Question of Palestine home
14 May 1947
SEVENTY-EIGHTH PLENARY MEETING
Held in the General Assembly Hall at Flushing
Meadow, New York, on Wednesday, 14 May
1947, at 3 p. m.
: Mr. O. ARANHA (Brazil).
20. Continuation of the discussion of the report of the First Committee (documents A/307 and A/307/Corr.1)
Mr. EL-KHOURI (Syria): I am glad to refer now to the promise given by the President during the last meeting of the General Assembly on this subject, when he said that open and free discussion on the whole question of Palestine would be permitted in the General Assembly after the adoption of the agenda of this session. In spite of that tolerant promise, I had no intention of making a long speech on the subject today. My intention was only to associate myself with the declaration made today at the previous meeting by my colleague, the representative of Iraq, and furthermore, to explain why the Syrian delegation declared in the First Committee, that it would vote against the terms of reference as specified in the report presented to the General Assembly today (document A/307).
The reasons why we would vote against these terms of reference were sufficiently explained by myself and by my colleagues. But, since I have heard, with great interest, the speech delivered by our colleague, the representative of the Soviet Union, who went to the bottom of the subject in all its aspects, I feel it would be fitting to make a few comments on this subject now.
Before saying anything on that, I should like to explain to the General Assembly what the position of Syria is with respect to Palestine. I think most of you, if not all, know that Palestine used to be a Syrian province. Geographical, historical, racial and religious links exist there. There is no distinction whatever between the Palestinians and the Syrians and, had it not been for the Balfour Declaration and the terms of the mandate, Palestine would now be a Syrian province, as it used to be. Syria is intimately connected with Palestine, and is concerned with Palestinian questions more than any other State in the world. For this reason, you will excuse the Syrian delegation if, from time to time, it tries to explain its great concern and tells you of the danger facing Palestine and to what extent the Syrian delegation can resist that danger.
From the beginning, when the preliminary talks were begun on this subject last April, we felt that danger and difficulty inherent in the question. The Syrian delegation presented its views in a letter submitted to the Secretariat, which showed how the case of Palestine could be presented to the General Assembly and on what basis, and which showed to what extent the General Assembly would have the jurisdiction of dealing with mandated territory within the provisions of the Charter to which we have pledged loyalty, and because of which we are proud to be Members of the United Nations.
We said in that letter that the mandatory could present the case to the General Assembly in one of two or three forms. The first way would be to recognize the independence of the mandated territory, since it is mature and entitled to that independence, and to notify the General Assembly to take note of that fact; the second way would be to come to a trusteeship agreement with the States directly concerned, as provided for in Article 79 of the Charter, and to present the trusteeship agreement to the General Assembly for its approval; the third way would be for the mandatory to come to the General Assembly and say, "The mandate which I have from the League of Nations has failed; it is unworkable. I give it up and return this trust to the General Assembly to manage it in whatever way it likes."
Unfortunately the case was not presented to the General Assembly on any of these bases. The General Assembly was simply asked to make recommendations as to the future government of Palestine. This was a confession, an acknowledgment on the part of the mandatory Power that its task was beyond its power, that it could not carry on any more, that it had failed to work the mandate in its present form.
We now come to the point at which the General Assembly decided to refer the matter to the First Committee for it to take a decision on what recommendations should be given to the mandatory with regard to the administration of Palestine. The mandatory Power now confesses and acknowledges that the mandate is unworkable and that it cannot continue in its present form. In that case, we have to find out the reason why it is unworkable. The mandatory has not explained this yet, but it is expected to do so in the report which it has promised to give on the administration of the mandate during the last twenty-seven years. But we may anticipate that the failure will be acknowledged because everyone knows what is going on in Palestine and what has been going on for a long time. The Palestine question is not a secret; it is not a hidden case or fact. There are publications all over the world on this question and everyone knows of this question, especially the Syrians. We know the question very well, what it is, and how it has been dealt with.
If the mandate has failed, we should search out the reasons for its failure. We say there is a disease; we have to deal with a patient, a patient who is in a very bad state. How are we going to treat this patient? Let us suppose that we are specialists who are trying to help this patient. We should try to cure the disease, searching for the symptoms which may be either a headache, a stomach-ache or breathing difficulties. We should find the reasons. There is a reason behind all these things. Let us search for the cause of the disease and the cure will be very easy. If there is a dagger in the side of the patient, take it out. If there is a cord around his throat which does not allow him to breathe, remove it and he will be all right.
Had it not been for the Balfour Declaration and the insertion of that Declaration in the mandate, there would have been no problem of Palestine. The present problem is occupying and engaging the whole world. It is considered a complicated problem. Why? Let us find out who is responsible for creating this problem for the United Nations and for the whole world. I would appeal to your honesty and your loyalty. Are the Arabs responsible for that problem? Have they acted in any way or helped in any way to create such a problem? Certainly the answer to that question is no. The Arabs were living peacefully and quietly in their country and awaiting the result of the First World War in order to get their independence, according to the promises that had been made to them, just like any other nation of the world. What was intended was altogether different. A certain scheme, a certain conspiracy was hatched in London or somewhere else. It was tried first in Berlin but it did not succeed there. Then new means were suggested in order to obtain the Balfour Declaration. The land and property of others was promised to a new foreign element who were to come to Palestine and establish themselves there and become a majority, dominating the country and removing the inhabitants from their homes.
We do not understand with what sort of mentality, with what logic, or what morals such a thing could be admitted or accepted by any civilized nation or any civilized person inspired by justice and reason.
Palestine is not an empty country; it is full. Let us see who the Palestinians are who are now called the Arabs of Palestine. It is a fact which some of you may or may not know.
