Peace: Seven Years with the United Nations by Trygve Lie. Copyright © 1954 by Trygve Lie;
copyright renewed in 1982 by Guri Lie Zeckendorf, Sissel Lie Bratz and Mette Lie Holst. All rights
reserved.

76
Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace: Seven Years with the United Nations 77

It was not easy to remain objective on every one of these issues, but I
feel that I managed. The religious rivalry did not disturb me much. I rec-
ognized the right of all creeds to enjoy equal access to Palestine’s Holy
Places. The persecution of the Jews concerned me more. Already as a
child, I had been deeply impressed by the moving poems of Henrik
Wergeland, Norway’s great national poet of the early nineteenth century:
“The Jew” and “The Jewess,” written during his indefatigable fight for the
free entry of Jews into Norway. I had read about the Czarist pogroms
against the Russian Jews in 1906. Even fresher in memory was the fate of
the seven hundred Norwegian Jews whom the Nazis deported in the
course of World War II, of whom only twelve survived to return to their
homes in 1945. This history of suffering naturally affected my conscience.
About the Arab fellahin, I knew only that they were frequently oppressed
by absentee landlords and would no doubt benefit from the great Zionist
development projects already launched in the land: an orderly solution
would provide for the fullest protection of their rights. The hostile atti-
tudes announced at an early stage by the neighboring Arab states forecast
difficulties. Still I felt that, in view of the United Nations will to help them
preserve their newly won independence—as demonstrated already during
the Security Council’s London session—and their obvious need for out-
side help to solve their own internal problems, they would abide by the
Organization’s decisions. As to the attitudes of the great powers, I felt that
here was a field where they should still be able to act in unison—the rapid
deterioration in their mutual relationship notwithstanding. If they wished
to do something positive through the United Nations, here was the place
to do it. None of them would be interested in a breach of the peace in this
area, with the consequent danger of becoming entangled themselves. I
realized that Britain might be in a special position, because of her involve-
ment as the Mandatory power; but the United Kingdom itself had placed
the Palestine problem on the United Nations’ doorstep.
Besides, the existence of a Zionist community in Palestine had been a
recognized international responsibility ever since the League of Nations
confirmed the grant of a League of Nations mandate over the area to
Great Britain in 1922. One of the declared purposes of this decision was
the establishment of a Jewish national home, with the necessary safe-
guards for the civil and religious rights of all the country’s inhabitants,
irrespective of origin or religion.
78 Mandate of Destiny

Now, in 1947, a permanent Jewish homeland seemed at least a partial


solution to the problem of hundreds of thousands of refugees languishing
in European camps and driven by natural instinct to seek haven outside a
continent stained with Jewish blood.
The British, pressed by Arab opposition and Zionist insistence,
harassed by acts of terrorism from both sides, finally threw up their hands.
All efforts at reconciliation had ended in failure. “We have tried for years
to solve the problem of Palestine,” Sir Alexander Cadogan put it. “Having
failed so far, we now bring the Palestinian question to the United Nations,
in the hope that it can succeed where we have not.”
It was in March, 1947, that the British government first told me that
it would request the inclusion of the Palestine problem on the agenda of
the autumn meeting of the General Assembly. Informally it raised the
question of calling a special, advance session of the assembly, to arrange for
the preparatory work which would be necessary for proper consideration
in the fall. I was sensitive to the urgency of the matter, and, in fact, had
already asked Ralph J. Bunche as director of the Department of Trustee-
ship and Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories to consider
possible solutions and keep me informed; but I did not approve of a special
session to set up a preparatory committee, and told the British I thought it
impracticable and certainly costly. After considering the appointment of a
study committee from the Secretariat, I finally proposed to the British
that eight Member governments including the Big Five be requested to
constitute themselves as a preparatory committee on the Palestine matter:
if the five permanent Members of the Security Council were agreeable, I
would inquire by cable from all Member states whether they had any
objection to forming such a body. If fewer than one-third objected, I
would act to constitute the committee. But the Big Five were not enthusi-
astic.
On April 2, 1947, His Majesty’s government requested the Secre-
tary-General of the United Nations to place the question of Palestine on
the agenda of the General Assembly at its next regular session. The gov-
ernment would submit to the Assembly an account of their administration
on the League of Nations mandate and ask the Assembly to make recom-
mendations, under Article 10 of the charter, concerning the future gov-
ernment of Palestine. London further requested the Secretary-General to
summon, as soon as possible, a special session of the General Assembly
Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace: Seven Years with the United Nations 79

“for the purpose of consulting and instructing a special committee to pre-


pare for the consideration, at the regular session of the Assembly, of the
question.”...
Time enough would be lost by this procedure, and I was resolved not
to add to it. Cables to the Member states asking for their approval of a
special session were dispatched at once. The machinery for servicing a
great international meeting was promptly put into action, and on the
morning of April 28 the representatives of fifty-five Members gathered at
Flushing Meadow. After some sparring, the Assembly appointed the
United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) and
adjourned. The terms of reference of the investigatory charge were broad,
and the composition of the committee was equally so: Australia, Canada,
Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, the Netherlands, Peru, Sweden,
Uruguay, and Yugoslavia.
Placing some of the ablest members of the Secretariat at UNSCOP’s
disposal—fifty-seven in all—I appointed Assistant Secretary-General
Victor Hoo as my personal representative to the committee, and designat-
ed Dr. Alfonso Garcia Robles, a Mexican director in the Department of
Security Council Affairs, as principal secretary. I was determined that the
committee’s secretariat should be above reproach—not only technically
but politically.
For my own part, I kept absolutely clear of UNSCOP, holding my
thoughts about the fairest solution to both Arabs and Jews to myself.
When the committee made its report as the designated United Nations
organ, I would give full support to the solution it saw fit to recommend.
The committee failed to reach agreement in all respects. Agreeing
that the British Mandate for Palestine should be terminated at the earliest
practical date, and that independence should be granted in Palestine after
a transitional period under United Nations auspices, it made further unan-
imous recommendations with respect to the Holy Places and religious
interests, Jewish displaced persons, minority rights, peaceful settlement of
disputes, and other matters. At this point, the committee split. The major-
ity (seven) recommended the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and
a Jewish state, which would be bound together in an economic union. The
city of Jerusalem, as the Holy City for three faiths, would be a United
Nations trusteeship. The minority (three—incidentally, all with influential
Moslem populations) recommended a single federal state, in which the
80 Mandate of Destiny

Arabs would be the majority. Australia abstained from voting for either
recommendation.
The majority found that the claims of both the Arabs and the Jews in
Palestine were at once valid and irreconcilable: that to neither group could
be granted all it wished. Conceiving of the conflict in Palestine as one
between two intense nationalisms, they saw partition as the only means of
granting each nationality expression. I shall not set out the plan in its
impressive justification and detail.
What had emerged was a clear victory for the principle of partition. The
international community, through its chosen representatives, had decided
that two states should be created. As Secretary-General, I took the cue
and, when approached by delegations for advice, frankly recommended
that they follow the majority plan. Behind-the-scenes discussions soon
became hectic, and some Arab spokesmen attacked me openly; but I could
not yield. The responsibility for solving the Palestine problem had been
transferred to the United Nations, and the Organization had to act in con-
formity with its best judgment.
After an epic struggle the Second Session of the General Assembly
adopted the plan of partition on November 29, 1947, by a vote of 33 to 13,
with 10 abstaining. The majority included the United States and the Sovi-
et Union, Western Europe and Eastern Europe, most of Latin America,
and the Commonwealth. Of the minority Members, all except two had
substantial Moslem populations. The vote was preceded by a final series of
vain efforts to bring the Arabs and Jews of Palestine together: spokesmen
for the Jews indicated that they would accept partition, even though they
said the plan would give them but one-eighth of the territory originally
promised them in the Balfour Declaration; spokesmen for the Arabs made
it clear that they would reject partition, and offered no hope for any com-
promise. When the vote was taken, the representatives of Syria, Lebanon,
Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Egypt rose and filed out of the Assembly
hall. Another walkout! The United Kingdom—the Mandatory power—
abstained from voting for or against the resolution.
Great Britain had placed the matter before the Assembly with the
declared conviction that agreement between the Arabs and Jews was unat-
tainable. This did not deter the British representative, Arthur Creech
Jones, from informing the Assembly that Britain would give effect only to
a plan accepted by the Arabs and the Jews: Britain would “accept” the par-
Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace: Seven Years with the United Nations 81

