Question of Palestine home
Department of Public Information
31 December 1947
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION
UNITED NATIONS, LAKE SUCCESS, NEW YORK, 1947
E. FIRST SPECIAL SESSION
1. CALLING OF THE SESSION
On April 2, 1947, the head of the United Kingdom delegation to the United Nations, Sir Alexander Cadogan, sent a letter to the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Victor Hoo, requesting on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom that the question of Palestine be placed on the agenda of the next regular session of the General Assembly. The letter also asked that a special session be called to constitute and instruct a special committee to prepare for the consideration of the question.
The letter stated:
I have received the following message from my Government:
"His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom request the Secretary-General of the United Nations to place the question of Palestine on the agenda of the General Assembly at its next regular Annual Session. They will submit to the Assembly an account of their administration of the League of Nations Mandate and will ask the Assembly to make recommendations, under Article 10 of the Charter, concerning the future government of Palestine.
In making this request, His Majesty's Government draw the attention of the Secretary-General to the desirability of an early settlement in Palestine and to the risk that the General Assembly might not be able to decide upon its recommendations at its next regular annual session unless some preliminary study of the question had previously been made under the auspices of the United Nations. They therefore request the Secretary-General to summon, as soon as possible, a special session of the General Assembly for the purpose of constituting and instructing a special committee to prepare for the consideration, at the regular session of the Assembly, of the question referred to in the preceding paragraph."
A telegram was immediately sent by the Acting Secretary-General to the other Members of the United Nations informing them of this request, and asking them to notify him if they concurred in the summoning of a special session of the General Assembly. The telegram stated that if within 30 days a majority of Members had concurred, the special session would be convoked in accordance with the rules of procedure.
Forty Members replied. All with the exception of Ethiopia
agreed to the holding of the special session.
As a majority of Members had concurred in the request of the United Kingdom by April 13, the Secretary-General summoned the special session to meet at Flushing Meadow, New York on April 28. At the same time the Secretary-General communicated to Members the provisional agenda for the session.
2. ORGANIZATION OF THE SESSION
The General Assembly convened at Flushing Meadow on April 28. The session was opened by the Chairman of the Belgian delegation, F. van Langenhove.
At the opening
meeting of the session--the
68th meeting of the General Assembly--Oswaldo Aranha, the chairman of the Brazilian delegation was elected President by 45 out of 60 votes. The Chairmen of the Canadian, Chilean, Saudi Arabian, Swedish and U.S.S.R. delegations each received one vote. There were four abstentions.
On the suggestion of the President, it was agreed to follow the usual procedure of electing a General Committee and referring to it the consideration of the agenda.
As the General Committee consists of the President, the seven Vice-Presidents and the Chairmen of the six committees, the Assembly at its 68th plenary meeting proceeded to elect its seven Vice-Presidents. Chief representatives of the following countries were elected: China, Ecuador, France, India, the U.S.S.R., the United Kingdom and the United States.
To complete the composition of the General Committee, the six Main Committees met and elected the following Chairmen:
First Committee . . . Lester B. Pearson (Canada)
Second Committee. . . Jan Papanek (Czechoslovakia)
Third Committee . . . Mahmoud Hassan Pasha (Egypt)
Fourth Committee. . . Herman G. Ericksson (Sweden)
Fifth Committee . . . Jozef Winiewicz (Poland)
Sixth Committee . . . Tiburcio Carias Jr. (Honduras)
These elections were reported to the 69th plenary meeting of the General Assembly on April 28, which requested the General Committee to consider the provisional agenda and the supplementary list and report to the General Assembly. The General Committee
was also asked to consider communications from organizations which had written expressing their views on the business of the special session.
The following nine Members were elected to the Credentials Committee on the proposal of the Acting President at the opening meeting: Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Lebanon, Peru, the Ukrainian S.S.R., the U.S.S.R., the United States and Yugoslavia.
The Committee reported to the 69th
plenary meeting on April 28 that 22 delegations had fully satisfied the requirements and that provisional credentials had been received for the other countries represented.
The Committee reported again to the 79th plenary meeting on May 15 that 33 delegations had submitted credentials since the committee's first meeting and that these had been in order. All delegations had therefore received full powers.
3. AGENDA OF THE SESSION
a. Items Proposed
Apart from organizational and procedural matters, the only item on the provisional agenda was one providing for "constituting and instructing a special committee to prepare for the consideration of the question of Palestine at the second regular session," the item submitted by the Government of the United Kingdom.
Certain other Members had, however, requested the inclusion of an additional item--"The termination of the mandate over Palestine and the declaration of its independence." This had been requested by Egypt and Iraq on April 21 and by Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia on April 22. In accordance with the rules of procedure the item was placed on the Supplementary List of Additional Agenda Items, and was referred for consideration to the General Committee along with the item suggested by the United Kingdom.
b. Consideration of Agenda
The General Committee considered the provisional agenda and the supplementary list at its 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st meetings on April 29 and 30.
The Egyptian representative urged that the
additional item proposed by the Arab States for inclusion on the agenda should be considered at the same time as the item proposed by the United Kingdom as the two were closely connected, and the Arab proposal was more concrete and went further.
The Chairman ruled, however, that under the rules of procedure the provisional agenda had to be considered first and then any additional agenda items, which could be placed on the agenda only by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly.
At its 28th meeting the General Committee recommended that the item "Constituting and instructing a special committee to prepare for the consideration of the question of Palestine at the second regular session" should be placed on the agenda of the General Assembly and referred to the First Committee.
At its 29th meeting on April 29 the General Committee began consideration of the supplementary list containing the item proposed severally by Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria: "The termination of the mandate over Palestine and the declaration of its independence." The representatives of Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria were invited to take part in the discussion of
the item in accordance with Rule 34 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure. This rule provides that "a Member of the General Assembly which is not a member of the General Committee and which has requested the inclusion of an additional item on the agenda, shall be entitled to attend any meeting of the General Committee at which its request is discussed, and may participate, without vote, in the discussion of that item."
In urging that the additional item they had proposed be placed on the agenda, the representatives of the five Arab States stressed the following points:
(1) The real question at issue was the recognition of the independence of Palestine, which, it was claimed, had already been expressly recognized in the Covenant of the League of Nations and in statements and declarations by the Allied powers. The Balfour Declaration and the League Mandate for Palestine had violated the principles of the Covenant and had resulted in the imposition of one people on another without the latter's consent.
Neither the Declaration nor the Mandate had ever been recognized by the Arabs. The other mandated territories which had formed part of the Ottoman Empire had already been granted independence and there was no sound reason to make a distinction between them and Palestine.
(2) The problem was not one of fact-finding but of establishing principles. The situation in Palestine had arisen because of the principles in the Palestine Mandate and the Balfour Declaration, which were based on expediency, power politics, local interests and local pressure. These were inconsistent with the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Charter of the United Nations. The Charter provided that where other obligations were inconsistent with the Charter, the obligations under the Charter should prevail.
(3) All that was necessary in Palestine was to apply the principles of the Charter and declare an independent Palestine along democratic lines with equal rights for all citizens. This did not need a committee. Such a committee could only retard the settlement of a situation which, due to the activities of political Zionism, was daily getting more tense throughout the Arab world.
(4) The only appropriate way of bringing the question of Palestine before the United Nations was (a) to notify the General Assembly that the territory was qualified for independence; (b) to submit to the General Assembly a draft trusteeship agreement for the territory; or (c) to relinquish the mandate. The item proposed by the Arab States was in accordance with the Charter, since it provided that the discussion on the question should be directed towards the termination of the mandate.
(5) The whole question should be discussed since (a) the matter was urgent, (b) the committee should be adequately instructed, (c) it would in fact be impossible to avoid the question. Moreover, representatives had not come from all over the world just to appoint a committee.
(6) If there was no agreement on principles it would be of no use to appoint a committee, since the committee would have to work in the light of principles. If principles were accepted it might not be necessary to appoint a committee, but in any case the principles should be established first.
(7) Independence was the only just solution. It was, moreover, a question on which the two parties most directly concerned--the Jews and the Arabs--were formally in agreement.
(8) To discuss the independence of Palestine would not be prejudging the solution of the
problem, since it had already been envisaged in the Covenant of the League of Nations. Not to discuss independence would be prejudging the question to a much greater extent.
(9) To discuss independence did not mean
that it would have to be granted immediately or by any fixed date.
(10) To discuss the independence of Palestine need not prejudice the interests of the Jews, since their case could be heard. In any case the Jewish question was a completely separate one from the Palestine problem.
Against the inclusion of this item on the agenda it was urged:
(i) To exclude this item from the agenda would not preclude independence as an ultimate issue for the solution of the Palestine problem. Independence was recognized as the objective of all the Class "A" Mandates.
(ii) The question was complicated and needed careful, impartial and objective study. The matters of substance involved could best be discussed at the next session of the General Assembly after the committee's report had been received.
(iii) The committee should consider all the material and all evidence from all sources. Its terms of reference should take into account every aspect of the problem. It would be pre-judging the issue to discuss only one possible solution as suggested in the Arab proposal there were, for example, different ideas on the form of independence for Palestine.
(iv) The matter was urgent and a full debate on the substance of the question at the special session would entail long discussions and delay the setting up of the special committee so that it might not be able to consider the question adequately by the time the next session of the General Assembly convened.
(v) The discussion of the Arab proposal would not create a good atmosphere in Palestine, conducive to the objective studies which the committee would have to make. If a general debate on the substance of the question was held at the special session, the presentation of individual views would lead only to the confusion of the issue.
(vi) The United Kingdom proposal was practical--it involved the setting up of a committee and agreeing on its terms of reference. If the special session did this it would be justified. Whatever was essential in the Arab item would automatically be considered in the formulation of the committee's terms of reference.
(vii) In view of the importance and the difficulty of the question, it was necessary to arrive at a solution that would obtain world support. That support could be obtained only
if the question had been thoroughly studied and considered in an atmosphere free from political pressure.
(viii) Many of the delegations to the special session which had come prepared to consider the procedural question of setting up a committee and determining its terms of reference were not briefed to discuss the substance of the question
(ix) The question of substance should not be considered until the views of the Jews as well as of the Arabs were heard.
It was suggested that since certain delegations had requested to debate on the substance of the question at the special session, it should be granted since a refusal might be misunderstood. The decision could be taken at the next session of the Assembly, but a preliminary discussion would facilitate the
work of the special committee.
The special committee, it was pointed out, however, would have to take into consideration the termination of the mandate when considering the future government of Palestine. The Indian representative suggested to the Arab States that since everyone agreed that independence should be the objective of any settlement of the Palestine question, they should not press their proposition to a vote.
The Egyptian representative stated that he was prepared not to insist on a vote at that time, though, in reply to a question from the Chairman, he stated that he had no authority to withdraw the proposal. Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Transjordan also stated that they would not withdraw their proposals. The Chairman then ruled that since the proposal had not been formally withdrawn, it
would have to be voted on. The result of the voting on the Arab proposal was 1 in favor, 8 against and 5 abstentions.
The report of the General Committee recommending that the item submitted by the United Kingdom be placed on the agenda of the General Assembly and referred to the First Committee (Political and Security) but not recommending the inclusion of the item submitted by the Governments of Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, was considered by the General Assembly at its 70th and 71st meetings on May 1, 1947.
The recommendation to place on the agenda the item proposed by the United Kingdom calling for the constitution of a special committee and to refer the question to the First Committee was adopted,
although it was suggested by certain representatives (1) that the inclusion of both items be considered together; (2) that the setting up of a special committee was unnecessary, since the facts were already available; (3) that the question could be solved by the termination of the mandate and the granting of independence to Palestine; (4) that the question should be referred not only to the First Committee, but also to the other Main Committees, since it involved questions within their terms of reference; and (5) that the question should be dealt with in plenary session and not be referred to any committee. The Chairman in stressing the broad character of the First Committee pointed out that an agenda item must, under the rules of procedure, be referred to a committee unless the General Assembly decided otherwise.
The General Assembly then considered the report of the General Committee referring to the non-inclusion in the agenda of the item suggested by the Arab States, "the termination of the Mandate over Palestine and the declaration of its independence." Against the report of the General Committee and in favor of including in the agenda the item proposed by the five Arab States it was urged that (1) the General Committee was a procedural committee and had made a political decision, thereby exceeding its powers; (2) one of the reasons given for the refusal to admit this item on the agenda was the lack of information, but sufficient information was available to debate the question and in any case information would be required in order to instruct the special committee; (3) another reason given for the refusal of the item was the possible repercussions of a general debate on the state of affairs in Palestine, but the General Assembly should not be influenced by lawlessness; (4) it was possible to include both items in the agenda, and since it had been agreed that independence was an objective of all Category "A" Mandates it could be used as a guide post for the special committee; (5) to reject the item might give the false impression that the General Assembly did not attach much importance to the independence of Palestine.
Against the inclusion of the item in the agenda it was contended that the question should be closely examined and all points of view heard, and that the Assembly would be better qualified to consider the substance of the question after the special committee had completed its study.
To secure unanimity a compromise was suggested by the representatives of El Salvador and Colombia, supported by the representatives of Cuba, Haiti and Iran. This was to the effect that, since it had been agreed that the special committee to be appointed would have to have as one of its terms of reference the study of the termination of the mandate and the independence of Palestine, and since some of the Arab representatives had stated that they did not wish the Assembly to make an
immediate pronouncement on the independence of Palestine and the termination of the Mandate and others had accepted the idea of the establishment of a committee, therefore these two proposals could be linked by introducing a phrase to the effect that the special committee which was to prepare a report on the question of Palestine would have to study the termination of the Mandate over Palestine and the declaration of its independence.