The Palestinian Arabs are the descendants of the same inhabitants of that country of forty centuries ago who fought in the first campaign which the Jews waged against Palestine in the fifteenth century before Christ. In the Bible, they are called the Philistines. After about the thirteenth century, they adopted the Arabic language, which was later replaced by the Syrian language, a language closely related to the former. These people have not changed. They are the same people who were living there then. They have been there for forty centuries--since prehistoric times.
I have heard many references to the historical rights of the Jews in Palestine. I am sorry to say that I have heard them from persons who are well-learned and who know what is the truth. Those of you who have had a chance to read the Bible may find the history of the Jews in it. I do not need to give you a summary of the Bible but if you refer to it--those who believe in it and who have it--you will find the history of the Jews there. In the first place they came from Egypt on their return to Palestine. They came in spite of the Government of Egypt because they said they were enslaved there and they were molested by the Egyptian Government.
Well, if you read your Bible, you will find that the Pharaoh of Egypt said, in substance, to his ministers and to his people: "See, the children of Israel here are multiplying. There is a great fear that if war should come, they will join our enemy and fight against us. Let us manage it so that we can prevent any future difficulties with
this people." It is in the Bible.
You will find that their persecution was not on any religious basis or because they had a faith. It was on a political basis and it is now the same thing. Then, under the guidance of Moses, and afterwards, under the guidance of Joshua and the other judges and kings, they started to invade Palestine and occupy certain portions of it with the policy of exterminating everybody there--men, women, children, old and young, even the animals--in order not to leave any trace of the living population of that country; and the places which they succeeded in conquering were so dealt with "to" utter destruction and extermination.
I do not tell you anything which is derived from any human historical source. It is all in the Bible. Before dealing with this problem, before thinking of the Jewish historical rights in Palestine, I invite you and request you to go and read your Bible. Everything there is clearly and definitely explained.
The Jews remained for a very short time in Palestine. They occupied the eastern portion of it. The western portion of Palestine--and the best part of it--was still occupied and held by the Philistines, the remote fathers of the present people of Palestine.
At last, the Jewish dynasty was abolished. It was done the first time by a Syrian emperor and the second time by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian emperor, who deported the Jews to Persia and Mesopotamia where they remained for about seventy or eighty years.
There is one thing here which is very important. There are some religious people who refer to the prophecies in the Bible that the Jews will be restored to Palestine and to Jerusalem. Yes, it is true there are prophecies. But where are these prophecies? They occurred during the first captivity of the Jews when they were carried to Mesopotamia and the East. Then, the prophets appeared--Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah--and said that God would have mercy on these people. He would have them returned to Jerusalem to build a world and build the Temple of God. The prophecies were made during that captivity. They were fulfilled. When Cyrus, the Persian emperor, took over the authority of Palestine from the Babylonians, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians which changeth not, according to the text of the Bible, he said that the Jews should be helped to return to Jerusalem and build the Temple of their God. That order was given to all his vassals and captains all over the East. Under the weapons and power of the great emperor of the East, they were allowed to come back.
At other times you will find it stated quite clearly in the Bible that the Arab prince Jasham resisted that order and he fought against it. But what could he do against the tremendous force of the Persian emperor at that time? The Jews succeeded in establishing themselves there under the authority of the Persians, and they continued as a Persian province until the invasion of the Macedonian emperor, Alexander the Great, in the fourth century B.C. They then became a Macedonian province, under the control of the Macedonians. They continued as such until the time of the Roman Empire, and then they remained among the Romans until the year 70 A.D. when Titus, the Roman, observing their disloyalty to the Roman Empire and the fact that they were so troublesome, decided to disperse them. He launched an invasion, destroyed their city and massacred them. Their remnants were dispersed all over the world. Most of them took refuge in Arabia, in the Hejaz and Yemen, and today there are remnants in Yemen and in the Arab territories.
Titus issued a decree to the effect that no Jew should enter Jerusalem. That decree continued in force during the Byzantine period, until the seventh century A.D., when the Arab, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, came and invaded that country and wrested it from the Byzantine Empire--not from the Jews. Then the Christians of Jerusalem and their patriarch came to the caliph and said to him: "We have this decree from the Roman emperor that no Jew should be allowed to enter Jerusalem. We request that you respect that decree, and that it be kept in force." The caliph gave an order that it should continue in force, and it did so continue for a long period until the time of the Ottoman Empire when the Turkish rulers were paramount there. There was then a certain easy-going tolerance about the matter, and a few Jews did sneak in to Jerusalem from time to time.
This state of affairs continued for four centuries. The Jews had about 50,000 people in Palestine, and no more.
Now we come to the point at which Zionism was established at the end of the last century. The founder of Zionism was a certain Dr. Herzl. You know the Zionist programme is quite clear, and we are thankful to the representatives of the Jewish Agency for having come to the First Committee and having declared their case openly, frankly and boldly. They have said, "Our programme is this: we will have continuous, unlimited immigration into Palestine until we become a majority and dominate the country. We promise that the Arabs there will have fair play."
We thank them for that--that they will treat us fairly there--not only in Palestine, but in the neighbouring countries as well.
The first step that Dr. Herzl took was to go to Constantinople and to begin making arrangements with the Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid. You have all heard of Abdul Hamid and know who he was. He was the absolute ruler of the huge Ottoman Empire, and he had full authority to do whatever he liked there. Dr. Herzl asked the Sultan, by promising him millions of pounds, to allow Jewish immigration into Palestine, in order to establish a Jewish national home there. The Sultan said to the people who approached him as intermediaries in this purpose, "Go and tell Dr. Herzl that I will not give one square foot of Palestine to the Jews. It is not my own property, but the property of my subjects who fertilized it with their blood. Let the Jews keep their millions for themselves." This was said by Abdul Hamid who was the absolute ruler of the country and who had authority for doing so. He could have done anything and invested it with legality.