tition plan but could not implement it, as this might require the use of
armed forces. All British reservations had been respected in the November
29 resolution, and so this attitude caused considerable surprise. Of course,
the partition plan failed to provide sufficiently for implementation; but
most countries expected Britain as the original sponsor of United Nations
action to do its utmost toward carrying the action through. Had it done
so, need for an international force to restore peace in Palestine would not
have become nearly as acute as it soon did.
It fell to “five lonely pilgrims”—the representatives of Bolivia,
Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Panama, and the Philippines who together
formed the new Palestine Commission provided for in the resolution—to
plan the transfer of administrative responsibility from the Mandatory
regime to the proposed Arab and Jewish government organs. The com-
mission was to take over the administration from the Mandatory power
and establish in each new state a Provisional Council of Government that
would progressively receive full responsibility for the administration of its
state. The commission was to supervise in each state the erection of the
administrative organs of central and local government and the creation of
an armed militia, maintaining general military and political control over
this, which would include choice of its high command. Finally, the com-
mission was to effect an economic union between the two states. I chose
Ralph Bunche as principal secretary of the commission, and when it came
together at Lake Success on January 9, 1948, that choice was almost the
single bright element in the picture with which we were confronted.
From the first week of December, 1947, disorder in Palestine had
begun to mount. The Arabs repeatedly had asserted that they would resist
partition by force. They seemed to be determined to drive that point home
by assaults upon the Jewish community in Palestine—assaults which
brought considerable retaliation from the Jews. In response, I quietly set in
motion Secretariat studies of the possibilities of creating an international
police force and undertook exploratory conversations with various Mem-
ber governments. Publicly, I gave the Palestine Commission a calculated
welcome. “You are entitled,” I asserted at its first meeting, “to be confident
that in the event it should prove necessary, the Security Council will
assume its full measure of responsibility in implementation of the Assem-
bly’s resolution. You have a right to assume, as I assume, that in such a sit-
uation the Security Council will not fail to exercise to the fullest, and
82 Mandate of Destiny

without exception, every necessary power entrusted to it by the Charter in


order to assist you in fulfilling your mission.” These were bold words, and
admittedly hopeful ones. I prodded the Security Council so openly not
because I was confident that it would act, but because I feared that it
might not. There was no question now of veto. The Soviet Union and the
United States stood together in support of the Assembly’s partition reso-
lution, and, as time passed, the former proved to be the more steadfast of
the two. Other forces—Arab intransigence, British passiveness, American
inconsistency—acted together to undermine the considered recommenda-
tion of the majority of Member nations.
The Palestine Commission energetically took up its task. It asked me
to invite representatives of Great Britain, the Arab Higher Committee,
and the Jewish Agency to sit with it. Sir Alexander Cadogan and Moshe
Shertok* were promptly appointed, but the Arab Higher Committee
cabled me on January 19, 1948, as follows:
Arab Higher Committee is determined [to] persist in rejecting partition
and in refusal [to] recognize UNO resolution [in] this respect and any-
thing deriving therefrom, for these reasons it is unable [to] accept invi-
tation.
The Arab response did not come as a surprise. The Commission and
I could only endeavor to carry out the partition plan as fully as Arab oppo-
sition would allow, and we accordingly entered into the most intense con-
sultations with Sir Alexander and with Mr. Shertok.
The British approach proved to be not in accord, in my opinion, with
either the letter or the spirit of the partition plan: the United Kingdom
could not progressively turn over authority to the Palestine Commission,
as the Assembly resolution provided, but only abruptly and completely on
May 15. Neither did it “regard favourably any proposal by the Commis-
sion to proceed to Palestine earlier than two weeks before the date of the
termination of the Mandate.” London would not permit the formation of
the militia which the Assembly’s resolution called for, nor would it facili-
tate frontier delimitation. The Assembly had further recommended that
the United Kingdom endeavor to evacuate by February 1 a seaport and
hinterland in the area of the Jewish state adequate to provide facilities for
immigration. “It is not possible,” Sir Alexander reported, “for my Govern-
ment to comply.”

* Later, as Moshe Sharett, first Israeli Foreign Minister, and now [in 1954] Prime Minister.
Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace: Seven Years with the United Nations 83

The consultations with Mr. Shertok were more fruitful. The Jewish
Agency in Jerusalem fully cooperated with the Palestine Commission, and
he and I—for different reasons working toward the same end, namely
compliance with the General Assembly resolution—had many useful con-
sultations in the course of the meetings or in my home.
Needless to say, I should have been delighted to have an equally inti-
mate collaboration with the Arab Higher Committee in implementing the
resolution by which I was unreservedly bound as Secretary-General.
Instead, the Arabs employed open threats. On February 6 the Higher
Committee representative wrote to me: “The Arabs of Palestine … will
never submit or yield to any Power going to Palestine to enforce partition.
The only way to establish partition is first to wipe them out—man,
woman and child.”
It was not for the purpose of wiping out anyone, but rather for pre-
venting an unrestrained civil and international war, that the Palestine
Commission and the Secretary-General began to concentrate on the for-
mation and dispatch of an international force to the Holy Land. In a spe-
cial report of February 16 to the Security Council, on “the problem of
security in Palestine,” the commission noted that Arab interests both
inside and outside Palestine were engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by
violence the settlement which the Assembly had recommended. Armed
forces from surrounding Arab states had already begun infiltration of
Palestine. The report set forth the vast difficulties caused by the Arab and
British attitudes, and cogently maintained that the armed assistance of the
Security Council alone would permit success: “In the view of the Com-
mission, a basic issue of international order is involved. A dangerous and
tragic precedent will have been established if force, or the threat of the use
of force, is to prove an effective deterrent to the will of the United
Nations.” Unless an adequate non-Palestine force was provided for keep-
ing order after May 15, the commission warned, “the period immediately
following the termination of the Mandate will be a period of uncontrolled,
widespread strife and bloodshed in Palestine, including the City of
Jerusalem. This would be a catastrophic conclusion to an era of interna-
tional concern for that territory.”
The stand of the Palestine Commission was unquestionably sound. It
was responsive to the fact then dominating the scene: that the Arab states
were making open preparations to invade Palestine and overthrow a Unit-
84 Mandate of Destiny

ed Nations decision. Any invasion would be aggression, in flagrant viola-


tion of the Charter. Its unlawfulness would be compounded by its design
to upset the specific will of the United Nations. This was my reaction to
the report, and I asked Ralph Bunche to draft a statement to the Security
Council which I would hold in readiness. As he and I worked it out with
other advisers, it would have stressed that, despite the disagreement
between East and West on providing the United Nations with armed
forces, a sufficient degree of agreement had been reached for the establish-
ment of a United Nations land force—an emergency international force
composed of those minimum units which the Big Five were committed to
placing at the Security Council’s disposal. Such a force would be more
than adequate to cope with the Palestine challenge. Secondly, the draft
statement took the view that the Organization could not permit violence
to be used against its decisions and organs; that if the moral force of the
Organization were not enough, physical force would have to supplement
it. Drafting such a proposal was one step; the other, and the hazardous
one, was presenting it to the Security Council. I postponed the second
step until it was possible to sense better the trend of the Council’s discus-
sion and action: it would be futile to speak only for the record, even if I
were quite prepared to act granted a substantial possibility that the Coun-
cil would follow.
My caution proved to be well justified. The Security Council met on
February 24. Karel Lisický of Czechoslovakia, as chairman, made an
impressive presentation of the Palestine Commission’s report. The
response of the Council rested above all in the hands of the United States
and Britain—here, as so often, affirmative action by the Organization
required the support, if not the leadership, of those two great powers
which were its originators.
Britain’s response, through Arthur Creech Jones, “loyally accepted”
the Assembly’s partition recommendation—except that, “faced with spe-
cific threats by the Arabs,” His Majesty’s government could not promise
the particular kind of cooperation now requested.
I hoped for more from the United States. Washington had outspo-
kenly supported the partition decision at the General Assembly. At Amer-
ican suggestion the Assembly had adopted a resolution which spoke in
strong terms of the Security Council’s role in implementing partition. But
now the United States spoke with a different voice. The Security Council,
Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace: Seven Years with the United Nations 85

