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31 August 1947
Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York
Press Release PAL/91
31 August 1947
The following is a background story by the United Nations Press Officer who was with the
Special Committee on Palestine
throughout its work. In addition to an historical survey of the Committee's work, it contains a description of the report, by chapters.
(The Press Officer with the Committee is George Symeonides)
BACKGROUND STORY ON PALESTINE
It has taken exactly two and a half months (15 June to 1 September) for UNSCOP to carry its task to completion. This entailed a 2200 mile 15 day tour of Palestine, a five day trip to the Lebanon and Syria, a one day visit to the King of Transjordan in Amman, a 2700 mile 7 day tour of DP camps in Germany and Austria, the holding of 13 public hearings in the course of which 37 persons representing 6 Arab states and 17 Jewish organizations
gave evidence, and the holding of 4 private hearings. A total of 39 private meetings were held by the Committee; its 4 sub-committees and its 3 working groups held additional formal and informal private meetings. In Palestine, about 200 correspondents belonging to 20 different nationalities were accredited to UNSCOP.
The Committee arrived in Palestine on 15 June 1947 and remained there until 20 July 1947. It first held two hearings in the course of which representatives of the government of Palestine submitted copies of the report "Survey of Palestine" and replied to questions from members of the Committee; Mr. Moshe Shertok, head of the political department of the Jewish Agency, handed copies of "the Jewish Case" and replied to questions from members
of the Committee.
The Committee then embarked on a tour of Palestine which lasted from 18 June to 3 July 1947, and comprised, besides the Christian, Jewish and Moslem shrines of Jerusalem, as well as the Hebrew University and hospital of Jerusalem, the following: Haiffa, the Dead Sea, Hebron, Beersheba, Gaza, the Arab communities of the Negev, Ramle, Beit Dajan, Jaffa Tel Aviv, the Jewish communities of the Negev, Ramalla, Nablus, Tulkarm, the district of Galilee, Acre, Rehovot, as well as several Jewish agricultural settlements.
The third stage of the Committee's work in Palestine was marked by the holding of 12 public hearings (4 to 17 July 1947) in the course of which evidence was given by 31 Jewish persons representing 17 Jewish organizations.
On July 20, the Committee proceeded to the Lebanon, and on July 21st the Committee paid an informal visit to Damaskus, capital of Syria. On July 22nd, in Beirut the views of the Arab states on the Palestine question were communicated to the UNSCOP by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lebanon, Mr. Hamid Frangie.
At the invitation of King Abdullah of Transjordan, who was not represented at the Lebanon meetings, the Chairman and members of the Committee (Canada, Czechoslovakia, Iran, Netherlands, Peru, Yugoslavia) paid a visit to Amman on 25 July 1947, where they had
an exchange of views with the King and members of his secretariat. In Geneva work started on the drafting of the report on 28 July 1947.
A sub-committee visited displaced persons camps between 8 and 14 August 1947. During its tour the sub-committee visited Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg and Hanover, and met the Austrian Chancellor, the Military Governor of the United State zones of Germany and Austria, several American and British officials in charge of displaced person's affairs, as well as officials of the Preparatory Commission of the International Refugee Organization.
The sub-committee visited the children's camp of Indersdorf (near Munich) comprising 168 children between the ages of 8 and 16 years; camp of Landsberg (Bavaria) comprising about 3,000 displace persons, infiltrees, refugees of which four-fifths were from Poland; the camp of Bad Reichenhall (near Berchtesgaden) comprising about 5,000 displaced persons, infiltrees and refugees of which four-fifths also were from Poland; Rothschild hospital (Vienna) sheltering about 4,100 refugees almost entirely from Romania; camp of Dueppel (Berlin) comprising about 3,400 displaced persons and refugees almost entirely from Poland; camp of Hohne (near Belsen) comprising about 9,000 displaced persons and 1,800 infiltrees chiefly from Poland, the rest from Hungary and Romania. 42 DP's were interrogated in detail.
Two of the members of the sub-committee also visited the following assembly centers in the United States zone of Germany: Fohrenwald, Aimring and Neu Freimann Siedlung; the U.S. zone of Austria; Franz Joseph Kaserne in Salzburg, and interrogated 58 DP's.
report of the Committee
comprises a preface, eight chapters, an appendix and a series of annexes.
The factual information presented in the first four chapters is intended to illustrate the various phases of the Committee's work and to serve as a background to the problem with which it dealt.
Chapter I describes the origin and constitution of the Special Committee and summarises its activities in Lake Success, Jerusalem, Beirut and Geneva.
Chapter II analyses the basic geographic, demographic and economic factors, and reviews the history of Palestine under the mandate. The Jewish and Arab claims are also set forth and appraised.
Chapter III deals with the particular aspect of Palestine as the Holy Land sacred to three world religions.
Chapter IV consists of an analysis and recapitulation of the most important solutions put forward prior to the creation of the Committee or presented to it in oral or written evidence.
The following three chapters contain the recommendations and proposals which are the main result of the work of the Committee during its three months of activity.
In Chapter V eleven unanimous recommendations on general principles are put forward. A further recommendation of a similar nature, which was adopted with two dissenting votes is also recorded.
Chapters VI and VII contain respectively a majority and a minority plan for the future government of Palestine, including provisions for boundaries.
The final chapter provides a list of the reservations and observations by certain delegations on a number of specific points, The text of these reservations and observations is in the appendix to the report.
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