Palestine question/Progress Report of the UN Mediator – GA debate – Verbatim record


Held at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris,

on Saturday 11 December 1948, at 3.30 p.m.

President : Mr. H. V. EVATT(Australia).

122. Continuation of the discussion on the progress report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine : reports of the First Committee (A/776) and of the Fifth Committee (A/786)


Mr. ZEBROWSKI (Poland) pointed out that just over a year ago the General Assembly, at its 128th plenary meeting, had adopted by a very large majority a resolution concerning Palestine which provided for the establishment of two independent States, an international regime for Jerusalem and the economic union binding the two States together. That resolution, if fully implemented and respected by all the Members of the United Nations would have brought into the family of nations two new States and would have advanced the cause of peace and progress in the Middle East.

The implementation of that resolution, however, was obstructed by the manœuvres and machinations of certain Powers, led by the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The aim of the United Kingdom was to prevent at all costs the emergence of an independent State. That was its aim because it realized that the existence of those two States would lessen its imperialistic hold over the Middle East. One device after another, one manœuvre after another, had been planned to support the faltering structure of the British Empire in the Middle East. At the same time, American imperialistic designs were looking for new opportunities for exploitation. The policy of the United States fluctuated between the aims of its military interests on the one hand, and the necessities of its domestic policy on the other. Both the United Kingdom and the United States were, therefore, responsible for undermining the General Assembly’s decision and for the war, devastation and misery in Palestine. When the United Kingdom and United States representatives were hypocritically lamenting the tragic plight of half a million Arab refugees, they could have been reminded that they were responsible for their deplorable fate, because theirs was the responsibility for war coming to Palestine and also for the fact that the relations between the Arabs and the Jews had deteriorated instead of improved.

The Arab peoples in the Arab States would do well to ponder the result of that policy and the situation which had been created. They should learn the lesson that their real independence and national development could not be achieved by relying on the promises of certain great Powers or on support from an imperialistic and selfish policy. The same lesson had also to be learned by the State of Israel, which he was sure understood that it must follow a close alliance with the democratic Powers and establish friendly and cordial relations with the peoples of the Arab States. Both the Jews and the Arabs had to stand together in defence of the independence of the countries of the Middle East, where bases for new wars and territories for new economic exploitation were being sought.

As a result of the misconceptions and the misdeeds of others, therefore, the General Assembly, instead of putting the final touches to the implemented decisions of the parties concerned, was still faced by attempts to undermine and destroy every possibility of a peaceful settlement in Palestine.

Twice in the course of the past year, the United Kingdom and the United States had tried to use the General Assembly as an instrument for reversing previous decisions. In spite of their abject failure at the second special session during the previous spring, when the United Kingdom and the United States had tried to replace independence by Trusteeship, the same two Powers were again trying at the current session to undo what had already been implemented. Those attempts were obviously no contribution to peace in the Middle East; they would merely fan the flames of war.

He would not enlarge any further on the general arguments that had been fully presented by the Polish delegation in the First Committee; instead, he would concentrate upon an analysis of the resolution that was before the Assembly. The first version, proposed by the United Kingdom in the First Committee, had been a clear-cut embodiment of a policy that had been rejected by the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947 as a basis for the solution of the Palestine problem.

It attempted to substitute for that solution, a recommendation contained in the Mediator’s report (A/643), the well-known Bernadotte plan, which in itself was the product of their desires. For that reason it was unacceptable to the majority of the delegation in the First Committee. The majority of those delegations believed, and he was sure that they still believed, that a solution of the Palestine problem should be based on the principles of the resolution of 29 November 1947, with due consideration for the new circumstances that had arisen. It was impossible to imagine that they would accept recommendations which were in flagrant contradiction to the principles of that resolution.

As he had already stated, it was the policy of the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom which, from the outset, had tried to prevent the implementation of the resolution of 29 November, thus causing the existing troubles and armed conflict in Palestine. That view regarding the harmful Anglo-American policy, though not always expressed as clearly and bluntly as by the Polish delegation, was held, he believed, by the majority of the delegations in the General Assembly.

When those views of the majority became clear, several revisions and amendments were submitted by the United Kingdom delegation, or by those who openly or tacitly supported its point of view. The purpose of those amendments was to make the resolution more acceptable without, however, altering any of its essential provisions. That became quite obvious when Mr. McNeil stated that his delegation was prepared to accept amendments, provided that the principles of his resolution remained unchanged. That meant that the United Kingdom was willing to alter the form, but had no intention of making a compromise on the substance of the resolution. The United Kingdom was determined to foster its own interests and to ignore completely the legitimate interests of the Arab and Jewish peoples. Mr. McNeil even went as far as to say that the Negeb was a useless desert which Israel should be happy to hand over to Transjordan in exchange for the fertile land of Galilee. How was it possible for him to justify that statement to his Arab friends? The Polish delegation was not aware of the excuses he had given to his Arab colleagues, but the objectives of the proposed deal were apparent to everyone, and especially to the representatives of the Arab States. Those objectives had nothing to do with the welfare either of the Arabs or of the Jews, but were calculated to suit the well-known imperialistic and strategic interest of the United Kingdom in the Middle East to try to establish in the Negeb a military base corresponding to that in Egypt and serving the same purpose.

The attempt had failed, however. The Committee had rejected the two parts of the resolution which were most important to the United Kingdom, since they were the essence of the Mediator’s recommendation. One of those recommendations was designed to deprive the State of Israel of the Negeb. The other proposed that the Arab parts of Palestine and the Negeb should he annexed by the Kingdom of Transjordan, the puppet Power of the United Kingdom. Since the latter recommendation was the cornerstone of British policy in the Middle East, a policy which attempted to maintain its hold on Palestine through annexation by Transjordan of the Arab part of the country, the First Committee’s vote had to be understood as a complete rejection of the policy of maintaining British domination over Palestine after the termination of the Mandate.

Although the two most obnoxious features of the draft resolution originally presented by the United Kingdom delegation had been rejected by the Committee, it was still not possible to muster the two-thirds majority necessary for acceptance at the plenary session of the General Assembly.

