Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS


        General Assembly
6 May 1948


Held at Flushing Meadow, New York,
on Thursday, 6 May 1948, at 3 p.m.

President: Dr. J. ARCE (Argentina).

17. Continuation of the discussion on the protection of the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants: report of the Trusteeship Council (documents A/544, A/545, A/546, A/547)

Mr. RYCKMANS (Belgium) observed that in presenting its recommendations to the General Assembly, the Trusteeship Council had acknowledged their insufficiency to ensure the maintenance of peace and the safety of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. However, he wished to refer briefly to the allegations which had been made at the 133rd plenary meeting, that the painful labour of the Trusteeship Council had produced a mouse, had brought into the world measures which were both ineffectual and of doubtful legality.

First, those who said that the measures were ineffectual, forgot, or seemed to forget, that the Trusteeship Council had earlier produced a healthy child; it had proposed a plan which was much more virile, but which the General Assembly had not adopted, namely, the draft statute for Jerusalem (document A/541). Had the General Assembly wished to adopt the draft statute it would have been easy for it to instruct the Security Council to definitely adopt it before the time limit, 29 April. The draft statute still existed, and it would be a matter of a few hours' work for a small sub-committee to extract from it provisions which might appear unacceptable and to let the General Assembly adopt the remainder, if it so desired.

However, it had been made amply clear by the Arabs that they would oppose any measure based on the draft statute for Jerusalem, and therefore the Trusteeship Council, wishing to face the situation realistically, had decided to submit to the Assembly recommendations which, although not perfect, at least rallied the support of the two parties. In order to go beyond that, it would have been necessary to provide for implementation and enforcement measures which the Assembly had not yet contemplated, and without which any draft would be vain.

Secondly, it had been said that should the special municipal commissioner be appointed by the British High Commissioner, he would dispose of very dubious authority; however, were the United Nations to appoint him, his authority would not only be dubious, it would actually be contested.

In requesting the General Assembly to take further action to ensure the maintenance of peace and security in Jerusalem, the Trusteeship Council would be prepared to support any measure on one condition: that it would be capable of being carried out. That is to say, no measure should be considered unless it received at least the acquiescence or tolerance, if not the agreement, of the two parties; if not, the United Nations must be prepared to provide means of enforcing its decisions. The authority and prestige of the General Assembly would be completely destroyed if it failed to ensure the efficient implementation of the measures it recommended.

The Belgian delegation would support the French proposal (document A/546), but would suggest that it be amended to ensure that the measures taken should not safeguard only the assets of the municipality, but all the assets of the State of Palestine.

Mr. SAYRE (United States of America) stated that the United States Government had been seeking a practicable arrangement for Jerusalem to ensure the continuation, after 15 May, of the functioning of the municipal services, as well as the protection of the rights of its inhabitants, the adequate supply of food and water and the provision of adequate policing of Jerusalem.

The United States delegation would heartily support the French proposal, provided a legal and constitutional basis could be found for such action, for it would be unthinkable if the United Nations, whose primary objective was the maintenance of law and order in the world, disregarded the necessity for basing its actions on legal and constitutional grounds. That was the main reason why the United States had urged that a temporary trusteeship regime be adopted for Jerusalem, under the Charter of the United Nations with a view to exercising the above-mentioned powers.

Mr. Sayre quoted the proposal which his delegation had submitted to the Trusteeship Council on 3 May 1948,1/ and stressed that the proposal had been only for a temporary trusteeship. It would have no bearing upon whatever action would ultimately be taken with respect to the government of Jerusalem, nor would it depend upon placing the whole of Palestine under trusteeship. As Mr. Gerig, speaking for the United States delegation on 30 April at the Trusteeship Council,2/ had said: "The United States is prepared to co-operate fully with the Trusteeship Council and along with other members of the United Nations, to take its share of United Nations responsibility for the establishment and operation of such a provisional municipal administration for the city of Jerusalem."