The President ruled
that the suggestion could not be voted on since there was no formal proposal in writing. He stated, however, that as soon as the agenda was adopted there would be full freedom of debate, without any restriction whatever, on the whole problem of Palestine, including the question of independence and the termination of the mandate. This interpretation was questioned by the Indian and Australian representatives, who submitted that, if the question of the independence of Palestine and the termination of the mandate were not placed on the agenda and were afterwards raised again, it would be ruled out of order, since the General Assembly would then be able only to consider the question of constituting and instructing the special committee. The United States representative stated that if the question of the independence of Palestine and the termination of the mandate were not placed on the agenda that would leave on the agenda only the question of constituting and instructing the special committee, but that the question of independence for Palestine would have to be considered by the First Committee when considering the terms of reference for the special committee.
When the question of including the item of the supplementary list "The termination of the Mandate over Palestine and the declaration of its independence" in the agenda of the General Assembly was put to the vote, 15 Members voted in favor of including the item, 24 against and 10 abstained.
4. POSITION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
In the General Committee's discussions on the agenda, certain representatives asked for an explanation of a recent statement made by a United Kingdom Government spokesman in the House of Lords. They stated that it implied that the United Kingdom was not prepared to say if it would accept the Assembly's recommendations.
The United Kingdom representative in reply quoted the statement made in the House of Lords, which said "I cannot imagine His Majesty's Government
carrying out a policy of which it does not approve," and drew a distinction between it and the non-acceptance by the United Kingdom of a recommendation of the Assembly. He pointed out that any recommendation made by the Assembly might have to be enforced, and questioned whether, if this were a decision which the United Kingdom could not reconcile with its conscience, it would "single-handed be expected to expend blood and treasure in carrying it out." He said that he hoped to make a statement explaining his Government's position.
In reply to a suggestion made in the First Committee by the representative of the Jewish Agency for Palestine--that the
account of the mandate promised by the United Kingdom Government should be rendered not to the next session of the General Assembly but to the special committee--the United Kingdom representative on May 8 stated that his Government would be entirely at the disposal of the special committee if it were set up and would give it all possible information, including an account of the administration of the Mandate.
In reply to a question by the Lebanese representative at the First Committee's 52nd meeting on May 9, the United Kingdom representative stated that the United Kingdom had tried for years to solve the problem of Palestine, but, having failed, had brought it to the United Nations. If the United Nations could find a just solution which would be accepted by both parties, "it could hardly be expected that we should not welcome such a solution." The United Kingdom should not, however, have the sole responsibility for enforcing a solution not accepted by both parties and which "we could not reconcile with our conscience." The question of the acceptance of any recommendation by the Assembly should also be addressed to other interested parties and to all the Members of the United Nations.
5. COMMUNICATIONS FROM NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
At its 69th meeting on April 28, the General Assembly decided to refer to the General Committee communications from organizations which had written to the Secretary-General asking for the opportunity of expressing their views concerning the items of business for which the special session had been called. It was agreed that these communications, and similar ones received from other agencies, should also be referred to the
General Committee. The General Committee was to recommend to the plenary meeting a procedure for dealing with the communications.
The General Committee voted at its 31st meeting on April 30, by 11 votes to 0, with 3 abstentions, to defer consideration of the communications until it had presented its report on the agenda to the plenary meeting, though some representatives expressed the view that representatives of the Jewish people should be heard before the agenda was decided.
The General Committee considered the question of communications from non- governmental organizations at its 32nd and 33rd meetings on May 2.
The requests before the Committee were:
(1) From the Jewish Agency for Palestine, requesting authorization for the Agency to attend the meetings of the special session and participate in the discussions.
(2) From the Zionist Organization of America, requesting that its proposal for the solution of the Palestine question be brought before the special session.
(3) From the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation in Washington, requesting that the Hebrew National Delegation be granted a seat in the special session.
(4) From the Political Action Committee for Palestine, requesting the opportunity to testify before the special session.
a. Jewish Agency for Palestine
The Polish representative proposed that the General Committee recommend to the General Assembly the following resolution:
The General Assembly, resolved to give careful consideration to the point of view of the Jewish people on the Palestine question, decides to invite the representatives of the Jewish Agency for Palestine to appear before the General Assembly for consultation.
In submitting this draft resolution
the Polish representative emphasized (1) the connection between the Jewish population of Palestine and the Palestine problem;
particular interest of Poland, from which country many of the Palestine Jews had come, in the question; and (3) the special status of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, which had been named in the Mandate as representing Jewish interests in Palestine.
Other representatives spoke in favor of hearing the Jewish Agency, but some representatives felt it would be preferable for non-governmental organizations to be heard by the special
committee, particularly since the question before the General Assembly was the procedural one of creating a committee.
The view was also expressed that only States should be heard in the General Assembly as the Charter had not provided for hearing non-governmental organizations there. To admit one organization, it was thought, would create a precedent, and the dignity of the General Assembly might be lowered. Some representatives thought that this rule should also apply to the committees of the Assembly. Others felt that since the Charter did not forbid the hearing of non-governmental organizations by the General Assembly in plenary session, it was permissible. The view was also expressed that the Jewish Agency was in a special category, and that it should be heard by the First Committee.
The Egyptian representative explained, in reply to various statements, that the Arab States did not represent the Palestinian Arab population.
The Czechoslovak representative suggested an amendment to the Polish draft resolution to provide that the General Assembly would invite "the representatives of the Jewish Agency for Palestine to appear before the plenary meeting of the General Assembly for the purpose of stating their views on this question." This amendment was accepted by the Polish representative.
The United States representative suggested the following amendment to the Polish- Czechoslovak proposal:
The General Committee, having considered the communications referred to it by the President of the General Assembly from the Jewish Agency and other organizations requesting that they be permitted to express their views on the Palestine problem, recommends to the General Assembly that it refer these communications to the First Committee for its decision.
In making this proposal the United States
representative pointed out that it was the function of the General Committee as a procedural committee only to recommend to the Assembly the procedure for dealing with the matter, not to decide on the substance of the question. He also made the following points: that since the Arab side of the case had been heard, the Jewish side should also be heard; that the Jewish Agency was in a special category and should be heard before the First Committee, but that this should not constitute a precedent for hearing other organizations; that the Agency should only make statements on the item on the agenda, and that it should be remembered that it did not speak for all the Jews of the world.
On the suggestion of the United Kingdom representative, the United States representative agreed to insert in the resolution "as well as any communications of a similar character which may be submitted to this special session."
The Chairman ruled that the United States proposal was a separate resolution rather than an amendment to the Polish-Czechoslovak resolution.
The Polish proposal, as amended by Czechoslovakia, was therefore voted upon first. It was rejected, securing 3 votes in favor, 8 against and 3 abstentions.
The United States proposal, as amended by the United Kingdom, was then approved by 11 votes in favor, 0 against and 3 abstentions. The proposal, as amended, read:
The General Committee, having considered the communications referred to it by the President of the General Assembly from the Jewish Agency and other organizations requesting that they be permitted to express their views on the Palestine problem,
Recommends to the General Assembly that it refer these communications, as well as any communications of a similar character which may be submitted to this Special Session, to the First Committee for its decisions.
The report of the General Committee was considered by the General Assembly at its 72nd, 73rd, 74th and 75th meetings on May 3 and 6.
The general view was expressed that both sides of the case should be heard, although there was some difference of opinion as to whether they should be heard in the plenary meetings, in the First Committee or in the special committee. The fear was again expressed that to discuss the substance of the Palestine problem in the special session might prejudice chances of its solution. On the one hand it was held that such a debate was necessary to instruct the special committee, on the other that
the committee should be instructed by the facts of the case, not by the General Assembly. The proposal of the General Committee was also criticized on the ground that it provided only for the sending of communications to the First Committee and did not stipulate that the organizations should be heard.
The special position of the Jewish Agency as a public body recognized in the Mandate for Palestine was also mentioned in the debate.
At the 73rd plenary meeting the Polish representative opposed the report of the General Committee on the ground that there were no procedural differences between the General Assembly and its committees and that the arguments to bar the Jewish Agency from the plenary meetings were not convincing. He reintroduced the Polish-Czechoslovak resolution which had been defeated in the General Com
Resolutions were presented to the 74th plenary meeting on May 6 by Uruguay, Chile and Argentina, and amendments to the report of the General Committee by Yugoslavia and the Byelorussian S.S.R. All five proposals suggested that the Jewish Agency for Palestine should be invited to state its views before the First Committee. The Yugoslav amendment suggested that "other representatives of the population of Palestine" should also be given a hearing before the First Committee. The Chilean and Argentine resolutions proposed that other communications should be referred to the First Committee.
At this point a cable received from the Arab Higher Committee was read to the General Assembly. The cable stating that the Committee represented the Arabs of Palestine and had chosen a delegation, composed of Emile Ghory, Rajai Hussein, Henry Kattan, Wasef Kamal, Isa Nakleh and Rasem Khaldi, to represent the Committee before the special session and to speak on its behalf. The Committee requested that due recognition should be given to the delegation.
A letter was also read from the delegation nominated by the Arab Higher Committee applying for its representatives to attend the Assembly's deliberations and be heard on the problem.
At the suggestion of the President, the five delegations which had made proposals to the plenary meeting produced a single draft resolution. This text, which was presented to the 75th plenary meeting on May 5, was as follows:
"THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLVES:
1. That the
First Committee grant a hearing to the Jewish Agency for Palestine on the question before the Committee;
2. To send to that same Committee for its decision those other communications of a similar character from the Palestinian population which have been received by this Special Session of the General Assembly or may later on be submitted to it."
The Cuban representative, in supporting this text, explained that he had withdrawn for the sake of unanimity a motion
to the effect that all petitions to be heard in the Assembly, coming from Arab and Jewish sources, should be referred to the First Committee and that the First Committee should be instructed to hear as many representatives of the parties involved as possible.
The Polish-Czechoslovak proposal and the joint resolution were opposed on the grounds that: it was not true that the Palestinian Arab case had been put before the Assembly, since the Arab States did not represent the Palestinian Arabs; it would be prejudging the issue to decide on the particular character of an agency which had been established by virtue of a mandate which was being contested; there was no constitutional ground for the Jewish Agency to be heard before the United Nations and it had never been heard before the League of Nations; it was unfair to differentiate between the representatives of the Jews and of the Arabs of Palestine.
At the end of the 73rd plenary meeting on May 3 the President had closed the list of speakers. At the 75th meeting on May 6 the Lebanese representative protested against the closing of the list of speakers on the ground that since the list had been closed six new documents had been presented to the Assembly. On the matter being put to the vote 12 representatives voted in favor of reopening the debate, and 32 against.
The General Assembly then voted on the Polish-Czechoslovak proposal, which provided for the hearing of the Jewish Agency for Palestine before the plenary meeting. The proposal was defeated by 8 votes in favor and 39 against.
The General Assembly then adopted by 44 votes in favor, 7 against and 3 abstentions, the joint proposal of Chile, Uruguay, the Byelorussian S.S.R., Yugoslavia and Argentina.
b. Consideration by the First Committee
The First Committee at its 46th
meeting on May 6 began its consideration of the question of granting a hearing to non-governmental organizations. At this meeting the Committee elected the member of the Committee for Mexico as Vice-Chairman and the member of the Committee for Denmark as Rapporteur.
Resolutions were proposed by the United States and by Argentina on the implementation of the General Assembly's resolution.
The United States resolution proposed that arrangements should be made by the Chairman before the Committee took final action on the item on its agenda--
the question of constituting and instructing the special committee-- "to give an opportunity to the Jewish Agency for Palestine, as well as to any other organization representative of a considerable element of the population of Palestine" to appear before the Committee and present its views on the terms of reference of the special committee. It further proposed that either (a) the recommendations of the United Kingdom as the Mandatory should be taken into consideration by the Committee in determining whether an organization claiming to represent considerable elements of the population of Palestine should be heard, or (b) no organization should be considered representative of a considerable element of the population of Palestine unless a statement to that effect was received from the delegation of the Mandatory. (Later the United States representative withdrew the first alternative). Finally it proposed that no organization should be permitted to express its views on the substance of the Palestine problem before the Committee, but should reserve such views for a hearing before the special committee.
The Argentine resolution proposed that the First Committee grant a hearing to the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the representative of the Arab population and the representative of the Jewish population of Palestine. All hearings, the resolution proposed, would be about the appointment and instruction of the special committee.
The Chairman read to the Committee a communication received from the Arab Higher Committee withdrawing its request for a hearing in view of the discrimination shown by the Assembly in deciding in plenary session that the Jewish Agency for Palestine should be invited, whereas the request of the Arab Higher Committee, which represented the majority of the population of Palestine, had been sent with
other requests to the First Committee for decision.
In the Committee's discussions the opinion was
expressed that, notwithstanding the action of the Arab Higher Committee in withdrawing its request for a hearing, the representatives of the Arab population of Palestine should be heard by the Committee. Some speakers felt that the Committee's hearings should be restricted to representatives of the Jewish Agency and the Arab Higher Committee. In reply to a question from the United States representative, the representative of the United Kingdom stated that the Arab Higher Committee was representative of the Arab population of Palestine.
c. Joint Resolution
The United States representative proposed a joint resolution combining the previous United States and Argentine proposals.
This read as follows:
THE FIRST COMMITTEE RESOLVES:
1. To grant a hearing to:
(a) The Jewish Agency for Palestine
(b) The Arab Higher Committee of Palestine
2. That arrangements be effected by the Chairman, before this Committee takes final action with regard to the item on the agenda, to give an opportunity to the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the Arab Higher Committee as representative of the views of the Arab population, as well as to any other organization representative of a considerable element of the population of Palestine, to appear before this Committee and present such views as such organization or organizations may have to offer with regard to what the terms of reference of the Special Committee to be set up by this session of the Assembly should be.