The resolution was adopted by 25 votes to 21, with 9 abstentions, barely a simple majority. That vote showed clearly that the majority of the delegations were not in favour of undermining the 29 November resolution.

The Polish delegation had voted against the draft resolution and would vote against it in the plenary session., What still remained of that draft, as it was being proposed for adoption, was so far from assuring a peaceful solution in Palestine that his delegation found it impossible to accept it. The resolution failed to state that the solution of the Palestine problem could only be achieved on the basis of the principles of the 29 November resolution. Instead of basing itself on the only binding and valid premise, the resolution resorted to vague and evasive formulas. Its authors played a simple but dangerous game of duplicity by telling one party that the resolution was not a departure from the resolution of 29 November 1947, while at the same time they tried to persuade the other party that it was broad and flexible enough to permit a revision of the partition resolution. In that fashion, it not only attempted to mislead the parties concerned, it encouraged intransigence and made a peaceful solution more remote.

Thus the terms of reference of the conciliation commission, far from enabling it to bring the parties together, would merely prove to be an instrument for driving them farther apart. It was reminiscent of the role of mediation played by the committees of the Security Council, where more attempts were made to mediate between the United States and the United Kingdom than to bring Jews and Arabs together. It also had the effect of misleading Member States and of lowering the prestige and authority of the Organization.

The Polish delegation could not accept such a proposal nor become a party to it, because it felt that it was the task and the duty of the General Assembly to lay down a clear and unambiguous policy on the Palestine question. In carrying out that policy, the conciliation commission would have to act as an agent of the General Assembly.

Furthermore, the resolution as it now read merely represented the undefeated portions of the Mediator’s plan, a plan which it was intended should replace the resolution of 29 November 1947. Although his delegation did not object to any arrangement arrived at by agreement between the Government of Israel and the Government of the Arab State in Palestine, it could not accept any recommendations which were originally proposed as part of a plan to discard the settlement recommended by the resolution of 29 November.

There was, further, the question of the city of Jerusalem. The resolution of 29 November made definite proposals concerning the status of that city and had requested the Trusteeship Council to work out a statute for the city of Jerusalem. The draft resolution that was now before the Assembly was in flagrant contradiction with the proposals of the resolution of 29 November.

It requested the conciliation commission to present to the fourth session of the General Assembly proposals for a permanent international regime for Jerusalem, just as though the resolution of 29 November 1947 were non-existent. It did not even mention the Trusteeship Council, to which the question of the preparation of a statute for Jerusalem had been entrusted by the General Assembly. Furthermore, in authorizing the conciliation commission to appoint a United Nations representative to perform some interim and unspecified functions in Jerusalem, it introduced another element of doubt and ambiguity which would lead to friction between the two parties. It was no doubt also intended to be used by certain interested Powers as a cloak to invest the commission with executive functions which it did not have and, at the same time, to allow those Powers to interfere with the administration of the city. That again was an attempt to undermine the settlement recommended in the resolution of 29 November 1947, an attempt to perpetuate a state of chaos in Palestine.

Finally, there was a question of the composition of the conciliation commission and the method of its appointment. Originally it had been proposed that the commission should be composed of three Member States appointed by a so-called committee of the Assembly, consisting of the five permanent members of the Security Council. Although the objectives of that proposal were obvious, the logic of it was appalling, since in such a committee decisions would be made by a simple majority and without the need of unanimity. The proposal, therefore, merely amounted to the fact that the conciliation commission would be appointed by three or four members of that committee who would be just those members who had supported the Bernadotte plan. That plan, which had been defeated in the First Committee, was to be revived surreptitiously through devious channels by a conciliation commission not clearly bound by the resolution of 29 November 1947 and appointed by the promoters of the Bernadotte plan. In such circumstances the commission would only repeat the tragic role that had been played by the Committee of Good Offices in Indonesia or the Truce Commission and Mission of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine. He was sure that the President would agree with him that such an attempt to circumvent the attitude of the majority of the Assembly would be an unfair practice- and he was convinced that any resolution which proposed to force through, by devious ways, a plan unacceptable to the majority of the Assembly would be rejected immediately.

Certain amendments had now been submitted to the General Assembly with the avowed intention of making the draft resolution more acceptable to the majority. Those amendments, however, did not make the resolution acceptable to the Polish delegation. One of the amendments (A/789) put forward was the most astounding proposal ever placed before the Assembly. It suggested the deletion of paragraph 2 (c) which read as follows: “To promote good relations between the State of Israel, the Arabs of Palestine, and the neighbouring Arab States”.

Surely the primary task and aim of the commission and the only legitimate excuse for its existence had to be the establishment of good relations between the parties. In those circumstances, the Polish delegation was compelled to ask the sponsors of the amendment what exactly was the purpose of the commission. That particular amendment was the most shocking admission that the Powers controlling the votes in the Assembly were interested in the perpetuation of the conflict and chaos in Palestine and not in the establishment of peace and harmonious relations between the parties. If the alleged purpose of the amendment was to delete the reference to the State of Israel, then he could only say that the Assembly was being presented with a proposal that added nonsense to immorality.

It was only necessary to recall that Israel was an undeniable fact, and that it had been accorded recognition by 19 States and that numerous Security Council resolutions referred to it, to see how senseless and unrealistic that proposal was. He would particularly appreciate a clear answer from the United States representative to two questions. Was he aware of the existence of the State of Israel? And, did his Government wish to promote good relations between it and the Arab States?

Finally, he wished to draw attention to the question of the composition of the conciliation commission. In his opinion, it should be large enough to permit of equitable geographical distribution among all the Members of the United Nations and it should reflect the valid decision and majority opinion of the General Assembly. The commission’s membership should be such as to give the Assembly assurances, rather than a feeling of fright, as regards its policies and principles. Thus, together with the proposed amendments, the draft resolution should be rejected and his delegation would vote against it.

Many attempts were being made to find a majority in support of the resolution. Even blackmail in the Press was being used. How otherwise could the threat issued recently by the United Kingdom to the effect that military action would be started against the State of Israel on the basis of its treaty with Transjordan be interpreted? At that time it was only a threat which tried to create a situation under which a majority, in order to avoid a worsening of conditions, would rather accept an unsatisfactory resolution. He had no doubt that should such a situation be created, as was threatened by the United Kingdom, the Security Council would deal with it in the manner required by the Charter.

By voting against the draft resolution, the Polish delegation affirmed its support of the resolution of 29 November 1947, as containing the basic principles of the solution of the Palestine problem. That resolution was legally in force and its terms would be binding upon whatever conciliation commission was formed. They provided a foundation upon which the State of Israel and the Arab States could base their direct negotiations for the establishment of a permanent settlement.

In conclusion, he appealed to the Arab States and to the State of Israel to enter into direct negotiations as soon as possible so as to lay the foundations for the peaceful co-operation of all the peoples of Palestine and of the whole Middle East. The present unfortunate conflict was the result of imperialistic policies which aimed at maintaining a foothold for foreign Powers in Palestine and in the Middle East, a policy which would confine the people of the Middle East to a state of semi-colonial dependence. Neither the Arabs nor the Jews had any interest in perpetuating that state. They should therefore stop that unfortunate conflict and enter into friendly economic and political co-operation to promote the free development of all the peoples of Palestine and the Middle East. Neither side could win by supporting the star of imperialistic power politics.

The Polish delegation firmly believed that the peoples of the Arab countries, as well as of Israel, had an intense yearning for the full national, as well as social, emancipation of their countries. In those progressive forces the Polish delegation put its trust. It felt confident that, in co-operation with other forces which were working for social progress and peace throughout the world, they would be able to develop a constructive solution of the Palestine problem, a solution which would assure peace and prosperity, as well as true national independence to Arabs and Israelites alike.

Mr. HOUDEK (Czechoslovakia) thought that the fact that the Palestine question had been placed on the Assembly’s agenda for the fourth time was both sad and encouraging. It was sad because it proved that the United Nations, at its numerous meetings, was not able either to find a reasonable and expedient settlement or to implement a just, or at least a fair, solution of the problem once such a solution was reached. The consideration of the Palestine question at the current session of the General Assembly, however, was also encouraging because it proved to the whole world that the United Nations paid close attention to all problems, the solution of which was important and necessary if lasting peace was to be ensured.

All who had taken part in the General Assemblies dealing with the Palestine question would recall that the Czechoslovak delegation had always advocated the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine, and at the same time had manifested its full understanding of the national aspirations of the Arabs. For those reasons, it had supported the appointment of the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine in May 1947 and had taken an active part in its work. In accordance with its basic attitude, it had voted, on 29 November 1947, for the resolution of the General Assembly which had proclaimed the idea of partition It had foreseen some difficulties as regards its implementation, but had voted in favour of the resolution because it had seemed to offer the best possible solution of the problem under the conditions then prevailing in Palestine. It provided for a Jewish home in Palestine which, as a result of the horrible sufferings of the Jews in the war of extermination planned and carried on against them by the Nazi regime and the associated puppet Governments, had to take the form of a sovereign and independent State. At the same time, although many appeared to have forgotten that fact, the resolution had envisaged the establishment of an Arab State in Palestine, thus meeting the national and political aspirations of the Arab populations of that country.

If neither party had been fully satisfied and such a state of affairs could never be at least a fair solution seemed to have been found. It had been rightly pointed out by several speakers in the First Committee that if the situation in Palestine was far from satisfactory, that result had not been brought about by the November resolution, but rather by the fact that the resolution itself had not been fully implemented. That point had to be stressed again and again because there appeared to be a systematic effort to undermine the very foundations upon which the Assembly’s present approach to the problem had to be based.

The course of events in Palestine since the partition scheme had been adopted by the General Assembly during the previous year, was well known. The Mandatory Power had, from the very beginning, shown an unco-operative attitude to the plan; an attitude which later on had amounted to direct obstruction of its implementation. It was obvious that that circumstance alone would have sufficed to bring about the chaotic conditions which prevailed in Palestine when the plan of partition was to be put into operation. The radical change in United States policy in the spring of the current year, and its wavering attitude, could not but increase the existing difficulties by offering grounds for unrealistic political speculations. It was chiefly due to the policy of those two great Powers, the United Kingdom and the United States, especially in the Security Council, that it had not been possible to implement the November resolution. However, even if those two great Powers had not found it possible to support the implementation of that resolution, that did not mean that the scheme of partition provided for in that resolution was not practicable and workable, and more especially it did not mean that the resolution could not be substantially implemented at that time. It was therefore the opinion of the Czechoslovak delegation that the most important and essential task before the General Assembly was the implementation of the resolution of 29 November 1947.

Such was the basic attitude of the Czechoslovak delegation as regards the Palestine question under the existing circumstances. The situation was of course quite different from the one that had prevailed the previous year. At that time, the Assembly had had to envisage the most favourable conditions for the development of two communities which bad hitherto lived together in a territory administered by a Mandatory Power. It had had to cope with the difficulties resulting from the fact that that mandatory regime had been scheduled to come to an end at an early date. With that end in view, it had been possible to consider different schemes of solution and the Assembly had been entitled to work out technical details, such as boundaries, a special statute for Jerusalem, economic union and so on.

In the absence of a State authority in the territory in question, the United Nations had assumed the necessary responsibility for creating the conditions, including the territorial arrangements, under which the projected scheme was to operate.

The attitude of the General Assembly and its approach to the problem had to be a different one It saw one of the States, which it had provided for at the previous regular session, in existence with sovereign rights and prerogatives which were the attributes of the other members of the family of nations. The proclamation of the State of Israel had completely changed the situation. Once more, it was to be regretted that the Arab State of Palestine, for which provision had also been made in the same resolution, had not also come into existence. For the time being, Israel was a reality which had not been seriously challenged by the regrettable and the uncompromising attitude of the Arab States. The actual existence of the Jewish State, therefore, must always be taken into consideration.

In view of that fact, the Assembly was no longer entitled to make any territorial arrangements of a fundamental character, because that would signify an infringement of the sovereignty of the State of Israel which perhaps, in the near future, would become a Member of the United Nations. Such an action on the part of the Assembly would represent a flagrant violation of the Charter, its purposes and principles, and more particularly of Article 2, paragraph 7, thereof. No territorial changes or exchanges were therefore permissible unless mutually agreed upon by both parties.

Consideration must also be given to the Arab State of Palestine, the establishment of which, it was to be hoped, would not be much longer delayed in spite of existing difficulties. The Assembly’s main objective could be, therefore, to lay down a basis upon which the opposing views could be brought more closely together and thus help to create the conditions for lasting peace in Palestine.

Some of those facts bad been recognized by the United Nations late Mediator in the “seven basic premises” listed in his progress report, part 1, pages 30 and 31. It was regrettable that he had not drawn the logical conclusions from those premises, but on the contrary had suggested in paragraph A of the chapter entitled, “Special conclusions”, territorial exchanges unacceptable not only to both parties concerned, but also, in the absence of a formal agreement between Arabs and Jews, to the United Nations. As a solution, he had thus suggested a wholesale territorial transfer contrary to the interests of both the Arab and Jewish populations in Palestine, a transfer which, among other matters, would deprive the Arab population of Palestine of the right to establish a State of their own.

It was for those reasons mainly that the Czechoslovak delegation had found it impossible to support the original United Kingdom draft resolution, because that draft resolution had fully endorsed the specific conclusions of the late Mediator. Its opposition to the second revised draft resolution submitted by the United Kingdom, and now presented with certain amendments for final approval by the Assembly, was of a slightly different nature.

From what he had said before, it was obvious that the Czechoslovak delegation could not agree to and could not accept any reference, hidden or direct, to the specific conclusions of the late Mediator. For similar reasons, it was not appropriate to mention, as was done in the draft resolution before the Assembly, the appointment of the United Nations late Mediator and his functions as stated in the General Assembly resolution 186 (S-2) of 14 May 1948.

The United Nations Mediator had been appointed at a time when the United Kingdom Mandate was about to expire, or in other words, under conditions fundamentally different from those which were prevailing in Palestine. As the Assembly would remember, the resolution concerning his appointment had been passed at the very last moment of the second special session of the General Assembly as a kind of desperate solution at a moment when the regime, still having a certain degree of authority, was undergoing complete disintegration. A resolution had been hastily devised in order to meet the situation.

The Assembly was trying to find a lasting solution for Palestine, the preliminary condition of which was the restoration of peace in that troubled part of the world. If it was to make its contribution to the solution of the problem, it must not only reject categorically the specific conclusions of the progress report which deprived the Arab population of Palestine of the right to establish a State of their own and which, as the Acting Mediator had recently said, in no way presented the recommendations of the late Mediator to the General Assembly, but only his personal views. The Assembly must also reject any reference to the appointment of the United Nations Mediator and his functions as stated in the resolution of 14 May 1948, because the conditions under which his office was created bad changed fundamentally as a result of the proclamation of the State of Israel

Despite the differences of opinion that had been indicated by some speakers in the First Committee, the Czechoslovak delegation considered that resolution 181 (II) offered a reasonable scheme within the framework of which conciliation efforts between the two parties concerned should be started at once. The final statement made recently in the First Committee by the Acting Mediator, who was familiar with the conditions on the spot, supported the Czechoslovak delegation’s conviction that negotiations between Arabs and Jews, even if not easy, were a realistic possibility. It was for all those reasons that his delegation was basically in favour of the establishment of a conciliation commission.

As regards the composition of that commission, he would like to stress that his delegation had always advocated equitable geographical representation as a principle that had to be applied, as far as was technically possible, to all organs of the United Nations. It therefore supported the establishment of a conciliation commission in which five Member States would be represented. In doing so, the Czechoslovak delegation expressed its profound conviction that the representatives of the Member States, once they had become members of the commission, would act, as in previous cases, solely and exclusively as the trustees of the United Nations, having only one object in mind: to devise the fairest possible solution to both parties concerned, and thus to ensure lasting peace in Palestine.

It followed logically from what he had stated before that the only firm basis upon which the Assembly could build, or at least try to build, a permanent settlement, was the resolution of 29 November 1947. That resolution must not only be the starting point for the Assembly’s considerations, but the framework for the final solution of the Palestine question. The terms of reference of the conciliation commission must rest, therefore, in his opinion, on the scheme of partition. If such a decision were to be taken, the conciliation commission would have a firm guidance for its activities.

Taking into consideration those general ideas, it was obvious that the United Kingdom draft resolution could not be accepted. The amendments proposed by several States, contained in document A/789, made the resolution in certain places even more unacceptable. It was true that the amendments tried to omit any form of reference to the specific conclusions of the late Mediator or to any part of his report, but that was only a formal arrangement, while the spirit of the draft resolution remained the same.

Any reference to the November resolution, which was the only firm basis of a final settlement in Palestine, was omitted. The existence of the State of Israel which was, as the Assembly had been assured by the late Mediator in his report and by the Acting Mediator in his recent statement to the First Committee an inescapable reality in Palestine, was completely ignored. Moreover, the whole paragraph stating that the conciliation commission’s task was to promote good relations between the State of Israel, the Arabs of Palestine and the neighbouring Arab States was simply left out.

What, however, was the eventual task of the commission if not to promote good relations between the State of Israel and the Arabs of Palestine? Furthermore, as regards that commission, the aims of which were not absolutely clear, the Assembly was being asked to approve an additional net expenditure for nine months in 1949 to the extent of 3 million dollars.

He regretted that the United Kingdom resolution was unacceptable to his delegation and that it would, therefore, vote against it, In the circumstances, there was, in his opinion, only one possible way of solving the Palestine problem and that lay in the establishment of direct contact between the two parties concerned. He concluded his statement by making a new appeal to the disputing parties, urging them to forget their prejudices, which, however understandable, were extremely detrimental to the cause of peace.

Mr. FRASER (New Zealand) stated that he had hoped, together with the President and the majority of delegations at the General Assembly, that there would be unanimity on that important, and in many ways, tragic question. It appeared it would not be possible to achieve unanimity, or even the necessary two-thirds majority vote to ensure the passing of the draft resolution in the Assembly; neither had it been possible in the First Committee. Certain delegations, therefore, representing countries which no doubt were anxious to achieve a settlement between the Jewish and Arab peoples which would be as fair and humane as possible had considered what steps could be taken in order to attain a majority, if possible, of delegations to come to a common agreement and understanding.

He had been encouraged, and he was sure everybody who had heard the speeches made at the 184th meeting had been encouraged, by the tone of those who had spoken, their reluctance to press their own point of view, the desire to accommodate even the feelings of antagonistic parties, their desire to meet on small matters or on matters that looked small but loomed large in the minds of some delegations, such as the addition of the Holy Places to the list of place names a matter of great importance to millions and millions of people throughout the world their desire to accommodate and conciliate each other, all that had been breathed into every line of the speeches made that morning.

He regretted that a different note had now been struck. He did not question the sincerity of that note nor question the intentions of those who had struck that note, but he regretted that it had been struck and hoped that before the conclusion of that meeting further consideration would be given to the attitude taken up by the representatives of Poland and of Czechoslovakia.

He need only mention the names of the countries represented by the delegations which had participated in the sponsoring of the amendments now before the Assembly: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, and New Zealand. Even to hint that the representatives of those nations would lend themselves to imperialistic, capitalistic machinations would be to draw on the imagination to the extent of bankruptcy. The amendments bad been drafted not to abrogate anything; they did not abrogate any decisions of the Assembly. No resolution passed by the Assembly was being set aside or in any way annulled or abrogated by the amendments and resolutions that had been put forward. Representatives should have that clearly in their minds when they voted.

If there had been a reversal of the decision of 29 November 1947, then very many representatives, including Mr. Fraser himself, would not have been able to vote for the draft resolution or the amendments that had been drafted. There was no such annulment, and there was no endorsement or disapproval of the Mediator’s report. There was no indication to the conciliation commission that was to be set up that other matters could not be taken into consideration. The commission would finally have to report back to the Assembly, and there its task would end. It would not be empowered to set aside any decision of that Assembly; it would only have the power to conciliate, to call the parties together, and to explore every possibility of agreement before reporting back to that Assembly. It was for the Assembly and for no other body without overlooking the powers of the Security Council to deal finally with that resolution, No subsidiary body, no committee or commission set up, whatever its purpose, could set aside the decisions of the Assembly, and there was no project whatsoever to give the commission that power. Therefore, nobody should say that the resolution of 29 November 1947 was being set aside.

The commission had been asked to explore, on the basis of that resolution, as well as the resolution of 14 May of that year and the Mediator’s report, whether a basis of agreement could be reached between the Arab people and the Jewish people, and then to report back to the Assembly. It was the Assembly, and no other body, that would decide whether the resolution of 29 November 1947 would stand or not. That question was not up for decision at that meeting. It was not up for decision at all. There was no question of abrogating or annulling that resolution. That could only be done if the Assembly in its wisdom considered it could be replaced by something better. The object of the draft resolution was to find a plan that would meet the requirements of the situation and achieve a settlement between the State of Israel and the Arab States and Arab people; and, finally, to achieve peace. That was the only objective of the amendments to the draft resolution and of the amended draft resolution which, he hoped, would be finally passed. He urged those who had doubts about the matter to consider whether by their vote they could not find some solution of the matter, as that might be their last opportunity of doing so.

The commission would have to face the situation in a realistic way. He knew that the term “realistic” was over-worked, but at least there must be stark realism as far as the work of the commission was concerned.

The question whether a State should be called a State was, he believed, of small importance in the face of reality. It was not worth fighting over. Surely the commission could only succeed if both the Jewish people and the Arab people responsible Jewish administrators and their Government, and the various Governments of the Arab peoples would agree to accept the situation as it was, and negotiate for peace accordingly.

It was no use going over past history, even that of the last ten years. It was no use going over old quarrels and animosities. He wished to say a few words in slight defence of the Mandatory Power, although he did not want to be drawn into a controversy on that score. There was no point in looking back and saying that a mistake had been made at Versailles in 1919. That might be so, but it was part of history now, and all those concerned had been caught up in that web of history. The United Nations wanted to see what could be achieved; instead of letting that web remain and eventually destroy both races, the United Nations wanted a plan that would benefit both races..

He knew that an opportunity had been taken once more that day to attack the United Kingdom and the United States of America as capitalistic and imperialistic Powers.

Sometimes, when a thing was said often enough it was believed; sometimes people would not heed it. They would become immune and remain quite unaffected. For instance, to call the United Kingdom of that day with its existing Government— the United Kingdom that had recognized the claims of India and Pakistan— an imperialist Power that wished to retain every scrap of land and wealth that it had previously possessed, and to say that it was not sympathetic at all towards the developing peoples, was not only distortion, but out of keeping with the real situation. And when it was said that the United States was playing the game of dollar diplomacy to gain a death-grip on Europe, nobody would believe it. Not even the simplest person accepted such statements when he saw how countries were being revived. Mr. Fraser did not think any country in Western Europe or any country of the British Commonwealth would allow itself to be trampled underfoot by any Power whatsoever.

He had been astounded to find that, perhaps unintentionally, some representatives and nations thought it more important to denounce other fellow representatives and the countries they represented than to find the solution of current problems. Surely it was the task of the Members of the United Nations, even if they felt keenly on certain matters, to lay their feelings aside at some time, so that the world could progress and peace could be attained.

He should like the Arab people whom he had heard in the Committee denouncing the United Kingdom, and he should like the Jewish people whom he had also heard criticizing — if not denouncing — the United Kingdom, just to remember that were it not for that country, at least all of Western Europe would at that time be dominated by Nazism and fascism. Were it not for that country and the countries of the British Commonwealth, including India, Australia, and New Zealand, Rommel and Mussolini would have been in Alexandria and Cairo. And Arab, Jew, Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi and all the peoples of the Middle East would be under the Nazis and nazi dictatorship and leadership. Their own leaders would not be alive. It should not be forgotten that that was the background of the more recent history. And he was not derogating or minimizing the contribution made by other countries the great contribution made by the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as well as other countries that had joined the war, some of them rallying after they had been over-run. But he wanted to say that the burden at El-Alamein had been carried in the main by the British Commonwealth. Even in a world where, perhaps, it was unfashionable to give credit, that fact should be remembered.

He was one of those who had disagreed with the policy of the British Government in regard to Palestine, and he had not hidden his views from anyone. But it was only fair to state that an examination of how the Mandatory Power had carried on its work would show that under its government and guidance, Palestine had made great progress. Nobody could deny that, and if he differed with anybody, he was at least trying to differ fairly and to give credit. He knew that his Arab friends would say that the Mandatory Power allowed 400,000 Jewish people into Palestine. That was a fact. It was done not only in conformity with the spirit of the Mandate, but with the spirit and desire of the civilized world at that time.

He could recount the progress made among both Arabs and Jews. Certainly the Jewish people had contributed greatly towards that advance, but it had been done under British control. Certainly the Arab people had also endeavoured to the best of their ability to rise to the occasion and raise the standard of living, and increase educational and health opportunities. At the end of the Mandate, or when the present trouble had begun, the Palestine that had developed as a Mandate of the United Kingdom could not be recognized if compared with the previous miserable condition of the country.

He had always taken the view that a Jewish home meant a Jewish State. There might have been different opinions, and he was not going to refer to all the resolutions passed by various bodies, but he did say that the Jewish people had the right to expect the nations of the world, including the Mandatory Power, to construe “a Jewish home” to mean a Jewish State, because there was no home unless the person in the home was in control. On the other hand, it was for those who wanted to find a solution to say to the Arabs and the Jews that they were trying to understand the position of the Jewish people who had been there for so many years and who had looked upon it as their home, miserable as he had said and poor as the living conditions had been. But it had been a home none the less, people clung to even the most inadequate home. He could understand the reluctance to move away. The United Nations could understand the sympathy for the Arab refugees, and not only understand it, but do its best, as it was doing, to succour them at present and to re-establish them either in their homes, if they wanted that, or in a better position in some other area.

He was astounded by the fact, as any thinking person would be astounded, that the world was standing helplessly by, unable to solve the problem. If the United Nations did not pass the resolution that day, it would be still another example of its helplessness and the world would be aghast at the fact that the problem of the government of an area of 10,000 square miles only could not be solved by all the brains and all the goodwill of the world. There was enough ability in any one of the countries of the United Nations to solve the problem, if only there was enough goodwill among the nations represented. It was the responsibility of the United Nations to see that at least a message of hope would go out to the Arab and the Jewish peoples.

Referring to the small size of Palestine, Mr. Fraser recalled that when he had been in Germany recently, be bad been told there were about 6 million refugees who had come in or had been removed forcibly or deported into Germany from adjacent areas, Those refugees had fled into Germany to make the complex problem of the German population still more difficult and almost impossible. If the solution of such a problem was being tackled, surely the problem of a small community in a small area could be solved also.

The purpose of setting up the commission, the purpose of the draft resolutions, and, still further, the purpose of the amendments supported by those who would fight capitalist imperialism to the very death, was to try to achieve a fair settlement, a settlement to which both parties could be asked to agree, and which they could accept, even if they could not agree with it fully. It was to accomplish that and that only, that the amendments had been drafted. They had not been drafted to help any particular nation, except the two peoples concerned.

Of course, the final resolution would not be what any of the Members of the United Nations wanted. But, at least, it would be a combined effort to make the combined voice of the Assembly go out to the people of the world with the message that it would grapple with the problem, taking into consideration the rights of both parties.

He should like to refer to the position of the Arab people a great people. The world owed a great deal to the Arab people, as much as it did to the Chinese people and other nations which had not kept in the vanguard in the capitalist world. But, while the world understood and sympathized with the position of the Arab people and wanted to do everything possible to help them, surely it must also consider the position of the people that was scattered over the face of the earth and which had been persecuted so cruelly over the centuries until the last persecution in Germany had decimated its numbers. Was it not natural that it should want some place which it could call its home, where it would be able to feel secure and use without tyranny or hindrance the great genius which belonged to its race in science, engineering, literature, music and all the arts? Surely, the world, including the Middle East, would benefit if a proper place, a duly constituted, legal place were found for that people which was still great, though persecuted through the ages.

Mr. Fraser stated that his purpose in speaking was not to attack anyone or anything. Neither did he wish to engage in dialectics. He simply wished to point out one or two facts. As Mr. Schuman, the Foreign Minister of the great country in which the Assembly was meeting, had said, it would be a standing reflection, indeed a disgrace, to the United Nations, if the Assembly were to adjourn without making some provision for bringing the two peoples concerned together. Some provision should also be made for a report to be submitted to the Assembly of some plan, which would not be forced upon the Assembly, which would not annul or destroy the resolution of November 1947, but which would implement the decisions already taken by the Assembly and would have all the force, not only of the vote of the Assembly, but also of the concurrence, or at least the non-opposition, of those immediately involved.

Christmas was drawing near. To the Christian people and to all people, it was a period of peace on earth and goodwill towards men. He hoped that the Assembly would unanimously make it such a period. The Assembly should give a message of peace on earth and peace in Palestine, message of peace among the Arabs and peace in Israel at Christmas time. It could realize not only the ideals of Christianity, but also the ideals of Judah, the ideals of Israel and the ideals of the Moslem world.

That was surely worth while doing, worth while even attempting. If the draft resolution and the amendments were adopted at that meeting or during the following meeting, then that attempt would have been made, and representatives would not feel ashamed and would not have to creep away from the Assembly feeling that they were failures and that the Organization was a failure, but they would be able to march erect and to celebrate fittingly the birth of the Prince of Peace.

He recalled the old saying of the Jewish people: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good tidings to the public peace”. Surely that could be accomplished by common sense, when nothing that had been agreed upon was being surrendered, nothing was being given up and nothing was being undone. A further attempt was simply being made to prevent bloodshed and destruction and to free the Arab and Jewish people from the terror that walks by night and by day, and to give them an opportunity, which he hoped they would take, of laying down the cruel arms of modern warfare to turn to the powers of peace and industry and to build up their great country.

He wished to emphasize the fact that he would be in favour of the most generous compensation to all those who had been displaced, both Arabs and Jews. He would go still further and say that there was a project for the Middle East and for the nations of the earth. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization had been considering the Amazon basin from the scientific point of view in order to ascertain what could be done to bring it to greater fruition by drainage and cultivation, so that it could become a garden pleasing to mankind. The desert was there in Palestine and half of it had been turned into a garden already. It was surely worth the attention of the United Nations, the support of the nations of the earth, and the support and genius of the greatest scientists of the world to try to turn that desert area, extending over the whole of the Middle East, into agricultural, horticultural and pastoral regions, which would produce abundantly and maintain vastly greater numbers than had ever been maintained there before.

If the Palestine problem could be settled, then that project would open up before the United Nations, and Palestine itself would be only the beginning of a greater grandeur.

In conclusion the New Zealand representative stated that, by passing the draft resolution and the amendments, the Assembly would not be annulling or weakening the resolution of 29 November 1947. Neither would it be setting aside the Mediator’s report. But it would be making an attempt to obtain conciliation. If that attempt were successful and the two nations concerned were to arrive at an agreement and an understanding, the conciliation commission would report back. Even if there were no agreement it would still report back, but the report would not recommend clamping down upon Jews and Arabs; it would suggest reconsideration of the problem by the Assembly in due course, and the Assembly would take a decision.

Sir Mohammed ZAFRULLAH KHAN (Pakistan) said that he had not asked to speak in order to discuss the merits of the resolution but to move a very formal amendment to paragraph 8 of the draft resolution. The group of amendments submitted in the name of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France and New Zealand sought so far as the body of the draft resolution itself was concerned, to eliminate all reference to the resolution of 29 November 1947 and to the Mediator’s report. It was in order to complete that purpose that he wished to move an amendment to paragraph 8.

Paragraph 8 dealt with the City of Jerusalem and its first sentence read as follows:

Resolves that, in view of its association with three world religions, the Jerusalem area, as defined in the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947, should be accorded special and separate treatment from the rest of Palestine and should be placed under effective United Nations control.”

In that paragraph the Jerusalem area was defined by a reference to its definition in the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947. The purpose of his amendment was to substitute a substantive definition of the area itself instead of a reference to the definition contained in the November resolution. He had taken the substantive definition from the draft resolution that had been submitted by the Colombian delegation in document A/C.1/399. Towards the end of paragraph 6 of that document the City of Jerusalem had been defined as including the existing municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which was to be Abu Dis, the most southern Bethlehem, the most western Ein Karim, including also the built-up area of Motsa, and the most northern Shu’fat. His amendment would therefore read as follows:

“In paragraph 8 delete the words ‘as defined in the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947’ and substitute the following: including the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem; the most western Ein Karim (including also the built up area of Motsa); and the most northern, Shu’fat’.” 

With regard to the resolution itself he had only two observations to submit. The first was that the representative of New Zealand, for whom he had always entertained the greatest esteem and affection, had made a passionate plea to the General Assembly to adopt the amendments and to pass the draft resolution. The representative of New Zealand was of the opinion that, if the General Assembly followed that course, it would lead to peace in Palestine. If that course were adopted and if that result should follow, no country would be happier than Pakistan, which was very interested in the restoration of peace to that troubled area. But, peace, in order to endure, had to be based upon justice and fairness.

The representative of New Zealand had been at pains to explain quite rightly that the object of the draft resolution and the amendments was not to cancel or repeal the resolution of the previous year, or those which had been adopted Since, neither was it intended to endorse or to set aside the report, but the purpose was to leave it open to the conciliation commission to try to bring about conciliation. If the commission should succeed in that object and if the parties concerned should agree to some solution of the Palestine problem, that would be an extremely happy event, both for Palestine and for the peace of the world at large. But, as he had already said, peace, in order to endure, would have to be based upon justice and fairness. So far as he could see, as long as the resolution of the previous year remained in force, and whether or not any reference was made to it in the draft resolution before the Assembly, there would be no enduring peace in Palestine if the Assembly sought to base peace upon that resolution.

The representative of New Zealand, in reinforcing his plea to the General Assembly, had also drawn attention to the fact that, if the United Kingdom had been defeated during the war, not only the area of the Middle East including Palestine, but vast areas of the earth would have been subjected to tyrannical imperialism or fascism. That was perfectly true. What ever others might feel, Pakistan was extremely grateful to the United Kingdom for all that it had done during the two world wars in the interests of humanity and liberty, freedom and justice.

On the other hand, it should also be remembered that, if the Arab countries of the Middle East had not joined in the war on the side of the United Kingdom, on the strength of the United Kingdom’s promise that in the event of victory and at the end of the war they would be completely independent in their areas including Palestine, the dire consequences mentioned by the New Zealand representative would almost certainly have overtaken the world.  

In his opinion, some gratitude should also be apparent in the attitude to the Arabs of the Middle East. What had they been seeking ever since the end of the First World War? Justice and fairness on the basis of the glorious promises made to them. Had that justice been rendered to them ? Had any effort been made to settle the problem of Palestine on the basis of those promises? If any attempt had been made to fulfil those promises, why had there been no attempt to have that doubt cleared up by an impartial judicial tribunal, as had been repeatedly suggested? Why had the Assembly been afraid, both during the previous year and during the current year, to obtain a judicial opinion on those promises? It was known full well how the resolution of the previous year had been brought about, and, if there was some insistence at present that there should be no reference to the resolution of 29 November 1947 and it was simply left aside, there would be no prospect of peace in Palestine.

It had been said the previous year that, if the resolution was not adopted there would be no peace in Palestine, but that if it was adopted there would be peace. The tragic course of events during the past year in Palestine had shown how little truth there had been in that assertion. It was to be hoped that the decision which would be taken by the Assembly at that session would not meet a similar fate.

