TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTIETH
Held at Lake Success, New York,
on Tuesday, 2 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 260)
1. Adoption of the agenda.
2. The Palestine question:
55. Adoption of the agenda
The agenda was adopted.
56. 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 Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, the representative of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, took their places at the Council table.
Mr. EL-KHOURY (Syria): In the opinion of my delegation the draft resolution on the Palestinian question submitted by the representative of the United States at the 255th meeting and distributed in document S/685 is not in harmony with the capacity of the Security Council or with the fundamental principles and purposes of the Charter for the following reasons.
The representative of the United Slates proposes, in paragraph 1 of his draft resolution, that the Security Council, subject to its authority under the Charter, should accept the request addressed to it by the General Assembly in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of section A of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947. I believe that before accepting these three requests, it is our duty to ascertain whether they are or are not within the framework of the Security Council as limited by the Charter. If it is found that they are not, we should decline to accept them.
Our functions are well known to us. The three requests are before us, and before accepting them we are, presumably, required to examine them with a view to deciding how they apply to our functions. If we failed to do that we should be prejudging the case and committing ourselves to the wrong procedure.
So long as this examination is to be made, the question arises by whom it is to be made. Is it to be left to the proposed committee of the five permanent members of the Security Council? Acceptance is supposed to be by the Security Council as a whole, and not by five of its members only.
During our 258th meeting the representative of Belgium made a brief analysis of these three requests and came to the conclusion that, for the time being, they should be deleted from the United States proposal. He submitted an amendment [document S/688] to that effect and I explained at the time why I agreed with him that the passage in question would prejudge the conception of the Security Council and, therefore, would be better omitted. I should like to explain to the Security Council now the reasons for the attitude which I have taken in this matter.
The first of these requests, set forth in paragraph (a) of section A of the General Assembly resolution, is that "The Security Council take the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation." In this respect, we already have two facts. One of them is that the implementation of the plan of partition with economic union cannot be achieved without an adequate international force. This fact was established beyond doubt by the Chairman of the Palestine Commission in a statement made at the 253rd meeting of the Security Council confirming the strict opinion of the Commission as clearly stated in its first special report to the Security Council [document S/676]. It was also confirmed by the representatives of the Mandatory Power in their statements to the Commission and to the Security Council. It is also substantiated by the explosive attitudes of Arabs and Jews in Palestine.
The other fact is the incapacity of the Security Council to undertake by force the implementation of political recommendations. Mr. Austin recognized this fact himself when he said at the 253rd meeting that "The Charter of the United Nations does not empower the Security Council to enforce a political settlement whether it is pursuant to a recommendation of the General Assembly or of the Security Council itself." It would follow from this undeniable fact that any recommendation on a political settlement can be implemented only if the parties concerned willingly accept and complement it. Such a position is far from being expected in the case of Palestine.
Under these circumstances, no measures whatever can be taken by the Security Council in compliance with the first of the three requests addressed to the Security Council in the General Assembly resolution; therefore this proposed acceptance of the request cannot be justified.
The second request, set forth in paragraph (b) of section A of the General Assembly resolution of 29 November, asks the Security Council to consider whether the situation in Palestine, during the transitional period, constitutes a threat to peace. This request is rather vague. We cannot accept it in this form. We know very well—and we were warned by many well informed delegations in the General Assembly—that the partition plan itself constitutes a threat to the peace, being openly rejected by all those at whose expense it was to be executed.
It is obvious that the term "peace" in this paragraph means international peace and not public order in the territory concerned. It is also to be noted that the Arabs of Palestine, being the lawful owners of that territory, consider that the intrusion in their midst of foreign elements, authorized to appropriate by force 60 per cent of their land, and to dominate a very large portion of the Arab population, is a flagrant aggression against the rights of those Arabs. It is an aggression which has no justification in any law or by any principle of justice. The Arabs consider that they have the full right and obligation to resort to force in self-defence against the implementation of this scheme.
Under the present circumstances, the Security Council is bound to eliminate the causes which gave birth to this disorder in Palestine, and to condemn them publicly and officially. The disorders now taking place in Palestine are the sure and imminent symptoms of a disease. They cannot be eliminated as long as the gangrenous disease is there. We cannot expect a person to stand still while a terrible explosive lies under him, its fuse already lit and threatening to blow him sky-high any minute.