His delegation therefore would support the suggestion made by the Australian representative at the 133rd plenary meeting, that the General Assembly should adopt the first three paragraphs of the resolution proposed by the President, and should at the same time refer to the First Committee the formulation of additional measures which, as the Trusteeship Council report indicated, would be necessary to ensure the effective maintenance of law and order in Jerusalem. The proposal of the French delegation, as well as the United States proposal for temporary trusteeship for Jerusalem, should be referred immediately to the First Committee for further action.

A vote was taken on the draft resolution submitted by the President (document A/545).

The first paragraph was adopted by 45 votes to none, with 5 abstentions.

The second paragraph was adopted by 36 votes to none, with 16 abstentions.

The PRESIDENT then put the third paragraph to the vote.

Mr. PARODI (France) considered that, in view of the close connexion existing between the third paragraph of the President's resolution and the draft resolution submitted earlier by the French delegation (document A/546), it might be advantageous if the vote on the third paragraph were deferred, and the paragraph were referred for consideration to the organ entrusted with the elaboration of further measures.

He agreed that it might be important for the Mandatory Power to be advised in good time so that it might consider the appointment of a special commissioner, but believed that no delay would arise from the simultaneous consideration of the third paragraph and the French proposal.

Mr. RYCKMANS (Belgium) called attention to the fact that the proposal contained in paragraph 3 of section II of the report of the Trusteeship Council could only be implemented if the British High Commissioner in Jerusalem were informed before 9 May of the decision of the General Assembly. If the question were referred to the First Committee, and the Committee did not act soon enough to allow the decision to reach Jerusalem before 9 May so that the High Commissioner might act, the recommendation contained in paragraph 3 could no longer be implemented.

Mr. PARODI (France) did not agree with the remarks made by the Belgian representative. The date for the withdrawal of the Mandatory Power was 15 May, and he did not understand why the new date of 9 May had arisen. In any case if the First Committee acted without delay, there would be sufficient time to take a decision before 9 May.

Mr. SAYRE (United States of America) supported the remarks made by the Belgian representative. He explained that the date of 9 May was significant because in order to invest the proposed special municipal commissioner with adequate powers to carry out his duties in the city of Jerusalem, additional powers would have to be conferred upon him by the appropriate authorities in London. A few days would be required for those powers to be formulated and despatched to the High Commissioner of Palestine and as the appointment of the special municipal commissioner, acceptable to both Jews and Arabs, would have to be made before 15 May, time was obviously running very short. The United Kingdom representative had stated in the Trusteeship Council 3/ that unless the General Assembly took action on the matter by 9 May, it would be too late to implement the proposed decision.

Mr. KHALIDY (Iraq) expressed his support of the views expressed by the Belgian representative, and added that the third paragraph was a very important item in the draft resolution under consideration. He expressed the hope that the chance being offered to both Jews and Arabs to reach an agreement on one particular point would not be wasted, and urged that rapid action be taken on the question under discussion.

Mr. EL-KHOURI (Syria) said that, as the representative of France had already expressed his point of view at length at the 133rd plenary meeting, he did not think any useful purpose would be served by referring the French amendment to the First Committee. That amendment recommended the appointment of a special municipal commissioner in Jerusalem to govern in the name of the United Nations. In his opinion, that act was unconstitutional and against the principles expressed in the Charter.

At a previous meeting, it had been said that the General Assembly was not empowered to assume administering authority without a trusteeship agreement concluded under Chapters
XII and XIII of the Charter. No such agreement had been concluded with regard to Jerusalem; what had been decided was simply to agree on a provisional administrative arrangement which would protect the people of the city. No decision of the Assembly would have effect unless the consent of both parties had been obtained. If the French suggestion were accepted, and a municipal commissioner were sent to Jerusalem under the auspices of the United Nations, such a Commissioner would not command the obedience of the inhabitants.

In the opinion of the Syrian representative, the Trusteeship Council had acted legally and constitutionally, and had wished to avoid making any recommendation which would be outside the competence of the Assembly. He considered it would be a waste of time to refer the matter to the First Committee, where the same arguments would be heard and where the same opposition would be forthcoming from both parties. The United Nations would be placed in a critical position if it gave orders which were ignored and sent officials who were not obeyed. He therefore considered that the recommendations of the Trusteeship Council were adequate and covered all measures which could properly be taken at the present time by the United Nations.