Warren Austin maintained, could take action to maintain international


peace, but lacked the power to enforce partition or any other type of polit-
ical settlement. He contented himself with proposing that the Security
Council establish a committee of its five permanent members to look into
“the question of possible threats to international peace arising in connec-
tion with the Palestine situation.”
Ambassador Austin’s doctrine that the United Nations did not have
the power to enforce any type of political settlement is sound as a general
proposition. Indeed, much later, I used it myself in the case of Korea to
answer persons who asserted that United Nations forces should go beyond
repelling armed aggression and unify Korea by force. But the constitution-
al position was very different in the two cases. The United Nations does
not have the power to impose a political settlement, whether it be unifica-
tion or partition, except in special circumstances. Such circumstances exist
when all the parties in control of a territory hand it over to the United
Nations to determine its fate. In the case of Korea, all the parties did not
do that. In the case of Palestine, on the other hand, the United Kingdom
was the sole Mandatory power, and it had handed over the whole territory
to the United Nations for disposition. Clearly, I felt that the Organization
in these circumstances had full constitutional power not only to maintain
order inside the territory but, even more, to resist any attempt from out-
side to overthrow its decision. The same circumstances would prevail for
the Territory of Trieste if the Security Council had been able to agree on a
governor and take over responsibility, as the Peace Treaty with Italy pro-
vided. All the signatories to that treaty had agreed to this, so that the
juridical position was, in my opinion, fundamentally the same.
Be that as it may, with Ambassador Austin’s statement and the subse-
quent arms embargo, Washington took the heart out of any support which
the Security Council might have mobilized to enforce peace and maintain
the decision on partition. This attitude, I feared, would prejudice funda-
mentally the powers of the Organization, in addition to damaging its pres-
tige. I was opposed in principle, as well as on practical grounds, to the
position taken. Now the Palestine Commission requested a paper from the
Legal Department on the rights of the Security Council relative to the
Palestine question. I was in Norway when the paper was prepared, but of
course it took a position consonant with my desire to uphold the Organi-
zation’s authority generally—as I had previously gone on record as doing
86 Mandate of Destiny

in earlier cases. It recalled my Trieste opinion, early in 1947, and contend-


ed that the Council had already at that time “recognized the principle that
it has sufficient power, under the terms of Article 24 of the Charter, to
assume new responsibilities on condition that they relate directly or even
indirectly to the maintenance of international peace and security, and that
in discharging these duties, the Security Council acts in accordance with
the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” When I returned
from Norway I had the Palestine opinion circulated to the Members of
the Security Council. The Council met in a private session on March 9
with the eternal question of appointing a Governor of Trieste on the agen-
da, and Dr. José Arce of Argentina, who espoused the Arab viewpoint,
took the occasion to attack the opinion in extreme terms. Its substance, he
maintained, was the “bastard” product of “unbalanced minds,” and, in
principle, the Secretariat had no business producing such a document. I
replied to Dr. Arcé’s criticism by affirming that, as long as I was head of
the Secretariat, it would have the right to give any opinion requested by
organs of the United Nations. I added that I might have a further opinion
on legal aspects of the Palestine question which I would present directly to
the Security Council. The Members of the Council supported me, and
took no action on Dr. Arcé’s attack.
The Palestine Commission carried on as best it could, and I gave it all
possible support. On February 22 I dispatched an advance party of the
Commission’s secretariat to Jerusalem to establish contact with the
Mandatory Administration and to consult on the spot regarding the prob-
lems of the take-over. The advance party arrived in Jerusalem early in
March and left on the very eve of the expiration of the Mandate in May.
In view of the attitude of the United Kingdom, this effort produced no
result. Although the members of the party lived in Jerusalem as guests of
the Mandatory government, the conditions in that city gave me serious
concern for their personal safety, and I took all possible measures to ensure
that they were safely evacuated. In the meantime the Security Council,
after an interminable debate, requested its permanent Members on March
5 to consult together regarding the instructions it might usefully give to
the Palestine Commission, “with a view of implementing the resolution of
the General Assembly.” This resolution was a much watered version of the
one Mr. Austin had put forth in February, which had been weak enough.
The United States, the U.S.S.R., France, and China thereupon
Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace: Seven Years with the United Nations 87

entered into consultations. The meetings took place as a rule in the offices
of the delegations, and sometimes in my Manhattan office. I was present
throughout. The United Kingdom declined to take part, but Sir Alexander
Cadogan did appear a few times to answer questions. From the start, the
consultations were a frustrating affair. Only the Soviet Union seemed to
be seriously intent upon implementing partition; the United States clearly
was not. Rumors were flying that the United States was seeking to moder-
ate the Arab stand even at the price of abandoning partition; and, in such
an atmosphere, firm action by the Council or its permanent Members was
out of the question. As it turned out, the United States would in effect
repudiate partition on the very day, March 19, when the committee of per-
manent Members reported on its recommendations for “implementing”
partition. With new instructions Mr. Austin took the floor to call for
“action by all means available … to bring about the immediate cessation of
violence” in Palestine. It was on this occasion that some sarcastic corre-
spondents coined the imaginary Austin quotation: “We must do noth-
ing—but at once!” To fortify his arguments for nonaction, he reverted to
an old suggestion: The United States government now believed that a
temporary United Nations trusteeship for Palestine should be established
“to maintain the peace.… It would be without prejudice to the character
of the eventual political settlement.… Pending the convening of a special
session of the General Assembly, we believe that the Security Council
should instruct the Palestine Commission to suspend its efforts to imple-
ment the proposed partition plan.”
I had met with Mr. Austin and representatives of the four other per-
manent Members of the Security Council just before the Council session.
He had told us then of Washington’s trusteeship proposal. I pointed out
that the possibility of trusteeship had been raised in UNSCOP by Aus-
tralia, and had been withdrawn in the realization that the idea would be
fought by both sides rather than one. It would, I maintained, require more
military force to carry out than partition—and the objection to partition
was that military force was needed to effect it. As Secretary-General, I
stated, I had to ask whether the great powers, in adopting the American
proposal, would accept responsibilities for implementing it. Mr. Austin
replied that the United States was “ready, of course, to back up a United
Nations decision.” I could not help wondering if he meant backing as
“staunch” as that which Washington had lent to the partition decision.
88 Mandate of Destiny

The American turnabout on partition has never been explained. Per-


haps Washington, in voting for partition, expected milder opposition from
the Arabs and more substantial cooperation from the British; perhaps, as
has been charged, some quarters feared the effect of Washington’s support
of partition upon the oil concessions American interests held in Arab ter-
ritories; or perhaps there was a belief that, forcing partition through would
arouse a bitter resentment that would turn the Arab states toward Moscow
and thus promote Soviet interests in the Middle East.
In any case, the American reversal was a blow to the United Nations
and showed a profoundly disheartening disregard for its effectiveness and
standing. I could not help asking myself what the future of the United
Nations would be, if this was the measure of support it could expect from
the United States.
I brooded the night in this fashion, amid radio reports of United
Nations depression, Arab jubilation, Zionist despair, and British self-
righteousness. After lunch the next day—a Saturday afternoon, I recall—I
telephoned to Mr. Austin and asked to see him. He invited me to his
apartment in the Waldorf-Astoria Towers, where I bared my thoughts—
my sense of shock and of almost personal grievance. Washington well
knew where I had stood in the struggle over implementing partition. Its
reversal was a rebuff to the United Nations and to me, because of my
direct and deep commitment. I said to Mr. Austin: “You too are commit-
ted. This is an attack on the sincerity of your devotion to the United
Nations cause, as well as mine. So I want to propose to you that you and I,
that both of us, as a measure of protest against your instructions, and as a
means of arousing popular opinion to the realization of the danger in
which the whole structure of the United Nations has been placed—I want
to propose that we resign.”
“Trygve,” Mr. Austin came back, his emotion rising, “I didn’t know
you were so sensitive.”
In his warmhearted, upright Yankee way, he gave me his full sympa-
thy. I think he respected my reaction, but—whether because he was less
attached to partition, or was more skeptical of the impact which our resig-
nations would have, or just thought it was not the right thing to do—he
did not share it. He would not resign, and he advised me not to do so
either. I should not, he remonstrated, take Washington’s reversal in a per-
sonal sense.
Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace: Seven Years with the United Nations 89

Parting cordially from Mr. Austin, with whom I have always had the
most friendly relations, I went to see Mr. Gromyko. He could receive me
without reservation—his government’s Palestine policy had been com-
mendable. I announced the feeling that I should resign in protest at the
American shift of position, and I have never found Ambassador Gromyko
more friendly. His melancholy features lit up with sympathy. But he
seemed half alarmed at my idea. “Speaking for myself,” he said, “I hope
you will not resign, and I advise you against it. What good will it do? How
will it change American policy? In any case, I would be grateful if you
would take no action before I have time to consult my government.”
Tuesday, Mr. Gromyko took me aside. He had cabled Moscow, he
reported, and Moscow’s reply was: “No, definitely not.” In view of the
advice from both Washington and Moscow, I did not resign.
The second special session of the General Assembly opened at Flush-
ing Meadow on April 16, 1948. In the weeks preceding, I had been careful
not to give public prejudgment of what the Assembly would do—of
whether it should, or would, adopt the United States plan for trusteeship.
When asked, I could not, of course, conceal such obvious facts as that
trusteeship had been proposed almost a year earlier and judged unworkable.
The Assembly debated for a month, not without confusion. The
American proposals for trusteeship won slight support, despite Washing-
ton’s announcement that it was now prepared to allot a fair share of the
troops needed to push it through; in view of the de facto partition of Pales-
tine which already was dissolving British authority; this amounted to pro-
posing that the United Nations take enforcement action against partition.
Other Members made no offer of troops. Skepticism about the practicality
of trusteeship was everywhere, and a considerable body of states main-
tained that the United Nations should still undertake to implement parti-
tion, rather than go on talking while time ran out. Sir Carl A. Berendsen,
the salty New Zealander, in one of his many penetrating United Nations
addresses, compellingly voiced this view. He so well expressed the thoughts
and feelings closest to my heart that—the first time I ever did such a thing
for a speech—I sent him an admiring bouquet of roses! Sir Carl called
upon the Assembly not to abandon partition in a capitulation to threats
and violence. Partition was the right solution in November, and it was the
right solution in April, but, in not making adequate plans for enforcement,
the Assembly had done “the right thing in the wrong way.” New Zealand,
90 Mandate of Destiny