The third request of the General Assembly, set forth in paragraph (c) of section A of its resolution of 29 November, asks the Security Council to "determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution." This means instructing the Security Council to interpret its functions, clearly stated in the Charter, in a special way serving the intentions of the authors of the partition plan.
In this recommendation the General Assembly exceeded its authority, as limited in Article 14 of the Charter, which confines recommendations of the General Assembly only to peaceful settlement of any situation as outlined in Chapter VI of the Charter. The General Assembly acted excessively in the exercise of its power when it recommended the application of Article 39 in this paragraph, and of Article 41 in another paragraph of its resolution. Both Articles, together with the phrase used, are assigned exclusively to the Security Council in Chapter VII of the Charter, to be applied by the Security Council at its own discretion. This Chapter is described by its heading as "Action with respect to threat: to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression." According to Articles 39 through 51, the General Assembly is acting outside its authority when it recommends the application of its provisions in one way or another. Therefore the proposal of the representative of the United States to accept this request is likewise definitely out of order.
The Security Council knows what acts are to be determined as threats to peace or breaches of peace or acts of aggression under Article 39. It cannot accept such a request as that of the General Assembly, specifying that a particular situation be thus determined. The main objective in this request, as framed by the authors of the partition plan, is the desire to obtain the free, unopposed implementation of the plan and to suppress any opposition to it by force by the Arabs. It is also to level off the road before the execution of a political, aggressive settlement. The authors of the resolution intend to use the capacity of the Security Council to hold at bay the rightful owner of the property, and to prevent the Arabs from defending their land, so that the aggressor may continue to rob the country and appropriate what he covets.
It is quite obvious that forcing the Arabs to lie down and to offer no opposition means only implementing the partition by force. The peace in Palestine, as desired by the United States proposal, and the implementation of the partition plan are linked together as one action. It is quite clear that the only way to implement partition under the present circumstances is to subdue the Arabs and silence their defensive action by force, something which the Security Council has no legal capacity to do.
Consequently, the three requests by the General Assembly are not acceptable to the Security Council for the reasons which I have explained. I think that the representative of the United States will agree to delete this paragraph from his proposal. Otherwise, if he does not wish to delete it and persists in its remaining there, I hope he will kindly show us in what way he wishes to harmonize its acceptance with the contentions which the representative of Belgium and I have raised.
It has been alleged, furthermore, that when the United Kingdom gives up its Mandate over Palestine, the United Nations assumes responsibility for that country. It is obvious, however, that the United Nations is not empowered by the Charter to exercise any administering authority in any territory except, under the Trusteeship System as set down in Chapter XII of the Charter, on Non-Self-Governing Territories: mandated territories, or territories which may be detached from enemy States, or territories voluntarily placed under the system of States responsible for their administration, as stated in Article 77 of the Charter.
In the resolution of 29 November, the General Assembly did not adopt this process. Consequently, it did not secure any basis to justify its intervention and its delegation to a commission of five Members of an authority which the General Assembly itself does not possess. Likewise, it lacks authority and justification for requesting the Security Council to render assistance in implementing an illegal settlement.
Palestine is the property of its inhabitants, who have been in free possession of that country for many centuries, since long before the time of the Philistines of the Bible and up to the present time of the Palestinians, who are the same people. Neither Lord Balfour, in his declaration of 2 November 1917, nor the thirty-three delegations which voted for the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947, have any right to bestow that country, or any part of it, on foreign groups of alien immigrants, forcibly introduced there. Nor are the people of Palestine serfs of a feudal .lord to be transferred from one vassal to . another, together with the land which they cultivate. They are free people entitled to live freely and to defend their sacred rights with all the means at their disposal.
No power in the world has the right to sterilize by force the potentialities and activities of the people of Palestine in order to enable alien invaders to materialize their criminal greed. The Zionists and their supporters, having lost the first round to implement their iniquitous scheme by using an international force, are now trying, in a roundabout way, to use another approach. When they find the front door closed, they try to open the bark door—and Jesus Christ said in the Gospel that those who do not enter by the front door are robbers and thieves. The Zionists are now asking the Security Council to secure peace in Palestine and, under the shadow of peace, to carry out their atrocious plot. They seek to jump over a gap of 2,000 years in order to renew an aggressive dynasty of their ancient history. No rational man, however, should allow himself to be stung twice from the same snake-hole. Rabbi Silver boasted last December that the Zionists forced a decision from the General Assembly. He must be made to understand, however, that they cannot force a similar one from the Security Council.