Mr. KATZ-SUCHY (Poland) did not understand why a municipal commissioner appointed by the United Kingdom for Jerusalem would be considered legal, and why such a commissioner appointed by the United Nations would be considered illegal.

He stated that the procedure of the meeting was not being conducted in accordance with the rules of procedure of the General Assembly. A French amendment had been submitted to the draft resolution proposed by the President. In Mr. Katz-Suchy's opinion, that amendment should be voted first, whether the resolution was voted in parts or in toto. The Assembly had so far adopted two paragraphs which were meaningless. If the vote on the French amendment was to be postponed, the voting on the third paragraph of the draft resolution should also be postponed. He pointed out that if the suggestion of the United States representative to adopt the third paragraph were accepted, the Assembly would be faced with the appointment of a municipal commissioner by the Mandatory Power. In such a case, the question of the presence in Jerusalem of a United Nations representative would be postponed ad infinitum, probably until the Assembly had finished its consideration.

The PRESIDENT regretted that he could not agree with the proposal made by the representative of Poland. The only question now before the General Assembly, was a motion presented by the representative of France requesting a postponement of the vote on the third paragraph of the draft resolution proposed by the President. Such action was covered by rule 70, paragraph (c), of the rules of procedure, and he would therefore put to the vote the proposal of the French representative to postpone consideration of the third paragraph of the draft resolution submitted by the President.

The proposal was rejected by 28 votes to 11, with 10 abstentions.

The Assembly then proceeded to vote on the third paragraph of the draft resolution proposed by the President.

The third paragraph of the draft resolution of the President was adopted by 35 votes to 2, with 14 abstentions.

The PRESIDENT said that the next step should be to vote on the proposal presented by the representative of France (document A/546) in substitution of the fourth paragraph of the President's draft resolution. He thought, however, that the proposal of the Australian representative (document A/547) replacing the fourth paragraph by an amendment which would refer to the First Committee the question of the right to decide on further measures to be taken, should have priority. He would therefore put the Australian proposal to the vote.

Mr. HOOD (Australia) agreed to a suggestion by Mr. KYROU (Greece) that the words "or its subsidiary bodies" should be added to the Australian text after the words "First Committee".

Thus amended the Australian amendment to the draft resolution was adopted by 28 votes to none, with 21 abstentions.

The PRESIDENT said that, if there were no objections, the French proposal (document A/546) would be referred to the First Committee.

The President's proposal was adopted.

Mr. KATZ-SUCHY (Poland), speaking on a point of order, referred to rule 81 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly which required that a proposal should be put to a final vote in its entirety, after if had been voted on separately in parts. On the basis of rules 81 and 82 of the rules of procedure, the entire resolution before the Assembly had not been, and could not be, voted upon until a decision had been taken on the French amendment and on the fourth paragraph of the resolution. Mr. Katz-Suchy asked the President, therefore, whether his view was correct that, as long as the decision in question had not been taken, the resolution before the Assembly was not in force.

The PRESIDENT agreed that the interpretation given by the representative of Poland to rule 81 was correct. Therefore, at the request of the Polish representative, the Assembly would vote on the whole resolution, which had just been voted upon in parts.

Mr. KATZ-SUCHY (Poland), speaking on a point of order, said that he did not think that a vote could be taken on the entire resolution as, by a large majority, the General Assembly had just decided to postpone the vote on the final paragraph of the resolution.

The PRESIDENT explained that the Assembly had adopted the Australian amendment replacing the fourth paragraph of the resolution, whereby the question of further measures for the protection of the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants was referred to the First Committee for its consideration. The President ruled that that amendment in no way affected the position of the remainder of the proposal which had been voted upon, and that the Assembly should proceed to vote on the resolution as a whole, in accordance with rule 81 of the rules of procedure.

The resolution as a whole, as amended, was adopted by 35 votes to none, with 17 abstentions.

The meeting rose at 4.20 p.m.



1/ See Official Records of the Trusteeship Council, Second Session, 44th meeting.

2/ Ibid., 41st meeting.

3/ See Official Records of the Trusteeship Council, Second Session, 46th meeting.


Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter