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Held in the General Assembly Hall at Flushing Meadow, New York, on Wednesday,
26 November 1947, at 11 a.m.
President: Mr. O. ARANHA (Brazil)
123. Palestinian question: report of the Ad Hoc Committee
on the Palestinian Question (document A/516)
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of Iceland, Rapporteur, who will present the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question.
Mr. THORS (Iceland): I have the honour to present to you the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question. The report is contained in document A/516, and, following the custom of the other Committees, I will presume that you have read this report.
Let me mention only that the work of the Committee has been difficult and delicate, and has taken a long time. The Committee commenced its work on 23 September 1947, and completed its task only yesterday. The duties of the Committee were to a large extent performed by two Sub-Committees. The recommendations of the Committee are contained in the report, as you all know.
The majority of the members of the Committee recommend that Palestine be partitioned into two separate independent States, an Arab State and a Jewish State. It is not my duty.to explain the details of this plan, the motives of the majority of the Committee, or the proposals presented by the minority of the Committee.
In placing this report before the representatives, I wish to call their attention to the regrettable fact that, as stated in section 14 of the report, any attempt at conciliation between the two parties in this case did not prove fruitful. It seemed to the Conciliation Group which the Committee had elected that both parties were confident as to the success of their case before the General Assembly and, therefore, up to the present moment, conciliation and agreement between the parties could not be reached.
Allow me to express the hope that time and the course of events will in the not too distant future bring about conciliation, understanding and co-operation among the inhabitants of Palestine so that peace and prosperity may prevail in the Holy Land. Whatever will be the decision of this General Assembly today, let us hope that the United Nations is finding a workable, lasting and favourable solution to the problem of Palestine, which today is one of the most difficult problems with which we are faced.
The report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question contains the following resolution (document A/516, page 1):
"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 consideration of the question of the future government of Palestine at the second regular session;
"Having constituted a Special Committee and instructed it to investigate 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:
"(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 transitional 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 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;
"(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 arid all peoples to refrain from taking any action which might hamper or delay the carrying out of these recommendations, 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."
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of Sweden.
Mr. HAGGLOF (Sweden) (translated from French): In the general debate on the Palestinian question held six weeks ago, the Swedish delegation declared itself in favour of partitioning this country into two independent States, while at the same time it stressed the necessity for providing a practical and efficient means of enforcement.
My Government regrets to note that the method of enforcement suggested in the report now before this Assembly does not appear to satisfy this essential condition. The Swedish Government cannot but note that not only has the system suggested in the report not got the necessary force behind it, but that it is defective also from the organizational point of view.
It may therefore be feared that the commission which is to operate in Palestine under the authority and auspices of the United Nations will be placed in a very difficult situation, possibly even in a distressing situation as regards the prestige of our Organization.
In this respect, my delegation therefore largely shares the opinion so frankly expressed by the representative of New Zealand, as well as the doubts expressed by the delegation of Denmark with regard to the enforcement of the plan.
Nevertheless, my Government thinks that the problem should also be considered from another point of view. If the plan worked out by the Ad Hoc Committee has its weak sides and some dangerous omissions, it must be said, on the other hand that; if no decision at all were taken, it would have still more serious consequences.
A.positive decision is necessary, and since the of the Assembly have not resulted in any. more perfect than the plan of partition which is now proposed to us, my Government thinks that this plan must be accepted. We must a joint effort to rid it, if possible, of its dangerous consequences In brief, we must hope the results will be better than the means employed.
That is why my Government has instructed vote in favour of .the partition plan which we have before us.
Having said this, I shall venture to turn for a moment to another problem, Discussions within this Assembly have been . exclusively concerned with problems relative the partition of Palestine. These problems have so dominated our debates as almost to make us forget another problem, perhaps even more important from the point of view of human civilization: the problem of an,international regime for the City of Jerusalem.
Under the plan worked out by the Committee, a great and permanent responsibility with regard the City of Jerusalem will in future be assumed by the United Nations. Once the plan is adopted, it will be the duty of us all to see to it that order and good government are maintained in Jerusalem. The Swedish Government expresses its hope and confidence that our Organization will make every effort to face up to this responsibility.
That involves some rather urgent tasks. We must arrange immediately to nominate a governor. We must arrange for the preliminary organization of permanent police and -a gendarmerie force. We must establish an essentially international administration.
While voting in favour of the partition plan, my Government attaches cardinal importance to the regime under which Jerusalem, the Holy City, and from now on a city of the United Nations, will be placed.
The PRESIDENT I call upon the representative of the Philippines.