The composition of the committee, which would comprise, as proposed by the United States delegation, the five permanent members of the Security Council, has no justification at this preliminary stage of discussion. The Security Council as a whole is supposed to study all situations and disputes, and to determine whether they constitute a threat to international peace and security. It is not the function of the permanent members alone to do so. It is patently unfair to adopt proceedings which may lead the five great Powers to bring their weight to bear on the other members of the Security Council.
Furthermore, the Security Council is not in a position to undertake the matter of the implementation of the partition scheme. The consultations suggested in sub-paragraph 2 (c) of the United States draft resolution, as limited to the implementation of the General Assembly recommendation of 29 November, are not in compliance with the functions of the Security Council, which are limited to international peace and security, and do not include the implementation of a political settlement.
The appeal to the people of Palestine "to take all action possible to prevent or reduce such disorders as are now occurring in Palestine" can have no effect as long as the cause of the trouble still stands. The attitude of the Arabs of Palestine has become very clear regarding the partition scheme. They consider it detrimental to their very existence, and it is not imaginable that they would accept consultation on the basis of the implementation of that scheme, although they may be ready, if that scheme is abandoned, to participate in and to contribute helpfully to consultations and to the re-establishment of order in Palestine. These consultations, however, must aim at finding another plan on the basis of justice, equity and workability for a unified future government of Palestine, guaranteeing to all sections of the population due respect for their legitimate aspirations.
Mr. AUSTIN (United States of America): The pending business is the Belgian amendment [document S/688] to the draft resolution on the Palestine question submitted by the United States, which is set forth in document S/685. The representative of Belgium, in speaking upon his amendment [258th meeting], said, among other things, the following.
"… I have submitted an amendment to the United States draft resolution. My amendment would eliminate any provisions which amount to a verdict on the substance of the matter," that is, partition." Thus amended, the draft resolution would remain within the present phase of our work; namely, the phase of investigation and of exploration. The committee of five would thus have a completely free hand. It would nevertheless have to take into consideration all the facts of the case, and particularly the fact that there exists a General Assembly resolution and a partition plan recommended by that resolution."
The representative of Belgium then stated:
"My amendment has but one aim: to avoid the Council's making any pronouncement at the present stage while it still lacks sufficient information. It does not in any way prejudge the decision the Council will take at the appropriate time. But the Security Council will not be in a position to take any sound decision until the committee expresses its views on the results of its investigation."
I have come to the understanding that Belgium is opposed to paragraph 1 of the United States draft resolution for the time being. It is understood to be opposed only because Belgium considers that the moment has not yet come to take a position on it, as the proposed committee of the five permanent members of the Security Council has not yet submitted its reports following its contacts with the parties.
Notwithstanding this position, the United States cannot support the Belgian amendment. The substantive issue is on the adoption or postponement of paragraph 1 of the draft resolution submitted by the United States, which reads:
" 1. To accept, subject to the authority of the Security Council under the Charter, the requests addressed by the General Assembly to it in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of section A of the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947."
Paragraph 2 implements paragraph 1. A vote for paragraph 1 would be a vote for partition as a solution of the Palestine question. The General Assembly voted for partition as a solution of the Palestine question. The United States voted for that solution, and still supports it. As we have stated before, the United States supports the General Assembly plan of partition as the framework of implementation by pacific means.
Paragraph 1, which is under consideration, and which contains the reservation "subject to the authority of the Security Council under the Charter", expresses a Charter principle which is implied—we say it must be implied—in every part of the General Assembly resolution. This paragraph 1 in our draft resolution, therefore, interprets the acceptance of the General Assembly requests in the following manner—and I intend to take each point up seriatim and give our interpretation of the effect which adoption of this paragraph 1 would have:
Request (a) of the General Assembly resolution is that "The Security Council take the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation". This is accepted, subject to the limitation 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.