for its part, would continue to support enforcing partition. “What the
world needs today,” he concluded, “is not resolutions, it is resolution.”
The Assembly, at any rate, did no more than adopt three resolutions.
One affirmed its support of the Security Council’s efforts to bring about a
truce in Palestine, and empowered a United Nations Mediator to use his
good offices, in cooperation with the Truce Commission which the Coun-
cil had appointed, to promote a peaceful adjustment of the situation in
Palestine, arrange for the operation of services necessary to the well-being
of the Palestinian population, and assure the protection of the Holy
Places. It relieved the Palestine Commission from further exercise of its
responsibilities and, in a separate resolution, thanked it for its efforts. But
the Assembly did not rescind or amend its resolution of November 29,
1947. The partition decision remained and remains valid.
As the Assembly debated on its closing day, May 14, word came that
Jewish authorities had, with the expiration of the Mandate, proclaimed
the existence of the State of Israel. While going beyond the November 29
resolution, this was essentially in accord with the partition decision. But
the report was bound to increase the tension, already high. What would
happen next?
The bombshell came from an entirely unexpected quarter. Minutes
later, as the Assembly discussed a Franco-American proposal for the
establishment of a temporary international regime for Jerusalem, the news
flashed through Flushing Meadow that the United States had recognized
“the Provisional Government as the de facto authority of the new State of
Israel.” Another reversal of policy! The press spread the story before the
United States Delegation had been informed of President Truman’s
action, and the mortification of the American representatives was under-
standably acute.
During the next hours and days, events crowded upon us. The Arab
states launched their invasion of Palestine with the end of the Mandate.
This was armed defiance of the United Nations, and they openly pro-
claimed their aggression by telegraphing news of it to United Nations
headquarters. The Security Council, when it met on May 15, had before it
a cable from the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, which brazenly
announced, “Egyptian armed forces have started to enter Palestine to
establish security and order.”
Document 16: Abba Eban:
Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations
In a comprehensive speech to the Ad Hoc Political Committee of the United
Nations on May 5, 1949, Abba Eban makes the case for Israel’s entrance into the
UN. Eban, who would later serve as Israel’s ambassador to the UN and foreign min-
ister, stresses that Israel has fulfilled the requirements of Article Four of the UN
Charter. He says that a solution to the conflict can only be found in cooperation
between Israel and its neighbors.

I. Israel’s Application
On 29 November, 1948, Israel’s application for membership in the
United Nations was submitted to the Security Council in accordance with
Article 4, paragraph 2, of the Charter. This was the anniversary of the
General Assembly’s original Resolution which had “called upon the
inhabitants of Palestine to take such steps as may be necessary on their
part to put this plan (of partition) into effect.” On 14 May, 1948—just one
year ago yesterday according to the Hebrew calendar—the State of Israel
proclaimed its independence, responding both to its own right of self-
determination as a distinctive political and cultural unit, and to the explic-
it instruction of the General Assembly itself. The Resolution of November
29, 1947, contained a recommendation that when either State envisaged
by that Resolution had made its independence effective, “sympathetic con-
sideration should be given to its application for admission to membership
in the United Nations in accordance with Article 4 of the Charter of the Unit-
ed Nations.”
A year later the State of Israel had successfully withstood a violent
and aggressive onslaught organized and launched against it by seven
States, including six members of the United Nations, in an effort to over-
throw the Assembly’s Resolution by force. Israel had established the foun-
dations of its government. It had secured recognition by nineteen States. It
had persistently made efforts directly and through the agencies of the
United Nations to negotiate with the neighboring Arab States for an end
of the war and the establishment of peace. Alone amongst the States
involved in that war, Israel had undertaken to comply with the Security
Council’s Resolution of November 16, 1948, calling upon the govern-

91
92 Mandate of Destiny

ments concerned to negotiate an armistice as a transition to lasting peace.


Israel was already “a vibrant reality.” Rarely in history had a people so
small in all the attributes of physical power surmounted so many ordeals
and adversities in its path to independence. It had emerged out of mortal
danger into the clear prospect of survival. Having reached this degree of
stability, both in its domestic institutions and its international position,
Israel came forward to seek the shelter of the Charter and to assume its
obligations.
This application has thus been on the agenda of the United Nations
for five months. When it was first discussed in mid-December, there was
already a considerable body of opinion in the Security Council represented
by the United States, the Soviet Union, Argentina, Colombia and the
Ukrainian S.S.R., ready to favor an immediate recommendation. Others,
however, counselled a brief delay. They pointed out that no beginning had
yet been made in the process of negotiation called for by the Council on
November 16, 1948, and by the General Assembly on December 11,
1948. Indeed, no formal Arab-Jewish contact had then been established
anywhere at that time. Others again invoked the provisional character of
Israel’s governmental institutions and the somewhat restricted basis of its
international recognition at that time. We found it difficult to admit that
any reading of Article 4 of the Charter made these considerations strictly
relevant. Many States had been admitted to membership before the estab-
lishment of elected governments. And if the conciliation effort had not
begun by last December, this was no fault of Israel which was the first to
propose direct armistice and peace talks in a formal communication to
Arab States through the Mediator as far back as August 1, 1948. Never-
theless, it must be realized that the Security Council is the body which has
been entrusted by the members of the United Nations with “primary
responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” Its
decisions or hesitations must carry great weight in a matter so closely
bound up with the issues of international peace.

The Security Council’s Favorable Action


Accordingly, my Government took sympathetic note of the Council’s
hesitations and waited until the early days of March before asking for
renewed consideration of that application. Meanwhile, the imagination
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 93

and sentiment of the world had been profoundly impressed by the specta-
cle of Israel’s swift consolidation. Israel had now secured recognition by an
overwhelming majority of other States, in all the five Continents, in the
Old World and the New. It had conducted the only democratic election
with full popular participation which this part of the Near East had seen
for several years. It had established a legislature based on popular suffrage.
It had formed a government dedicated to the principles of parliamentary
democracy and social reform. It had elected as the head of the State its
most respected and venerated citizen to symbolize both Israel’s concern
for international prestige and its vision of scientific humanism. It had suc-
cessfully concluded its first experience in the most crucial task of all. For
on February 24, after direct and intricate negotiations under the skilful
direction of the Acting Mediator, the Government of Israel had conclud-
ed an agreement of armistice with the leading power in the Arab world. In
an official statement the Government of Israel declared that it wished to
regard this most notable agreement as the prelude to peace between Israel
and Egypt.
Such were the circumstances in which the Security Council met on
March 3 and March 4 at its 413th and 414th meetings. By nine votes to
one with one abstention it adopted the following Resolution:
The Security Council, having received and considered the application of
Israel for membership in the United Nations;
Decides that in its judgment Israel is a peace-loving State and is able and
willing to carry out the obligations contained in the Charter, and
accordingly
Recommends to the General Assembly that it admit Israel to member-
ship in the United Nations.
In every other case of admission such a resolution of the Security
Council has had a decisive effect when Assembly confirmation has been
sought. But this particular Resolution of the Security Council has a special
authority deriving from circumstances which did not attend the Council’s
judgment on other applications. For Israel’s claim for admission to mem-
bership was hotly contested within the Council itself by one of the States
which had felt themselves entitled to make war—violent and brutal war—
for the extermination of Israel and the overthrow of a General Assembly
Resolution by force. The majority in the Security Council was thus not
94 Mandate of Destiny

achieved by any cursory or perfunctory review. A suggestion that residual


problems of the war, especially those of the status of Jerusalem and Arab
refugees, should be clarified before this admission was recommended, was
put forward with great force and clarity by the United Kingdom. The
Security Council implicitly rejected this suggestion by its vote. Remaining
with austere fidelity within the terms of Article 4 of the Charter, and in
full consciousness of Israel’s position on both of these questions, it sent its
impressive verdict to this session of the General Assembly. Yet the most
striking and vivid circumstance lending weight to the Security Council’s
Resolution is the long record of the Council’s discussions on the Palestine
question. At its own very table the Security Council has had an unrivalled
opportunity of observing the rise of Israel to independence; its successful
struggle against overwhelming invasion; its persistent appeals for methods
of pacific settlement; its constant recourse to the basic principles of the
Charter which by forbidding the use of force in international relations
should have prevented that violent obstruction of the partition decision
which is the source of all subsequent troubles and of all outstanding prob-
lems. From the early weeks of the war in May and June when the Arab
States officially and boastfully refused to comply with five cease-fire Reso-
lutions of the Security Council, all accepted by Israel, to the happy climax
when the armistice Resolution of the Security Council began to bear fruit,
the Security Council had kept events in and around Israel under constant
and vigilant examination. No less than eighty-nine meetings of the Secu-
rity Council had been devoted to the Palestine question; and at the end of
this unprecedentedly minute investigation, the Security Council decided
that “in its judgment Israel is a peace-loving State able and willing to fulfil
its obligations under the Charter.” This verdict of the august body charged
with the “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international
peace and security” now comes before this Committee against a unique
background of experience and scrutiny.

