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General Assembly

19 February 1948




Held at Lake Success, New York
on Tuesday, 17 February 1948, at 3.00 p.m.

Chairman:Mr. LISICKY(Czechoslovakia)
Members:Mr. Medina(Bolivia)
Mr. Federspiel(Denmark)
Mr. Morgan(Panama)
Mr. Francisco(Philippines)
Secretariat:Mr. Bunche(Secretary)


The CHAIRMAN asked the Secretary to report to the Commission on the conversation which he had had with Mr. Creech-Jones the British Colonial Secretary.

The SECRETARY stated that Mr. Creech-Jones had developed the United Kingdom’s case at considerable length. He had indicated that they felt keenly the allegations, which he attributed to Jewish sources, that they were attempting to sabotage the Assembly’s decision and bring about a state of chaos at the time of the termination of the Mandate. He vigorously denied that they had any such intention, and said that his Government maintained the position they had taken all along, i.e. that they would render all possible assistance short of actively participating in the implementation of the decision. He attributed the security situation in Palestine as much to the Jews as to the Arabs, stating that the Jewish organizations had consistently committed offensive acts. He had stated that the United Kingdom Government could not recognize Hagana because it had proved to be an undisciplined and uncontrollable force, and added that the Jewish Agency had been making efforts, although so far unsuccessful, to reach agreement with the extremists.

Mr. Creech-Jones had alluded to the Commission’s communication on the subject of arms and stated that if Hagana were allowed to arm more trouble would ensue. In any case, he said, it was known that, despite their protestations to the contrary, the Jews were obtaining and stocking large quantities of arms. Prefacing his remarks with the statement that he could speak frankly because he was known to be sympathetic to the Jewish cause, Mr. Creech-Jones had expressed the opinion that the whole trouble was that the Jews had been intractable. Last year he, together with Mr. Bevin, had worked out a plan which they had tried to get the Jews to discuss, and which he believed Dr. Weizmann would have been willing to discuss, but he had not been there and Mr. Ben Gurion had refused to do so.

Mr. Creech-Jones considered the Jews to be largely responsible for the present situation by reason of the firm and confident assurances they had given that if the General Assembly took a decision favourable to them they would be able to handle the situation without outside assistance. This had proved not to be true and they were now calling for assistance.

The question of an advance party had been touched upon, and the Secretary had had the impression that Mr. Creech-Jones might be prepared to facilitate this mission.

With reference to the Commission’s arrival in Palestine, Mr. Creech-Jones had stated that he realized the Commission was concerned with fulfilling its task, but he pointed out that he had strongly emphasized in the General Assembly the necessity of tying the question of enforcement to the substance of any resolution, and that unless States voting for the resolution at the same time committed themselves to participate in such measures as might be necessary for its implementation, the resolution would be barren. He had declared that the United Kingdom Government were convinced that the Commission’s arrival in Palestine would be the signal for a vigorous and widespread Arab uprising. They had definite information from responsible Arab elements that there were large groups among the Arab population, which were irresponsible, uncontrolled and uncontrollable.

When asked what the situation would be after 15 May if the Security Council provided no international force and the Commission nevertheless decided to proceed to Palestine, Mr. Creech-Jones had replied: “In that case the Commission and its staff would be exterminated.”

While he would not say that the United Kingdom Government’s policy was inflexible as to the date of the Commission’s arrival, be had made it quite clear that in his opinion there would be very little that it could do unless it was supported by armed force.

Mr. Creech-Jones had observed that sceptics had accused the British of being actuated by strategic and economic interests in Palestine, and had been unwilling to believe that they would ever leave the country unless forced to do so. He emphasized that the pressure of public opinion in England was very great and that it would be impossible for the Government to prolong the Mandate beyond 15 May.

The Secretary had asked Mr. Creech-Jones what action the United Kingdom Government would take supposing that no international force were to be provided by the Security Council and that they concluded that there vas nothing it could do in Palestine without such force. He had replied that his Government would continue with the evacuation, as already announced, and would assume no responsibility beyond 15 May.


The CHAIRMAN read the text of a letter to Sir Alexander Cadogan, which had been agreed upon at the previous day’s meeting, concerning arrangements for the advance party.


Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark) stated that as a result of his conversations with Sir Alexander Cadogan and Mr. Bathurst, his legal adviser, he had helped to draw up the Draft Note with the purpose of obtaining a statement from the United Kingdom Government on its relations with the Palestine Commission. If, however, the United Kingdom Government did not give a direct answer, the Commission would have to leave the issue aside and continue the discussions, principally on the question of details.

In the conversations held with Sir Alexander Cadogan and Mr. Bathurst, the question had been raised as to whether the United Kingdom Government would recognize the Commission as its successor without incurring international responsibility. Mr. Bathurst had requested the Commission to produce a document giving the Commission’s views and as that was inadvisable. Mr. Federspiel had drawn up the Note in terms as non-committal as possible. He was afraid that a document, such as had been requested, would involve the Commission in legal arguments which would be most undesirable, particularly in view of the time factor. Mr. Federspiel wanted to call to the attention of the Commission that in paragraph 4, the sentence “by the Report of Sub-Committee 1 was incompatible with the declared intention of his Government” had been added after the words “assigned to his Government”.

It was suggested to redraft paragraph 3 as follows:

It was further suggested to add the following to paragraph 4: It was pointed out that it was obvious from those two statements by Sir Alexander Cadogan that the United Kingdom Government was ready to transfer the Mandate exclusively to a United Nations Commission, but to no other body.

It was also suggested that the following sentence should be added to paragraph 7:

Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark) stared that he not recommend the inclusion of those points as they had no bearing on the question of the relations of the United Kingdom Government with the Palestine Commission. Furthermore, the matter was raised in paragraph 3 of the Draft Note, and he felt that it was not for the Commission to decide on the question of international law which was involved in deciding what were to be the relations between the United Kingdom Government and the United Nations on the termination of the Mandate. Mr. Federspiel pointed out that Sir Alexander Cadogan and Mr. Bathhurst appeared anxious to learn if the Commission would be willing to refer to the International Court of Justice any of the problems raised. His attitude had been that the problems under discussion were of a purely practical kind, such as the question of turning over various assets to the Commission, and did not deal with matters which could be referred to an International Court. It was Mr. Federspiel’s opinion that only those questions which were strictly necessary should be included in the Draft Note to Sir Alexander Cadogan; otherwise, there was the danger that the Commission might be involved in questions of international law. The main purpose of the Draft Note was to get the legal views of the United Kingdom Government on the question of succession in Palestine.

After an exchange of views, the following amendments in the text of the Draft Note were adopted:


The Secretary called the attention of the Commission to several mattes which remained outstanding and which should receive consideration at an early date, including the Second Monthly Progress Report, and steps looking toward the establishment of a Provisional Council of Government in the Jewish State.

The meeting rose at 5.30 p.m.

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