How absurd it would be for an outsider who had nothing to do with Palestine, who had neither subjects nor people there, to go and give definite promises to people all over the world that he would provide a national home for them in Palestine. Lord Balfour did it, I am sorry to say, and thereby he went beyond accepted limits.
I have talked about the Arabs of Palestine and of their descent. Now I want to know who are the Jews who want to establish a State for themselves in Palestine. Are they the Children of Israel as they claim? I say no. Very few of them are the Children of Israel. The Children of Israel are those Jews who are in the Arab world, in North Africa, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen and other places, and some of them in western Europe and in America. They are also in eastern Europe. Well, who are the Jews of eastern Europe? I think you will have had a chance to know, and if you did not know it before, I refer you to the Jewish Encyclopaedia. You will find there the history of the Jews of Eastern Europe. They are Mongols who were near the Aral Sea, north of the Caspian Sea, and they had principalities there which were very strong in historical times. They established a dynasty which remained for a very long time. They were pagans at first but, in the seventh or eighth century after Christ, their prince said, "Paganism is useless. It is shameful for us, at this time, to be pagans. Let us adopt one of the heavenly religions, Christianity, Judaism or Islam."
He called three priests or bishops, one of each religion, and began to argue with them to find out about their religions in order to choose one of them. They argued between themselves before him. No one could convince the other or convince the prince that his religion was the better one. Then he decided to try another procedure. He was able at contriving procedures, and using them in his own interests.
He called each one of them alone. He called the Christian bishop and said to him, "If you were not a Christian, or if you were obliged to give up Christianity what religion would you be converted to, to Islamism or Judaism?" He thought a little and then said, "If I were to give up Christianity, I would become a Jew." He said he chose Judaism.
The prince called the follower of Islam and asked him the same question, and he also chose Judaism. He asked the Jew the same question. In reply, the Jew said, "I would kill myself and not adopt either of the other two religions."
He then found that there were three votes for Judaism and no votes for the other religions, so he declared Judaism to be the national religion and inculcated it in all his people. Judaism was established under the Khazar dynasty which lasted for several centuries in the southern part of Russia. When the Russian Empire came into being and could assume a position of power, it wanted to liquidate these principalities.
The Jewish dynasty was attacked and defeated, that is, those large groups of the Khazar people who were scattered in Russia, in eastern Europe, throughout Poland, Roumania and Odessa. That would explain why this group, this majority, would have been much greater numerically had it not been massacred from time to time and molested to such an extent that it could not multiply as it would have multiplied had it been treated differently in that country.
Now they want to have some place in the world where they can establish themselves as a State. Dr. Herzl had the happy idea of going back to Palestine to disturb that country which had been so calm, so tranquil, and so peaceful all the time, to stir up the area, and that state of affairs is continuing as you know. This is the situation as it now exists.
I shall turn now to the other point, namely, that Syria, as I said, is the motherland of Palestine. The Syrians believed that Palestine would be separated from Syria to form an independent State for the Palestinians themselves, not to be granted as a gift or as a present to a foreign people, in order that they should come to Palestine and dominate the people of that country and furthermore put pressure upon, endanger, and threaten the political, economic and social interests of the neighbouring countries, with Syria becoming the first sufferer in that respect.
We cannot admit that Palestine should not be granted its independence. We have voted against the terms of reference of the special committee because no mention was made in the terms of reference to the word "independence". I am sorry some of the speakers in the Committee avoided the word "independence" as if it were something injurious or as if it were out of order, claiming that it would prejudge the action of the special committee. We said that it would not prejudge action. This is the essential and the sole object of the mandate, that it be ended by independence, and by the termination of an unworkable mandate. It is the general principle of all mandates and trusteeships, that the end in view be independence. It is in the Charter and the Covenant of the League of Nations.
Should we not then instruct the special committee to direct its studies toward realizing this end, which is the essential end? Would that be prejudging? I cannot see any way in which that would be prejudging. We ask that the provisions of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations be the basis for any solution to be found for Palestine, and nothing else.
Are we demanding anything exorbitant or anything which is irregular or out of order if we ask that the provisions of the Charter be applied and that they serve for the solution of the problem of Palestine? The Charter of the United Nations is the sole reason for linking us here altogether. Otherwise, we would not have the opportunity to meet each other in such a highly distinguished gathering, if there were no Charter. If we had not pledged loyalty to the Charter we would not have met. We have pledged loyalty and respect to all the provisions of the Charter, its principles and its purposes. Well, the terms of reference do not make any allusion to it.
I have heard some statements to the effect that if attempts of co-operation were made, the Jews and Arabs might live peacefully together. I say yes, we have made the attempts and we have put forward very definite principles to further such co-operation. The only thing which ought to be suppressed and done away with is the Zionist programme, which is continuous, unlimited immigration in order to have a Jewish majority in Palestine. Only then, would independence be granted. Well, how can we accept that the majority of the whole population of the country be made a minority, and that minority then be dominated by a foreign element. Certainly the Arabs would be upset to hear that, and they have every reason to resort to any means of self-defence; this we do not wish to happen. The Syrian Government is very unwilling to allow any disorder or disturbance to take place. But all of you who are living in democratic countries and under democratic parliamentary constitutions know to what extent the governmental power may influence and suppress the public feeling.
However there is a limit, after which the people would go beyond the power of their governments. We are afraid of that, and we are trying to draw the attention of the United Nations and the committee of inquiry to it so that they may have the principle of peace in the Near East, not only in Palestine but in the surrounding Arab world, as a basic object of their studies, and not allow anything which would cause disturbance in that country. At least for the sake of peace, if they do not care for justice and for the principles of self-determination as laid down in the Charter, let them consider peace at least sufficiently to make them careful in what they are going to do.