The Progress towards Peace


What has happened since the Security Council gave to Israel’s appli-
cation such impressive and emphatic support? The significant develop-
ments since that time may be briefly summarized. On March 23 Israel
concluded an armistice agreement with Lebanon by a unilateral with-
drawal of its own forces and the establishment of defensive zones. On
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 95

April 3 an armistice agreement was concluded between Israel and the


Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan through processes of reciprocal con-
cession whereby any serious threat of renewed hostilities was removed
from the greater part of the area which had formed the Palestinian battle-
field. Under the terms of this agreement lasting and durable peace has
been assured to the City of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. At this moment
armistice negotiations between Israel and Syria, which were delayed by
recent upheavals in Damascus, are approaching what we hope will be their
successful consummation. On the 26th of April the Government of Israel
despatched a delegation to Lausanne where the Conciliation Commission
had invited the parties to meet for a preliminary exchange of views.
Mr. Chairman, eight months have elapsed since my Government for-
mally requested the Arab States to meet with it for a settlement by negoti-
ations of all outstanding military and political questions. Nearly six
months have gone by since the Representative of Canada in the Security
Council proposed and secured the adoption of the momentous Resolution
calling for an armistice—a Resolution supported by my Government and
opposed by the Arab States. Hundreds of thousands of people in Israel
and in neighboring areas are denied the prospect of security and welfare so
long as the conclusion of a formal peace is delayed. The Government of
Israel has accordingly informed the Conciliation Commission that it
wishes to regard the Lausanne meetings not as a mere preliminary
exchange of views, but as an earnest attempt by both parties to achieve a
final and effective peace settlement.
On the 30th of April my colleague, Dr. [Walter] Eytan, on assuming
his responsibilities as head of the Israeli Delegation at Lausanne, publicly
declared:
We come to Lausanne determined to do all possible towards the attain-
ment of an honorable and lasting peace under the general auspices of
the United Nations Conciliation Commission, and by direct contact
with the delegations of the Arab States which in recent months have
signed armistice agreements with Israel. We shall make every effort to
settle outstanding questions by peaceful discussion. The Government of
Israel sincerely hopes that the conference will lead to the complete sta-
bilization of relations between Israel and the neighboring Arab States,
including an undertaking to respect common boundaries, and to the
permanent settlement and rehabilitation of all those who have left their
homes in the course of the war against Israel.
96 Mandate of Destiny

At its first meeting with the Conciliation Commission the Israeli


Delegation inquired whether Arab delegations are similarly prepared to
institute discussions of peace in compliance with the General Assembly’s
Resolution of December 11, 1948, which “calls upon the Governments
and authorities concerned ... to seek agreement by negotiations conducted
either with the Conciliation Commission or directly, with a view to the
final settlement of all questions outstanding between them.”
We are awaiting the Arab reply. The whole issue of peace and stabili-
ty in the Near East hangs upon that reply.
It is clear, Mr. Chairman, that the progress towards peace between
Israel and its neighbors has maintained, and, indeed, increased its momen-
tum since the Security Council recorded its decision on 4 March, 1949.
Everything that has happened since the 4th of March fortifies and con-
firms the judgment which the Security Council then made.

What Is Relevant to Admission


Mr. Chairman, a State seeking membership in the United Nations
may be properly expected to study the jurisprudence of the United
Nations relating to the admission of new members. It is our understand-
ing that nothing but the provisions of Article 4 are relevant in the consid-
eration of an application for membership. We base this conviction on the
spirit and language of the Charter itself and of that Article 4 which opens
the door of this organization wide to any State fulfilling its provisions.
Moreover, this is the first application for membership to come before the
General Assembly since the Resolution adopted on December 8, identify-
ing the General Assembly itself with an advisory opinion of the Interna-
tional Court of Justice. The General Assembly is committed by that Reso-
lution to the view expressed in the following paragraph adopted on
December 8:
A member of the United Nations which is called upon in virtue of Arti-
cle 4 of the Charter to pronounce itself by its vote, either in the Security
Council or in the General Assembly, on the admission of a State to
membership in the United Nations, is not juridically entitled to make its
consent to the admission dependent on conditions not expressly provid-
ed by paragraph I of the said Article.
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 97

While attaching full weight to the legal considerations involved, I


should like to place special emphasis on the political and moral implica-
tions of that Resolution. In this very Committee but a few months ago a
preponderance of opinion was revealed in favor of the principle of univer-
sality. This view was concisely expressed by the Representative of the
Netherlands who said: “All those countries which, like the Netherlands,
attached great importance to the universality of the United Nations
should constantly consider whether their objections to the admission of a
new State are really cogent.” On that occasion the Representative of the
Union of South Africa said: “All States which could show adequate proof
of their independence and their peaceful character should be admitted as
soon as possible.” The Representative of Burma advocated the admission
of all countries which were candidates for membership, adding “we want
to have everyone as a member of this organization.” In addition to the
principle of universality we have no doubt that the General Assembly
must wish to uphold the principles of free discussion and argument. The
General Assembly is a free tribunal rejecting the principles of totalitarian
conformity. A member State, and therefore a candidate for membership, is
entitled to hold any views which its conscience and interests dictate on the
solution of international problems. Member States are under no obligation
to agree with each other, and I doubt whether any member of the United
Nations could properly withhold its consent to Israel’s membership on the
sole grounds that Israel does not share its particular views on any of the
problems now at issue.

An Unprecedented Procedure
Mr. Chairman, in response to the requests of this Committee and at
the insistence of the distinguished Representative of El Salvador, I pro-
pose first of all to make a formal and authoritative statement of my Gov-
ernment’s views on the problems of Jerusalem and Arab refugees. In doing
so, I am obliged to reserve Israel’s opinion with regard to the relevance of
extraneous issues to the question of admission to membership. I am aware
that the procedure followed by this Committee today establishes a new
precedent.
98 Mandate of Destiny

The distinguished Representative of Pakistan, in pleading to the


General Assembly for what he called a normal procedure, successfully pre-
vailed upon the plenary to require committee consideration of this item.
Yet the adherents of “normal procedures” cannot point to any other occa-
sion on which a candidate for membership has been called upon to express
his views on international problems in the context of a discussion on
admission to membership. The distinguished Representative of Pakistan
referred in vivid terms to his own harrowing ordeals in guiding his coun-
try’s application through the intricate routines of the General Assembly.
Yet on that occasion when he eventually reached the stage of committee
discussion, the Pakistan Representative was not interrogated on his inten-
tions with regard to Kashmir. He was not called upon to explain his coun-
try’s intentions with regard to the eleven million refugees who were ren-
dered homeless through the establishment of his State. On the same occa-
sion when the application of Yemen for membership in the United Nations
was considered by the First Committee, there was no discussion as to
whether an officially sponsored policy of organized slavery conformed with
the Charter’s requirements on fundamental human rights. It may be
assumed that the General Assembly took the liberal and logical view that
international problems such as these are better solved within the frame-
work of the United Nations than outside it. It is precisely because States
have problems of an international character that they need an international
organization within which such problems may be examined and solved.
Accordingly, I should like to clarify my delegation’s views on the pur-
poses and objectives of our discussion this morning. We are not here, I
understand, to find solutions to the problems of Jerusalem or the Arab
refugees. That task has been allocated to the Conciliation Commission
with which my Government is in the closest and most formal contact at
this moment. One question and one question alone is relevant: is Israel eli-
gible for membership within the meaning of Article 4 of the Charter? Are
its policies on Jerusalem or on the Arab refugees, or on any other problem,
consistent with the free exercise of judgment and conscience by an aspir-
ing member of this organization coming forward to accept the obligations
of the Charter? I shall submit that Israel holds no views and pursues no
policies on any question which are inconsistent with the Charter or with
the Resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 99

II. Jerusalem
Mr. Chairman, the responsibilities of the United Nations in the City
of Jerusalem originated in the General Assembly Resolution of 29
November, 1947. That Resolution envisaged the establishment of a special
regime designed primarily “to protect and preserve the unique spiritual
and religious interests located in the City.” In establishing that regime, the
United Nations pledged itself to undertake the most solemn and critical
responsibility for the welfare and development, nay, for the very lives of
tens of thousands of people. The United Nations pledged itself: “to ensure
that peace and order reign in Jerusalem.” It undertook “to promote the
security, the well-being and any constructive measures of development for
the residents.” According to the terms of the Resolution, the exercise of
these heavy responsibilities required the establishment of a “special police
force of adequate strength, the members of which shall be recruited out-
side of Palestine.” The United Nations undertook to appoint a Governor
at the head of a large military and administrative staff, charged with the
duty “of preserving the Holy Places and religious buildings, and of main-
taining free access to the Holy Places and religious buildings or sites.” The
Trusteeship Council was instructed to elaborate and approve the detailed
statute of the City. The Jewish and Arab populations of Palestine were
called upon to take all necessary steps to put this plan into effect.