Request (b) of the General Assembly resolution is that "The Security Council consider, if circumstances during the transitional period require such consideration, whether the situation in Palestine constitutes a threat to the peace. If it decides that such a threat exists and, in order to maintain international peace and security, the Security Council should supplement the authorization of the General Assembly by taking measures, under Articles 39 and 41 of the Charter, to empower the United Nations Commission, as provided in this resolution, to exercise in Palestine the functions which are assigned to it by this resolution ".
Paragraph 1 of the United States draft resolution, with the qualifying clause "subject to the authority of the Security Council under the Charter", does not authorize use of enforcement under Articles 39 and 41 of the Charter to empower the United Nations Commission to exercise in Palestine the functions which are assigned to it by the resolution, because the Charter does not authorize either the General Assembly or the Security Council to do any such thing. On the other hand, the passage of paragraph 1 of our draft resolution accepts request (b) of the General Assembly resolution with the clear interpretation that is made by this reservation in paragraph 1: "subject to the authority of the Security Council under the Charter."
Thus, the duty which is accepted, if we adopt paragraph 1 of this resolution, is to consider under request (b) whether the situation in Palestine constitutes a threat to the peace. Acceptance of it requires consideration of whether such a threat exists.
If the Security Council finds that there is a threat to international peace, it may, of course, empower the United Nations Palestine Commission to assist the Security Council in maintaining peace.
If the Security Cornell should find that a threat to international peace or breach of the peace exists, it is empowered to make recommendations, or to take provisional measures under Article 40, or to impose economic and other non-military sanctions under Article 41, or to take military measures under Article 42. The Security Council would be required to follow one or more of these lines of action. It might pursue these lines of action in any sequence deemed proper.
This is an obligation that exists without the General Assembly resolution, because the Charter requires it.
This paragraph 1 in the draft resolution interprets request (c) of the General Assembly resolution as follows:
Under Article 39 the Security Council is under a mandate to determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression. It may regard attempts to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution as constituting such a threat. The obligation must be carried out by the process of determination, and not solely at the request of the General Assembly.
As we have stated before [253rd meeting], the special report of the Palestine Commission [document S/676] dated 16 February 1948 "reports facts which, if accepted or substantiated by the Security Council, would appear to lead to the conclusion that a threat to international peace is present in that situation." Acceptance of request (c), through the adoption of paragraph 1 of the United States draft resolution, is an undertaking by the Security Council to look into the matter immediately to determine whether such a threat exists. Our subsequent paragraph 2 provides a method of investigation.
Note the language of request (c). It states that the General Assembly requests that "The Security Council determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution." One cannot drop a word from that and still retain the same meaning.
The language of request (c) had a current construction by my Government at the time of acceptance of it by my Government in the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question. It excluded the hypothesis that if an attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by the resolution should occur, the Security Council must determine that it constitutes a threat to the peace. That practical current construction was made in the following language by Mr. Herschel V. Johnson, who was then representing the United States in the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, from the record of which I take the following quotation1:
" My delegation, I must say quite frankly, would not have been able to support the original amendment put up by the delegation of Denmark. We are prepared, however, to accept this revised version. The revised version does not ask the Security Council to act upon a hypothetical situation, but requests that it act in the event that a situation which constitutes a threat to international peace and security should arise. This, at best, can only be an admonition to the Security Council. The Security Council by its own constitution has the duty to exercise surveillance over such situations, and to determine when a threat to international peace and security exists."
The reservation "subject to the authority of the Security Council under the Charter," in paragraph 1 of our draft resolution, rests upon the principle upon which the United States stood, as stated by Mr. Johnson. As we see it, interpreted in this manner, the acceptance of request (c) requires determination of the question of fact of threat to international peace and, if such threat is found, action under Chapter VII.
Taken altogether, paragraph 1 of the United States draft resolution means that the Security Council will do everything it can under the Charter to give effect to the recommendation of the General Assembly.
Mr. CREECH JONES (United Kingdom): In less than eleven weeks from now the United Kingdom Government will cease to be the responsible Mandatory Authority in Palestine, and only a limited area of that country will still be occupied by United Kingdom troops. The conflict between extreme elements in both the Jewish and Arab communities has grown more savage and destructive, while public order has degenerated and the toll of British, Jewish and Arab lives continues to mount.