3. That the recommendations of the Delegation of the Mandatory be taken into consideration by this Committee in determining whether an organization maintaining that it represents considerable elements of the population of Palestine should be allowed to appear before the Committee.
4. That no organization be permitted to express its views with regard to the substance of the Palestine problem before this Committee; that any organization which desires to express views of this character should apply for a hearing to the Special Committee which it is the purpose of this session of the General Assembly to establish.
The joint resolution was considered clause by clause. The first clause was adopted;
certain changes of wording were made in the second clause.
On the proposal of the representative of Australia the Committee decided that a sub-committee of five, and not the Mandatory, should advise on whether any organization other than the Jewish Agency or the Arab Higher Committee represented considerable elements of the population of Palestine. The United States representative indicated that he would agree to this, provided a suggestion made by the Brazilian representative that the sub-committee should include the Mandatory were adopted. The Chairman proposed that the sub-committee should consist of the members of the Committee from Colombia, Iran, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Indian representative, however, maintained that to refer the question to a sub-committee was only to defer it, and sponsored the original proposal, as amended. The proposal to appoint a sub-committee was carried by 31 votes in favor and 4 against.
Several representatives spoke in favor of eliminating the fourth paragraph of the joint resolution providing that no organization should be permitted to express its views on the substance of the Palestine problem. Two reasons were advanced for this: (1) that the statements of the organizations should not be restricted, and that they would be competent only to speak on the substance of the question and not on procedural questions; (2) that the paragraph was unnecessary since the draft resolution already provided that the organizations should speak on the question of constituting the committee and that it was the Chairman's function to rule a speaker out of order.
An amendment proposed by France that "No organization shall be permitted to express views before the Committee which are not directly related to the purpose and object of this committee as defined in paragraph 2 above" was accepted by the United States representative, the Argentinian representative explaining that he would have to vote for the deletion of the paragraph as he was in favor of free debate.
The French proposal was put to the vote and was lost by 19 votes in favor to 22 against. The Chairman declared that the paragraph was therefore deleted from the resolution.
The representatives of the Arab States expressed appreciation of the attitude of delegations in expressing the wish to hear representatives of the Arabs of Palestine, but stated that they would abstain from voting since the decision by the General Assembly, which was a superior body to the First Committee, had discriminated against the Arabs of Palestine.
The resolution was carried at the 47th meeting of the First Committee on May 6 by 40 votes in favor, 0 against and 7 abstentions.
The text of the resolution, as adopted, read:
THE FIRST COMMITTEE RESOLVES:
1. To grant a hearing to the Jewish Agency for Palestine and to the Arab Higher Committee of Palestine.
2. That arrangements be effected by the Chairman, before this Committee takes any final decision with regard to the item on the agenda, to give an opportunity to the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the Arab Higher Committee as representative of the views of the Arab population, as well as to any other organization representative of a considerable element of the population of Palestine, to appear before this Committee and present such views as such organization or organizations may have to offer with regard to the constituting and instructing of
the special committee which may be set up
by this session of the Assembly.
3. That a sub-committee of five members, consisting of representatives of Colombia, Poland, Iran, Sweden and the United Kingdom, shall be established to advise the Committee whether any other organization represents a considerable element of the population of Palestine.
The Chairman then wrote to the Secretary of the Palestine-Arab delegation, transmitting the text of the resolution and stating: "In view of this resolution, you may wish to reconsider the withdrawal of the request of the Palestine-Arab delegation to be heard with regard to the constituting and instructing of the special committee referred to in the above resolution."
d. Arab Higher Committee
At the 48th meeting
of the First Committee on May 7 the Indian representative proposed that, since the Arab Higher Committee would not come before the First Committee until the Committee's recommendation had been endorsed by the General Assembly, a plenary meeting be called "to consider the following resolution, that the First Committee grant a hearing to the Arab Higher Committee on the question before the Committee."
Certain representatives felt that such a procedure was unnecessary since an invitation had been extended to the Arab Higher Committee, the views of Members were clear, and such a move could have little meaning; others sup
ported the proposal on the ground that it would secure the participation of the Arab Higher Committee.
The resolution was adopted.
At its 76th plenary meeting on May 7 the General Assembly considered the resolution proposed by the First Committee.
The President proposed that the General Assembly adopt the following resolution:
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY affirms that the decision of the First Committee to grant a hearing to the Arab Higher Committee gives a correct interpretation of the Assembly's intention.
The view was again expressed that to pass such a resolution was illogical, and might weaken the previous decisions of the Assembly and of the First Committee.
The General Assembly voted, however, by 39 votes in favor, 1 against and 11 abstentions to adopt the resolution.
e. Statements by the Jewish Agency
Following the decision of the General Assembly on May 6 to grant a hearing to the Jewish Agency for Palestine before the First Committee, the President telegraphed the Jewish Agency informing them of the Assembly's decision and requesting the names of their authorized representatives.
A reply was received from the Jewish Agency on May 8 accepting the invitation and nominating as its authorized representatives David Ben-Gurion, Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, Moshe Shertok, Hayim Greenberg, Mrs. Rose Halprin, Nahum Goldman and Dr. Emanuel Neumann.
The First Committee at its 60th meeting on May 8 heard a statement by the representative of the Agency, Dr. Silver.
Dr. Silver referred to the satisfaction of the Jewish Agency that the problem of Palestine would now be reviewed by an international body, as it had been aggravated by unilateral action on the part of the Mandatory Power, without the sanction or supervision of the international body which had created the trust and defined its limits and purposes. The administration of Palestine since the outbreak of the War had, said Dr. Silver, been conducted by the Mandatory as though it were vested with the sovereignty of the territory, instead of being a trustee under the Mandate.
Dr. Silver stressed the importance to the Jewish people of the question of Palestine, and pointed out that the Jewish Agency was recognized in the Mandate as a public body authorized to speak for all the Jewish people on questions affecting the Jewish National Home. The Jewish Agency was the only recognized public body in the Mandate. The Mandate stated that it was to advise and co-operate with the Administration of Palestine on economic, social and other questions affecting the establishment of the Jewish National Home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and to assist in the development of the country. It was also to co-operate with the Administration in permitting close settlement by Jews on the land, and was
given a preferred status regarding the construction and operation of public works and the development of the natural resources of the country. The Jewish Agency therefore represented the organized Jewish community in Palestine--the National Council of Palestine Jews--and the Jewish people of the world since it was charged under the Mandate "to secure the co-operation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish National Home."
Dr. Silver maintained that "the Jewish people" and "the Jewish National Home" were key terms and should be so regarded by
the committee of inquiry. They were the basic concepts of the Balfour Declaration and of the Mandate under which Palestine was, or should be administered today. These international commitments, made a quarter of a century ago, recognized the historic rights and present needs of the Jewish people and could not now be erased. Moreover, the United Nations Charter proclaimed the principle of respect for obligations arising from treaties and also stated in the Chapter dealing with trusteeship (which was therefore particularly appropriate to mandated territories) that nothing in that Chapter should alter in any way the rights of States or peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations might be parties.
The Jewish National Home was still in the making. The right of the Jews to reconstitute their National Home in Palestine had never been cancelled or questioned by any international community. The Mandatory, which had been charged with safeguarding the opportunity for the development of the National Home, had interfered with and circumscribed it. That opportunity should now be restored.
Dr. Silver quoted statements
from British and American leaders recognizing that the Jewish National Home had not yet been established and looking forward to continued Jewish immigration into Palestine and the creation of a Jewish State. He also quoted a resolution adopted by the British Labour Party in 1945 in favor of allowing Jewish immigration into Palestine until the Jews became a majority there.
The international obligation to ensure the
continuous development of the Jewish National Home should, said Dr. Silver, be kept in mind by the special committee.
Silver suggested that the Mandatory should give an account of its administration to the committee of inquiry rather than to the next session of the General Assembly, since the committee could not make helpful recommendations for the future government of Palestine without considering what was wrong with the present administration.
He also suggested that the committee should visit Palestine to see the record of the Jewish pioneering achievements there despite very great handicaps. What had been built by the Jews in Palestine had benefited not only them but also the Arabs and other non-Jewish communities. Dr. Silver quoted a letter written by Emir Feisal at the Peace Conference following the First World War expressing sympathy towards the Zionist Movement and favoring the return of the Jews to Palestine. The concepts of social justice and modern scientific method being developed in Palestine would, Dr. Silver maintained, serve as a stimulus to the progress of the entire Near East.
The Committee, he maintained, should also consider the potentialities of the country which, if properly developed, would support a much greater population. More projects, which would lead to economic and social improvement in Palestine, as well as in all neighboring countries, were awaiting development pending a satisfactory political solution.
The Committee, he maintained, should look into the fundamental causes of unrest and violence in Palestine and he instanced: (1) that shiploads of refugees were being driven from the shores of the Jewish National Home by a Mandatory Government which had assumed, as its prime obligation, the facilitating of Jewish immigration into the country; and (2) that the Mandatory Government, which had assumed the obligation of encouraging close settlement of the Jews on the land, was severely restricting Jewish settlement to an area of less than six per cent of the country, and was enforcing discriminatory racial laws although both the Mandate and the Charter condemned this.
Dr. Silver expressed the hope that the committee of inquiry would visit the Displaced Persons Camps in Europe
and see the misery there, two years after V-E Day. Most of the displaced persons, he said, were desperately eager to go to the Jewish National Home. He appealed for a relaxation of the restrictive measures on immigration into Palestine and a return to the status before the White Paper policy of 1939 was imposed. This, he said, would not only help the displaced persons but would relieve the present tensions in Palestine and enable the deliberations of the Committee to be carried on in an atmosphere of moderation and good will.
In conclusion Dr. Silver affirmed the faith of the Jewish people in the ultimate triumph of moral principles and claimed that the Jewish people of Palestine should be admitted to membership in the United Nations.
Supplementary statements on the terms of reference of the special committee were made by the representatives of the Jewish Agency, Moshe Shertok and David Ben-Gurion,
52nd and 55th meetings of the First Committee on May 9 and 12.
On May 9, Moshe Shertok stated that the crisis in Palestine resulted from the fact that the present policy of the Mandatory Government conflicted with its obligations to the Jewish people, and that the crux of the matter was the problem of Jewish immigration into Palestine. He criticized the draft resolution then being considered by the Committee on the grounds that it prejudged the issue which should be investigated by the special committee by mentioning only independence as the goal towards which the future government of Palestine should aim, whereas the primary objective of the trust under which Palestine was administered was the establishment of the Jewish National Home, and these two questions were organically connected. He therefore favored the inclusion of a phrase previously proposed by the United States, to the effect that the Committee should bear in mind "various other issues connected with the problem of Palestine."
He further criticized the paragraph in the working paper prepared by the Sub-Committee of the First Committee relating to the interests of "all the inhabitants of Palestine" and the religious interests there of Islam, Jewry and Christendom, on the ground that the interests of Jewish people were also fundamentally relevant to the purpose of the inquiry, and suggested that a reference should be made to them or that
the paragraph should contain only a reference to the religious interests of the three faiths. He maintained that the Charter guaranteed the existing rights of all peoples in territories under mandate, pending their transformation to trust territories, and that it would not be proper to prejudge the issue by disregarding the rights involved.
On May 12 Mr. Ben-Gurion stated that the Mandatory Power had not been charged with a solution of the Palestine problem, but with carrying out a settlement defined in the Mandate, the restoration of Palestine to the Jewish people. The failure of the Mandatory was the failure to carry out this settlement. The White
Paper of 1939 had violated the Mandate's terms, and had been condemned by the Permanent Mandates Commission, by political leaders in the United Kingdom and by the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. It was responsible for the present state of affairs in Palestine, and the first task of the special committee should be to determine how to ensure that the international obligations to the Jewish population of Palestine were faithfully fulfilled.
He stated, also, that in Palestine there was a distinct Jewish nation, based on its historical connection with the country and its work of reconstruction and rebuilding. The growth of this nation could not be arrested, because (1) there were large numbers of homeless Jews whose only hope was in their National Home; and (2) more than two-thirds of Palestine was waste land said by the Arabs to be uncultivable but cultivated by the Jews because it was the only land they could call their own.
The Arabs were not being asked to receive the Jewish immigrants. They came to Jewish towns and villages, not to Arab towns and villages.
The Jews had no conflict with the Arab people. They were rebuilding Palestine, and a Jewish-Arab partnership based on equality and mutual assistance would help the regeneration of the whole Middle East. In conclusion Mr. Ben-Gurion suggested as a solution of the problem a Jewish State and a Jewish-Arab alliance.
f. Statements by the Arab Higher Committee
The representative of the Arab Higher Committee, Henry Kattan, made a statement to the 52nd meeting of the First Committee on May 9.
Mr. Kattan began by saying that the Arab people were deeply anxious to find a just and
lasting solution to the problem of Palestine because it was the problem of their present life and future destiny. Their existence as a people was threatened and they hoped for support in their struggle for their national right of self-determination.
Mr. Kattan outlined conditions in Palestine before the First World War. Palestine had been included in the Ottoman Empire as part of Syria. It had an Arab character, had been inhabited for several centuries by Arabs; its customs, traditions and culture were Arab as well as its towns and villages. Small communities of Jews, Armenians and Kurds lived in Palestine, as in other Arab countries, in peace and security. The Jews in Palestine in 1914 represented about six or seven per cent of the total population. They had their own schools, synagogues and communal institutions, but they had no national or political aims hostile to the Arabs, and merged harmoniously with the Arab structure.