The Sole Cause of the Conflict


Looking back at this Resolution with the retrospective wisdom of
experience, we cannot fail to be impressed by the magnitude and gravity of
the responsibilities which the General Assembly then undertook. I need
not delay the Committee long with an enumeration of the events which
frustrated those high purposes. The major cause, indeed the sole cause, is
the one which lies at the root of all the complex problems which come
under the heading of the Palestine question. One single factor alone is
responsible for the slaughter and destruction, for the anguish and bereave-
ment, for the squandering of life and treasure, for the disturbance of inter-
national relations; for the desecration of Holy Places, for the panic of
flight and the misery of exile, and all the other tragic consequences of this
futile and unnecessary conflict. The cause is set out by a Commission of
the United Nations in a Report to the General Assembly at this period
100 Mandate of Destiny

last year. “Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are
defying the Resolution of the General Assembly, and are engaged in a
deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein. Armed
Arab bands from neighboring Arab States ... together with local Arab
forces, are defeating the purposes of the Resolution by acts of violence.
The Jews, on the other hand, are determined to ensure the establishment
of the Jewish State as envisaged by the Resolution.”
Mr. Chairman, these grave words, unprecedented in the international
literature of our time, were conveyed by the United Nations Palestine
Commission to the General Assembly in April, 1948. A few weeks later
this monstrous aggression took official form when the Secretary-General
of the Arab League, acting on behalf of seven States, six of them members
of the United Nations, informed the Security Council that those Govern-
ments had undertaken what he called “military intervention.” Unless we
keep in our minds a clear vision of initial responsibility for this war, no
single aspect of the Near East situation can be evaluated in its true per-
spective. Around your table sit the representatives of six States who have
the blood of martyred thousands on their hands and the misery and exile
of tens of thousands upon their consciences. I shall have occasion, in the
course of my remarks, to comment upon the fantastic paradox whereby the
only States which have ever taken up arms to overthrow a General Assem-
bly resolution by force, solemnly sit in this Committee to accuse their
intended victim of a lack of concern for General Assembly resolutions. If
any State’s eligibility for membership should be under question, it should
be the eligibility of those who consciously selected war as a method of
contesting the authority of international judgment.
The distinguished Representative of Lebanon informed us this
morning that an attitude of compliance with General Assembly Resolu-
tions should be a condition of membership in the United Nations. If that
were so, he would not be here at all. I shall circulate the statements of the
Lebanese Prime Minister urging that the General Assembly Resolution of
29 November, 1947, should be drowned in blood.
For the moment it is sufficient to recall to this Committee that the
Arab States took up arms not only against the establishment of Israel, but
also with equal fervor and with greater success against the establishment
of an international regime in Jerusalem. The opposition of the Arabs took
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 101

the form both of parliamentary boycott and of military violence. In the


Trusteeship Council the Representative of Iraq said: “It is my duty to show
that the plan for the City of Jerusalem is illegal ... the people of Jerusalem
who are not sacred should not incur political punishment because their
City is. Neither the Iraqi Government nor other Arab States are prepared
to enter into the details or to participate in the discussion of the plan.”

Slow and Dreadful Strangulation


In the meantime, the Trusteeship Council proceeded to elaborate a
statute with the full cooperation of Jewish representatives, many of whose
suggestions were embodied in the draft statute. The Jewish religion was
the only religious denomination whose representatives came forward to
cooperate in the formulation of that plan. It is significant that the Arab
violence directed against the General Assembly’s Resolution began in the
City of Jerusalem itself with the establishment of armed gangs in the Old
City and the organization of an iron ring around Jerusalem’s communica-
tions with the coast. Within a few weeks of the adoption of the Assem-
bly’s Resolution, at a time when the Mandatory Regime was still operat-
ing, the City became a scene of anarchy and violence. With the coastal
route firmly in Arab hands and the water supply at the mercy of Arab
forces, there began a slow and dreadful process of strangulation. On the
commencement of the official Arab invasion on May 15, the armed forces
of Transjordan, Iraq and Egypt joined together in a concerted attempt to
throttle the lungs and arteries of the Holy City, to rain down devastation
upon its ancient shrines and modern habitations, and to wrest it from the
international community for immediate incorporation, without any
reserve, in an Arab Moslem regime. There were many weeks when the
issue hung in the balance. Bombardment, starvation, pestilence and thirst
stared the Jewish inhabitants of the City in the face. By the month of June
the population was living on a handful of barley and beans. The average
diet was brought down to 800 calories a day. Many months before the
expectation of the first rain, water was being doled out from carts in meas-
ure barely sufficient to sustain human life. In this situation of thirst and
malnutrition, the utmost technical resourcefulness was necessary in order
to save the City from dire epidemic. Added to all these terrors was the car-
nage of war itself, which took on unendurable proportions in the latter
weeks of May.
102 Mandate of Destiny

Mr. Chairman, the people of Jerusalem to this very day look back
with a sense of deliverance and escape to the horrors which faced them in
those unforgettable weeks. As the bombardment of the New and Old
Cities took a heavy toll of life, the Holy Places themselves came under
converging fire. In the Old City of Jerusalem in the Jewish Quarter,
corpses lay piled up unburied, since there was no access to the Jewish
cemetery on the Mount of Olives, or, indeed, to any part of the City out-
side the walls. Arab forces from Transjordan, immediately on the termina-
tion of the Mandate, crossed into Palestine and laid waste to the Jewish
villages in the Kfar Etzion group, with the death of most of their inhabi-
tants and the capture of the rest.

The Pitiful Contrast


The Security Council, in constant session, was bombarded by clam-
orous appeals for the rescue of the City on whose behalf the United
Nations had accepted the most solemn obligations. Nothing availed. The
Trusteeship Council plodded a leisurely course against fierce Arab opposi-
tion in elaborating the Statute envisaged by the Assembly’s Resolution. At
the height of Jerusalem’s distress, the General Assembly convened in spe-
cial session during April and May, 1948. Thus all the principal organs of
the United Nations were constantly at work at this very climax of the
City’s agony. Nothing in history is more incongruous than the pitiful con-
trast between this torment of the Holy City and the determined resolve of
the international community at that time to take no steps whatever for its
relief. The debates in the Trusteeship Council had patently revealed that
in face of Arab boycott and resistance nothing but a considerable military
force would avail to secure the implementation of the Assembly’s Statute.
Week after week, with a regularity that must have grown monotonous to
distinguished representatives themselves, Jewish spokesmen appeared in
the various organs of the United Nations imploring them to assume the
responsibilities to which they were pledged—responsibilities which were
and are inseparable from any rights to exercise authority or jurisdiction in
any village, town or country in the world. For those who aspire to rule
must be prepared to govern. You cannot have a fiction of sovereignty. It is
not only a question of integrity. It is a question of life. But nothing hap-
pened. The majority of the Trusteeship Council swiftly reached the con-
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 103

clusion that the Statute was no longer realistic in the existing conditions of
the United Nations and in the context of Arab-Jewish war. On the 21st of
April the Trusteeship Council passed a Resolution referring the future of
the Statute to the General Assembly for such further instructions as it
might see fit to give. The General Assembly saw fit to give no further
instructions. Early in May a Municipal Commissioner was appointed to
assume on behalf of the United Nations such functions and prerogatives as
he could secure. The Commissioner was appointed, arrived in Jerusalem at
the height of the siege and warfare, and turned away.
On June 16, 1948, the Trusteeship Council opened its Third Session
with a provisional agenda which prudently avoided all mention of the
Statute of Jerusalem. On July 28, 1948, the Representative of the Soviet
Union urging consistent fidelity to the November Resolution again sought
action by the Trusteeship Council on the Jerusalem Statute. A Belgian
proposal for postponement sine die was adopted by eight votes to one, with
three abstentions. Nothing has been heard of the Statute ever since.

