TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIRST
Held at Lake Success, New York,
on Wednesday, 3 March 1948, at 2.30 p.m.
President: Mr. T. F. TSIANG (China).
Present: The representatives of the following countries: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Syria, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom, United States of America.
54. Provisional agenda (document S/Agenda 261)
1. Adoption of the agenda.
2. Letter dated 27 February 1948, from the Ambassador of Burma addressed to the Secretary-General, concerning the application of Burma for membership in the United Nations (document S/687).
3. The Palestine question :
The agenda was adopted.
4. Continuation of the discussion
of the Palestine.question
On the invitation of the President, Mr. Lisicky, Chairman of the United Nations Palestine Commission; Mahmoud Fawzi Bey, the representative of Egypt; and Mr. H. Greenberg, the representative of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, took their places at the Security Council table.
General MCNAUGHTON (Canada) : At this stage in the discussion of the Palestine question it is not necessary for me to emphasize the seriousness of the situation which has been drawn to the attention of the Security Council by the two reports of the Palestine Commission which are now before us [documents S/663 and S/676]. Every day which passes brings news of continued violence, of hostility and of the mounting toll of lives which have been lost. That the situation is very grave indeed is not questioned by any of the parties directly concerned. What is in question is the action which the Security Council should now take in the face of this serious and critical situation.
We continue to hear charges and countercharges from the representatives of the parties involved. We continue to hear, as we did during the meetings of the General Assembly, expressions of defiance and of threats to resort to arms.
Members of the Security Council will recall that resolution 181 (II)[Link] adopted by the General Assembly on 29 November 1947 not only recommended the terms of a political settlement, but also called upon the inhabitants of Palestine to take such steps as may be necessary on their part to put this plan into effect, and appealed to all Governments and to all peoples to refrain from taking any action which might hamper or delay the carrying out of these recommendations. The situation which confronts the Security Council today is that these recommendations and these appeals have not had the effect of bringing peace and order to the Holy Land. The threats uttered during the General Assembly have now turned into acts of violence verging on civil war, and the sparks which were ignited by intense emotion and by conflicting passions now might at any moment, unless they are quenched, cause a conflagration which would certainly result in a breach of international peace.
The question, then, before the Security Council is this : What action can and should it take to ensure international peace and security ? As a basis for taking its first decision on this case, the Security Council !has been offered the draft resolution submitted by the representative of the United States [document S/685] and the amendment to it presented by the representative of Belgium [document S/688]. The main difference between these proposals lies in paragraph 1 of the United States draft resolution. This provides that, subject to certain reservations which have been explained by the representative of the United States himself, the Security Council would accept paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of section A of the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947. The Belgian draft contains no such pro vision but provides, as does the United States proposal, for the setting up of a committee comprising the five permanent members of the Security Council to look into the situation; to consult with the Palestine Commission, the Mandatory Power, and others directly concerned, and then to report to the Security Council as a matter of urgency.
It is the opinion of the Canadian delegation that before the Security Council examines the position set forth in paragraph 1 of the United States draft, including consideration, of action under Article 39 and the other provisions of Chapter VII of the Charter—namely, action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches if the peace, and acts of aggression—the Council should first satisfy itself by its own enquiries and efforts that the situation has, indeed passed beyond , the possibilities of the pacific settlement of disputes provided in Chapter VI of the Charter.
In our view it is a paramount necessity that the Security Council should make every effort towards conciliation before it considers taking measures under Chapter VII. Our view in this respect is reinforced by statements made by the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom in the Security Council at the 260th meeting. I remind the members that the representative of the. United States, for instance, said that "armed force cannot be used for implementation of the plan, because the Charter limits the use of United Nations force expressly to threats to and breaches of the peace and aggression affecting. international peace. Therefore, we must interpret the General Assembly resolution as meaning that the United Nations measures to implement this resolution are peaceful measures.
The representative of the United Kingdom emphasized a further argument in favour of conciliation when he stated : " Whatever may be the merits or demerits of the General Assembly's recommendations, their workability essentially depends upon some measure of co-operation between Jews and Arabs. This co-operation, on which the maintenance of the essential services and normal life of the country depends, cannot be secured by coercion."
Even at this late hour conciliation, in our view, must be tried, for surely the realization must, be growing upon both communities in Palestine that the present course of violence and inflexible resistance against each other can only bring chaos and mutual destruction.
For various reasons, therefore, including the statement of views by the representatives of the United States and the United. Kingdom, to which I have just referred, the Canadian delegation believes that the five permanent members, with special rights and privileges in the Security Council, should make a most serious, and indeed supreme, effort to resolve this situation through conciliation. For this purpose, we feel that it would be natural, fore them to take the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947 as a starting point, as is indeed recognized in subparagraph 2 (c) of the United States draft resolution and paragraph (c) of the Belgian amendment. If these efforts fail, it will then be for the Security Council to consider what action should be taken in regard to the questions raised in paragraph 1 of the United States proposal.
In their consultations, provided for in sub-paragraph 2 (c) and paragraph (c), respectively of the United States and Belgian drafts, the permanent members should also consider what other measures the Security Council might take in regard to the implementation of the General Assembly resolution and the maintenance of international peace and security in Palestine:
Holding these views,: the Canadian delegation will support the Belgian amendment, as we believe that acceptance of paragraph 1 of the United States draft resolution should be postponed until the five permanent members of the Security Council have had an opportunity to, consult one another and the parties directly concerned and, in particular, to satisfy themselves and us that the possibilities of progress through conciliation have in fact been exhausted.