Mr. ROMULO (Philippines): My delegation f takes part in this final stage, in the consideration of the Palestinian problem with profound misgivings. With interest, we have followed the course of the debate since the special session of the General Assembly last April.We have carefully studied the report of the Special Committee on Palestine (document A/364) and pondered the various proposals that have been submitted. As a result of these studies, the Philippine Government has come to the conclusion that it cannot give its support to any proposal for the political disunion and the territorial dismemberment of Palestine.
We have assessed the legal arguments and found that they are not the decisive factors hi shaping a just and practical solution. Whatever the weight we might choose to assign to the arguments of the one side or the other, it is clear to the Philippine Government that the rights conferred by mandatory power, even if subsequently confirmed by an international agreement, do not vitiate the primordial right of a people to determine the political future and to preserve the territorial integrity of its native land.
We hold that the issue is primarily moral. The issue is whether the United Nations should accept responsibility for the enforcement of a policy which, not being mandatory under any specific provision of the Charter nor in accordance with its fundamental principles, is clearly repugnant to the valid nationalist aspirations of the people of Palestine. The Philippine Government believes that the United Nations ought not to accept any such responsibility.
My delegation speaks with feeling on this question from the recollection of the recent history of the Philippines. My country was, not so long ago, before we became independent, under grave threat of territorial dismemberment by a unilateral act of the metropolitan Power. The "reasons given then were curiously similar to those that are being advanced now in the case before us. If was said that the part of my country which was to be segregated from the rest of the archipelago—Mindanao and SuLu-was inhabited by Mohammedans, as distinguished from the more numerous Christians who lived there and elsewhere. It was also claimed that the area was ,so sparsely settled and so little developed that it was not to be left closed to foreign capital and enterprise.
Our people fought this infamous proposal, which was presented to the United States Congress as the Bacon Bill, with all the force at their command. They denounced it as an act that was- completely opposed to the spirit which, until then, had animated the policies of the United States towards the Philippines.' They resisted it as a blow that was aimed by certain elements in the United States at the very heart of the nationalistic movement among the Filipino people.
It is a tribute both to the character of the Filipinos and to the good sense of the people of the United States that we were able to over-come that menace. And so, today, we stand here to attest to the powerful spirit of union that now holds all the various elements of our .population together—a spirit that, in its devotion to the ideals of religious tolerance, national co-operation and freedom, has survived with flying colours the two-fold devastation of conquest and liberation. Today our people in the Philippines, both Christian and Mohammedan, regard themselves, without distinction, as Filipinos, owing allegiance to a common flag and constitution, living and working under the aegis of a national government in which they are represented and hold office without distinction as to race, sex; language or religion.
As I pronounce these words "without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion", I think of our United Nations Charter; for these are words which occur in that instrument over and over again. And the reason is simple: They look forward rather than backward; they point to a.brighter tomorrow—brighter in tolerance, understanding and co-operation—for all the children of the human race.
This is the course, forward and upward, that is mapped out in the Charter. This is the course that the organs of the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly, must pursue.
We cannot believe that the majority of this General Assembly would prefer a reversal of this course. We cannot believe that it would sanction a solution to the problem of Palestine that would turn us back on the road to the dangerous principles of racial exclusiveness and to the archaic doctrines of theocratic governments.
In taking this position, my Government is not unmindful of the sufferings of the great Jewish people, whom we hold in sincere admiration. We shall not speak here of our sympathy for them; the record shows what we have done-to prove it. During the first dispersal of the Jews from Hitlerite Germany, the Philippines was among the very few countries that opened their doors to Jewish refugees and extended to them cordial welcome. We gave them a haven in our country, we accepted them among us, and today they live and work with us in complete harmony and understanding.
I mention this not so much to justify our position as to prove that the problem of the displaced European Jews is susceptible of a solution other than through the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine. It suggests the possibility of setting up a single independent State of Palestine, somewhat along the lines indicated in the minority report of the Special Committee, wherein the various races and creeds in the region would receive just and democratic representation. It also suggests the desirability of an approach to the Jewish problem in general that would more nearly accord with the modern trend towards interracial co-operation and secular democracy.
I close these brief remarks with the statement which I am making at the behest of my Government, that the Philippines regrets its inability to approve of or to participate in a solution of the Palestine problem that would involve the encouragement of political disunion and the enforcement of measures that would amount to the territorial mutilation of the Holy Land.
The PRESIDENT: I should welcome the inscription of the names of speakers in order to facilitate our work.
I call upon the representative of Yemen.