The Arabs at that time enjoyed rights of citizenship equal to those enjoyed by the Turkish citizens of the Ottoman Empire. They rose to the highest executive, legislative and administrative positions. They wished, however, to establish a purely Arab state, independent of the Ottoman Empire. In this they were encouraged by the Allied Governments since it fitted in with Allied plans for the War. The United Kingdom, in particular, made pledges for the recognition and establishment of Arab independence. The pledge of Sir Henry McMahon, United Kingdom High Commissioner in Egypt, to King Hussein of Hedjaz, then Sherif of Mecca, recognizing the independence of the Arabs within the frontiers proposed by King Hussein excluded parts of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo, but did not exclude the part of Syria now known as Palestine.
The Balfour Declaration was issued in November 1917, without the consent or the knowledge of the Arabs, in contradiction to the McMahon Pledge of 1915. In reply to a request from King Hussein for an explanation, the United Kingdom Government in the Hogarth Message pledged that Jewish settlement in Palestine would be allowed only in
so far as was consistent with "the political and economic freedom of the Arab population."
Other declarations followed. In February 1918 the acting British agent in Jedda wrote to the Sherif of Mecca reaffirming British pledges regarding the liberation of the Arab peoples. In June 1918
the British Government in the Declaration to the Seven stated that it was the Government's policy that the future government of the regions occupied by Allied forces should be based on the consent of the governed. In November 1918 an Anglo-French Declaration said that the aim of the two Governments in the liberated territories, including Syria and Mesopotamia, was the emancipation of the peoples and the establishment of national governments and administrations, deriving their authority from the initiative and free choice of the indigenous populations. The two Governments did not wish to impose on the populations of these regions any particular institutions.
The special committee should therefore,
said Mr. Kattan, investigate the pledges given to the Arabs recognizing their independence, before and after the Balfour Declaration.
The Arabs, said Mr. Kattan, made a substantial contribution to the Allied victory. He quoted from the report of the British Military Commission of Inquiry of 1920, which stated that the Arabs fought under the impression that they were fighting for the liberation of their fatherland and "that the British Government would undertake the formation of an independent Arab State comprising Palestine."
Apart from the breaking of pledges, the claim of the Arabs for the termination of the Mandate and recognition of their independence rested on the claim that the country belonged to them and that they were entitled to independence as their natural right.
The pledges, however, nullified contradictory assurances given to the Jews if the Balfour Declaration meant more than a cultural home. They also showed that the administration of the country in a manner contrary to the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants was a glaring injustice.
The Balfour Declaration and the policy it enunciated was the root cause of all the troubles in Palestine and the Middle East. It was made without the consent, or the knowledge of the people most directly affected, it was contrary to the principles of national self-determination and democracy and the principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations, and was inconsistent with the pledges given to the Arabs both before and after it was issued. The special committee should enquire into its legality, validity and ethics.
Moreover, the principle laid down in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was that the well-being and development of the peoples inhabiting territories which had ceased
to be under the States which formerly governed them was a sacred trust of civilization. In particular it was stated that the existence as independent nations of certain communities detached from the Turkish Empire--i.e. the Arab Nation--could be provisionally recognized subject to administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory until they were able to stand alone.
Despite the pledges given by Great Britain and the Allied Governments, Wilson's Fourteen Points, Article 22 of the Covenant and the riots and opposition of the people of Palestine, the Mandate embodied the Balfour Declaration.
The special committee should consider the inconsistency of the Mandate with Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Mandate derived its authority from the Covenant and if inconsistent with the Covenant was
There was no provision in the Covenant enabling the embodiment in the Mandate of provisions prejudicial to the interests of the people of the country.
The special committee should also consider that the Mandate was intended to be provisional and transitory. Other territories placed under "A" Mandates were now independent. In support of his contention that there was no reason for differentiating between the Arabs of Palestine and of the other Arab countries, Mr. Kattan quoted a statement made by Mr. Bevin in the House of Commons in 1947: "In other States in the Middle East, we also took on Mandates and they have all led to self-government. I want to state that the cultural development of the Arabs and Jews in Palestine is of as high a standard as in any other Arab State."
It was not a convincing argument to say that the Mandate should be continued since its cessation would lead to bloodshed between Jews and Arabs, because the whole history of the Mandate had been one of bloodshed and troubles. Moreover the power of the Mandatory could not legally outlive the League of Nations, which had delegated that power to it. The Charter, while not interfering with existing rights, did not confer validity on an agency or Mandate which had ceased to be valid.
The special committee should also consider the conflict between the provisions of the Mandate obliging the Mandatory to facilitate Jewish immigration and the obligations undertaken by the United Kingdom Government under the Charter. If these obligations were to establish the Jewish National Home and facilitate Jewish immigration against the will of the original inhabitants of the country and the majority of the population, they were in conflict with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter. They also conflicted with the resolution adopted by the General Assembly in December 1946, which disapproved of the resettlement of displaced persons where that was likely to disturb friendly relations with other countries or cause genuine apprehension to the indigenous population of non-self-governing territories.
The special committee should further consider the practical application of the Mandate. This, said Mr. Kattan, would show (1) that it was not exercised within the scope and for the purposes contemplated by Article 22 of the Covenant; (2) that it was not exercised for the benefit of the original inhabitants of the country; and (3) that its continuation was creating a situation affecting peace and good order in Palestine and threatening peace and security in the Middle East. It would also show how the Arabs had lost civil and political rights they had enjoyed prior to the Mandate, how immigration facilitated under the Mandate was threatening the existence of the Arab Nation and had led to the troubles in Palestine; how there were no self-governing institutions; how lives had been lost in enforcing the Mandate and allowing Jewish immigration against the wishes of the inhabitants of Palestine; and how much money had been spent on police posts and fortresses as compared with schools and hospitals.
The problem was not an Arab-Jewish problem. Arab opposition to Jewish immigration
would be equally strong against any group attempting to force immigrants into the country against the will of the Arabs. It was not economic. To argue that the Jews could colonize the country better than the Arabs would justify any aggression by more advanced against less advanced nations. It was not connected with the refugee problem, which was a humanitarian problem in the solution of which all countries should share. In the view of the Arab population all immigration of Jews into Palestine was illegal, and a recommendation should be made to the Mandatory to stop all Jewish immigration. Further the problem was not one of historical connection. History could not be put back twenty centuries to give away a country on the ground of a transitory historic association, or the map of the whole world would have to be redrawn.
In conclusion Mr. Kattan stated his
hope that the special committee and the General Assembly would see that the apparently complex problem could be solved on the basis of the principles of the Charter only by recognizing the independence of Palestine.
The representative of the Arab Higher Committee, Emile Ghory, made
some supplementary observations on the terms of reference of the special committee at the 55th meeting of the First Committee on May 12. He expressed the apprehension of the Arab Higher Committee concerning the inclusion of any terms of reference contemplating a solution of the problem which might conflict with the right of Palestine to complete independence as one undivided whole. The Arabs were entitled to their independence, which had been recognized by the Covenant of the League of Nations and of which they had been unjustly and illegally deprived as a consequence of the Mandate. They would refuse to consider any solution implying the loss or dimunition of their sovereignty over the whole of the country.
He also emphasized that any attempt to solve the question of refugees and displaced persons at the expense of the Arabs would meet with their resolute opposition and would prejudice the chances of a successful inquiry and just solution. To link the refugee problem with the problem of Palestine would prejudge the inquiry in favor of the Zionists and would make it necessary for the Arabs to reconsider their attitude to the inquiry. He stated that the continued Jewish immigration was bound to prejudice the issue and he urged that a recommendation should be made to the United Kingdom Government to put an immediate and complete stop to all immigration while the question was being considered.
g. Questions Addressed to the Jewish Agency and the Arab Higher Committee
At its 50th meeting on May 8, the First Committee decided that oral questions might be addressed to the representatives of the Jewish Agency and Arab Higher Committee and that these might later be supplemented by written questions. The replies might be made either orally or in writing.
Questions were addressed orally to the representative of the Jewish Agency at the First Committee's 50th meeting on May 8, and oral replies were given by the representatives
of the Agency at the First Committee's 54th meeting on May 12.
Questions were addressed orally to the representatives of the Arab Higher Committee at the First Committee's 52nd meeting on May 9 and oral replies were given by the representatives of the Arab Higher Committee at the First Committee's 55th meeting on May 12.
The main points of the questions and answers were as follows:
By the representative of Poland, to both organizations
Who represented the organization concerned, how many organizations? How was the Executive Committee established and organized and how did it work?
Reply of the Jewish Agency
The Zionist Organization had been recognized as the Jewish Agency in the Mandate. The World Zionist Organization was at that time 25 years old. Subsequently certain non-Zionist groups joined in forming an enlarged Jewish Agency, but the Zionist Organization remained the main driving force. The World Zionist Organization had now local organizations in more than 60 countries. The Organization contained political parties. Its Congresses, which met every two years after a general election in all countries, elected the Executive. The present Executive was elected by the 360 representatives to the 22nd Zionist Congress in Basle last December, which in turn was elected by nearly two million Zionist voters throughout the world. The Executive had headquarters in Jerusalem and branches with resident members in New York, London and Paris.
The Jewish Agency represented not only the Jews in Palestine, but all the Jews throughout the world who were devoted to the idea of the Jewish National Home. The Agency was not merely an organ of national representation but an institution of nation-building, of immigration, development and settlement. In Palestine it directed large-scale practical development work, and in the war mobilized the Jewish war effort in Palestine.
Reply of the Arab Higher Committee
The Arab Higher Committee in Palestine was represented by those of its members who were resident in that country, where it had its own organization and offices. The Arab Higher Committee was, itself, the executive. Its decisions were made by majority vote and were executed through its own officials.
By the representative of India to the Jewish Agency
What was the number of Jews from outside in Palestine in 1900, in 1930 and in 1939 when the White Paper of 1939 was issued by the British Government?
Reply of the Jewish Agency
With regard to all the questions bearing on immigration, if it were granted that the Jewish people were in Palestine of right, then the implications of that premise would have to be accepted--for example, they must be allowed to resettle in unlimited numbers provided they did not worsen the lot of existing inhabitants who were also there of right. If that basic premise were not granted, there would be
little to discuss. If this historical right were admitted, it would not be a question of redrawing the map of the world since the position of the Jewish people as a homeless people firmly attached to its birthplace was unique.
With regard to the question of the Indian representative, the figures of the Jewish population in Palestine were 50,000 in 1900, 165,000 in 1930 and 475,000 in 1939. At
present it was about 630,000, and was greater than the Arab population at the end of the First World War. In one sense they were all immigrants: the return had started in the early 1880's and had been practically continuous since then; but in another sense they were not "from outside" as they were all convinced of their right to return. The Jews were not received by the Arabs but settled in their own right and made a living by their own efforts and not at the expense of anyone else.
To the Arab Higher Committee
Was it or was it not a fact that
until 1900, not more than 4,500 Jews had gone to Palestine, that until 1920 not more than about 45,000 had gone, that by 1930 the numbers of immigrants had risen to over 150,000 and that by 1939 this had risen to about 600,000 when the White Paper restricting Jewish immigration was issued. Were these immigrants Arab speaking, Hebrew speaking or Yiddish speaking? Was Yiddish a Hebrew language or a mixture of Polish, Lithuanian, Roumanian, etc. and Hebrew, with a Hebrew script? Were these immigrants easily assimilable in Palestine?
Reply of the Arab Higher Committee
The number of Jews in Palestine had increased as follows: for 1900: no official figures; in 1918: 56,000 Jews; in 1930: 165,000
Jews; in 1939: 445,000 Jews. Between 1920 and 1930, 105,000 Jewish immigrants had entered Palestine; between 1931 and 1939, 218,000. These were figures of registered immigrants. Since 1939, not including illegal immigrants, over 100,000 Jewish immigrants had entered the country.
Few of the immigrants spoke Hebrew. They spoke Yiddish, which was a jargon of Western and Eastern languages, or the language of their country of origin.
They were not easily assimilable in Palestine.
By the representative of India to the Jewish Agency
What were the ages of the various communities of National Jewry living in Europe who
would like to go back to the national home, how long had they lived in Europe and were they easily assimilable in Palestine?
Reply of Jewish Agency
European Jewry was old but age had not made for security. Jews had lived in Spain for a millenium when in 1492 they were despoiled and expelled, only those who became Christians being allowed to remain. Jews
had lived in Poland since the eleventh or twelfth century, but in the seventeenth were the victims of massacres. There had been pogroms under the Russian Czars in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and in the last War nearly all Polish Jewry, amounting to three million persons, was wiped out by the Nazis. In Germany, Jews had settled in the fourth century, but most of them had been destroyed in the fourteenth. By the twentieth they had been largely assimilated before their destruction by the Nazis. Anti-Semitism was still rife in Germany and other parts of Europe.
The Jews were easily assimilable in the Jewish community in Palestine, which was the one Jewish community with a self-contained economic system and an independent cultural life which was eager and able to receive them.
By the representative of India to the Jewish Agency
Since the Nazi Government in Europe had been suppressed, was there any reason why refugees could not be resettled in their natural German home where they spoke the language
of the country and were more easily assimilable?
Reply of the Jewish Agency
Most of the refugees came from countries other than Germany and were refugees because they could not be resettled in Europe; in the two years they had waited no one had come forward with an alternative to Palestine, but in any case they wanted to go to the only country where they felt at home individually and collectively.
By the representative of South Africa to the Jewish Agency
In stating that the Committee of inquiry should look into the condition of the homeless Jews in Europe, did Dr. Silver mean that the committee should look into that situation as a whole or only in relation to the question of continuing immigration into Palestine.
