(a) Mr. Creech Jones stated in the Rouse of Commons on 11 December 1947 that the United Kingdom intended to withdraw its forces in the most orderly manner and in such a way as “to cause the least possible disruption to the economy of the country and to interfere as little as possible with the normal trade, especially the citrus trade.” Since the export of citrus fruits requires practically full use of the seaports during the months of December, January and February, it is expected that the evacuation of British troops during these months will be small and that such evacuation as occurs will take place other than by sea.
(b) Mr. Creech Jones also stated that the Mandate would be terminated when “the evacuation is well under way”. Since the Mandate will be terminated not later than 15 May, it can be anticipated that the evacuation of British troops will take place in large numbers during March, April and May, 1948.
(c) As to the evacuation of a seaport by 1 February 1948 in order to facilitate Jewish immigration, Mr. Creech Jones stated: “This presents a considerable difficulty and must be studied further with the United Nations Commission in connection with the thorny problem of immigration . . .” Mr. Bevin stated, however, in the House of Commons on the following day (12 December 1947), “I cannot agree to open a port until we lay down the Mandate. We can not have two administrations at the same time”. This last statement seems to imply that the United Kingdom Government may not be ready to comply with the third sentence of paragraph A.2 of the Plan. The Commission may request the British Government to elucidate this point.
(d) The British authorities have commenced a type of withdrawal or evacuation from specific areas, which may be a guide for further withdrawals of a similar nature. Mr. Creech Jones stated that, in order to strengthen British police for action in Jerusalem and Haifa, “all British personnel are being withdrawn from the purely Jewish area of Tel-Aviv, Petah Tikvah and Ramat Gan. Their place is being taken by the Jewish Police in the Force, and a guard force, called Mishmar, which will operate under the direction of the Government of Palestine and solely within that area for the protection of Jewish life and property against terror attacks. A similar Arab municipal police force is being formed for Jaffa, under arrangements now being made.” In this case of withdrawal of British personnel final authority is left in the hands of the Mandatory Power, and it can, if it chooses, re-occupy the areas, before 15 May. Nevertheless the, Commission might find it useful to explore with the United. Kingdom the possibility of extending the area of such withdrawals prior to 15 May. It is also possible that respecting the provision on evacuation of a seaport by 1 February 1948, the Commission might suggest that the Tel-Aviv area which was being policed by Jewish personnel could satisfy the requirements of paragraph A.2 of the Plan.
(e) Mr. Creech Jones stated, “Once the Mandate has been terminated our troops remaining in Palestine will be responsible only for maintaining law and order in those areas in which they are still in occupation, with the limited object of ensuring that their final withdrawal is not impeded, and that it should be completed in the shortest possible time.” Mr. Bevin stated, “The task of the Army and the others at the end, when the Mandate is handed over; will be to protect themselves in the withdrawal.” After the termination of the Mandate problems may arise concerning the relationship between the Commission and the British forces remaining in Palestine between 15 May and 1 August. The Commission may desire to enter into negotiations with the United Kingdom with a view to minimizing these problems. The matter is discussed more fully in Section III.
(f) There is a passage in Mr. Creech Jones’ speech which implies that the British forces would evacuate Jerusalem by 15 May 1948. He stated, “Up to the date of relinquishment of the Mandate, the Palestine Government remains responsible for the security of Jerusalem and its Holy Places. After the termination of the Mandate, it will be the responsibility of the United Nations to ensure the safety of the City and Its Holy Places. . .” Since the Mandatory Power has stated that after the termination of the Mandate its troops would continue to maintain law and order in the areas in which they were still in occupation, it would seem to follow that, if they are not prepared to discharge this task in Jerusalem, they will have been evacuated therefrom by 15 May, The point should, however, be clarified.
(g) The United Kingdom representative (Mr. Martin) stated in Sub-Committee I of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian question that he thought the Haifa area and seaport would be the last area to be evacuated by British forces.
(h) With respect to the Arab Legion, which owes allegiance to the King of Transjordan but units of which have been serving in Palestine under the orders of the British Commanding Officer, under an arrangement with King Abdullah, Mr. Bevin stated, “It has been decided that all these units will be withdrawn from Palestine at the same time as the withdrawal of the British forces. That withdrawal will be completed when the withdrawal of the British forces is completed.” According to press reports, the Jewish Agency for Palestine has asked for the immediate evacuation of these Transjordan troops.
(i) With respect to the nature and the date of completion of the evacuation, Mr. Creech Jones stated, “I repeat that His Majesty’s Government intend to withdraw troops from Palestine by 1 August.1948. We desire to carry out an orderly withdrawal producing the minimum dislocation in the country, and evacuating the greatest possible quantity of valuable service stores now located there. This period, until 1 August, is also not too long to enable this to be done. It may be impossible to remove all our stores, but obviously we must incur no more loss than is inevitable, and make arrangements, where possible, for subsequent removal,” Mr. Bevin, in speaking on the date of final withdrawal, stated, “So that August 1…was the very best date to which we could absolutely pledge ourselves. But here again, if circumstances arise in which we can speed this thing up to bring it earlier, we shall do it. We are giving priority to the removing of implements of war from Palestine. We shall not leave any warlike stores behind after August 1.
(j) Mr. Bevin also made it clear that unless the problem of the United Nations force was solved, “not only in Palestine but as part of the international set-up”, the British Government would not agree to placing British forces under any other command, and would not take its share as one of the Members of the United Nations if the Security Council were to decide that collective enforcement action was necessary in respect of ‘Palestine.