H.R.H. Prince Self El Islam ABDULLAH (Yemen) (translated form Arabic): I do not intend today to discuss the details previously mentioned, nor do I intend to repeat the arguments so clearly stated by the many representatives who oppose the plan of partition.
We have made it clear that the partition plan is illegal, being contrary to the United Nations Charter and unjust, since it imposes an institution upon a country without its consent. The partition plan, furthermore, is unworkable. Because of this injustice and illegality the Arabs do not agree to it. Moreover, its implementation involves insurmountable obstacles and contradictions, all of which the Members of the General Assembly know very well.
It is my intention now, in the hour of most serious decision this organization has ever known, to remind the Assembly of the following inescapable facts. The Arab States have spared no effort in the way of co-operation and understanding to reach a peaceful and just solution by which both the Arabs and the Jews of Palestine could live in peace and harmony. The report of Sub-Committee 2 (document A/AG.14/32) is evident proof of the careful consideration given to the question of minorities and to the constitutional guarantees of their rights and freedoms, in accordance with the principles recognized in all the democratic countries.
The Arabs of Palestine have agreed to grant the Jews in Palestine equal rights. They over-looked the fact that many of the Jews had immigrated into Palestine against the will of its inhabitants. They overlooked all that for the sake of co-operation and peace. Can anyone then accuse the Arabs of being unreasonable or arbitrary "or of causing a breach of the peace?
It is not a just solution that the Arabs and Jews should live in Palestine as the Jews live with their co-citizens hi the United States? If Jews were persecuted in Europe what have the people of Palestine to do with that? And why should we compensate the Jews at the expense of an innocent, peaceful people, such as the Arabs of Palestine? However, what are the Member States of the General Assembly proposing to do? This solution will not be to the advantage of the Jews it will not solve the problem of displaced persons.
The United Nations is an organization of international law and justice, and not one of appeasement or force. The provision of Article 1, paragraph 1, of the Charter is clear in making the principles of international law and justice the basis of the decisions of the General Assembly and the other organs of the United Nations.
The partition decision is contrary to these fundamental principles. It substitutes force for right, injustice for equity, and disunion for unity.
The people of the world look to the United Nations as the organization of peace and justice. How would they react if such a decision is taken, a decision which they would never expect to from the organization which is the of rights? How would they react if were to see the organization which was set up to maintain peace and to unite the people of the world taking a decision of partition in contradiction to these principles?
Yemen has joined the United Nations inspired by the provisions of the preamble of the Charter, which reads as part:
"We, the Peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind..." Yemen has signed the Charter with full faith in the provisions of Article 1, paragraph 1, of the Charter, which reads as follows:
"The Purposes of the United Nations are:
"1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal threats to the peace, and for the suppression acts of aggression or other breaches of the and to bring about by peaceful means, in conformity with the principles of justice international law, adjustment or settlement, international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace."
I cannot believe that our Organization would accept the responsibility of making a decision to partition Palestine, a decision Which is illegal and contrary to the Charter. Such a decision means disregard of the rights of the Arabs, denial of their just claims, and arousing of their feelings. If they resort to self-defence, are they to blame?
The Arabs cannot endure such injustice. That is why I appeal to the Member States of the General Assembly not to make of this peaceful Organization an instrument of dispute, strife, and bloodshed. No one can fully recognize the grave consequences of such a decision of partition in this critical area of the world. May I appeal at this moment of grave decision to the conscience and reason of the General Assembly and urge it to fulfil its task of peace before God and history.
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of Canada.
Mr. ILSLEY (Canada): I should like to state as simply and briefly as possible the position of my Government and delegation on the resolution before the General Assembly. We are voting for the partition plan because, in our judgment, it is the best of four unattractive and difficult alternatives. These alternatives are to do nothing, to set up a unitary Arab State in accordance with the plan of Sub-Committee 2 (document A/AC/14/32), to set up a federal State in accordance with the minority recommendations of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, and partition.
Let me take these one by one. First, the objections to doing nothing are obvious. For the United Nations to do nothing in this situation would be an abdication, a shirking of its responsibilities in a situation which is pregnant with peril to peace. It would invite not only confusion but widespread violence involving not merely the people of Palestine but people elsewhere. It would, not improbably, result in bloodshed and a kind of irregular and murderous warfare which might spread far. We dismiss this first alternative as not worthy of the United Nations, as highly dangerous in its probable consequences —indeed, as virtually unthinkable.