Reply of the Jewish Agency
Only in Palestine could the problem of the displaced persons be permanently and constructively solved. The Committee should also study the problem of various Jewish communities in European, Arab and Oriental countries who lived under precarious sufferance or active persecution.
By the representative of Poland to the Jewish Agency
Had there been any attempt at collaboration between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine?
Reply of the Jewish Agency
Arabs and Jews had co-operated successfully in municipal, commercial and labor affairs. Arabic was taught in all Jewish secondary schools and in a large number of primary schools. The Jewish Agency spread knowledge of Arabic in Jewish settlements and promoted friendly relations between them and their Arab neighbors. Considering their differences of background, the native Arab and the immigrant Jew mixed well. Practical co-operation was today hampered by the political conflict over the country's future. The Jews came to Palestine not to fight the Arab world but to live at peace with it, to integrate themselves into the modern structure of reviving Asia and to help to build a bridge between it and the rest of the world. Their experience in development might assist the social and economic progress of the Middle East and beyond. Their partnership with their neighbors could, however, be based only upon equality of status and
mutual respect, and the Jews could not surrender their claim to develop their own civilization and be self-governing.
In replying to this question the spokesman for the Jewish Agency stated:
"At the head of the Arab Higher Committee of Palestine stands a man who, apart from other well-known aspects of his activity, was directly involved during the war in the nazi policy of the extermination of the European Jews."
Exception was taken to this statement by the spokesman of the Arab Higher Committee, who, at the 55th meeting of the First Committee on May 12 defended the position of the Grand Mufti on the ground that his attitude "represented a natural stand taken in self-defence" against the British policy of taking their country away from the Arabs and giving it to another people. He had been an enemy of British policy as had General Smuts in South Africa or George Washington in the United States.
By the representative for Poland to the Arab Higher Committee
Had there been any attempts at collaboration between the Jewish Agency and
the Arab High Committee?
Reply of the Arab Higher Committee
The Jewish Agency was a body created under the Mandate to co-operate in the administration of Palestine and on certain questions affecting the establishment of a Jewish National Home. As the Arabs had not recognized the Mandate or the Balfour Declaration they could not co-operate with a body set up under the Mandate which aimed at the realization of Zionist aims in Palestine.
By the representative of India to the Jewish Agency
Dr. Silver had instanced a conciliatory statement made by an Arab leader in 1919--was there any reason why the Arabs were resisting immigration now?
Reply of the Jewish Agency
The uncompromising opposition now voiced by the Arabs to Jewish immigration did not invalidate the broader conception expressed in the Feisal-Weizmann agreement, which showed how Jewish and Arab aspirations might be harmonized within a wider framework. Sir Henry McMahon had
stated that Palestine was not included in the promises made by him to the Arabs and this had been understood at the time by the late King Hussein. TransJordan, which was originally included in the Balfour Declaration, was today an Arab State.
By the representative of India to the Jewish Agency
Why were public servants of the Government of the United Kingdom who were doing their duty under extremely difficult circumstances being "picked off today by violence"?
Reply of the Jewish Agency
Because the disastrous policy of the White Paper of 1939 was still in force. The Jewish Agency condemned this terrorism and was supported in that attitude by the large majority of the organized Jewish community.
By the representative of Guatemala to the Arab Higher Committee
Did the Arabs take sides in the tense political situation in Palestine?
Reply of the Arab Higher Committee
Arabs and Jews in Palestine had prior to the Balfour Declaration merged harmoniously in the Arab national structure of the country. This harmonious relationship had given way to armed conflicts as a result of the Balfour Declaration and the policy of the mandate connected with it, but could be restored when the Zionists relinquished their political ambitions in Palestine. This could be achieved by the establishment of an independent state of Palestine which would not facilitate the realization of political ambitions of an alien minority against the majority of the inhabitants. Arab opposition to Jewish immigration was not based on racial prejudices.
The Arabs were deeply concerned over the situation in Palestine and the resulting state of insecurity, lawlessness and damage to the economy of the country. The deterioration of the situation was due to lack of fairness and of determination on the part of the authorities in Palestine to stem it, contrary to their attitude during the Arab revolt from 1937 to 1939. The restraint shown by the Arabs could not be taken to mean indifference or be taken as a gauge of their future attitude.
By the representative of India to both organizations
Did the representatives of the two organizations recognize that there was a clear distinction between a Jewish National Home and a Jewish State? Did the representative of the Jewish Agency recognize that the statement made by a representative of the British Labour Party referred to a Jewish National Home and
not a Jewish State and did the representative of the Arab Higher Committee realize that a national Jewish home was not inconsistent with an independent and sovereign Arab Palestine State?
Reply of the Jewish Agency
The distinction recognized by the
Jewish Agency between a Jewish State and a Jewish National Home was that the establishment of the Jewish National Home was a process the consummation of which was the setting up of a Jewish State. The remarks of Hugh Dalton showed that this point had been understood by those responsible for the 1944 statement on Palestine of the British Labour Party Executive. Unlike other mandates in Category "A," the Palestine Mandate contained no clause declaring that the object of the Mandate was to prepare the country for independence. Its primary purpose was the establishment of the Jewish National Home. The ultimate goal must be independence, but if its purpose was to be fulfilled and Jewish interests not sacrificed, then a Jewish State must come into being. A Jewish National Home could not fulfill its primary purpose of being open to Jews in need of it if it remained under non-Jewish sovereignty. An Arab minority in a Jewish State would be secure, if for no other reason than that it would be surrounded by Arab States, but a Jewish minority in an Arab State would have no security. To provide for the independence of Palestine without safeguarding the independence of the Jews as a people would be to take the problem out of its context and "load the dice heavily against the Jews."
Reply of the Arab Higher Committee
The Arab Higher Committee was not prepared to consider any solution based on the Balfour Declaration. The Arabs had expressed their opposition to this Declaration by all
means at their disposal--e.g. their protests, strikes and uprisings in Palestine during the last 29 years.
A Jewish National Home was not inconsistent with a sovereign Arab Palestinian State. United Kingdom statements of policy of 1922 and 1938 and the interpretations of two Jewish writers Mr. Sokoloff, the president of the Zionist Organization, in his history of Zionism, written in 1918, and Professor Norman Bentwich in "The Mandate System," published in 1924 repudiated the idea that the Jewish National Home implied a Jewish State.
By the representative of Yugoslavia to the Arab Higher Committee
In the case of the formation of a sovereign State of Palestine what would be the relations between the various national groups and between the Arabs and Jews? Was there any plan worked out for the constitutional organization of the future sovereign State of Palestine?
Reply of the Arab Higher Committee
The constitutional organization of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine would be based on democratic lines in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and would be similar to constitutional organizations in democratic countries.
By the representative of India to the Arab Higher Committee
Was it or was it not a fact that by
1915 it was well-known that the Dead Sea contained chemicals with a value of about $5,000,000,000, and that by now the value of its chemicals and minerals was understood to be about $3,000,000,000,000? Was it a fact that many people from outside were interested in these figures?
Reply of the Arab Higher Committee
A governmental commission of inquiry had in
1925 estimated the value of the mineral deposits of the Dead Sea at £240,000,000,000. The possibilities of the Dead Sea and the economic and political interests involved were outlined in a speech by Viscount Templeton in the House of Lords on March 20, 1929. He had said that the importance of the Dead Sea and the interest taken in it by a British group dated back to 1916.
By the representative of Colombia to both organizations
What were the views of the two organizations regarding the composition of the investigating committee?
Reply of the Jewish Agency
So far as the composition of the special committee was concerned the Jewish Agency would not differentiate between big and small powers or suggest the exclusion of any government because it had a policy on Palestine. Parties directly concerned should be excluded--for example, the United Kingdom Government and the Arab States--unless it were agreed that the Committee should have one Arab and one Jewish member.
Reply of the Arab Higher Committee
In view of the statements made by representatives that there was an absence of neutrality, it was difficult to express any views concerning the composition of the proposed committee.
h. Other Organizations
At its 47th meeting on May
6 the First Committee referred to Sub-Committee 5, consisting of representatives of Colombia, Poland, Iran, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the question of whether organizations (other than the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Arab Higher Committee) from which requests for hearings had been received represented a considerable element of the population of Palestine.
Sub-Committee 5 under the chairmanship of Mr. Hagglof (Sweden) held two meetings on May 7 and 9, and examined the requests from the following organizations: Agudas Israel World Organization; Political Action Committee for Palestine; Progressive Zionist District 95 of New York, Zionist Organization of America; Hebrew Committee of National Liberation; Committee for Freedom of North Africa; Palestine Communist Party Central Committee; Institute of Arab American Affairs; Young Egypt Party; League for Peace with Justice in Palestine; Union for the Protection of the Human Person; United Israel World Union, Inc.; Church of God, Faith of David, Inc.; Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
The Sub-Committee found that some of the requests originated with organizations established outside Palestine and that the other requests came from organizations which, although established in Palestine, did not, in the opinion of the Sub-Committee, represent a sufficiently considerable element of the population of that country. The
Sub-Committee therefore decided unanimously to advise the First Committee not to grant a hearing to the organizations which had lodged applications, it being well understood, however, that this decision did not exclude the possibility of all these organizations being heard by the committee of investigation once it had been established. This report was adopted by the First Committee without discussion at its 52nd meeting on May 9.
A telegram was received by the Chairman of the First Committee and the Secretary-General on May 12 from the Agudas Israel World Organization protesting that the failure to hear their representatives was "undeserved discrimination against religious Jewish people contrary to the Charter of the United Nations."
6. CONSTITUTING AND INSTRUCTING THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE
a. Preliminary Discussion
The General Assembly at its 70th plenary meeting on May 1 referred to the First Committee the question of constituting and instructing a special committee, to prepare for the consideration of Palestine at the Assembly's next regular session.
The First Committee began a general discussion of this item at its 48th meeting on May 7. Two draft resolutions were presented to the Committee, one by the United States and one by Argentina.
The United States resolution provided for the establishment of a committee
of inquiry consisting of representatives of Canada, Czechoslovakia, Iran, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden and Uruguay. The committee should be instructed to assemble, analyze, and collate all pertinent data on the question; to receive testimony from interested Governments and from such non-governmental organizations and individuals as the committee in its discretion may deem appropriate; to study the various issues which are involved and to submit to the next regular session of the General Assembly such proposals for the solution of the problem of Palestine as it may determine to be useful for the effective consideration of the problem by the General Assembly.
The draft resolution also provided that the committee should sit wherever it thought desirable, should receive on request information from the Mandatory and other Members, and should have the necessary facilities, travel and subsistence expenses and finances.
The Argentine draft resolution stated that it was advisable that the committee be a small one, "provided that proportional geographical representation is ensured to the States Members according to their distribution throughout the five continents"; that the powers of the committee should be defined so that it might have all the authority which only the General Assembly could confer; that in view of their responsibility the five countries permanently represented on the Security Council should not be excluded; and that likewise the special interest of the five Arab States and of the Jews in Palestine should be considered. The investigating committee should consist of eleven members China, France, U.S.S.R., United Kingdom, United States, one State chosen by lot from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria and five other States, chosen by lot as follows:
one from the American Continent other than the United States;
one from the Pacific: Australia, New Zealand, the Philippine Republic,
one from the African Continent: Ethiopia, Liberia, the Union of South Africa, provided Egypt was not chosen by lot to represent the Arab States;
one from Asia: Afghanistan, India, Iran, Siam and Turkey, if Egypt was chosen by lot to represent the Arab States.
The draft resolution provided that the committee should have "the widest powers both to record facts and to make recommendations." It was to hear the United Kingdom as the Mandatory and also one representative of the Arabs resident in Palestine, one representative of the Jews resident
in Palestine and one representative of the Jewish Agency.
A resolution was presented by El Salvador to the 50th meeting of the First Committee on May 8. It provided that the special committee should propose to the General Assembly the solution or solutions it thought "most convenient to ensure to Palestine the destiny which it deserves, in accordance with the aspirations of its People." The special committee was to consider the interests of the different groups in Palestine, including the Arabs and Jews, the interests of the Christian world in Palestine and of the Christian population there. The special committee was to bear in mind that the ultimate purpose of any plan for the future of Palestine should be "the freedom and independence of this nation at the most appropriate time."
In the general discussion the opinion was expressed that the special committee should have wide powers, that it should go where it thought necessary, hear all parties and take note of all possible solutions in making its recommendations.
As regards the composition of the special committee, two different views were expressed: (1) that the committee should be composed of "neutral" countries, and should not include the permanent members of the Security Council, and (2) that it should include the permanent members of the Security Council.
In favor of the first alternative it was urged that the special interests of the Great Powers meant that they would not be impartial and that their inclusion in the committee might result in political discussions which would delay its work, that the committee must not only be impartial but must also give the impression of being impartial. It was also felt that the United Kingdom as the Mandatory was an interested party and should not therefore sit on the committee, and that either all or none of the permanent members of the Security Council should be included.
On the other hand it was urged that the permanent members should be included because of their special responsibilities and that recommendations agreed to by them from the start would be more easily accepted and enforced.
The United States, United Kingdom and China stated that they were against the inclusion on the committee of the permanent members of the Security Council, but that if asked to serve they would do so.
representative suggested that the committee should be composed of eleven members as follows: the five permanent members of the Security Council, two representatives of the Latin American countries, one Arab country, one representative from Africa or Asia, one from Western Europe, and one from Eastern Europe. This was supported by the delegate for the U.S.S.R., who felt that the same factors taken into account when the Security Council was constituted should be taken into account in the constitution of the committee.
In the course of the debate it was decided to consider successively (1) the terms of reference, (2) the composition and (3) the administrative organization of the special committee.
b. Terms of Reference
At the conclusion of its 51st meeting on May 8, the First Committee appointed a Sub-Committee (Sub-Committee 6, consisting of representatives of Argentina, China, Australia, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, El Salvador, France, the U.S.S.R. and the United States) to combine into one text the proposals of Argentina, the United States and El Salvador.
The Sub-Committee held two meetings on May 8 and 9 and produced a working paper in the form of a draft resolution as follows:
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 the consideration at the next regular session of the Assembly of the future government of Palestine,
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLVES:
1. that the special committee shall have the widest powers to ascertain and record facts;
2. that it shall receive testimony, by whatever means it considers appropriate in each case, from the mandatory power, from representatives of the population of Palestine, and from such other Governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals, as it may wish to consult;
3. that the committee shall bear in mind the principle that independence for the population of Palestine should be the ultimate purpose of any plan for the future of that country;
4. that it 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;
5. that its report shall be communicated to the Secretary-General, if possible by 15 August 1947, but in any event not later than 1 September 1947, in order that it may be circulated to the Member States of the United Nations in time for consideration by the second regular session of the General Assembly;
that the special committee shall give most careful consideration to the interests of all the inhabitants of Palestine and also to the religious interests in Palestine of Islam Jewry and Christendom.
The U.S.S.R. representative at the First Committee's 52nd meeting on May 9, presented an amendment to the Sub-Committee's
draft resolution. This provided that the special committee should (1) study in detail the situation in Palestine "by carrying out investigation on the spot," (2) should assemble, analyze and collate all data relating to the question, receive verbal and written testimony from interested governments, and from non-governmental organizations and individuals "whom the committee will deem appropriate to grant a hearing," and "should study various other issues connected with the problem of Palestine"; (3) submit proposals on the solution of the problem of Palestine "including a proposal on the question of establishing without delay the independent
State of Palestine."
In explaining his amendment, the U.S.S.R.. representative said that it originally had been submitted to the Sub-Committee as an amendment to the United States resolution, and that his delegation had no objection in principle to the Sub-Committee's draft, but that it might be made more concrete by the insertion of the first paragraph of the Soviet proposal and by a reference to independence as a possible solution of the problem.
The Indian representative presented a resolution amalgamating the Sub-Committee's draft and the amendments proposed by the U.S.S.R. and on May 10, the Philippine, Iraq and Polish representatives presented further proposals.
The Philippine proposal was based on the working paper prepared by the Sub-Committee, the U.S.S.R. and Indian proposals and certain suggestions made by the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Arab Higher Committee. It suggested the insertion in the preamble of a reference to the fact that the special session had been called "at the request of the Government of the United Kingdom." It provided that "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"; and that it should conduct investigations on the spot and receive written or oral testimony from the mandatory power, from representatives of the population of Palestine, and from such other governments,
non-governmental organizations and individuals "as it may deem proper to grant a hearing." The texts concerning the independence of Palestine and the consideration of religious interests were left as in the working paper.
A new provision was included urging that the special committee should "consider what measures need to be
taken to insure peace, justice and harmony among the people of Palestine preparatory to its emergence as an independent and democratic State."
The proposal presented by Iraq provided (1) that the special committee should "have the widest powers to ascertain and
collect facts relevant to the future government of Palestine"; (2) that it should "examine the development of the situation in Palestine, in the light of the purposes and principles of the Charter, with a view to assessing rights and claims"; (3) that it should receive testimony from governments, non-governmental agencies and individuals "it deems fit to consult"; (4) that the committee "shall be guided by" the principle that the independence of Palestine was the primary purpose of any plan for its future government; and (5) that "the committee shall consider in its study on the future government of Palestine, the bearing of the situation in Palestine on international co-operation, peace and security in the Middle East."
The Polish amendment proposed that the committee should have the widest powers to ascertain and record facts and "study in detail the situation in Palestine by carrying out an investigation on the spot and elsewhere wherever necessary, including the displaced persons camps and Cyprus." Its proposals to the General Assembly on the solution of the problem were to include "a proposal on the question of establishing by the United Nations the independent, democratic state of Palestine." It was to give consideration not only to religious interests in Palestine, but also "to the rights of the Arab and the Jewish people in Palestine." Other delegates also suggested changes of wording to the working paper.
In the Committee's discussions certain differences of opinion were expressed on (1) whether the terms of reference should be broad and general or whether they should be defined; (2) whether the question of the displaced persons in Europe should be linked with the problem of Palestine or whether they constituted a separate problem; (3) whether "independence" should be mentioned as the primary purpose for the future government of Palestine, since the term was capable of differing interpretations or whether independence was the only issue; (4) whether the committee should be
mainly a fact-finding committee or whether its terms of reference should indicate concrete ends.
At the conclusion of its 53rd meeting on May 10, the Committee voted 32 in favor and 11 against to charge Sub-Committee 6, enlarged to include representatives of Iraq, the Philippines, India and Colombia, with drafting, if possible, a unanimous text on the terms of reference of the special committee, or, if agreement should prove impossible, with proposing alternative texts.
The Sub-Committee met on May 10 and drafted a text, which was submitted to the First Committee at its 54th meeting on May 12. Alternative texts were submitted on the paragraphs referring to the future of Palestine, and the interests of the inhabitants of Palestine and the religious interests in
Palestine of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The text submitted by the Sub-Committee was as follows:
WHEREAS the General Assembly of the United Nations has been called into special session in pursuance of the request of the Government of the United Kingdom for the purpose of constituting and instructing a special committee to prepare for the consideration at the next regular session of the Assembly of the future government of Palestine,
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLVES that:
1. A special committee be created for the above-mentioned purpose consisting of the representatives of ....................
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, receive and examine written or oral testimony, 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.
5A. The special committee shall bear in mind the principle that independence for the population of Palestine should be the purpose of any plan for the future of that country.
Where The Sub-Committee was unable to reach unanimity, alternative texts are included.
5B. The special committee shall be guided by the principle that the independence for the people of Palestine should be the purpose of any
plan for the future of that country.
5C. The special committee shall bear in mind the principle that independence for the population of Palestine should be the ultimate purpose of any plan for the future of that country.
5D. The special committee shall be guided by the principle that the independence of Palestine should be the purpose of any plan for the future of that country.
6A. The special committee shall give most careful consideration to the interests of all the inhabitants of Palestine and also to the religious interests in Palestine of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
6B. The special committee shall give most careful consideration to the religious interests in Palestine of Islam, Judaism and
(The majority of the members of the Sub-Committee were in favor of omission of both texts of Paragraph 6).
7. 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.
(The Representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Representative of India proposed the addition to the above of the following words):
"including a proposal on the question of establishing without delay the independent democratic state of Palestine"
8. The special
committee's report shall be communicated to the Secretary-General if possible by 15 August 1947, but in any event not later than 1 September 1947, in order that it may be circulated to the Member States of the United Nations in time for consideration by the second regular session of the General Assembly.
The draft resolution was criticized by certain representatives on the one hand because it contained no definite recommendation on the realization of independence for Palestine as soon as possible, and no recommendation that the committee should act in accordance with the terms of the Charter and that the terms of
the debate had linked the question with the displaced persons camps, thereby prejudicing the issue. On the other hand, it was criticized on the ground that it did not mention specifically the displaced persons camps or provide adequately for the main purpose of seeing how the immigration of the Jews and the freedom of the Arabs from foreign interests could be reconciled.
The Polish representative suggested that the special committee should consider the following
questions: how the terms of the Mandate had not been fulfilled; how the immigration of the Jews and the national aspirations of the Arabs (e.g. freedom from the protectorate of great powers and subservience to foreign oil interests) could be reconciled; the way and time when a free democratic State in Palestine, guaranteeing equal political, national, cultural and linguistic rights to both nations could be introduced. The committee should also investigate alternative solutions, such as the formation of a separate Arab and a separate Jewish State in Palestine; it should examine the credentials of various political groups, especially the political role of former Nazi collaborators; and the position of Jews in displaced persons camps, recommending the transfer to Palestine as soon as possible of those who wanted to go; that it should examine the possibility of economic activity by the United Nations and specialized agencies and particular States to raise the standard of living of the non-Jewish population; that it should examine the protection of religious interests in the various Holy Places. The Syrian representative in criticizing the suggested terms of reference of the special committee outlined the maximum Arab concessions, as put forward at conferences between the United Kingdom Government and the States of the Arab League from September 9 to October 2, 1946, and from January 23 to February 14, 1947.
These concessions included:
Creation of a provisional executive council to be composed of Arabs and Jews, and presided over by the British representative;
Summoning by free election in which all citizens of Palestine, without discrimination as to nationality, creed, or faith, would participate, of a constituent assembly to promulgate an organic, democratic constitution guaranteeing:
the unity of the State with the elected legislature;
the sanctity of the Holy Places with freedom of access and worship;
religious courts for matters of personal status;
rights of citizenship;
the right to employ the Hebrew language as a second official language in areas where speakers of that language form an absolute majority;
communal parliamentary representation in proportion to the number of citizens;
further immigration to
be prohibited until the independent Government of Palestine provides otherwise;
supervision by the United Nations over the status of the Holy places and shrines;
After the election and convocation of parliament, the elected head of the State to assume power under the constitution, thereupon terminating the Mandate, and declaring Palestine a completely independent State.
It had been contemplated, the Syrian representative said, that these steps would take a maximum of two years.
The representative of Iraq and Lebanon associated themselves with the statement of the Syrian representative, and with his criticisms of the terms of
reference of the special committee.
At its 55th meeting on May 12, the First Committee began a clause-by-clause consideration of the text proposed by Sub-Committee 6.
The Chilean representative introduced an amendment to the Preamble to refer to "the question of Palestine" instead of to "the future government of Palestine," on the ground that the problem of Palestine was wider in scope than the mere taking of a decision on its future government.
The amendment was carried by 36 votes in favor, 10 against and 6 abstentions.
At the suggestion of the United Kingdom representative it was therefore decided to omit "in pursuance of the request of the Government of the United Kingdom" because the United Kingdom request had referred to the "future government of Palestine."
A Polish amendment to Paragraph 2, providing that the special committee should investigate on the spot "and elsewhere, wherever necessary, including the displaced persons camps" was defeated by 10 votes in favor, 33 against and 6 abstentions.
Paragraph 3 was adopted unanimously.
An amendment to paragraph 4 was introduced by Panama and Guatemala to insert "wherever it may deem convenient" after "the special committee shall conduct its investigation in Palestine," on the grounds that the committee would require to take testimony from the Mandatory, and see for itself what proportion of the Jews in the displaced persons camps wanted to go to Palestine.
This amendment, as altered in accordance with a suggestion by the Australian representative to read "wherever it may deem useful," was adopted by 36 votes in favor, 8 against and 4 abstentions. The paragraph as amended was adopted by 43 votes in favor, 8 against and 1 abstention.
The United States representative proposed another alternative to paragraph 5: "The special committee, in studying the
future governance of Palestine, shall give full consideration to guarantees of the rights necessary to the peace and independence of its peoples," on the ground that this avoided prejudgment of the question and made it clear that the special committee's business was to study and report upon the subject.
Certain representatives declared that they could not understand the paragraph and that it would be difficult for the special committee to interpret. The U.S.S.R. representative suggested an amendment to the new paragraph:
The special committee in studying the problem of Palestine shall give full consideration to guarantees of the rights of its people necessary to the peace and independence of that country.
A proposal of the French
representative to delete paragraph 5 on the ground that it did not add anything to the special committee's instructions and would be difficult to apply was adopted by a vote of 29 in favor, 10 against, with 14 abstentions.
The Australian representative proposed the deletion of paragraph 6 since it also added nothing to the instructions of the special committee, which would have to
take into account religious interests as well as other interests and would also have to consider the interests of the population of Palestine, and since it was logical, if paragraph 5 was omitted, to omit paragraph 6. The proposal was negative, with 19 votes in favor, 25 against and 7 abstentions.
Paragraph 6B of the Sub-Committee's proposed text was then adopted by 27 votes in favor, 9 against and 16 abstentions.
The U.S.S.R. and Indian representatives proposed to add to paragraph 7 that the special committee's recommendations should include "a proposal on the question of establishing without delay the independent democratic State of Palestine" on the ground that if religious interests were specified political interests should also be specifically mentioned.
The proposal was lost by 15 votes in favor, 26 against, and 12 abstentions.
A Polish amendment to insert "including a proposal on the establishing by the United Nations of the independent democratic State of Palestine," was lost by 10 votes in favor, 25 against and 18 abstentions.
The original paragraph proposed by the Sub-Committee was adopted by 44
votes in favor and 7 against.
Paragraph 8, after slight amendments, was adopted by 45 votes in favor, with 6
c. Composition of the Committee
The First Committee at its 56th meeting on May 13 resumed consideration of the discussion
of the composition of the special committee on the basis of the draft resolutions proposed by Argentina and the United States on May 7.
The Argentine representative withdrew his draft resolution, on the ground that the spokesman for the Jewish Agency had opposed the inclusion of the United Kingdom, as an interested party, on the special committee, and that all five permanent members of the Security Council should be included or none of them.
New proposals were submitted by the representatives of Poland, the U.S.S.R., Australia and Venezuela. An amendment to the United States draft resolution was submitted by the representative of Chile.
The Polish proposal was that the special committee should be composed of eleven members, as follows: the five permanent members of the
Security Council, two countries from Latin America, one country from the Arab States, one country from Africa, one country from Asia, one country from Eastern Europe.
