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Source: United Nations Palestine Commission (UNPC)
21 January 1948
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York

Press Release PAL/114
21 January 1948


PALESTINE COMMISSION HEARS UK REPLIES
TO QUESTION ON IMMIGRATION


The policy of the British Government with respect to immigration into Palestine prior to the termination of the British Mandate was laid before the United Nations Palestine Commission today by Sir Alexander Cadogan, Permanent British Representative to the United Nations.

Sir Alexander answered four specific questions on immigration which had been submitted to him by the Commission. The questions, and Sir Alexander's replies, were as follows:

Question:

What are the plans of the Mandatory Power regarding immigration prior to the termination of the Mandate and particularly with respect to the present quota of 1500 Jewish immigrants per month?

Answer:

It is my Government's intention to maintain its present policy in regard to Jewish immigration to Palestine under which 1500 Jews are admitted monthly until the termination of the Mandatory administration.

Question:

What are the plans of the Mandatory Power with regard to the recommendation in paragraph A.2 of Part 1 of the Assembly's resolution which reads as follows:

Answer:

His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have repeatedly made it clear that so long as the Mandatory regime is maintained they must retain undivided control over the whole of Palestine. For this reason it is not possible for my Government to comply with the recommendation concerning the evacuation of a Jewish port and hinterland so long as the Mandate continues.

Question:

Would ships carrying unauthorized Jewish immigrants be prevented from going to Tel Aviv and landing there in the period between February 1, 1948 and the termination of the Mandate?

Answer:

Yes, in accordance with my Government's decision that existing immigration policy is to be maintained until the termination of the Mandate.

Question:

Does the Mandatory Power intend to transfer all Jewish immigrants presently detained in Cyprus to Palestine? If so, when and under what conditions?

Answer:

His Majesty's Government have already announced that they cannot permit Jewish illegal immigrants to remain on British territory after the withdrawal of their forces from Palestine. The arrangement for the removal of the illegal immigrants held in Cyprus are among the responsibilities which have hitherto fallen on the Government of Palestine and form one of the subjects on which my delegation is instructed to negotiate with the Commission. My Government would be willing to release from detention the ships Pan York and Pan Crescent for the purpose of the removal of those immigrants, concerning which the Commission may wish to negotiate with the Jewish Agency -- that is to say, in regard to the use of the ships.


With respect to his reply to the second question, on the opening of a Jewish port by February 1, Sir Alexander will deliver to the Commission an elaboration of his Government's policy so that the reasons for the British position may be incorporated in the Commission's first report to the Security Council, about February 1.

Meanwhile, at the meeting today, Sir Alexander emphasized, as a principal reason underlying his Government's position, the fact that his Government felt that an uncontrolled influx of Jewish immigrants into Palestine beginning February 1, would create difficulties, jeopardize the situation there, and endanger security.

He also pointed out that the Assembly resolution merely calls upon Mandatory Power to "render its best endeavors" with respect to the evacuation of a port area by February 1. He assured the Commission that his Government had indeed exercised its best endeavors before arriving at the conclusion indicated in his reply to the Commission's question. Sir Alexander made it clear that the decision of his Government with respect to the request contained in the Assembly's resolution should in no wise be construed as an indication of unwillingness to cooperate with and assist the Commission in the performance of its task.

Following the delivery of the British answers on immigration, Six Alexander gave the Commission a detailed summary of the security situation in Palestine as of January 18. Included in this summary were the following figures on casualties between November 30, 1947 and January 18, 1948:


British:
      total -
39 killed, 114 wounded
      Police:
      Soldiers:
      Civilians:
14 killed, 40 wounded
20 killed, 72 wounded
5 killed, 2 wounded
Arab:
      total -
345 killed, 377 wounded
      Police:
      Soldiers:
      Civilians:
3 killed, 21 wounded
3 killed, 4 wounded
339 killed, 852 wounded
Jews:
      total -
333 killed, 633 wounded
      Police:
      Soldiers:
      Civilians:
16 killed, 40 wounded
none, killed, none wounded
317 killed, 593 wounded

Sir Alexander also laid before the Commission a list of matters regarding which in the opening of his Government, the Commission should be informed, since they involved problems and situations with which the Commission must deal in the course of its work. These matters were grouped under the following major headings: Municipalities and Local Councils; Central Services (railroads, ports, posts and telegraphs, etc.); Customs; Secondment of Personnel; Prisoners and Detainees; Hospitals; Enemy Property; Concessions; Requisitioned Property; and Financial Matters.

The Chairman of the Commission, Karel Lisicky of Czechoslovakia, thanked the British Representative for his appearance before the commission and indicated that the commission would be prepared to discuss further matters with him at a later date.

The Commission will meet tomorrow at 11 a.m. at which time it will consider the question of its first report to the Security Council.

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