Home || Permalink

General Assembly

10 January 1948



Considerations Affecting Certain of the Provisions of the General
Resolution on the “Future Government of Palestine”:

Relations with the Provisional Councils and Establishment by the
Letter of Administrative Organs of Government.

(Working Paper Prepared by the Secretariat)


1. The necessity for the Commission to exercise “administrative responsibility” apart from its responsibilities for the execution of the plan of partition with economic union derives from the fact that the Mandatory Power has clearly stated that it wants to hand over not to Arab and Jewish authorities, but to the United Nations Commission alone. The plan, however, provides that the Commission shall establish in each State as rapidly as possible a Provisional Council of Government whose activities “shall be carried out under the general direction of the Commission”. Part I, B, paragraph 4).

2. The phrase “under the general direction” implies that the Commission will as far as possible rely on the Provisional Councils of Government for the day-to-day administration of each State, but that it shall give the necessary directions for the effective carrying out of the plan of the General Assembly. This interpretation of the phrase “general direction” is borne out by the following provision of Part I, B, of the plan:

3. “Authority over matters of immigration and land regulations” is one of the main demands of the Jews of Palestine. Such authority has been granted by the Assembly to the future Provisional Council of Government of each of the proposed States, but “acting under the Commission.” The latter will accordingly be responsible for the policy of the Provisional Council of Government. It will be necessary for the Commission to maintain its powers of supervision and control, and without unduly encroaching on the “full authority” of the Provisional Council of Government, direct its policy in such a way that, the carrying-out of the plan should not be jeopardised by unwise action.

4. The plan does not provide that the Commission shall have to transfer at once to the Provisional Councils of Government the authority handed to it by the Mandatory Power on the termination of the Mandate. Paragraph 6 of Part I B reads as follows:

5. Responsibility for administration cannot be transferred to the Provisional Councils of Government until they have established “administrative organs of government, central and local”. (see Section II below).

6. Responsibility for the maintenance of law and order cannot be transferred to the Provisional Councils of Government until they have recruited an armed militia. Paragraph 8 of Part I, B, reads as follows:

As the plan does not provide that the Commission will be assisted by a police force other than the contemplated Arab and Jewish militias after the withdrawal of British forces from any area of Palestine, the necessity for the Commission to set up rapidly the Provisional Councils of Government which shall recruit the militias need not be emphasized. If the Arabs persist in their policy of non-cooperation, the selection and establishment of an Arab Council of Government acting under the direction of the Commission and the recruitment of an Arab militia controlled by the Commission may prove impossible. The Commission would have to report the fact to the Security Council. As regards the Jewish State, it may be expected that the Hagana will be ready to act as a State militia, under the “general political and military control” of the Commission.

7. In progressively transferring “full responsibility” to a Provisional Council of Government for the administration of a State the Commission will probably wish expressly to reserve to itself the rights conferred or it for the execution of the plan. It should oppose any action by a Provisional Council of Government which would be contrary to the plan and should, if necessary, report to the Security Council.


1. Paragraph .7 of Part I-B of the Plan adopted by the General .Assembly reads as follows: 2. Prior to the formation of the Provisional Councils of Government and with a view to giving them the necessary instructions when they are formed, the Commission will have to consider what can be maintained of the present administrative organs in Palestine in order to ensure as smooth a transition as possible from the existing machinery to the future administration.

3. Negotiations with the Mandatory Power appear necessary with a view temporarily to maintain a certain number of administrative officers and experts who may be willing to serve first under the Commission when it takes over from the Mandatory Power and later either under the Commission to give it expert advice or under one of the Provisional Councils of Government which may also need their experience. It may be assumed that most Jewish officers of the present Administration would be willing to give such assistance; some British officials and Arab officers might also be ready to serve temporarily.

4. The following is a brief survey of the present administration of Palestine:
A) Central Government

5. It results from the above survey of existing central and local organs of Government in Palestine that a complex machinery of the colonial type in which very few, if any indigenous officers are used in key posts, may collapse when the British administrators are withdrawn, unless a strenuous effort is made to replace them by a new and efficient personnel. Such an effort will certainly be made the Jewish State and it is likely that the Jewish Agency will be able to submit a workable plan for the administration of that State. As regards the proposed Arab State, no plan may be forthcoming on the Arab side and a more or less chaotic situation may arise. In this case the of the Commission to deal with such a situation would, it seems, depend to a treatment on the support it would receive from the Security Council.

Document in PDF format