The U.S.S.R. proposal was that the special committee should consist of those Member States which were on the Security Council. The U.S.S.R. proposed as an alternative that the Committee should include the permanent members of the Security Council, one State representing Western Europe, one State representing Eastern Europe, two States representing Latin America, one Arab State, one State representing the Far East and Africa.
The Australian proposal was that the special committee should consist of eleven members, not including the permanent members of the Security Council.
A Venezuelan proposal urged insertion of a sentence providing that the countries elected to the special committee "shall elect persons of high moral character and of recognized competence in international law and international affairs with the understanding that these persons shall act impartially and conscientiously, bearing in mind the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations."
Objections were raised by certain representatives that if this paragraph were formally included in the resolution it might be taken to indicate a doubt as to whether countries would name competent and impartial representatives, and the Chairman suggested that a paragraph be inserted in the report associating the Com
mittee with the views expressed by the Venezuelan representative. The Venezuelan delegate therefore withdrew his proposal. The reference to "competence in international law" was not included in the report as certain representatives considered this qualification too specialized.
The Chilean amendment proposed to
add to the list of States mentioned in the United States draft resolution: Guatemala and Yugoslavia.
The debate in the
Committee centered on
(1) whether the permanent members should be included or not, (2)
what was an equitable geographical representation.
Certain representatives urged the importance of aiding the special committee's work by establishing it by a substantial majority. In an effort to achieve a compromise on the question of the inclusion of the permanent members of the Security Council, the Norwegian representative suggested the appointment of a commission containing representatives of the permanent members, and from the commission a working committee to be composed of members with no direct interest in Palestine should be chosen. The working committee should report to the commission on September 1, and the commission's report should be made to the regular session of the Assembly. The Chairman pointed out, however, that the First Committee was bound by the terms of reference it had already adopted, which provided for completion of the report to the General Assembly by September 1. The Norwegian representative withdrew the proposal as it had not received the support of the committee.
The Committee voted on the proposals as follows:
The two U.S.S.R. proposals each received 6 votes in favor, 26 against, and 21 abstentions, and were therefore lost;
The Polish proposal received 7 votes in
26 against, and 20 abstentions, and was therefore lost;
The Australian proposal received 13 votes in favor, 11 against and 29 abstentions, and was accepted. It provided that the special committee should consist of eleven Members, excluding the permanent members of the Security Council.
The Committee then elected by 35 votes in favor, 4 against and 13 abstentions the States proposed in the United States draft resolution and the Chilean amendment. It was decided that the two remaining members of the committee should be elected on a geographical basis to represent the South Pacific and Asia. Australia was elected from the South Pacific, receiving 21 votes against 20 received by the Philippines. India was elected from Asia, receiving 34 votes against 7 received by Siam.
The composition of the special committee as a whole, consisting of
representatives of Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, the Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay and Yugoslavia, was approved by 39 votes in favor, 3 against with 10 abstentions.
d. Administrative Organization
The Committee then considered the administrative organization of the special committee on the basis of three final paragraphs of the draft resolutions submitted by the United States on May 7. These read:
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Requests the Secretary-General to enter into suitable arrangements with the proper authorities of any State in whose
territory the committee may wish to sit or to travel, to provide necessary facilities, and to assign appropriate staff to the committee.
Authorizes the Secretary-General to reimburse travel and subsistence expenses of a representative and an alternate representative from each Government represented on the committee on such basis and in such form as he may determine most appropriate in the circumstances.
Authorizes the Secretary-General to advance from the Working Capital Fund such funds as may be required to finance the expenses of the committee without regard to existing limitations on such advances.
The last paragraph was withdrawn as unnecessary since funds were already provided for from the Working Capital Fund. The other two paragraphs were adopted without objection.
e. Final Resolutions
The resolution adopted by the First Committee was as follows:
The First Committee recommends to the General Assembly the adoption of the following resolution:
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 the 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 testimony, 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;
7. The Special Committee's report shall be communicated to the Secretary-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 subsistence expenses of a representative and an alternate representative from each Government represented on the Special Committee on such basis and in such form as he may determine most appropriate in the circumstances.
In the course of the discussion the Iranian representative had suggested that the representatives of the governments which were elected to the special committee should make a statement to the effect that their government would give them no instructions and wide discretionary powers so that they could investigate according to their conscience and in conformity with the purpose and principles of the Charter. After the resolution had been adopted the Iranian representative made
a statement on behalf of his Government to the effect that it would give complete freedom to its representative on the special committee.
The representative of Lebanon requested that the following statement be inserted in the Report:
I have to say a word in explanation of my voting. I shall abstain from voting because I do not want to commit myself in any way regarding this document. This non-committal and abstention, far from meaning unconcern, actually signifies the deepest concern. The ground of this concern is the fact that not only has any mention of independence for Palestine been severely suppressed from the terms of reference but also the basis on which this extraordinary session of the General Assembly was convened in the first place has insensibly shifted, during the last two weeks, from preparing for advising the United Kingdom Government on the future government of Palestine to preparing for the consideration of the so-called problem of Palestine in general, a phrase which by its very generality may mean anything and, therefore, is really unacceptable.
If for no other reason than this essential, and I might also add dangerous, indefiniteness which permeates this entire document, I for my part am wholly unable to subscribe to it one way or the other. Therefore, I respectfully reserve the position of my Government regarding every future occasion.
The representative of Syria made a statement reserving the position of his Government and declaring his intention of voting against the resolution as adopted by the committee, on the ground that a definite proposal for the independence of Palestine was deleted by a great majority of the committee and that another proposal that a solution should be based on the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the Covenant of the League of Nations had been overlooked.
The representative of Iraq associated himself with the statement by the Syrian representative and the representative of Egypt with that of the Lebanese representative. The representative of Saudi Arabia endorsed both statements.
g. Final Plenary Meetings
The Report of the First Committee was considered by the General Assembly at its 77th, 78th and 79th plenary meetings on May 14 and 15.
The Arab States protested against the suggested terms of reference of the special committee on the grounds that they contained no mention of the independence of Palestine, or the principles of the Charter; that the "future government" of Palestine had been replaced by
the vague term "problem" of Palestine; that the clause relating to the consideration of the interests of all the inhabitants of Palestine had been omitted; that the mandate to the special committee to conduct investigations wherever it deemed useful had been expressly intended to enable the committee to visit the displaced persons camps and bring about a connection between the two problems; that the proposed terms of reference would not make for peace in the Middle East
They reserved the attitude of their Governments on the question.
The Egyptian representative made a statement for the record, saying that he would have to vote against the First Committee's report, and reserving the attitude of his Government, for the following reasons:
1. The decisions of the First Committee were not in line with the legal and political remedies his delegation believed necessary for a
just and lasting solution of the Palestine problem.
2. The reference to the independence of Palestine had been
removed, and the First Committee was not within its rights in deleting the reference to "the future government of Palestine" and substituting for it a reference to "the question of Palestine."
Various representatives pointed out that the special committee would be bound to take account of the statements and declarations made in the discussions in addition to its terms of reference. No decision of substance had
been taken, and the terms of reference were not intended to prejudge the issue.
The U.S.S.R. representative, emphasizing that the discussion of the acute political problem of Palestine had placed on the United Nations the responsibility for a
solution, thought that the special committee should study the factual situation in Palestine, which would show that the Mandate had not justified itself. He stated that the task of the committee was to reconcile the lawful interests of Arabs and Jews in Palestine, if possible by the creation of a single Arab-Jewish State with equal rights for Arabs and Jews, and, if not, by two separate States, one Arab and one Jewish.
The Polish representative submitted again the Polish proposal that the special committee should have eleven members, including the permanent members of the Security Council.
The Assembly voted first on paragraph 1 of the resolution giving the membership of the special committee. This was carried by 40 votes in favor, with 13 abstentions and none against.
The Preamble and the rest of the resolution was then voted on and carried by 45 votes in favor, and 7 against.
The resolution as a whole was then adopted by 45 votes in favor and 7 against.
7. APPEAL FOR PEACE IN PALESTINE
Certain representatives, including the Indian representative on April 30 and the New Zealand representative on May 3, appealed for peace in Palestine while the question was being considered by the Special Committee.
At the General Assembly's 78th session on May 14 the Norwegian representatives moved the following resolution:
The General Assembly calls upon all Governments and peoples to refrain, pending action by the General Assembly on the report of the special committee on Palestine, from the threat or use of force or any other action which might create an atmosphere prejudicial to an early settlement of the question of Palestine.
This was endorsed by other representatives, and, on the suggestion of El Salvador, the Norwegian representative agreed to insert after "calls upon all Governments and peoples" "and particularly upon the inhabitants of Palestine." The resolution was adopted by the General Assembly, with no votes against.
8. OTHER QUESTIONS
a. Welcome to Siam
At the 68th meeting of the General Assembly on April 28, Siam was formally welcomed as a member to the General Assembly. The General Assembly at its previous plenary meeting on December 15, 1946, had voted to admit Siam to the United Nations, and its instrument of adherence to the Charter had been presented on the following day.
The Indian, Chinese, and Danish representatives made speeches, referring to the ties of their countries with Siam and welcoming its admission to the United Nations. The representative of Siam in his speech referred to the love of peace, freedom and tolerance, democratic regime and tradition of international co-operation of his country.
b. Address by President of Mexico
At its 72nd meeting on May 3, the General Assembly was addressed by Miguel Aleman, the President of the Republic of Mexico. President Aleman stated that only the fulfillment of obligations within a program of international co-operation would bring durable peace. He expressed the hope that the peace treaties would soon be completed. International co-operation must be "founded on a scrupulous observance of the rights of States." It was the obligation of the United Nations to strengthen the foundations of a universal community through the spread of education, the development of international trade on a basis satisfactory to all nations and the raising of the standard of living. The obstacles encountered showed that the structure of the new world must be built on complete knowledge of the problems involved, and on a full agreement concerning measures for their solution. President Aleman stressed the value of regional arrangements, and the contribution in this field of the American Republics.
9. SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PALESTINE
The Special Committee on Palestine held its first meeting on May 26, 1947, at Lake Success, New York.
The membership of the
Committee was as follows:
Australia - John D. L. Hood
Canada - I. C. Rand
Czechoslovakia - Karel Lisicky
Guatemala - Jorge Garcia Granados
India - Sir Abdur Rahman
Iran - Nasrollah Entezam
Netherlands - N. S. Blom
Peru - Alberto Ulloa
Sweden - Emil Sandstrom
Uruguay - Enrique Rodríguez Fabregat
Yugoslavia - Vladimir Simic
On May 29 the Secretary-General sent a circular letter to Members of the United Nations transmitting a copy of a letter from the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations. The United Kingdom letter asked that Member States should do all
in their power to discourage illegal immigration into Palestine while the issue remained
The Secretary-General expressed the hope that consideration would be given to the letter in the light of the resolution adopted by the General Assembly.
At its second meeting on June 2 the Committee elected Chief Justice Emil Sandstrom, of Sweden, as Chairman, and Dr. Alberto Ulloa, of Peru, as Vice-Chairman.
It approved unanimously a letter to be sent to those organizations which had applied to be heard before the Special Session of the General Assembly inviting them to submit written statements to the Committee on or
before June 6. (On June 6 the Committee decided against the hearing of any organization during the Committee's work in New York). On June 3 the Committee approved an official communique containing a notification of its arrival in Palestine and announcing the holding of hearings. The communique requested that organizations and individuals who wished to do so should submit written statements as soon as possible and that those qualified persons who wished to be heard orally should apply in writing for a hearing. The Committee later decided that July 5 should be the deadline for the receipt of written statements and requests for oral hearings.
At its second and third meeting on June 2 and 3 the Special Committee adopted provisional rules for procedure, including a provision for the appointment of liaison officers to the Committee by the Mandatory Power, the Arab Higher Committee and the Jewish Agency for Palestine.
The Government of Palestine appointed D.C. MacGillivray as liaison officer and H. C. Dodds to assist on administrative matters.
The Jewish Agency appointed Aubrey S. Eban and David Horowitz as liaison officers. The Arab Higher committee, however, in reply to the communication from the Secretary-General of the United Nations informing them that they had the right to appoint a liaison officer, cabled as follows:
Arab Higher Committee Palestine desire convey to United Nations that after thoroughly studying the deliberations and circumstances under which the Palestine fact-finding committee was formed and the discussion leading to terms of reference, they resolved that Palestine Arabs should abstain from collaboration and desist from appearing before said committee for following main reasons. Firstly, United Nations refusal adopt natural course of inserting termination mandate and declaration independence in agenda Special United Nations Session and in terms of reference. Secondly, failure detach Jewish world refugees from Palestine problem. Thirdly, replacing interests Palestine inhabitants by insertion world religious interests although these are not subject of contention. Furthermore Palestine Arabs natural rights are self-evident and cannot continue to be subject to investigation but deserve to be recognized on the basis of principles of United Nations Charter.
The first group of members of the Special Committee left for Palestine on June 10.
Following the program on which it had decided, the Committee first heard representatives of the Government of Palestine and of the Jewish Agency (the Arab Higher committee having decided to abstain from collaboration) and then proceeded to tour the country.
4. THE SYRIAN AND LEBANESE QUESTION
a. Syrian and Lebanese Communication dated February 4, 1946
By letter dated February 4, 1946, addressed to the Secretary-General, the heads of the Lebanese and Syrian delegations to the United Nations, in accordance with Article 34 of the Charter, brought to the attention of the Security Council the presence of French and British troops in Syria and Lebanon. The letter stated that the Governments of Syria and Lebanon had expected that these foreign troops would be withdrawn immediately on the cessation of hostilities with Germany and Japan, but that a Franco-British Agreement of December 13, 1945, made the withdrawal of troops subject to conditions which were inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the Charter.