The two reports of the Palestine Commission have described the formidable tasks confronting it, and their views have been emphasized in the debate in the Security Council. Their firm conclusion is that implementation of the General Assembly's recommendation depends on the creation of a non-Palestinian security force to protect the Commission and to enable it to carry through the partition plan.
The representative of the United States has proposed that the Security Council should proclaim its acceptance of the plan recommended by the General Assembly, but that the Security Council should recognize that, while able to give advice and guidance to the Palestine Commission, it cannot impose the partition plan by force. At the same time, he declares, it is the Security Council's duty to consider the situation in Palestine in order to determine whether a threat to the peace exists, and to take appropriate action. The Belgian amendment, on the other hand, seeks to eliminate mention of acceptance of the plan at this stage, but follows the United States draft resolution in its proposal that a committee composed of the permanent members of the Security Council should consult and report.
For reasons which have often been stated, I do not propose to express on behalf of the .United Kingdom any opinion on the adequacy of these proposals. Nevertheless, I feel bound once more to emphasize the increasing gravity of the situation in Palestine. I must point out that, whatever procedure the United Nations may decide to adopt with a view to assuming responsibility for the government of Palestine on 15 May, that country is likely to become disorganized, disintegrated and even more violently disrupted by that date. In addition, the peace and security of Jerusalem after 15 May is exciting the anxious interest of people throughout the world. We have been reminded in forceful terms of the urgency of the matter by the Chairman of the Palestine Commission [253rd meeting].
Another aspect of which I feel it my duty to warn the Security Council is that the danger to security in Jerusalem proceeds in no small part from the ever present rivalry of turbulent Christian sects and that, owing to the incidence of religious festivals, this danger will reach its peak during the months of April and May.
The untractable problems facing the Palestine Commission are rapidly becoming insoluble as delay is further protracted and hope recedes that the Commission will be adequately equipped to take up the immense responsibilities imposed upon it. Short of implementation—an international responsibility—the United Kingdom Government has tried to meet the realities of the situation. It has done its utmost to furnish the Commission with, the information it needs and to discuss with it the numerous problems of security, communications, administration, maintenance of services, transfer of assets and financial liabilities, and similar problems on which immediate decisions are necessary. In Palestine itself the Government has devolved many responsibilities upon local Arab and Jewish authorities, and has established local police forces so that there may be some hope of maintaining essential services and preserving good order with a view to effecting transfer of authority to the United Nations without a complete collapse of organized government throughout the country.
It is necessary for me to repeat this because of the statements spread about which accuse my Government of making the transfer as difficult as possible, and of denying assistance to the United Nations. It has even been suggested that we have preferred to undo all our work of the past twenty-five years in order to reduce the administration to chaos and see disorder reign in Palestine. On the contrary, we have taken all the practical steps in our power to prevent disorder overtaking Palestine and the authority of the United Nations being made abortive when United Kingdom administration ends on 15 May. Our fervent hope is that the Security Council will now find a way to secure effective assumption of authority in Palestine by the United Nations when the Mandate is terminated.
The distinguished Chairman of the Palestine Commission, in his speech to the Security Council [253rd meeting], has drawn attention to certain aspects of the problem which the Security Council, I am sure, will not wish to ignore. Even under the most favourable conditions, the General Assembly's resolution of 29 November is no adequate or satisfactory charter for enabling the Palestine Commission to carry out its task. 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.
Any forces sent into Palestine from outside to impose any plan not acceptable to one or other community would have to be kept there for a long and indefinite period. It is not for me to comment on certain obvious defects in the partition plan, some of which arose from its being conceived in conditions of strong partiality. In the steady deterioration of the situation in Palestine, as the Chairman of the Palestine Commission has pointed out, some of its impractical features have become increasingly apparent. The plan makes far too little allowance either for Arab reactions or for the immense difficulties which the terms of the General Assembly's resolution themselves impose on the Mandatory Power in transferring authority under such disturbed conditions. Nevertheless, my Government has accepted the plan, has declined to pass judgment on it, and, for reasons which have been repeatedly emphasized, has advocated no alternative solution of its own, trusting that the collective wisdom and fair-mindedness of the United Nations would find a greater measure of success than that which attended our own efforts in the past.