The second alternative is to set up a unitary Arab State along the lines recommended by Sub-Committee 2 of the Ad Hoc Committee, or, at least, to let such a unitary Arab State emerge at the time of the termination of the mandate. This course would have been the normal and natural one to pursue had it not been for the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations Mandate, the encouragement given to the' immigration of Jews into Palestine over a quarter of a century, the establishment of a well-rooted community of nearly 700,000 Jews in Palestine who, as we are told, have invested there six hundred million dollars, and the devotion on the part of Jews all over the world to the idea of a Jewish national home in a country which once, at least, was a Jewish land. Those factors cannot be ignored. They make the Palestine problem sui generis and unique, and they constitute a vital flaw in the otherwise unanswerable Arab case. It is because of these factors that the project of a unitary state has been repeatedly dismissed by a multiplicity of commissions on the Palestine problem, of which the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine was the latest, and decisively rejected by the Ad Hoc Committee. There is not a chance that this alternative can find acceptance by any but a small minority of the nations of the world. As a solution by this General Assembly it is, therefore, beyond the realm of the practical.
Similarly, the third alternative, that of a federal State, while, in our judgment, more defensible than the one which I have just discussed, has made very little appeal in this Organization. Espoused by Yugoslavia, which has argued me case with care, patience and conviction, the minority report of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine has made no headway, received little support from other nations, and was not presented for consideration by a section of the Ad Hoc Committee large enough even to justify the setting up of a sub-committee to explore its possibilities.
Embodying as it does the essential features of a federal scheme, the Yugoslav plan, as I shall call it, has certain elements of attractiveness to Canadians. As I indicated in my opening speech on the Palestine question before the Ad Hoc Committee the Canadian delegation wished that a federal plan could be worked :out along these or similar lines. They are the lines along which our own national development has proceeded, with reasonable satisfaction to both racial elements in our population.
But Palestine is not Canada, and the Yugoslav plan has received no support whatever either from the Jewish Agency or from the Arab Higher Committee. A plan which appeals to neither Jews nor Arabs, and which opens up vast vistas of difficulty in adjustment and administration, is not a plan upon which this General Assembly would be justified in concentrating further attention.
This leaves the fourth plan, the plan of partition, which we have decided to support as the least objectionable of the four. We support this plan with heavy hearts and many misgivings. No responsible delegation could do otherwise after listening to the threat of reprisals and all the talk of fire and sword which we have heard from both parties to this controversy in the Ad Hoc Committee and which, I assume, we shall probably hear again today. But it would be folly to assume that there would be any less likelihood of disorder if any of the other alternatives were adopted. Indeed, in our judgment, this likelihood, in the case of every one of the other alternatives, would be not less, but greater.
The fact that after twenty-five years of international action in relation to Palestine, culminating in months of consideration by the General Assembly of the United Nations, we should find ourselves in this atmosphere of acrimonious recrimination, is a melancholy one. The air is heavy with gloomy forebodings, represented by one side or the other as savage threats or responsible predictions. But something must be done with this problem, and we are satisfied that, full of difficulties as the partition solution is, any other solution would be worse.
Theres is, of course, the hope that, once definite action is taken, there will be a change of heart on the part of the responsible leaders of the two opposing camps. This is the more likely owing to the fact that, of all the solutions proposed, partition alone has received the support of the two greatest world Powers. We must take it as certain that well-meant and fervent exhortations to conciliation, the kind of exhortation that we have heard during the last two months, are getting nowhere. These appeals and entreaties may make more progress after a decision is arrived at by this Organization on the partition solution. This is the ray of hope in the situation.
It is not for Canada to advise other nations on the course they should take in this vote, and we doubt whether such advice would be either welcome or effective. But we find it difficult to understand the large number of abstentions which, we assume, will take place when we come to the vote. In the case of some nations, reasons have been given. In other cases, the explanation probably is that nations like our own, far removed from Palestine, which had no part in the events leading up to this denouement, which made no promises to the Arabs and no promises to the Jews—and, least of all, to both —which played no politics with the situation, and which have nothing but the kindliest feelings toward both Arabs and Jews, find it difficult to see why there should be thrown upon their shoulders a profoundly disturbing responsibility for a grave and far-reaching decision.
The Canadian delegation appreciates these sentiments on the part of many delegations. Indeed, to some extent, we share them. But we do not feel that these sentiments would justify us in abstaining from this vote. We have, as members of the General Assembly know, taken our full share of responsibility in this matter throughout the entire session. We have worked unremittingly in an attempt to obtain a solution which would be practical and workable; and we feel that our obligations, not only to this Organization but our own people, are such that we could not justify an abstention and are such that we should vote for the resolution. This we propose to do.