The communication was considered at the 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd meetings, held on February 14, 15 and 16, 1946.
b. Discussion of Procedural Questions
At the 19th meeting the President suggested that it was unnecessary at that time to decide whether Article 32 applied. Syria and Lebanon were manifestly States whose interests were specially affected by the discussion of the question before the Security Council. He proposed that the Council should invite Syria and the Lebanon to participate, without vote, under Article 31. He further proposed that the representatives of Syria and Lebanon should have the right of proposition. The President's proposal was adopted without objection.
The representative of Egypt suggested that an immediate decision be taken on the type of vote required to determine whether a dispute or a situation existed; and he moved that this decision be considered a procedural matter. The representatives of Australia, Brazil, Mexico, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom preferred to proceed first with the oral statements of the parties concerned, and the representative of China suggested that the motion of the representative of Egypt be referred to the Committee of Experts for study and report. The representative of the U.S.S.R. felt that the Council should take an immediate decision on the point. The representative of the Netherlands moved that "no vote shall be taken at this stage in the proceedings of the Council upon the proposal that has been made by the delegate for Egypt," and this motion was carried with 8 votes.
The representative of Egypt argued that if one permanent member of the Security Council was enabled to decide whether a case constituted a dispute or a situation, that is, whether a procedural or a substantive issue were involved, then Article 27 (3) would be virtually inoperative. It would mean that a permanent member could exercise the right of veto on every question that came before the Council, which wa's contrary to the letter and spirit of the Charter.
The representative of the U.S.S.R. submitted that procedural questions were questions of the order in which, or the methods by which, the business of an organ was conducted. He referred to a decision made in San Francisco on June 7, 1945, in the discussion of a report of the Third Committee. He considered that this decision was authority for the principle that the question whether a case constituted a dispute or a situation was a question of substance and not of procedure; so that any decision on such a question would have to be taken under Article 27 (3).
The representative of the Netherlands stated that the mere fact that a Member State contended that a dispute existed did not bind the Council to the conclusion that a dispute existed in the technical sense of the term.
The representative of the U.S.S.R. agreed that, regardless of the terminology used by any party, it was for the Council, in every case, to determine the question. He considered that a dispute existed whenever one party made claims or accusations which were denied by the other party.
The representatives of the United Kingdom and France stated that they would refrain from voting during consideration of the present question.
The Council took no formal decision on the procedural issues raised.
c. Discussion of Substantive Questions
The representatives of Syria and Lebanon were invited to participate, without vote, in the discussion of the question which they had brought before the Security Council. They argued that the presence of foreign troops on the territory of a sovereign State against its will constituted a dispute and threatened the maintenance of international peace and security; that the Franco-British Agreement of December 13, 1945, was a violation of the sovereignty of States Members of the United Nations, contrary to the terms of Article 2 of the Charter; that the presence of the troops could not be justified on any pretence of conducting military operations or of protecting lines of communication, or on the grounds that their territory was a menaced area; and that international security was clearly organized by the Charter and was not a function of any one great power. The representatives stated that Syria and Lebanon had made constant unsuccessful representations to the Governments concerned, asking for the withdrawal of troops, and felt that the dispute had reached the stage where it should be brought before the Council.
In reply, the representative of France pointed out that the state of war had not ended, and as a result troops of many nationalities were stationed on the territory of every belligerent country; that the independence proclaimed in 1941 by the Government of General de Gaulle bad become a reality in spite of the difficulties of the time; that the existing situation in Syria and Lebanon could not in good faith be regarded as likely to menace the maintenance of international peace and security under Article 34 of the Charter and could be settled by negotiations or other appropriate means under Article 33; that France, in full agreement with the United Kingdom, had given evidence of its good will in taking the initiative for the conclusion of an agreement relating to the evacuation of Syria and Lebanon and was disposed to proceed by submitting the matter to the Council with a view to making the international arrangements necessary for the maintenance of security in that part of the world. He made it clear that in the absence of a decision by the Security Council the French Government did not interpret the Agreement of December 13, 1945, as implying the maintenance of troops in the Levant indefinitely, and that he was prepared to negotiate with the Syrian and Lebanese Governments as to the methods by which the French troops should be evacuated.
In replying to the statements of the Syrian and Lebanese representatives, the representative of the United Kingdom stated that his Government was in sympathy with the Syrian and Lebanese Governments in their desire to see British troops withdrawn from their two countries. He said that British troops were in the two Levant States as a heritage of the needs of war; that at the invitation of the Syrian authorities British troops had intervened to restore order in a dispute between French troops and the Syrian population in May 1945; that in view of the possibility of further disorders, the local governments had asked for an assurance that British troops would not withdraw from the Levant so long as other foreign troops remained; that his delegation associated itself wholeheartedly with the declaration by the representative of France to the effect that the Agreement of December 13, 1945, implied no intention on their part to maintain effectives in the Levant without limitation of time and in the absence of a discussion by the Security Council.
d. Resolutions Presented to the Council
The representative of the Netherlands proposed the following resolution:
The Council should take note of the statements made by the four parties; express our confidence that as a result of negotiations or otherwise the foreign troops in Syria and the Lebanon will be withdrawn at no distant date; request the parties to inform the Council when this has been done, in order that the Council may at any time revert to it, and pass on to the next item of the agenda.
This resolution was modified by a subsequent resolution submitted by the representative of the United States, and was later withdrawn by the representative of the Netherlands.
The representative of Mexico proposed the following resolution:
THE SECURITY COUNCIL SHOULD DECIDE:
1. That the claim of the Syrian and Lebanese Governments to the effect that the British and French troops should be withdrawn simultaneously and at the earliest possible date is justified.
2. That the date for the evacuation of such troops should be fixed by negotiations between the parties in this case, it being understood that such negotiations will be concerned exclusively with the military technical arrangements necessary for the adequate evacuation of such troops,
3. To request the parties to inform the Council when these arrangements have been made.
The Mexican representative subsequently amended his resolution by deleting the word "sexclusively" in the second paragraph. Four representatives voted in favor of the resolution, which was declared lost.
The representative of Egypt proposed the following resolution:
After hearing the statements by the delegates for the Lebanon, Syria, France and the United Kingdom, and after having exchanged views on the case which is submitted to them . . .
THE SECURITY COUNCIL,
considering that the presence of British and French troops on Lebanese and Syrian territory is incompatible with the principle of the sovereign equality of all Members laid down in the Charter;
Believing that this principle, the intangibility of which is fully recognized by all the parties concerned, should receive its full application by the immediate and simultaneous withdrawal by all British and French troops still in the territories referred to;
the British and French Governments on the one hand, and the Lebanese and Syrian Governments on the other hand, to enter into negotiations as soon as possible with a view to establishing exclusively the technical details of the said withdrawal, including the fixing of the date of its completion, and REQUESTS them to keep the Council informed of the result of these negotiations.
The last paragraph was later amended by its author by changing the word "recommends" to read "recommend"; and by deleting the word "exclusively."
Four representatives voted in favor of this resolution, which also was declared lost.
The representative of the United States proposed the following resolution:
THE SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES NOTE
of the statements made by the four parties and by the other members of the Council;
its confidence that foreign troops in Syria and Lebanon will be withdrawn as soon as practicable; and that negotiations to that end will be undertaken by the parties without delay;
the parties to inform it of the results of the negotiations.
The representatives of Syria and Lebanon suggested that the second and third paragraphs be amended to read:
its confidence that the foreign troops in Syria and Lebanon will be withdrawn as soon as practicable and that technical negotiations exclusively to that end will be undertaken by the parties without delay;
the parties to inform it of the results of the negotiations as well as the final date of withdrawal.
The representative of the United Kingdom however, stated that he could not agree to this amendment, since it would prevent negotiations from taking place on other matters. The representatives of France and the United Kingdom accepted the addition by the representative of the United States of the words "independently of other issues" after "negotiations" in the second paragraph of the resolution.
The representative of the U.S.S.R. proposed the following amendments to the resolution of the representative of the United States:
1. The first amendment would be, instead of the words in the second paragraph "expresses its confidence that the foreign troops in Syria and Lebanon will be withdrawn," to say "recommends to the Governments of Great Britain and France to withdraw their troops from the territories of Syria and Lebanon." (The latter was further changed to read, "takes note of the statements made by the French and British Governments of their intention to withdraw their troops from Syria and Lebanon" as suggested by the representative of Egypt.)
2. The second amendment would be to say "immediately," in place of the words "as soon as possible."
3. The third amendment would be to insert the word "technical" before the word "negotiations."
These amendments were declared lost after having received the following affirmative votes: 1st amendment, 3; 2nd amendment, 2; 3rd amendment, 5.
e. Decision of the Council
Seven representatives voted in favor of the resolution of the representative of the United States, but it was not carried since the representative of the U.S.S.R., a permanent member, voted against it. In accordance with their previous statements, the representatives of France and the United Kingdom abstained from voting.
The representatives of France and the United Kingdom stated that although the United States resolution had not been legally adopted, their Governments would give effect to the majority decision of the Council. The Council then passed on to the next item on the agenda and was no longer seized of the Syrian and Lebanese question.
f. Further Communications to the Council on the Syrian and Lebanese Question
By letter dated April 30, 1946, addressed to the President of the Council, the representative of France reported that as regards Syria, the French and British Governments had jointly made the arrangements necessary for the full evacuation of Syrian territory by April 30, 1946. After negotiations between British and French experts and between the French and Lebanese Ministers for Foreign Affairs, and in view of the promise by the Lebanese Government to give certain assistance in matters of transport, etc., the French Government had stated that the withdrawal of French troops as a whole could be completed by August 31, 1946. A small group remaining for the control and transport of materials would be evacuated not later than December 31, 1946. The French Government stressed its desire to ensure the withdrawal of the bulk of its fighting forces before June 30, 1946. In conclusion, the letter referred to the exchange of letters between the French and Lebanese Ministers for Foreign Affairs on March 23, 1946, noting the happy outcome of the negotiations recommended in the above proposal of the representative of the United States.
By a letter dated May 1, 1946, addressed to the President of the Council, the representative of the United Kingdom reported that, pursuant to the above proposal of the representative of the United States, the following agreements had been reached between the British and French Governments:
(1) All British troops to be withdrawn from Syria by April 30, 1946.
(2) The first thousand British troops to be withdrawn from Lebanon with a similar number of French troops by March 31, 1946.
(3) The remainder of British troops, except for a small liquidation party, to be withdrawn from Lebanon by June 30, 1946.
This plan had been communicated to the Syrian and Lebanese Governments, which had suggested no modifications.
As regards item (1) above, British troops had actually been withdrawn from Syria by April 15, 1946. The movement required under item (2) above had been carried out by the date mentioned.
By telegram dated May 19, 1946, addressed to the President of the Council, the Syrian Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs stated that the evacuation of foreign troops from Syrian territory had been completed during the first two weeks of April, 1946.
By a letter dated May 9, 1946, addressed to the Secretary-General, the Lebanese Minister for Foreign Affairs stated that his negotiations with the French Foreign Minister concerning the evacuation of French troops from Lebanon had resulted in an agreement established by an exchange of letters dated March 23, 1946. He enclosed copies of these letters, which contained the full text of the agreement summarized in the above letter from the representative of France to the President of the Security Council dated April 30, 1946. In conclusion, the Lebanese Minister for Foreign Affairs stated his Government's satisfaction with the outcome of the negotiations.
(4) Application of the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan
By letter dated June 26, 1946 addressed to the Secretary-General, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan requested, on behalf of his Government, admission to membership in the United Nations, and stated that, being a peace-loving nation, his country was prepared to undertake the obligations embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.
In the Committee on the Admission of New Members, the representatives of the United Kingdom and Egypt supported the application of Trans-Jordan for membership in the United Nations. The Egyptian representative, however, pointed out that the treaty between Trans-Jordan and Great Britain, concluded on March 22, 1946, contained an agreement concerning the stationing of British forces in Trans-Jordan. Such a provision, he stated, could be considered contrary to the principle of sovereign equality of all United Nations Members provided for in Article 2 (1) of the Charter. The United Nations, at a later date, should examine the relationship of the provisions of the treaty of March 22, 1946, to the Charter of the United Nations.
The representative of the U.S.S.R. stated that he could not support the application of Trans-Jordan, as the U.S.S.R. did not maintain diplomatic relations with Trans-Jordan. The representative of Poland questioned whether Trans-Jordan had
attained independence. He stated that he did not consider the way in which the British mandate was terminated to be in conformity with the procedure adopted by the Council of the League of Nations in regard to other mandates; nor had the requirements of the United Nations Charter been met when the mandate was terminated. The representative of Poland suggested that the application of Trans-Jordan be postponed for one year.
The Committee on the Admission of New Members decided to prepare a questionnaire based on the statement by the Polish delegate, to be sent to the representative of Trans-Jordan in New York. The questionnaire was despatched to the representative of Trans-Jordan on August 15, 1946. A reply was received on August 20, 1946.
When the application of Trans-Jordan was discussed by the Security Council, the representative of the U.S.S.R. stated that his Government could not consider that a country which had no diplomatic relations with the U.S.S.R. satisfied the requirements imposed by the Charter of the United Nations upon a State applying for membership in the United Nations. This statement was criticized by the representatives of Australia, Brazil, Egypt, France, the United Kingdom and the United States as raising a condition of membership not contained in Article 4 of the United Nations Charter, which article alone should govern the admission of new Members. The representative of France pointed to the fact that the U.S.S.R. had supported the application of the Mongolian People's Republic, although that country maintained diplomatic relations with only two other States Members of the United Nations.