The Divine Right of Starvation


The Jewish population of Jerusalem, submerged in death and famine,
fighting against odds for sheer survival itself, probably had little time to
reflect on the attitude of those who but a few months previously had
undertaken responsibility for their “security and well-being and construc-
tive measures of development.” The right to destroy and besiege Jerusalem
was officially claimed by Arab representatives as a legitimate action of war.
The idea that even a truce would involve the lifting of this brutal siege
evoked the solemn indignation of Arab Representatives. At the 313th
meeting of the Security Council, Jamal Bey Husseini, of the Arab Higher
Committee, supported by the distinguished Representative of Syria,
upheld the divine right of starvation. He said:
The Zionist spokesman yesterday assumed that the truce terms adopted
by the Security Council should cover freedom of access to Jerusalem
together with transportation of goods for civilian needs of the hundred
thousand besieged Jews. We assume the contrary. The abandonment of
the state of siege is obviously a net gain for one party and a loss for the
other. The assumption of the Zionist spokesman should be corrected.
The Security Council was naturally unwilling to preside over the
complete destruction of Jerusalem by famine during a truce, and it there-
104 Mandate of Destiny

fore undertook to supply the Jews of Jerusalem with quantities of food in


such measure as would ensure that at the end of the truce period,
Jerusalem’s food supply would be exactly equivalent to what it was at the
beginning of the truce. By dismal paradox the first active intervention of
the United Nations in the administration of Jerusalem was to ensure that
the population should not have too much to eat.
While these terrible processes were going on, it is not surprising if
the Jews of Jerusalem deduced the harsh lesson that they could expect no
salvation, except from one quarter alone—from their brethren in the State
of Israel, who, while grappling desperately for their own very survival,
bethought themselves of their kith and kin in Jerusalem. The State of
Israel girded all its strength to throw a life-line to the beleaguered City.
The Jewish Quarters of the Old City surrendered amidst the destruction
of its Holy Places on May 28. All but five of its ancient synagogues were
destroyed, and those that remained have since been laid waste by the Arab
occupation forces. The historic Wailing Wall, the most hallowed sanctuary
to adherents of the Jewish faith, was barred from access by worshippers
and remains so to this very day. If the New City were not similarly to suc-
cumb, its supply routes had to be opened. Within the very gun-range of
besieging Arab forces, the Jews built a detour on the coastal road. This
narrow strip, carved through the steep inclines of the hill country, began to
relieve the stringency of the food situation. Yet for the most part, it was
necessary to run a gauntlet of shell-fire and ambush in a desperate attempt
to bring convoys to the starving City. The people of Jerusalem carry
inscribed in their hearts the memory of the occasions when such convoys
passed through the perils and hazards of that road to deliver their cargo at
a point when the very extremities of endurance had been reached. Upon
the trucks of the first large convoy to reach Jerusalem at the peak of its
danger was inscribed a message from the people of Israel to the Jews of
Jerusalem: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its
cunning!” The Jews of Jerusalem were not forgotten or alone.

Jerusalem Saved for the World


Mr. Chairman, when we speak, as I shall, of the profound and organ-
ic attachment between the Jews of Jerusalem and the Jews of Israel, the
Committee should think not merely of those links of language, religion,
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 105

culture and other forms of natural allegiance, but also of that link forged
by a fight for survival in those desperate days. The battle of Jerusalem was
won, in a victory snatched from the very imminence of defeat, but it was
not a victory lightly or cheaply achieved. As you travel from the coastal
plain to Jerusalem through Bab-el-Wad, you can see to this day the over-
turned hulks of trucks, lorries and cars ambushed and set on fire. The
ashes which litter the roadside are not those of lorries alone. The youth of
Israel fell in their hundreds to save Jerusalem from the disaster and
reproach of famine and surrender.
It cannot be seriously doubted that in saving Jerusalem from capture
by the combined Arab forces, the Jews of that City and of Israel not only
preserved Jewish rights in the very cradle of the Jewish tradition; they also
kept Christian interests alive. For it is beyond all question that had the
assault upon the City succeeded, it would have become incorporated
immediately and irrevocably in an Arab State which explicitly and
avowedly asserted its own undisputed right to wield complete sovereignty
over the whole City, including its Holy Places. If today it is still possible to
make plans for giving statutory expression to the international interest, as
it is, that possibility derives solely from the success of this Jewish resist-
ance at that time.
For at the time that the Arab position on internationalization was
clear both in theory and in practice, Dr. Malik was expressing the “deep
stirrings” of his soul by sharing in a warlike coalition, raining down
shells—unholy shells—and bullets—unsacred bullets—upon both parts of
the City of Jerusalem.
I will not harry the feelings of this Committee any further by descrip-
tions of the ordeals and perils out of which Jerusalem has now emerged.
Nothing is more splendid or impressive in the whole record of Israel’s
achievement than the swift rehabilitation of the City and its return to nor-
mal and dignified life. A year ago there was anarchy; today there is effec-
tive administration, both in the Jewish and Arab parts of the City. A year
ago there was bloodshed; today there is peace. A year ago there was
famine; today there is relative plenty. A year ago there was devastation;
today there are all the symptoms of recovery. A year ago the Holy Places
were imperilled by the clash of arms; today they are at peace and all the
facilities of access and worship to all the Holy Places except the Jewish
106 Mandate of Destiny

Holy Places are being gradually restored. This restoration of peace and
normality to Jerusalem is by far the most significant factor to be borne in
mind in any consideration of the question and future of the Holy Places.
Unless there is peace in Jerusalem between Arabs and Jews, no juridical
status can assure the protection of the City or the immunity of its sacred
shrines. If there is peace in Jerusalem between Arabs and Jews, then the
assurance of safeguards for the Holy Places becomes a task easily respon-
sive to the processes of bilateral and international agreement.…

VI. Conclusion
Mr. Chairman, in my final remarks I must say that I could have
wished that this clarification of our views might have proceeded to the end
without the introduction of any polemical note. Yet I should be giving the
Committee a false impression of public sentiment in Israel if I did not
express the indignation aroused by the extraordinary spectacle of Israel’s
application for membership in the United Nations being challenged by
the Arab States. I profoundly envy the easy assurance whereby these dis-
tinguished representatives come forward as the advocates of compliance
with General Assembly Resolutions. For in the earliest and most tender
years of its existence, this United Nations was assaulted at the very foun-
dations of its authority by the first and, happily, the only attempt of mem-
ber States to overthrow a General Assembly Resolution by force. It is not
long since these very rooms echoed with dire threats from Arab represen-
tatives of their intention to offer armed resistance to the Assembly’s policy
for the establishment of a Jewish State. “Any line drawn by the United
Nations,” declared an Arab representative, “shall be nothing but a line of
fire and blood.” These threats, which were destined to be translated into
destruction and slaughter, rested upon the doctrine of the optional charac-
ter of Assembly Resolutions. On the 24th February, 1948, the Representa-
tive of Syria declared: “In the first place, the recommendations of the
General Assembly are not imperative on those to whom they are
addressed. We have numerous precedents during the short past life of the
General Assembly: The Indo-South African dispute, the Balkan situation,
the Interim Committee, the Korean question, the admission of new mem-
bers.” He went on to say: “The General Assembly only gives advice, and
the parties to whom the advice is addressed accept it when it does not
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 107

impair their fundamental rights.” Again, on the 19th March, 1948, he


declared: “Not every State which does not apply, obey or execute these rec-
ommendations would be breaking its pledges to the Charter.”
The Representative of Egypt made this theory his own. At meeting
after meeting of the Security Council he consoled his audience for the
repudiation of the Palestine Resolution by the happy thought that other
resolutions of the General Assembly had not been complied with. “No
one,” he said, “could say that compliance is imperative or that the countries
which did not comply are acting against the Charter or undermining the
structure of the United Nations. We do not choose to comply with the
General Assembly’s Resolution on Palestine. This is our privilege under
the Charter.”

A Cynical Maneuver
Even if the exercise of this “privilege” had been confined to this con-
tribution to international jurisprudence, the Arab States would still have
been disqualified to lecture to others on the binding force of Assembly
Resolutions. But, as is well known, their defiance went further. They took
up arms, they crossed their frontiers, they launched a war for the purpose
of overthrowing that Resolution by force. The next step was persistently to
exercise a “privilege” not to stop fighting when ordered by the Security
Council. International morality and law in our generation recognize those
who initiate and those who choose war as solely responsible for the entire
sequence of bloodshed and suffering which ensues from that choice. Here
sit representatives of the only States which have deliberately used force
against an Assembly Resolution; the only States which have ever been
determined by the Security Council to have caused a threat to the peace
under Chapter VII of the Charter, posing as the disinterested judges of
their own intended victim in his efforts to secure a modest equality in the
family of nations. It is a cynical maneuver. It cannot be allowed to succeed
without bequeathing a mood of disillusion to all equitable men. In the
name of those who have been killed, maimed, blinded, exiled or bereaved
by the exercise of that cynicism, we must express our most passionate
resentment at this gross Arab insincerity.
I do not wish to enter into a discussion of the exact degree of legal
compulsion inherent in a General Assembly Resolution. Certain it is that
108 Mandate of Destiny

the right of a State to appeal against a Resolution or to seek its revision


must fall short, very far short, of armed violence. My Government, in the
course of its future international career, will never be found amongst those
who, by emptying Assembly Resolutions of all compelling moral force,
would sacrifice the restraints of international law upon the altar of undi-
luted sovereignty. A Resolution can be revised, yes, but by argument and
renewed examination. A recommendation can be modified, yes, but by
agreement. A United Nations policy may perhaps conceivably be
opposed—but certainly not by the use of force against it. It was a signal
victory for the United Nations when the first forcible attempt to sabotage
a solution desired by the General Assembly failed in its objective. Thus, in
assuring its own establishment and survival, Israel vindicated the supreme
international authority. We are as one who, having been attacked in a dark
street by seven men with heavy bludgeons, finds himself dragged into
court only to see his assailants sitting on the bench with an air of solemn
virtue, delivering homilies on the duties of a peaceful citizen. It is most
urgent and essential for the dignity and prestige of international institu-
tions that such a device should not succeed.
In conclusion, I should like to make a comment on the general effect
of the questions which I have discussed on the business now before the
Committee.

