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United Nations Palestine Commission (UNPC)
7 April 1948
Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York
Press Release PAL/153
7 April 1948
SPECIAL REPORT ON FOOD SITUATION TO BE SENT TO SECURITY COUNCIL
The Palestine Commission decided today to send a special report to the Security Council on the food situation in Palestine after the termination of the British Mandate on 15 May. The report will show that the Commission has done so far to ease the food problem, and what obstacles it has faced.
A draft of the report is expected to be ready by the Commission's next meeting, at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 8 April.
Today the Commission received a reply from the United Kingdom delegation to a letter asking if the Mandatory Power would continue to procure essential food supplies, particularly bread cereals and sugar, for the period until 30 June.
The United Kingdom letter said that the Government of Palestine would be unable to "advance" any money for the procurement of tiny supplies received after 15 May, because the Government of Palestine already had a considerable deficit and had no money available for such a purpose.
The United Kingdom letter also said that the Government of Palestine could not advance money to be repaid from future Palestine revenues, or from funds of the Palestine Currency Board. In this connection, the letter took the view -- which the Commission did not share -- that Palestine Currency Board funds could be disposed of only by the Joint Economic Board for Palestine, an agency which would be set up at a relatively late stage in the General Assembly's partition plan.
The letter said the United Kingdom could undertake procurement of the food supplies only if funds were made available at once. They estimated that one to one and a half million pounds sterling would be needed -- an estimate which was higher than the Commission's estimates and which possibly included funds for supplies other than bread cereals and sugar.
However, the letter emphasized that this was "a matter of great urgency, since if continuity of supplies to Palestine is not to be interrupted, it is essential that shipping arrangements should be made within the next week or ten days." Aside from supplies provided through private importers, the letter estimated that on 15 May, Palestine would have no more than two weeks' supply of cereals.
The Commission was in doubt as to how funds for these essential food imports could be obtained, and arranged for consultations with the Jewish Agency for Palestine to see if the Agency had any proposals.
Today, the Commission also received a letter from Moshe Shertok, head of the Jewish Agency's political department, regarding the urgency of the food situation in Jerusalem. The letter said that "100,000 Jews in the Holy City are threatened with starvation as a result of the indifference of the Mandatory Government to the depredations of armed Arab gangs."
Dr. Eduardo Morgan, the member for Panama, was charged on behalf of the Commission with discussing this matter with representatives of the Mandatory Power.
The Commission then began discussion of the first draft of its special report to the special Session of the General Assembly. The report is to be ready for distribution by Monday, 12 April.
One other matter taken up today was a communication from the Universal Postal Union. The Commission suggested that members of the Advance Party discuss with representatives of non-partisan organizations in Palestine, like the Citrus Board, the possibility of taking over temporary responsibility for the mails there.
The meeting ended at 6:20 p.m.
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