We say: "Let us try to have the Jews and Arabs of Palestine co-operate and establish good understanding among themselves". Well, if we suppose this is possible, I think it is more possible for the Jews to co-operate and create good understanding with the people of their own homes from which they have been displaced. Why do they not go back to the country which they have left, which is their country, and where they have their homes. It is easier to assimilate with people who speak the same language, and in whose country they are not intruders. For instance, if the Jews who left Poland would go back to Poland they would not be considered intruders, newcomers, outsiders, or invaders--they would be considered citizens of Poland. In Russia and in any other place it would be the same thing.
We understand that a great percentage of the Jews were massacred in eastern Europe. Well, the survivors, who are a small percentage under the ruling democracies of eastern Europe, could go back and take into their possession the properties of all the Jews who were there before, and each of them would be seven or eight times as rich as he used to be before. Further, he has for his protection, as has been claimed by various representatives, a full guarantee that democracy is prevailing. The representatives of those provinces even say that in their countries everything prevails, equality, democracy, full rights, liberty and fraternity. But, if it is so, why do the Jews hate to go back to those countries? Is it on a humanitarian basis? No, it is not on a humanitarian basis. It is a result of political ideas which are inspired in them by the Zionist leaders. They are pushing them on. If the Zionist leaders had not taken these steps, you would not find any Jew in Europe, America, or in any other place willing to go to Palestine.
Palestine is a tiny country. It is only ten thousand square miles, out of which only four thousand square miles can be cultivated, and the rest is made up of deserts, mountains and hills. It is inhabited now by approximately two million people. If we take the whole area of Palestine, we will find two hundred people on each square mile. Such a ratio does not exist in any state in America, though it does exist in some States of Europe, such as Belgium and Luxembourg. However, if we look at other sections we can find spacious areas where the Jews, if they really wish it, will be able to live peacefully, but not Palestine.
Palestine has already taken in six or seven hundred thousand Jews of the Jews who survived Hitler. Most of them are from among those who lived under Hitler's domination. Most of the Jews who are in Palestine now fled to that country from Germany while the latter was under Hitler's control. Let us suppose that Palestine ought to admit Jews. In fact it has taken more than it should. There is no room to take any more.
The Arab States are hospitable. Let me refer to what happened after the First World War. After the First World War, Syria and Lebanon took in two or three hundred thousand Armenian refugees who went there. They are still living there peacefully and quietly, and they are treated by the people with the greatest equality and given full rights. We now have Armenians as members of our parliaments, on an equal basis and an equal footing with the rest of the population. We received them, and they are welcome there. Why? Because they do not come with political views. They do not come to dominate; they do not come to exterminate the people, and take their homes and their right to sovereignty and self-determination.
Had the Jews gone to other parts of the Arab world, other than Palestine--because Palestine cannot hold any more--with the intention of finding a refuge there, they would have been treated with tolerance and indulgence. But this is not the case.
Although I have much to say about it, I am not going to discuss the administration in Palestine during the existing mandate. All the taxes and money collected there from the population were spent in establishing or promoting the Jewish national home. It is as if the Arabs of Palestine were asked to help in digging their graves with their own hands. I am sorry to say that.
Mr. Aranha left the Chair and was replaced by Mr. Parodi.
HASSAN Pasha (Egypt) (translated from French): I think that the delegations which have spoken here have already explored all the historical, political and legal horizons. The Egyptian delegation will therefore confine itself to a very brief statement, which it hopes will be noted in the records of the General Assembly.
If you agree, Mr. President, I shall read my statement in English, because it was drawn up in that language and also because I have more confidence in the translation of the Assembly interpreters than in one which I might work out myself.
The representative of Egypt then continued in English.
The statement reads as follows:
Whereas the decisions reached by the First Committee are not in line with the legal and political remedies believed necessary by us to a just and lasting solution of the Palestine problem,
Whereas by the stroke of a pen the reference to the independence of Palestine has been in effect removed, the Committee failing even to conform to the spirit of the request of the British Government as embodied in its letter of appeal to the United Nations for a settlement of this problem, we feel indeed that the First Committee has exceeded its powers and was not within its rights when it decided to delete the sentence referring to "the future government of Palestine" and replaced it by a vague and broad reference to "the question of Palestine",
Whereas these actions are not in keeping with the mandate which our delegation holds from my Government, we will have to vote against the Committee's report. I hereby, moreover, reserve the right of my Government as to its future attitude towards this question.
OMULO (Philippines): I have listened to the long and scholarly statements of the representatives of Iraq, the Soviet Union, Syria and Egypt with great interest. Our desire to put an end to our labours cannot prevent us from showing our appreciation of the statements, which have clarified many of the issues involved and which have given, each in its own way, a cogent and interesting account of the historical, political, and cultural aspects of the problem of Palestine. They have helped elucidate the whole question and they are highly valuable to us, but even more especially, I am sure, to the members of the special committee of inquiry.
The members of the special committee of inquiry, I take it, have an unwritten mandate, apart from the terms of reference which we may finally approve, to take due account of all the statements and declarations made here and in the First Committee in the course of their work.
Now, we have before us the text of a resolution on which we most earnestly hope the Members of the General Assembly will take expeditious action. We have come through many days of debate, here and in the First Committee, to arrive at this formula. It is not a perfect formula acceptable to all. It is doubtful whether we could have produced such a formula even if we had approached our task with the best will in the world. There were great chasms of differing opinion between us which compromise could not have bridged. But I dare say this is a formula that will work, that ought to work. It is couched in the broadest possible terms. Neither by word nor by implication does it attempt to prejudge the issues. It inclines towards none of the parties interested. The one reference to a specific aspect of the problem--the religious one--places the three religions involved on a plane of equal importance.
We would have preferred a somewhat more explicit resolution indicating all the principal aspects of the problem of Palestine and suggesting certain concrete solutions in each case. The Philippine resolution that we presented showed this. Unfortunately, however, this was not the sense of the First Committee. We bow to the will of the Committee in the confident expectation that the terms of reference as they now stand will prejudice none of the solutions that have been or may be proposed.
Eleven Members have been proposed for the special committee of inquiry. It is an excellent committee and it is our best guarantee of the success of the investigation. I could wish that this fact might serve to reassure some Members of the General Assembly sufficiently to induce them to withdraw the mental reservations or veiled promise of challenge which they have made in advance of any decision the Assembly might take.
The widest possible terms of reference will serve the purpose of the special committee well. But I consider it equally essential that the committee do its work in complete freedom from direct or indirect pressure in any form, especially in the form of advance notice of opposition to any decision other than that which certain Members or groups of Members consider to be acceptable.
I think we have here a committee which is fully capable of performing this most difficult and most exacting of assignments. Its members are going to receive a mandate from this body, but no mandate embodied in the terms of reference will ever be as useful to them as the knowledge that they have our fullest confidence and support.
In this connexion, I wish to recall to the Members of the General Assembly the significant statement made by the representative of the United Kingdom at the fifty-second meeting of the First Committee last Friday afternoon in answer to our colleague from Lebanon. To the question of what was the attitude of the United Kingdom Government as the mandatory Power towards the ultimate proposals that would emerge from the investigations of the special committee, Sir Alexander replied, and I quote:
"If the United Nations can find a just solution which will be accepted by both parties, it could hardly be expected that we should not welcome such a solution. All we say ... is that we should not have the sole responsibility for enforcing a solution which is not accepted by both parties and which we cannot reconcile with our conscience."
And Sir Alexander continued in the following terms:
"... But if the question is addressed to us concerning our acceptance of any recommendations which the Assembly may make, I suggest that it might also be addressed to other interested parties, and indeed, to all other Members of the United Nations."
That was a fair and pertinent retort to a fair and pertinent question.
My delegation is completely satisfied with the assurance of the Government of the United Kingdom and would be satisfied with a similar assurance of the same high and dignified tenor from the other interested parties.
Only yesterday I was asked by a newspaperman to say whether, in my opinion, the United Nations has succeeded or has failed. My answer was that it has not yet had an opportunity either to succeed completely or to fail utterly. I have a feeling that the United Nations has that opportunity now.
How shall we meet the challenge of this historic occasion? The answer rests not alone with the eleven members of the special committee of inquiry, but with each and every Member of the General Assembly. By observing every counsel of moderation, by surrounding the special committee with every immunity against undue pressure or influence, by withholding judgment until the special committee has accomplished its mission and presented us with the result of its investigation, we shall help buttress and support the United Nations against the impact of this difficult problem.
It is our earnest hope that no Member of the General Assembly, whatever his attitude on the proposal before us, will act or speak except with tolerance and humility. We, too, have taken positions on certain of the issues involved and have defended our views in the First Committee. But in so doing, it has never occurred to us to question the integrity of motive of any Member of the Assembly, or to place in doubt any Member's loyalty to the Charter of the United Nations.
We consider that we are as good a Member of the United Nations as any. There certainly are differences among us in perspective, in understanding and in method, but not, I believe, in loyalty. Only by such loyalty, expressed in ways over and above our special interests, may this, our United Nations, be nourished toward new strength and prestige and authority.
At this point, Mr. Aranha resumed the Chair.
OE (Norway): The Norwegian delegation is of the opinion that this Assembly of the United Nations should not adjourn without having made an appeal to all the interested parties to refrain from every use of force during the work of the investigating committee. It is not necessary for me to say very much. At the seventy-second meeting we all heard the very moving speech by the representative of New Zealand. I am certain that every representative in this Assembly is of the opinion that the humane feelings and the noble ideas voiced by Sir Carl Berendsen should find their expression in a formal resolution, not only because it is a matter for sorrow that people kill each other in Palestine, but also because it is important that the investigating committee should be able to work in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.
For these reasons, the Norwegian delegation moves the acceptance of the following resolution (document A/308):
"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."
It is our hope that this appeal may be accepted without debate. There is nothing in the proposed text about what has been. It is an appeal for the days to come. It is not an appeal to any particular Government or people. It is an appeal to all and everybody to do their utmost in order that the investigating committee may work in an atmosphere of peace, of loyalty, and collaboration, not only for the sake of a peaceful settlement in Palestine but for the sake of the United Nations.
ARODI (France) (
translated from French
): The General Assembly is reaching the end of the first stage of its work with the draft resolution now submitted to it by the First Committee. This first stage of our work is quite preliminary, since it merely consists of setting up a committee of investigation.
I should like to stress the meaning and scope of the draft resolution now submitted to the General Assembly with regard to the terms of reference of the committee of investigation.
The French delegation--and I think I may say a very large majority of the members of the First Committee--certainly has no intention of prejudging the issue in any manner, one way or the other, or of using any term which might involve a direct or indirect commitment regarding the solution.
This was undoubtedly the only logical position from the moment we decided to set up a committee of investigation. It would have been somewhat contradictory to constitute such a committee and then to settle any question whatsoever in advance, before receiving its report. Such a procedure would not only have been contradictory, but would have been liable to hinder the work of the committee of investigation. We know what very great difficulties the latter will have to face. The First Committee thought it essential not to add to these difficulties in any way, and to leave the committee an entirely free hand in proposing a solution.
To tell the truth, some of us at least might have been embarrassed, by some of the formulae proposed at the meetings of the First Committee for, although we rejected them in order not to prejudge the issue, the very fact of rejecting them might have been interpreted as prejudging the solution in the other direction. I am sure I am speaking not only for my delegation, but for the First Committee as a whole, when I say that such an interpretation would be entirely false.
In the resolution we have adopted and in the votes we have taken, nothing can or should be understood as a manifestation of opinion with regard to the issue.
I hope, in particular, that our colleagues from the Arab States will be quite clear on this point. I am sure that if they look at the decisions adopted in their true light, which is the one I have just expressed, they will realize that the resolution proposed to the Assembly is just, and that it in no way prejudges the conclusions of the inquiry with which the committee of investigation has been entrusted.
Another question which was difficult to solve was that of the composition of the special committee of investigation. I do not think we should have any illusions as to the very great difficulties (they have already been indicated here) of the task which the United Nations has accepted. In undertaking the Palestine question, we have accepted a problem which the United Kingdom, with all its experience of government, negotiations and conciliations and with the authority attached to its status as a mandatory Power, has not succeeded in solving. It is a serious test for the United Nations to be confronted with a problem as grave and as difficult as this one, little more than a year after its establishment.
The manner in which the special committee of investigation will work and the manner in which it is constituted are therefore of great importance.
We were faced with a difficult choice: were we to establish a special committee of investigation in accordance with the practice usually followed hitherto, that is to say, with the inclusion of the representatives of the permanent members of the Security Council, or would it be wiser, on the contrary, to establish the committee without including those States?
I think I can say that the First Committee hesitated a good deal to take a decision on this point, as is shown by the vote taken on the Australian representative's proposal, which formally stated that the members of the Security Council should not serve on the special committee of investigation. In this vote, the number of abstentions was greater than that of votes. We had to choose between the convincing arguments which could be invoked on both sides.
We were fully aware of the difficulties which might arise if the great Powers were to participate in the membership of the special committee of investigation. The majority of those who spoke thought it would be dangerous to add to the difficulties inherent in the Palestine problem certain other difficulties which might result from the general political situation at present existing in the world.
On the other hand, it is questionable whether the committee will have sufficient authority if the permanent members of the Security Council do not take part in it. Will the latter feel sufficiently bound by the suggestions of a committee in which they have not participated to give it later on the support of their authority? This is indispensable, for we know not only that it will be difficult to draw up a report and make useful and wise suggestions, but also to ensure the acceptance and implementation of these suggestions. In the past, a certain number of investigating committees, composed of men of undoubted eminence, have already attempted a study of the Palestine question; they have put forward suggestions, and their experience shows that the implementation of the suggestions submitted represents a very great difficulty.
I should perhaps endeavour to specify even more precisely the difficulty which confronted the First Committee and which, consequently, now confronts the Assembly.
If, like the majority of those who voted in the First Committee, we fear that the difficulties of the general political situation in the world might complicate the work of the committee of investigation, we must admit that these difficulties, if they exist, will not be eliminated by the mere fact that the permanent members of the Security Council will not participate in this committee. While the committee's work may be simplified thereby, the difficulties I mentioned will probably reappear in the Assembly itself, when it receives the committee's report.
The choice which confronted the First Committee and which is now brought before the Assembly was, therefore, essentially whether it was wiser to allow these difficulties to arise at the committee of investigation stage or to postpone them until the Assembly stage when the committee's report is submitted.
The decision now proposed to the Assembly is based on the desire to facilitate the work of the committee of investigation, that is to say, to facilitate the stage which will immediately follow when the present session is closed, to the possible detriment of our work in the Assembly in September.
In support of the position finally taken by the First Committee, it may be said that the discussions the Committee wished to spare the committee of investigation, by deciding that the great Powers should not be included in that Committee, would in any case arise again in the Assembly. It may therefore be said that the work will not be rendered longer or more difficult by the decision which was finally taken; on the contrary, it will be easier, since the Assembly, if it has before it a report resulting from general agreement in the committee of investigation, a report which may provide it with an objective basis of work, may finally reach a solution more easily.
The French delegation was at first inclined to favour the idea of a committee in which the great Powers would participate. This was not only because my country, which considers itself to be absolutely neutral in the Palestine question, wished to be associated with the difficult work of the committee of investigation, but because we thought it advisable, as I said just now, to give this committee as much authority as possible. Nevertheless, we were struck by the arguments which could be adduced in favour of the contrary idea, arguments which I have just recalled and developed. We also hesitated to claim a responsibility which we did not wish to take if the majority of the Assembly preferred not to assign it to the permanent members.
We now approve of the decision which was taken, but we feel that it should in no way constitute a precedent, since we are not sure either that a resolution which formally excludes some of the Members of the Assembly from participation in a committee can constitute a precedent for the future, or that this resolution is in conformity with the spirit of the Charter. We consider it merely as an experiment, which we are perfectly willing to try.
I should like to point out in conclusion how necessary it is that we should bear in mind, in this debate and in our Assembly in September, the fact that the authority of the United Nations is now seriously implicated in the Palestine question. When we vote today our primary purpose should be to give the committee of investigation all the authority which it needs.
It is in this spirit that the French delegation supports the draft resolution submitted to the Assembly by the First Committee.
Sir Alexander CADOGAN (United Kingdom): I should like, in the first place, to give my whole-hearted support to the resolution which has just now been submitted by the representative of Norway. I should think that is so wise and desirable a proposal that I hope it may even be carried by acclamation.
I have another object, Mr. President, in securing your leave to speak. I shall be very brief, and I have no intention of touching on the substance of the question.