The events of the last five months have underlined the necessity for an agreed solution if bloodshed and strife are to be halted and peace and security established. May I add that the position taken by Canada is not to be interpreted as in any way repudiating or abandoning the recommendations of the General Assembly on partition with economic union ? In our opinion this is a matter on which the Security Council should not take a decision until the committee of the five permanent members has had a further opportunity to investigate, to consult and to report the Council. At the stage which we have now reached, this committee should have the freest possible hand in this vitally important work, and should not be restricted by any prior decision of the Security Council.
Mahmoud FAWZI Bey (Egypt) : On a previous occasion [255th meeting] I had the privilege of making a preliminary statement to the Security Council on certain general aspects of the Palestine question. Today I shall confine myself to the Belgian amendment to the draft resolution submitted by the representative of the United States, which is the point now before us.
As is only fair, I am looking at this amendment in the light of the explanatory statement made by the representative of Belgium at the 258th meeting. I can readily agree with our Belgian colleague when he says that the question before us is one upon which the Security Council will have to decide after full consideration; that we are still in a preparatory stage; and that the question of whether the Security Council should or should not act on the provisions of the resolution of the General Assembly cannot be answered until later when the Security Council has the facts in its possession. I can as readily understand him when he says that he is not questioning whether or not the partition plan is justified, or whether a threat to the peace or a breach of the peace exists, and that he is not taking a position on any of these questions. I can also understand him when he adds that the Belgian amendment tends to eliminate from the United States draft resolution any provision which constitutes a position on the substance of this question.
There is one thing, however, which I cannot understand or agree to. It is the reason for which the representative of Belgium, while logically and consequentially proposing, in his amendment, to omit paragraph 1 from the draft resolution of the United States, which commits the Security Council, leaves untouched the no less specific sub-paragraphs 2 (a) and 2 (c) dealing with possible guidance and instructions to and consultation with the Palestine Commission.
That Commission has only one origin: the resolution of the General Assembly; and one purpose: the implementation of the partition plan. In view of this I cannot help noticing the contradiction between speaking of "guiding, instructing, and consulting with the Commission," and saying at the same time that the question whether the Security Council should or should not act on the provisions of the resolution of the General Assembly can be answered only later when the Security Council has the facts in its possession.
I hope that the representative of Belgium will streamline his amendment by omitting from paragraph (a) the phrase after the word " Palestine" and omitting from paragraph (c), the phrase : "…with the Palestine Commission,…".
The present problem, needless to say, is one which requires the maximum of patience and care; and I fully share the views of the representative of Belgium as to the importance of our paying meticulous attention to the question of method. I find, therefore, no difficulty in considering with him that it would be logical and right that the United States draft resolution remain within the limits of the present stage in which we find ourselves, the stage of investigation and elucidation of the possibilities.
Before closing, I beg leave to point out one salient feature of our present debates ; I mean the growing sense of exceptionally great responsibility which, in turn, reclaims thorough investigation and deep thought upon the problem now before us.
Some words might have been misleading, but I am certain that it does not occur to any friend of the United Nations to suggest or to imply that the Security Council should automatically apply a rubber stamp to the General Assembly's resolutions or, much less, that the Security Council itself should become a rubber stamp.
The Security Council, I am sure, will make its own investigations and do its own reasoning, and will form for itself its own opinion.
The PRESIDENT : Speaking as the representative of CHINA, I should like to say simply that my delegation will support the Belgian amendment. The Belgian amendment and the original United States proposal both envisage a committee of the five permanent members of the Security Council. Different opinions on that point have been expressed.
In our view, that machinery is of secondary importance. If the majority of the Security Council should agree on a committee of the five permanent members, my delegation would be glad to participate. Personally, I should prefer a committee differently constituted, especially since the representative of the United Kingdom has already stated that his delegation could not participate in such committee. We think that some sort of committee should be set up, not necessarily a committee of the five permanent members. So much for the machinery and procedure in handling this question.
On the question as a whole, I find that the statement made today by the representative of Canada is eminently reasonable. It seems to us that a supreme effort should be made by the Security Council to find ways of conciliation. If that is the case, we feel that a committee of the Security Council could make a larger contribution if it started action without commitments.
Sooner or later, the Security Council will come to a decision, but that decision should come after study, investigation, report and debate in the Security Council. It is for that reason that we should prefer proceeding along the lines suggested by the Belgian delegation.
I have only one idea to add. The distinction between enforcement of partition by force and the maintenance of peace by force, while legally valid and important, seems to us in the present situation to 'be unreal ; and, therefore, that is an additional reason why my delegation would like to see this committee, however constituted, start its task without a binding commitment or instructions from the Security Council.
Mr. EL-KHOURY (Syria) I have been informed by the representative of Lebanon, Mr. Chamoun, who was attacked by a heart ailment yesterday, that he could not attend today's meeting of the Security Council. He is now in the hospital. However, he expects that he will be able to attend the next meeting of the Security Council and deliver a speech which he is ready to make. Therefore, he requests that this matter be postponed until he is in a position to attend the meeting: of the Security Council.
The PRESIDENT : Inasmuch as the Working Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission has postponed its meeting which was scheduled for Friday, 5 March, the Security Council will meet on that date at 10.30 am.
The meeting rose at 3.30 p.m.
Download Document Files: spv261f.pdf
Document Type: French text, Meeting records, Provisional verbatim record
Document Sources: Security Council, United Nations Palestine Commission (UNPC)
Subject: Agenda Item, Incidents, Palestine question, Security issues
Publication Date: 02/03/1948