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of Greece.
Mr. DENDRAMIS (Greece) (translated from French): The Greek delegation has been particularly interested in following the debates on the Palestinian question. It has, all the more justification for its interest seeing that this is a question of capital importance from the stand-point of peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The serious repercussions from every disorder in Palestine cannot but affect the neighbouring countries. Greece cherishes sentiments of genuine friendship for the two peoples who are opposed on this issue. Friendly relations between Greeks and Jews have a very long history.
The Jews of Greece have always lived in peace, and there is complete solidarity between them and the Greek people. This solidarity was vividly emphasized during the last war: Greeks and Jews fought and suffered together. When the nazis and their henchmen occupied Greece and carried on their infamous anti-semitic persecution in our country, condemning Jews to certain death, the Greeks devoted their efforts to rescuing from the clutches of the nazis -the victims of their criminal insanity.
Greece feels equally attached to the Arab countries. History and civilization, political interests and economic conditions in this area of the Mediterranean have-in the course of centures forged innumerable links between these two worlds.
When the fortunes of war turned against the Greed army, attacked as it was from the flank by a great felon empire, the Greek Government reassembled all the units of its land and sea forces which it could withdraw from combat, and carried on the fight for freedom from a democratic Arab land.
Throughout the war, or soldiers and our refugees found in the countries of the Middle East the most fraternal hospitality, and we look with confidence and hope towards our common future.
So it is natural that Greece should devoutly wish for a solution satisfactory to both parties.
The Greek delegation still hopes that the two parties may reach an understanding. It was in this hope that it voted last May in favour of the Special Committee of inquiry. Unfortunately, the solution proposed has not appeared acceptable to both parties. It is clearly evident from our discussions that the Arab countries are categorically opposed to the Committee's majority plan. What is more, they have declared that they will mobilize all their forces and even resort to violence to combat partition.
In a last-minute hope, the Greek delegation abstained from taking part in the discussions from voting. Nevertheless, after the statements of the mandatory Power, the representatives of the Arab countries and the authors of the partition plan, there can, in our opinion, be no doubt left that the application of this plan would be likely to create serious difficulties.
Speaking in favour of the partition plan, certain representatives have expressed the opinion ? that it is better to run the risks it involves than to do nothing.
The Greek delegation unfortunately cannot, share this opinion. It therefore finds itself compelled to vote against partition.
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of Brazil.
Mr. DE SOUZA COSTA (Brazil): The delegation of Brazil has carefully examined the Palestinian question, which it considers to be the most complex and delicate problem yet submitted for the consideration of the United Nations. In fact, the matter involves substantial changes in the political status quo of an important region, changes which would radically affect juridical principles and vested interests.
It is presented to us today, however, as a fait accompli, since the promise contained in the so-called Balfour Declaration and the subsequent creation of a mandate of the League of Nations with the express purpose of constituting a "Jewish national home", have resulted in the migration into Palestine of considerable numbers of individuals of the Jewish race, who have become permanently established there and have created large interests and have constituted a homeland which has rapidly developed to the point of presenting at this time the characteristics of a State.
Therefore, the United Nations has been called upon to intervene in order to provide a juridical solution for a preexistent state of affairs. This intervention has become a matter of urgency, in view of the decision taken by the United Kingdom Government to complete the withdrawal of its forces from Palestine by 1 August 1948.
Accordingly, the United Nations finds itself in the contingency of providing a solution, or else, through delay in so doing, of being held responsible for the resulting uncertainty and confusion.
We would be in favour of a plan which would preserve political unity in Palestine. In a world which is continually striving for integration into broader political, economic and social forms, in view of deep-seated connexions existing between different aspects of the same reality, the solution of problems cannot be sought through division and sectionalization, but rather in unity through the organization of patterns covering the greatest possible number of aspects.
We would favour, along these lines, the constitution of a federal or cantonal government, organized in such a way as to give the widest scope possible to the local autonomy of the Christian, Arab and Jewish communities. We believe, furthermore, that this is the solution that the passage of time will finally bring; consequently, we should not lose sight of it.
However, in view of the irrefutable evidence contained in the majority report presented by the Special Committee on Palestine to the effect that the tenseness of the two nationalism prevailing there does not permit at this time the constitution of a single government, it appears to the Brazilian delegation that we are faced with the contingency of having to accept partition as a temporary measure, capable of leading eventually, through experience, to the creation of organic unity in that area.
For the reasons which I have stated, and which we have been impelled to recognize after weighing carefully all the aspects of this complex question, the Brazilian delegation will vote for partition. Could we act otherwise, especially since the partition plan is presented with the full endorsement of the great Powers which are more directly interested in the case, and, on which lies the greater share of responsibility for the proposed solution? No alternative is offered with possibilities of acceptance by the majority, while the continuance of existing conditions could only provoke greater evil. We are confronted by a situation such as often arises in life, where failure to take action is the worst attitude, for action, whatever it be, carries within itself the possibility of future improvement.
We hope, nevertheless, that the two short-comings which a careful study of the partition project discloses, the first of which is the lack of economic collaboration capable of intimately linking the two States and of establishing mutual ties which will eventually lead them to political unity, and the second of which is the absence of concrete provisions as to the implementation of the plan, may be corrected in time so as to ensure greater possibilities for its success.
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of the United Kingdom.
Sir Alexander CADOGAN (United Kingdom): I wish to make a few remarks before this long debate closes. It was on the initiative of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom that the General Assembly placed the problem of Palestine's future government on its agenda. In view of this fact, and of the responsibility which the United Kingdom has exercised for the administration of Palestine during the past quarter of a century, it seems fitting that a few words should be spoken in its name today.
In accepting the Mandate for Palestine after the First World War, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom undertook to work for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people on the understanding that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. It was assumed at that time that the objects of the mandate could be carried out with the consent and co-operation of both peoples. Time has shown that this assumption was incorrect. After years of strenuous but unavailing effort, His Majesty's Government has reached the conclusion that it is not able to bring about a settlement in Palestine based upon the consent of both Arabs and Jews, and that the mandate is no longer workable. It is for this reason that it has brought the problem before the United Nations, hoping that the General Assembly would be more successful in the search for an acceptable settlement.
It is with deep regret that my Government recognizes that an acceptable settlement has still not been found. I do not say that in any spirit of criticism. My Government would be the last to minimize the difficulty of the task, as it is the first to appreciate the efforts that have been made. The fact remains that we are obviously confronted with a failure to arrive at a settlement based upon consent. My delegation would have failed in its duty if it had not emphasized from the beginning of the session the consequent need for the General Assembly to consider the situation which is likely to arise upon the removal of the forces which at present ensure law and order in Palestine. Their departure will leave a gap, and it has been the most difficult part of the General Assembly's task to find means of filling this gap.
My Government does not consider that the Mandate required it to establish either a Jewish State or an Arab State in Palestine by force, or to coerce either people in the interests of the other; nor is it prepared now to accept any responsibility which would involve the use of British troops as the means of enforcing a decision against either people.
As I have already informed the Ad Hoc Committee, my Government has consequently decided to lay down the mandate and intends to complete the withdrawal of British forces from Palestine by 1 August 1948. By so doing, it will make way for a United Nations authority, should the General Assembly decide to establish such an authority, and it will naturally not obstruct the carrying out of any decision which the General Assembly may take.
The mandatory Power has placed its knowledge and experience at the disposal, first, of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine and, subsequently, at the disposal of the General Assembly. I can assure the General Assembly that, if the present draft resolution (document A/516) is adopted, my Government will loyally accept it in so far as its terms do not conflict with the conditions laid down in the Colonial Secretary's speech of 26 September 19471/ and in subsequent statements made by my delegation. Unfortunately, it appears that those statements were not accepted at their face value by all delegations. I am, therefore, instructed to repeat explicitly that the United Kingdom Government cannot allow its troops and administration to be used in order to enforce decisions which are not accepted by both parties in Palestine. My Government has given long and anxious consideration to this decision, and it has, therefore, felt bound to take this final opportunity of making clear that it fully endorses what has consistently been said here by my delegation.
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of the United States of America.
Mr. JOHNSON (United States of America): In the consideration of the Palestine problem, the attention which it has been necessary to devote to a number of points of difference has sometimes obscured the many other points on which we are in agreement. Some of those points of agreement may be found in the unanimous recommendations of the report of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. In effect, we have become united on certain common purposes with respect to the future of Palestine.
Chief among these are the following: The Mandate for Palestine should be terminated at the earliest practical date. Independence should be attained in Palestine at the earliest practicable date. The sacred character of the Holy Places should be recognized and protected. The fundamental law of the new governmental institutions which are to succeed the mandatory regime should contain specific provisions, under the guarantee of the United Nations, relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rights of minorities. Finally, the economic unity of Palestine should be preserved and Palestine should be developed in accordance with the interests of all its inhabitants.
On these points, I think we are all in agreement. We now have before us the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine (document A/516), which is designed to carry out these common purposes and to assist the people of Palestine in attaining their independence.
There is no need for me to trace the work of this session of the General Assembly on the difficult question now confronting us. This work, as well as the preparatory steps taken earlier by the United Nations, is well known to all delegations. The United States delegation has never argued or contended that the plan for the future government of Palestine as presented in the report now before the General Assembly is perfect in every detail. However, that plan offers, in the view of the United States delegation, the best practical present opportunity and possibility of obtaining, in a future foreseeable to us now, a peaceful settlement in Palestine.
The proposal of partition with economic union which we are considering is genuinely a United Nations plan. It has been evolved as a result of a special session of the United Nations and the work of a United Nations Special Committee, in addition to the work of the present session' of the General Assembly.
I would, invite the attention of all delegations to- the extent to which this plan utilizes the machinery of the United Nations. If this resolution (document A/516, page 1) is adopted, the General Assembly will have drawn up the fundamental recommendations upon which the plan ,is is based and will designate the special Commission which is to play an important and vital role in carrying them out. The General Assembly will receive, jointly with the Security Council, the -final report of the Commission. If the plan is approved, the Trusteeship Council, now in session, will be able to begin at once its task of preparing the statute of the City of Jerusalem. The Economic and Social Council, for its part, will at an early date name the three United Nations members of the Joint Economic Board contemplated in the plan. The Security Council will be called upon to take such steps as may be necessary on its part to carry out die recommendations, and in addition will exercise with respect to Palestine the duties and functions incumbent upon it under the Charter and which may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.
With the co-operation of these main organs of the United Nations, and with similar co-operation on the part of the Members of the United Nations and the -peoples of Palestine, the plan for the future government of Palestine recommended in the report now before the General Assembly will, in the judgment of the United States delegation, bring about a solution of the Palestine problem.
Much has been said during the course of these debates on the desirability and necessity of presenting to the General Assembly a plan which would command the agreement of both the principal protagonists in this situation. I think there is no delegation here which does not know that no plan has ever been presented, either to this Assembly or to the mandatory Government during its long years of tenure, or in any other place, which would meet with the acceptance of both the Arabs and the Jews. No such plan has ever been presented, and I do not believe that any such plan will ever be presented. If we are to effect through the United Nations a solution of this problem, it cannot be done without the use of the knife. Neither the Jews nor the Arabs will ever be completely satisfied with anything we do, and it is just as well to bear that in mind.
I now turn to certain specific aspects of the draft resolution. A good deal of discussion has taken place concerning the legal aspects of the plan put forward in this resolution. My delegation, on several occasions, has expressed its conviction that the action contemplated here falls properly within the scope of the Charter and within the powers and responsibilities of the organs of the United Nations. The General Assembly has, in our view, the undoubted authority under Article 10 to discuss and make recommendations regarding any subject within the scope of the Charter, and under Article 14 to recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any situation which the General Assembly deems likely to impair the general welfare or friendly relations among nations.
The General Assembly is here confronted with a problem which is clearly within the scope of the Charter. Palestine is a mandated territory. The problem is international, not domestic; that it is a situation "likely to impair the general welfare or friendly relations -among nations" cannot be questioned. The General Assembly may make any recommendations with respect to this question which it deems just and equitable, and in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter.
We believe that the resolution now before the General Assembly meets these qualifications. With respect to the Commission contemplated by this resolution, no one can question the authority of the General Assembly to establish subsidiary bodies under the provisions of Article 22. The principal legal objection which has been offered to the resolution is that the Commission is empowered to take certain administrative steps in the process of the transfer of the functions and organs of government from the mandatory Power to the people of Palestine. In view of the nature of these administrative functions, I do not believe that we can seriously question this temporary and transitory assistance which would extended to the non-self-governing peoples of territories which will become two States, in their efforts to establish themselves as free and independent members of the family of nations.
To what I have said on this subject, I should simply like to add the suggestion that there is no direct precedent in international law for the problem with which the General Assembly is now confronted. The announced intention of the mandatory Power to relinquish its mandate over Palestine at an early date and to withdraw its administration and armed forces from that country, and its refusal to assist in the implementation of any plan which does not meet the impossible condition of agreement by both parties, have placed upon the United Nations a very heavy moral responsibility.
Palestine, as a territory under mandate, is not a State. It is not an international person,|but is in a sense a ward of the international community. In the circumstances now prevailing, the General Assembly of the United Nations is the effective voice of the international community in determining the new forms and structures of government which should prevail in Palestine when the Mandate is terminated. The recommendations of the General Assembly are not to the Commission; they are to the Member States of the United Nations.
There is another vital aspect of the plan to which I should like to call the attention of the General Assembly. I refer to the definite possibilities which it contains for common action in the economic field. Who can now tell whether such common action may not lead in the foreseeable future to common action in the political, social, cultural and educational fields as well? The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine recommended a new political concept in this economic union. The United States delegation believes that the provisions which the Ad Hoc Committee inserted in the plan of partition have strengthened and made more effective this concept of economic union.
Although both the Arab and the Jewish States have been given a separate political existence within clearly defined boundaries, it is our hope that these boundaries will be as freely crossed as the boundaries which separate the individual states within the United States, and will be as friendly as the boundary which runs for three thousand miles between Canada and the United States.
It is the belief of my delegation that the City of Jerusalem, under its special regime as envisaged in this plan, and hi view of its inevitable position as the metropolitan centre of all Palestine, may well prove to be the catalytic agent which will accelerate and bring about developments such as the ones described. Jerusalem as the joint spiritual, social and cultural as well as educational centre of Palestine contains within it Holy Places for three of the world's greatest religions.
It is now the social, cultural and educational centre of Palestine, and may well become the economic and political centre of that country as well. It is our hope that the peoples of Palestine —and here we refer to all of the peoples of Palestine, both Arabs and Jews alike—will, in the eloquent and statesmanlike words of the representative of Pakistan, "settle down not only to peaceful and secure lives, but progressively richer lives, and make their contribution not only to their own welfare and prosperity but to the peace, welfare and prosperity of the rest of the world, which does recognize and admire the genius of the Jewish race, the genius of the Arab race and the great contributions which each of them in the past has made toward knowledge, progress and welfare."2/
It is the sincere belief of the United States delegation that the partition plan recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, with all its imperfections admitted, provides for the people of Palestine in that land the best practicable means at the present time by which these high objectives may be obtained.
The PRESIDENT:: I call, upon the representative of Iran.
Mr. ADL (Iran) (translated from French): Mr. President, Gentlemen: You have sometimes been accused in this hall of having contravened the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. You protested. You rebutted the charges brought against certain Committees of the Assembly and against the General Assembly itself. You succeeded hi your task, for the breach with which these organs were charged was not a breach. Today the case is different. A draft resolution has been submitted for your approval which cannot be reconciled with the principles which we have all accepted and which we have solemnly bound ourselves to respect.
What is this proposal? It is proposed arbitrarily, without taking account of the wishes of the majority of its inhabitants, to partition a country into two different States, an Arab State and a Jewish State, that is to say, into two States which, as I said in the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, will not be viable, but will probably be still-born.
The solution proposed to you has no foundation in law. Its value from this point of view is so slight, so insignificant, that it has been questioned even by certain members of the Sub-Committee who helped to formulate it.
Briefly, this draft resolution suggests the open don of the principle enshrined in Article 1, paragraph 2, of the Charter, which gives all Members the right to govern themselves freely— vote interference, without any kind of foreign or pressure,—and the right to choose the dorm of government which best suits them.
The draft then goes on to propose the partitioning of Palestine, not after consulting the majority of its inhabitants, but against the will that very majority.
By setting up a commission with the widest powers, even with the power of legislation, this draft resolution also suggests that you should exceed your powers, that you should repudiate and even usurp the right of each people to give itself the laws which it thinks desirable for preserving its own national life. But we, who are gathered here by virtue of the Charter of the United Nations, who are bound not only respect the principles of the Charter but to sure that they are respected also by the whole world, we cannot support this draft resolution violate our most sacred obligations. No, we cannot do it and we should not be party to such a violation. We ought not to take here a decision which would result in exposing not only the Near and Middle East, but perhaps the whole world, to fire and slaughter. That is why, in loyalty to the principles of the Charter and conscious of the respect which is due to them, the delegation of Iran will vote against the partition of Palestine.
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 implement 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 United 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 considering 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.
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 hi 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 stomach 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 amendment could accomplish, in fact, as was stated by the representative of Pakistan 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 Committee; 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 Powers 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 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 his question of competence, we requested, more than forty days ago, that the General Assembly should ask the International Court of Justice or 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.
The PRESIDENT: The meeting is adjourned until 3 p.m.
The meeting rose at 12.50 p.m.
1/ See document A/AC.14/SR.2
2/ See document A/AC.14/SR.31