I desire, on behalf of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, having submitted the problem of Palestine to the United Nations, to express its appreciation of the manner in which this special Assembly has devoted time and effort to devising this first step towards a solution of the problem.
Our discussions here in the plenary session, in the General Committee, and in the First Committee, which were mainly directed to the taking of procedural measures, necessarily strayed onto the wider ground of the Palestinian problem itself. I think those discussions, so far as they went, showed clearly enough the extreme complexity and difficulty of the problem, but we hope that the combined wisdom of the United Nations may succeed in finding a happy solution. That is heartily to be desired, not only for the restoration of peace, order, and contentment in that unhappy country, but also because such a result would contribute so greatly to the enhancement of the prestige of this Organization.
Our proceedings here have inevitably revealed divergencies of view, but the conciliatory spirit shown in many quarters has resulted in the presentation, to this plenary meeting, of a resolution providing for a thorough study of the problem to assist the General Assembly in its consideration of the matter next September. I earnestly hope that this resolution will meet with the widest possible acceptance.
The members of the special committee on Palestine, whose work will be facilitated in every possible way by my Government, will, we are sure, approach their difficult task with a due sense of their responsibility and a sincere desire to find, if possible, an agreed and acceptable solution. Our good wishes go with them, and we pray for their success.
UO Tai-chi (China): As the first special session of the General Assembly is drawing to a close, I wish to say just a few words on the difficult question before us.
During this session, the Chinese delegation has made no speech on the substance of the Palestinian issue. It has made only a few brief interventions on procedural questions. We have maintained, throughout the entire session, an objective and impartial attitude, trying to think of the best possible approach to the Palestinian issue. We are a completely disinterested party, though by no means an uninterested party. China is profoundly concerned with the Palestinian question, as are all loyal Members of the United Nations, and it is deeply interested in seeking a just and lasting solution of the question.
During the last few days, we have heard learned dissertations on the problem. We have heard speeches that were at once inspiring and disturbing. On the one hand, the cause of the Arab people in Palestine merits the most sympathetic consideration by all peoples of the world. No one can deny that Palestine is entitled to independence. No one can fail to understand the national aspirations of the Arab people in Palestine.
On the other hand, the tragedy of the Jewish people, truly a great historic tragedy, cannot but arouse the spontaneous sympathy of the peoples of the entire world. The Jewish people, which has contributed so much to the world, not only in religion, but also in science, art and literature, deserves a national home of some sort, deserves a place it can call its own, in which it can live in happiness, free from social and political discrimination and free from the eternal fear of persecution.
The Palestinian question, which will confront us again in September, is a question whose solution is not to be found purely on historical or legal bases.
It has been forcefully said that we cannot turn back the clock of history twenty years. It has been pointed out with equal force that we cannot turn back the clock of history twenty centuries. History, useful as it is as a reference, is, by itself, no key to the solution of the Palestinian question.
In the Palestinian question is it a purely legal issue that is involved? The answer is obviously no. Although the Balfour Declaration is a statement of policy of one nation, the mandate of Palestine is an international legal document. However, it has been emphasized time and again in this session of the General Assembly that the Arab people and the Arab States have never consented to or acquiesced in the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine mandate.
I venture to suggest that no solution of the Palestine question can be permanent unless it is based upon a law that is higher than the law of history or the law of nations. It must be based upon a law that is the clear voice of the human heart and the human conscience.
Coming from a country the majority of whose population is neither Jewish nor Moslem nor Christian, may I say to our Jewish and Arab friends that unless we love, or learn to love, our neighbours as ourselves, there will be no peace in the Holy Land or, indeed, in any land. We have to go beyond historical and legal arguments. We have to go beyond political and economic considerations. We have to go directly to spiritual and moral values, to spiritual and moral teachings which have emanated from Palestine itself and which have elevated that tiny barren spot on earth to the Holy Land of Jews, Moslems, and Christians alike.
The Palestinian question is a very disquieting and agonizing one to all of us. Like all my colleagues, I have thought a great deal in my waking consciousness in the last few weeks. I am afraid that no parliament of man, no statesman, no legal formula, no historical equation, no political and economic programme can singly or jointly solve the problem, unless and until Islam and Jewry and Christendom return to the teachings of the prophets and the saints of the Holy Land.
May we all hope and pray that the special committee we are now setting up will succeed in finding such a solution of the Palestinian problem as will make the Holy Land a peaceful and happy land, as we all wish it to be, a land which will forever remain a source of spiritual and moral inspiration to erring humanity.
In the light of my brief remarks I am very happy to support the draft resolution which the Norwegian representative has just moved.
UNIZ (Brazil): This has been a very inspiring and fruitful Assembly. Despite the grave difficulties surrounding the problem, despite the pessimism expressed from many quarters as to the outcome of the present efforts, our discussions have developed on a very high level. Principles, suggestions and facts have been enunciated which might be very helpful to the investigating committee charged with the responsibility of propounding a solution for the Palestine problem.
Those who followed the debate cannot help being impressed by the frankness and open-mindedness with which the various points of view were presented, and by the deep sincerity in searching for a just settlement of that problem, a sad inheritance of ancient times which challenges our minds and our hearts to solve.
In these full days of reflection and work we have defined the problem in its broad and essential lines, and placed it in the proper equation with the intention of arriving at a fitting solution. By doing this we have already begun to give it a solution. We are about to set up an investigating body charged with its study and have assured to that body conditions of impartiality, objectivity and open-mindedness, which are a guarantee for the success of its work.
deep concern was expressed by some delegations at the fact that the issue of independence was not expressly referred to in the mandate of the investigating committee. I do not share that concern. That very question of independence constituted the high light of the debate in the First Committee. It was one of the issues on which most of the representatives expressed their opinions in unmistakable terms. There can be no doubt in the minds of those who were present at our discussion as to the paramount importance of the question of independence. In fact that idea is very much implied in the terms of reference which cannot be dissociated from the general discussion held in the First Committee. No word then pronounced can be said to have been lost or to have been in vain. These words make up the climate and give the direction to the investigating committee in performing its task.
We did not fight two painful and destructive wars without expecting to redeem mankind from subjugation and assure to all peoples the possibilities of carrying out their aspirations for freedom and independence. The United Nations is the embodiment of that very idea of freedom and independence. No question brought within its framework can be said to be outside the pale of freedom and independence.
The Brazilian delegation is confident that, at the next session of the General Assembly, we shall find the right solution to the Palestine question thus raising that land, the cradle of our civilization, from its present state of conflict and antagonisms into a higher plane of conciliation and fruitful collaboration within the United Nations.
ALIK (Lebanon): We are approaching the end of our labours. Because my country, lying as it does immediately to the north of Palestine and united to it by so many fundamental ties, is among the most directly interested parties in this question of Palestine, it is my duty to make clear the definitive position of my Government.
At the beginning of the present special session of the General Assembly, my country, as also the other Arab States, requested the inclusion of an item in the agenda which would have had the effect of providing a fundamental discussion of the Palestine question. That item was unfortunately rejected on the ground that we were met here for a special purpose, namely, that of constituting and instructing a special committee of inquiry which would prepare material between now and the next regular session of the General Assembly for the consideration of the future government of Palestine.
The phrase "future government of Palestine" has now completely vanished. In its place we have the phrase "the problem or question of Palestine." This replacement has taken place without any previous adequate discussion of this problem, without even any proper indication as to what it really is.
What we had asked for in the first place, namely, the responsible examination of the question of Palestine, was denied us, and we had this phrase in the end slip into the present text without adequate definition.
What was denied the Assembly is now granted the special committee, and that in highly questionable circumstances. For instance, it has been taken for granted by many quarters that the problem of refugees and displaced persons is somehow related to the problem of Palestine. The Jewish Agency affirmed that the two problems were one and the same, and the introduction of the phrase, "and wherever it may deem useful," in paragraph 4 of the present document, was expressly intended by those who introduced and supported it to enable the committee to visit displaced persons' camps and thus bring about a connexion, however strained and artificial, between these two problems. And all this happened without any previous study, let alone a decision by the General Assembly that these two problems were really related.
When we maintained that the termination of the mandate and the declaration of the independence of Palestine in pursuance of solemn obligations entered into in the Covenant of the League of Nations was a fit topic of discussion for the General Assembly, our path was decisively intercepted. We were told that talk of independence would prejudge the issue, despite the fact that at first everybody admitted, and no one more firmly than the representative of the United States, that independence was the foreseen end of all class A mandates.
Then, the Drafting Committee of eleven, itself, produced, last week, a unified text in which independence was recognized as at least to be borne in mind as an ultimate end. But, no sooner did the Jewish Agency object to this formulation on the ground that the dice would then be loaded by the Arabs against the Jews, than this mildest of expressions itself was completely eradicated. The Drafting Committee of eleven submitted also that not only should great religious interests be kept in mind by the special committee, but also the interests of all the inhabitants of Palestine.
We all know now what happened to this phrase, and we all remember very vividly who objected to it and why. The world religious significance of Palestine is abiding and eternal, but it is, in my opinion, hardly in keeping with the deepest implications of this religious significance itself to omit, in the manner in which it happened, any mention of the interests of all the inhabitants of Palestine.
The substitution of the indefinite "question of Palestine" for the precise "future government of Palestine"; the elimination of any reference to independence, even as a possibility, and the reasons advanced in defence of this elimination; the removal of the phrase "most careful consideration to the interests of all the inhabitants of Palestine"--these three facts seem to me to have diverted the present session of the Assembly from the original purpose for which it was called, and this in turn puts the proposed inquiry in the danger of being deflected into channels far removed from the purposes and principles of the Charter.
When we further reflect on the unhappy circumstances and associations which attended the genesis of these three facts, circumstances and associations which can now be fully and objectively ascertained by referring to the records, we have, in my opinion, completely sufficient grounds for regarding the present document (document A/307), as highly unsatisfactory and unacceptable. And what is unsatisfactory in itself cannot give rise to satisfactory results, nor is it likely, in the opinion of my Government, to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security in the Near East.
In the circumstances, therefore, and with absolute good will, particularly towards the special committee, I regret that there is no other course left open to me but to reserve fully the position of my Government in respect of the future.
Now that I have made my reservation, it remains for me to voice the deepest wish of my being. Palestine is the Holy Land. It is holy for all humanity. No other land on the face of the earth is thrice holy like Palestine. If you study the purposes and principles of our Charter, you will find that they trace themselves back in their essence, in their ultimate authority, to Palestine. Justice, equality, the dignity and sanctity of man, the freedom of the spirit of man--these things are in truth Palestinian in origin. This land which has meant so much in history is now in a state of profound tribulation. It is now coming to us, the responsible actors in history, to us who are all ultimately its spiritual children, seeking justice at our hands.
My deepest wish is this. May the justice which we shall ultimately accord Palestine be in harmony with the justice which Palestine has accorded to us. May we be not unworthy of the great debt which we all owe Palestine. May the special committee, whom I wish every success from the bottom of my heart, act in accordance with the transcendent principles of justice and truth and love and peace which sprang first from this now tormented land. May the solution of the problem of Palestine be therefore truly Palestinian.
RESIDENT: I think we will adjourn until tomorrow at 10 a. m. I have a long list of speakers. I think, and I hope, that tomorrow will mark the happy ending of our work.
The meeting rose at 6.53 p.m.