The PRESIDENT pointed out, in order to avoid any misunderstanding, that the wording of the amendment submitted by the representative of Pakistan was identical with that used to define the boundaries of the City of Jerusalem in part III B of the resolution of 29 November 1947.

He announced that the meeting would adjourn promptly at 5.15 p.m. to enable the heads of delegations to pay their respects to the French Government.

Mr. VYSHINSKY (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) said that it was the fourth time that the General Assembly had dealt with the question of Palestine. It was natural for people to wonder why the Assembly should return again and again to that question. The answer could be found if the events in Palestine during the past few months were followed step by step. Those events would confirm the fact that the United Kingdom and the United States, which played such an important part in the development of events in Palestine, had utilized their economic, political and military resources to reach a decision which they considered necessary in order to meet the new situation in Palestine. In his opinion, the fact that the General Assembly was now dealing with the Palestine question for the fourth time showed that those Powers, which had not succeeded in realizing their plans for Palestine during the three preceding sessions in which the question had been considered, had pursued their own plans for their own purposes in Palestine.

He stated that, at the first stage of the discussion on the Palestine question, the United Kingdom Government had taken up an attitude which could only be called one of resistance to the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 29 November 1947. That attitude had been taken up because it had been claimed that the decision could not be implemented, since it had not been accepted by one part of the Assembly. The United Kingdom Government had maintained that attitude until the second special session of the Assembly, which had taken place in April and May of the current year, that is to say until the time when the Assembly, under pressure from the United States and the United Kingdom, had adopted, on 14 May 1948, resolution 186 (S-2) appointing a United Nations Mediator on Palestine

At the first stage, the United Kingdom Government had taken up the attitude that it would not support any decision on Palestine unless both the Jews and the Arabs agreed to that decision. In the opinion of the USSR representative, that formula had served the United Kingdom Government as a screen for its real intentions with regard to Palestine. It had obviously been a question of aggravating the situation in a country which had seen so many disputes. The intention bad been to aggravate the situation in order to return to the former state of affairs in Palestine, under the pretext of restoring order in that country, but, as was well known, that had not happened. A new idea had then arisen, namely to create a United Nations Mediator, and such a post had been created. The post of a United Nations Mediator in Palestine had been created in order to enable the United States and the United Kingdom to utilize that post as a weapon in the implementation of their own plans for Palestine. It could hardly be denied that the events which had followed upon the adoption of the resolution of 14 May 1948 had shown the real purpose of the creation of that post of Mediator. That had been clearly proved by the so-called Bernadotte plan, which was directed to a single purpose, namely to wreck the Assembly’s resolution of 29 November 1947.

Mr. Vyshinsky stated further that in order to abolish the Mediator’s plan in substance, it should be pointed out that the Mediator ought to have limited himself to the functions of arranging an armistice in Palestine, of settling relations between the Arabs and the Jews, and of trying to create good neighbourly relations between them. According to the Assembly’s resolution of 14 May 1948 the Mediator should have played a conciliatory part, but he had not really done that. He had occupied himself with the preparation of a new plan for a fresh decision in Palestine, Mr. Vyshinsky maintained that the preparation of that plan was in contradiction to the previous resolution of the General Assembly, adopted on 29 November 1947.

Chapter VIII of the report submitted by the Mediator on 16 September was well known to all those who had studied the question and it was unnecessary to refer to it in detail. However, the position taken up by the United Kingdom and United States Governments with regard to the Mediator’s recommendations should be re-emphasized.

The Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States had shown great interest in the Mediator’s proposals. They had displayed such haste in doing so and had insisted so emphatically that those proposals were the only reasonable and acceptable plans for the solution of the question of Palestine, that it could no longer be doubted that the proposals were in complete conformity with the plans of the United States and the United Kingdom with regard to Palestine. Mr. Vyshinsky maintained that the proposals of the late Count Bernadotte had been made under the direct influence of those countries and perhaps even on their instructions. The majority of the First Committee had considered the Mediator’s proposals in that light.

The Mediator’s proposals had met with a healthy resistance on the part of those delegations who wished to fulfil and implement the resolution of 29 November 1947, delegations which considered it essential to implement that resolution. It was for that reason that the main points of the United Kingdom draft, which had been based on the Mediator’s report, had been rejected by the First Committee.

Mr. Vyshinsky wished to draw attention to the curious change of opinion on the part of the United Kingdom Government with regard to Palestine. The United Kingdom had originally stated that it would disagree with any decision which was not acceptable to both sides. However, after the submission of the Mediator’s report, the United Kingdom Government had suddenly changed its attitude. It had given its approval to the Mediator’s plan, although it had known that neither the Arabs nor the Jews agreed with that plan. Whatever violent change had taken place in United Kingdom policy, the United Kingdom Government at present agreed with the plan and with the proposals which were in direct contradiction with the attitude it had adopted up to date, namely that it could not support any proposal on Palestine which was not acceptable to both parties. That change was not accidental. It was a result of the policy pursued by the United Kingdom Government with regard to Palestine and the purposes which it was pursuing in the Assembly.

During the first stage of the consideration of the Palestine question, the United Kingdom Government had attempted to create conditions in Palestine which would allow it to bring that country under its control. However, after the adoption of the decision of 29 November 1947, and after the proclamation of the Jewish State of Israel in Palestine, the United Kingdom had decided that a considerable part of Palestine might be returned to its control even if the previous situation could not be entirely restored. That had been the reason for the change in the United Kingdom policy with regard to Palestine.

Mr. Vyshinsky also affirmed that neither the United States nor the United Kingdom wished to consider the interests of the Jewish or the Arab population. Those countries were not interested in the establishment of peace and co-operation among the inhabitants of Palestine. The United Kingdom and the United States had suffered a defeat in their Palestine policy. A typical example of that fact was the dispute which had taken place in the First Committee during the consideration of the Palestine question. As was known, the United Kingdom delegation had hastened, from the very start of the discussion, to submit its draft before anyone else so that it should be taken as a basis for discussion.

The PRESIDENT stated that the meeting would have to adjourn and requested Mr. Vyshinsky to conclude his speech at the following meeting.

The meeting rose at 5.15 p.m.


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