The statement made by the representative of the Jewish Agency for Palestine on 27 February [258th meeting] is scarcely relevant to discussion of the problem before us. Its principal features were suppressions, distortions and half-truths, and a desperate effort to divert our attention from the Jewish Agency's political inaptitude and moral weakness which have discredited the former bright hopes of a great cause. The Jewish Agency's spokesman knows the immense difficulties of the Palestine Government in endeavouring to maintain order during the process of winding up its administration in a community one section of which has consistently shirked the elementary responsibilities of citizenship. The administration is working against a background of violence and terrorism, outrages, and reprisals, hatred and frenzied passion. Both Arabs and Jews are anxious about their future security; and the United Kingdom forces have to be deployed to prevent civil war at the very moment when they are trying to effect an orderly withdrawal.
I do not propose to employ the time of the Security Council by a detailed reply to the charges made against the Mandatory Power by the representative of the Jewish Agency. I would refer members of the Security Council to the statement issued by the Government of Palestine on 1 March, in which the equivocal policy of the Jewish Agency is exposed.
There are, however, one or two mis-statements in the speech of the Jewish Agency representative which I feel I must correct. In his endeavour to represent the current activities of Jewish organizations in Palestine as "self-defence", the Jewish Agency representative contended [258th meeting] that it was only after Arab provocation and failure by the security forces to enforce law and order impartially that "… isolated acts of indiscriminate bloodshed on the part of dissident Jewish groups occurred."
Members of the Security Council will hardly need to be reminded that these outrages by the Jewish terrorist organizations, so politely now described as "dissident groups", have been going on for years. The Jewish community has made negligible efforts to prevent these outrages or to root out the organizations responsible for them. I will not horrify the Security Council with a list of the atrocities committed by Jewish terrorists in recent years against defenceless men and women, and against the United Kingdom's civil and military personnel. The events of the last week have starkly revealed the irresponsible wickedness of these organizations. What action has the Jewish Agency, so strong before this Security Council in the role of supporter of impartial justice, taken to check these ruthless murders which have so greatly harmed the Jewish cause the world over? The Agency has, I fear, consistently subordinated moral considerations. to political expediency. Its spokesmen have certainly made expressions of disapproval and regret, but they have supported them by little positive action. In attempting to explain and justify terrorist activities as the natural response to Arab violence and British partiality, they descend to the last ignominy of condoning them.
But, as I have said, the great part of the Agency's contribution to the Security Council's debate is irrelevant. The question at issue is not British partiality, Arab intransigence or Jewish terrorism; it is the problem which the Chairman of the Palestine Commission has put before us: the practical steps which are to be taken to meet the situation which has developed in Palestine.
In particular, my Government recognizes that it is important that the Security Council should carefully examine whether a threat to the peace exists. In our judgment this is not a task only for the permanent members of the Security Council; other members of the Security Council should share it.
We endorse the appeal in the last paragraphs of the United States and Belgian proposals that all the Powers and peoples involved in Palestine should lend their influence to prevent further violence.
With the operative clause of the resolutions before us, however, we have some difficulty. The United States asks us to endorse the plan adopted by the General Assembly. For the reasons which we have so often explained to the United Nations, we cannot do this. Further, both the United States and Belgium ask us to assist in giving instructions and guidance to the Palestine Commission regarding the implementation of the General Assembly's plan. I must again repeat that we cannot participate in any way in the implementation of a plan which involves the coercion of one of the communities—and in Palestine, that is the larger community—or the assumption of further commitments in Palestine by the United Kingdom Government.
For this reason, my Government cannot agree to take part in the committee which the two draft resolutions propose to set up. But, although. my Government cannot, therefore, vote for either draft resolution, it will assist any committee which may be appointed with all the information and experience at its disposal. Furthermore, we shall welcome any effort to find a bridge, even at this late hour, across the gulf which now separates the two communities in Palestine. Finally, I must repeat that the United Kingdom cannot enter into any new or extended commitment in regard to Palestine. Our contribution has already been made over the years and the date of termination of our responsibility is irrevocably fixed.
Mr. GROMYKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (translated from Russian): I shall confine myself, for the time being, to a brief statement on the question of consultations raised in the United States draft resolution. In principle, the USSR delegation agrees that the five Powers which are permanent members of the Security Council should consult together on questions arising out of the Palestine Commission's reports [documents S/663 and S/676], and in particular, on the question raised in the Commission's special report [document S/676].