San Francisco and Sinai


The State which is now celebrating its first anniversary under the
benevolent applause of its friends throughout the world is bound to the
United Nations and its Charter by many links of peculiar intimacy and
strength. Israel is new in the art of practical statecraft. We shall be fortu-
nate if our contribution to the solution of international problems can go
much beyond the limited size and resources of our State. Yet Israel is at
once the ancestor and the heir of a great universal tradition. The high doc-
trines of the Charter, founded on the hopes of international brotherhood,
were bequeathed to modern civilization by Israel’s Prophetic writings
which expressed the longing of mankind for an era when “nation shall not
lift up the sword against nation nor shall they know war any more.” A sin-
gle continuous line of thought and aspiration unites San Francisco to
Sinai. In the minds of many contemporary historians Israel represents the
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 109

modernist element in Near Eastern life, striving for progress by the results
of modern technology and science. But no less potent an influence in the
life of the new Republic is its sense of continuous association with the tra-
ditions of Israel’s past. It is no accident that the coins and stamps of the
State revive memories of those early periods of Israel’s independence
which have left so profound an impression on the course of human civi-
lization. It is no accident either that our national Hebrew language evokes
the memories and associations of the golden period of Israel’s literary
achievement.
But quite apart from a deep historic affinity between Israel’s ideals
and the basic concepts of the Charter, we can point to a more recent expe-
rience of common interest and endeavor. This is the only State in the
world which sprang into existence at the summons and behest of the
international community. The General Assembly is now called upon by
the Security Council to acknowledge a State to whose establishment it
gave the sanction and incentive of its own prior approval. The episodes of
Israel’s life have a way of entering into historical records. And the story of
this brave and unequal struggle for independence of a people, which lost
six million of its sons in the cause of the victorious United Nations against
Nazi despotism, is enshrined in the very documents and archives of this
organization. Israel’s battle for sheer survival has gone hand in hand with
the most successful effort of the United Nations to solve an international
conflict by judgment, mediation and conciliation. It would be an extraor-
dinary paradox, not understood by the peoples of the world, if the United
Nations were to close its doors upon a State which it helped to quicken
into active and vigorous life. And the question whether the United
Nations now confirms or defers this application is not a matter of proce-
dure. It is a grave issue of substance. It affects the prospects of peace. It
affects the future authority of the United Nations in the solution of out-
standing problems. It affects the question whether the Arab world will
receive from this Committee the implicit counsel to regard Israel as a per-
manent international fact with which it has to make peace on the basis of
the Charter, or whether, by hesitating now, the Assembly will confirm the
Arab peoples in their hesitations about Israel’s existence and Israel’s rights.
The General Assembly could do nothing more calculated to persuade the
Arab States not to break off the juridical strife by the conclusion of peace
110 Mandate of Destiny

than if it were to rise amidst an atmosphere of doubt as to Israel’s interna-


tional status: The General Assembly could do nothing more prejudicial to
the prospects of conciliation than to insist on one party going there with
an inferior status and prestige to that enjoyed so lavishly by the other
party.
The time has surely come, for the United Nations, if it wishes Israel
to bear the heavy burdens of Charter obligations, to confer upon Israel the
protection and status of the Charter as well. Israel and the Arab States
have sent delegations to Lausanne in what Israel regards as an endeavor to
conclude final peace. One party is represented by six members of this
organization who will strive their utmost to make their views prevail with
the United Nations Commission, and will then come back into the
Assembly itself with a powerful capacity to influence its decisions by
speech, vote and regional influence. The other party has no standing in the
organization which is responsible for the conciliation effort and no voice
except on limited sufferance in the Assembly itself. This position is repug-
nant to any sense of equity. It is out of balance and out of gear. That is no
way for the United Nations to confront the Arab world with Israel. At
every stage of Israel’s checkered relations with the Arab world, which are
now opening out happily into brighter fields, we have felt equality of sta-
tus to be the essential conditions of partnership. Until the scars of conflict
are healed and Israel becomes integrated with its immediate world, the
United Nations may be the only forum in which Israel sits as a colleague
and partner of its neighboring States in the transaction of international
business and in the paths of social and economic cooperation. This Com-
mittee should not debar us from that precious meeting place, which is also
the only framework within which Israel’s foreign policy can congenially
express itself.

The Responsibility Is Great


We cannot logically expect the Arabs to recognize Israel if the Unit-
ed Nations hesitates to recognize Israel. Mr. Chairman and Delegates, you
have it in your hands, therefore, to expedite or to delay the decisive
moment when the Arab world will find itself exhorted by the world com-
munity to recognize Israel as a partner in its destiny and in the progress of
Asia. The Committee should not delay that moment. The responsibility is
Abba Eban: Israel: The Case for Admission to the United Nations 111

too grave. The foundations of peace, improvised as they have been by skill-
ful mediation, are not so strong that they can easily withstand another
unnecessary period of juridical uncertainty and strife.
The problems of Jerusalem and of Arab refugees can only be solved
within the United Nations; and this requires the presence in your midst of
those who must contribute to their solution. Does anybody imagine that
either problem can find an easier solution if the organic links between
Israel and the United Nations are not speedily and formally closed? The
bare provisions of Article 4 of the Charter are thus reinforced in this case
by unique considerations of history and sentiment, of practical statesman-
ship, of equity and of deep concern for an immediate prospect of stability
which if surrendered might not easily recur. I have tried, without obscur-
ing honest difficulties and differences, to reassure the Committee on the
basic issue of Israel’s good will. We cannot now do more. The banner of
Israel is inscribed with the struggle and the achievement of the youngest
nation on earth. Its progress has been followed with signs of ardent sym-
pathy amongst the peoples of the world. Whatever intellectual or spiritual
forces Israel evokes anywhere in the world are at the service of the United
Nations as a potential reinforcement of its activity and prestige. You will
certainly lose nothing, and you perhaps may gain some modest asset, if you
join this banner to your honored company. Whatever happens, we shall
cherish this banner above everything else; we shall dedicate it to the ideals
of peace and national independence; of social progress, of democracy and
of cultural dynamism. A great wheel of history comes full circle today as
Israel, renewed and established, offers itself, with its many imperfections
but perhaps with a few virtues, to your common defense of the human
spirit against the perils of international conflict and despair.
Document 17: United Nations General Assembly Resolution 273
(III) of 11 May 1949, Admitting Israel to Membership in the UN
Having received the report of the Security Council on the application
of Israel for membership in the United Nations,
Noting that, in the judgment of the Security Council, Israel is a
peace-loving State and is able and willing to carry out the obligations con-
tained in the Charter,
Noting that the Security Council has recommended to the General
Assembly that it admit Israel to membership in the United Nations,
Noting furthermore the declaration by the State of Israel that it
“unreservedly accepts the obligations of the United Nations Charter and
undertakes to honour them from the day when it becomes a Member of
the United Nations,”
Recalling its resolutions of 29 November 1947 and December 1948
and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the repre-
sentative of the Government of Israel before the Ad Hoc Political Com-
mittee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions,
The General Assembly,
Acting in discharge of its functions under Article 4 of the Charter and
Rule 125 of its rules of procedure,
1. Decides that Israel is a peace-loving State which accepts the obliga-
tions contained in the Charter and is able and willing to carry out those
obligations;
2. Decides to admit Israel to membership in the United Nations.
Adopted at the 207th plenary meeting:
In favour: 37
Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Byelorussian S.S.R., Canada, Chile,
China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia , Dominican Repub-
lic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Liberia, Lux-
emburg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pana-
ma, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Ukrainian S.S.R., Union of
South Africa, U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia
Against: 12
Afghanistan, Burma, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon,
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen
Abstained: 9
Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, El Salvador, Greece, Siam, Sweden,
Turkey, United Kingdom

112
JBI Council Members

E. Robert Goodkind (Chair)


Mimi Alperin
Marion Bergman
Susan Morton Blaustein
Roberta Cohen
Irwin Cotler
Lori F. Damrosch
Edith B. Everett
Lois Frank
Bertram H. Gold
David A. Harris
Barbara Blaustein Hirschhorn
Michael Hirschhorn
Charlotte G. Holstein
Suzanne Denbo Jaffe
Harris L. Kempner, Jr.
William Korey
Stephen Lowey
Edward C. Luck
Jesse Margolin
Carol Nelkin
Leo Nevas
Louis Perlmutter
Robert S. Rifkind
Arthur E. Roswell
Elizabeth Blaustein Roswell
Stephen M. Schwebel
Jerome J. Shestack
David F. Squire
Harold Tanner
Daniel Terris
MANDATE OF DESTINY The 1947 United Nations Decision to Partition Palestine JBI