Department of Public Information

Press and Publications Bureau

Lake Success, New York




9 January, 1948 at 11:00 A.M.

Economic and Social Council Chamber

–  –  –

I now declare open the first meeting of the United Nations Palestine Commission.

Gentlemen, distinguished representatives of the United Nations Palestine Commission:

It is with great pleasure and satisfaction that I welcome you as you assemble here to undertake the momentous task which devolves upon you by virtue of the Resolution of the General Assembly on the Palestinian Question.  I think it needless for me to dwell upon how great is the responsibility which has been entrusted to you.  The far-reaching significance of the work upon which you embark, for the peace and security of the world, and for the United Nations, is so obvious as to require no elaboration.

You are assembled here to devise effective and practical ways and means of implementing a solemn decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations.  That decision was taken by more than the necessary two-thirds majority vote of the members of the General Assembly.  That decision, moreover, enjoyed the support of the majority of the five Great Powers, including the United States and the Soviet Union.  Your mandate, therefore, is firm and clear.  You are to take all necessary measures leading to the establishment in Palestine, not later than 1 October 1948, of an independent Arab State and an independent Jewish State.

The Resolution of the General Assembly under which you act promises to you the full authority of the United Nations in discharging your responsibility.

You are entitled to be confident that in the event it should prove necessary, the Security Council will assume its full measure of responsibility in implementation of the Assembly's resolution.  You have the right to assume, as I assume, that in such a situation the Security council will not fail to exercise, to the fullest and without exception, every necessary power entrusted to it by the Charter in order to assist you in fulfilling your mission.

I am aware of the unfortunate and deplorable incidents which have been occurring in Palestine recently.  I am also aware of the fact that disorders of this kind have been endemic in Palestine for some years now.  This, indeed, is in large measure, why the United Nations is seized with the problem.

In this connection I wish particularly to call to your attention that the Resolution of the General Assembly appealed "to all Governments and to all people to refrain from taking any action which might hamper or delay the carrying out of these recommendations" concerning Palestine.  I trust, as I know you trust, that this appeal, which represents the will of the vast majority of the members of the United Nations, will not go unheeded.

Included among the host of difficult tasks confronting you will be the following:

The establishment of the frontiers of the Arab and Jewish States and the City of Jerusalem in accordance with the general lines of the Assembly's recommendations on partition.

The progressive assumption of responsibility for the administration of Palestine as the Mandatory Power evacuates the country, pending the establishment of the independent States.

The establishment of Provisional Councils of Government in the Arab and Jewish States and the direction of their activities in the transitional period.

The approval of election regulations governing democratic elections to constituent assemblies in each State; and the appointment of the Preparatory Economic Commission which is to pave the way for the Economic Union and the Joint Economic Board, envisaged in the Resolution.

Your task requires delicate negotiation, astute judgement, resolution determination, unfailing courage and irreproachable objectivity.

I may assure you that I have exerted every effort to ensure that an experienced and thoroughly competent Secretariat staff shall be available to you.  This staff is entirely at your disposal and you may count upon it for whatever assistance you may require.

I am under no illusions.  You have a hard road to travel.  I am, however, calmly confident of your ability to surmount all obstacles.  In the interest of peace, security and the United Nations I wish you full success.  I pledge to you every resource at my disposal to that end.