I cannot agree, however, that such consultations between the five Powers should necessarily be conducted in a committee, as the United States representative has proposed. We think that the five Powers should conduct direct consultations quite outside any committee. Since the permanent members of the Security Council have not yet shown any initiative in this matter, the Council might call upon them or request them to begin such consultations immediately and report on the results within ten or fifteen days.
Indeed, if any great Power has definite views on the Palestine question as a whole and, in particular, on the questions raised by the Palestine Commission's reports, we have no reason to believe that such a Power can state those views only in committee. It can state its position just as effectively outside a committee, in direct conversations with the other permanent members of the Security Council. None of the great Powers should hide behind a committee, since this could only complicate and delay the settlement of the questions on the agenda in connexion with the present situation in Palestine. The situation, however, is such that any delay in the consideration of these questions is unjustifiable.
It is obvious that the United States proposal to consult with the Palestine Commission and with the Jews and the Arabs through the proposed committee is a far-fetched idea and quite unjustifiable. We know that the Palestine Commission is engaged in consulting the Jews and the Arabs, and there is therefore no need to establish an additional and parallel channel of consultation with them. Is it that the Security Council is finding it rather difficult to obtain information on the results of these consultations? No, the Council has no such difficulties; the Commission has provided it with detailed information on this question.
The Security Council has not only had no difficulty in obtaining from the Palestine Commission information on the results of its consultations with the Jews and the Arabs; but it has also kept itself informed of the views of the Commission on all the most important questions relating to the implementation of the United Nations decision on the partition of Palestine. The Commission has given the Security Council, in its reports, its own conclusions and deductions. Furthermore members of the Commission are seated with us at the Council table, and are prepared at any time to reply here in public to any questions referred to the Commission, and to supply appropriate explanations. The Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Lisicky, has already reported to us on behalf of the Commission. If any representative on the Security Council, or the Security Council as a whole, wishes to consult the Commission again, they may do so immediately, at this meeting.
It may be asked what grounds there are, then, for raising the question of the need for consulting the Palestine Commission and the Jews and the Arabs, when such consultations have already been undertaken and carried out for a long time. All those who wish to take part in such consultations are doing so. The United States proposal thus tends to complicate and confuse the whole question of consultation, whereas it is our job to simplify the procedure of consultations and make it more effective. All that part of the United States draft resolution which deals with the question of consultation should therefore be deleted, since its adoption would delay the Consideration of the entire question, which, of course, is in the interests neither of the Security Council nor of the United Nations as a whole.
I would ask the United States representative as well as other representatives on the Council to give their views on my suggestion of holding direct consultations between the five great Powers, without any committee, bearing in mind that the proposal on consultations between the five great Powers seems in principle to be acceptable to everyone.
I have no objections to paragraph 1 of the United States draft resolution, which provides that the Security Council accent the requests addressed by the General Assembly to it in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of section A of the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947.
The PRESIDENT: I have no more speakers on my list. I propose that we should resume our discussion of the Palestine question tomorrow at 2.30 p.m.
As there is no objection, we shall meet tomorrow at 2.30 pm.
Before the meeting rises, I should like to call the attention of the members of the Security Council to a letter addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations by the Ambassador of Burma, dated 27 February 1948 [document S/687]. It is an application for membership. I do not propose to discuss this letter today because it is not on our agenda. I suggest that we put this matter on our provisional agenda for tomorrow. It can be disposed of in five minutes according to our usual procedure. It seems to me that a matter of this kind, an application for membership, requires some formal attention on our part as early as possible to show our courtesy to the applicant.
As there is no objection, this matter will be put on our provisional agenda for tomorrow.
The meeting rose at 4.45 p.m.
1The quotation is from the statement made at the 34th meeting, for the summary record of which see Official Records of the second session of the General Assembly, Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question.
Download Document Files: SPV260f.pdf
Document Type: French text, Meeting record, Meeting records, Provisional verbatim record
Document Sources: Security Council, United Nations Palestine Commission (UNPC)
Subject: Agenda Item, Palestine question, Security issues
Publication Date: 02/03/1948