TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SEVENTH MEETING
Held at Lake Success, New York, on Thursday, 1 April 1948, at 2:30 p.m.
President: Mr. A. LÓPEZ (Colombia).
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.
1. Provisional agenda (document S/Agenda 277)
1. Adoption of the agenda.
2. The Palestine question:
2. Adoption of the agenda
The agenda was adopted.
3. Remarks by the President
The PRESIDENT: Before we begin the consideration of the items on the agenda, I should like to express the appreciation of the Security Council for the very able and painstaking manner in which Mr. Tsiang conducted the work of the Council during the previous month. Due to his efforts, the Council has made very satisfactory progress on important questions during a most trying period, and it is my earnest hope that, with close co-operation, we shall bring them shortly to a satisfactory conclusion.
There are a number of matters on the agenda of the Security Council, some of which can be discussed at a later date and some of a very pressing nature, such as the India-Pakistan, Palestine and Czechoslovakia questions. In regard to the Czechoslovakia question, the Security Council is scheduled to have a meeting on 6 April. In regard to the India-Pakistan dispute, if it is the pleasure of the Security Council, I shall continue the conversations that were being carried on by the President with the delegations of India and Pakistan, with the co-operation of the previous Presidents of the Security Council, that is, the representatives of Canada, Belgium and China, and also, as it may appear advisable, of some other representatives on the Council. I propose to have a preliminary conversation with the delegations of India and Pakistan separately in order to get their reaction to the draft which was distributed by Mr. Tsiang under date of 30 March. After that, I propose to discuss the matter jointly with the two delegations with the co-operation, as I have already said, of the former Presidents of the Security Council who have been participating in these discussions, my expectation being that we shall be able to submit some kind of conclusion to the Security Council next week.
4. Continuation of the discussion on the Palestine question
The PRESIDENT: As regards Palestine, we have today the reports submitted by the Palestine Commission and the proposals [documents S/704 and S/705] that we began to discuss at the 275th meeting. Before we adjourn the meeting, I shall put it to the Security Council as to how we shall proceed with that matter after a decision has been taken on the two proposals which are under consideration.
At the invitation of the President, Mr. Lisicky, Chairman of the United Nations Palestine Commission, Mr. Fawzi, the representative of Egypt, and Mr. Shertok, the representative of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, took their places at the Security Council table.
Mr. ARCE (Argentina) (translated from Spanish): I would like to state that on this question the position of the Argentine delegation is the same today as it was previously. Circumstances have made it so.
When this matter was first raised, we proposed the appointment of a committee of eleven members, including the five permanent members of the Council. It was they who could, and should, have solved the problem. We were subsequently obliged to drop our proposal, owing to the known attitude of the United Kingdom and of some of the other permanent members who did not wish to take a direct part in the study of this question. At the same time, we maintained that we would vote for any solution on which the Arabs and the Jews reached agreement. Unfortunately no such solution was found, and when partition was supported and adopted in the Assembly, we abstained from voting.
In spite of our reservations, we were prepared to support the solution adopted. But the Assembly’s recommendation has not found a favourable response in the Security Council. Of the four permanent members who were prepared to participate, two seemed to be in complete agreement. The Council passed the Assembly’s recommendation to them and, as is generally known, they met on three or four occasions to discuss a solution that could be submitted to the Council for approval. One of them again suggested the advisability of bringing the two hostile communities together. That is precisely the Argentine view.
But, unfortunately, the attempt at conciliation failed and the great Powers that had been in agreement, ceased to be so. Meanwhile, time is passing; the remaining period is growing shorter and no self-respecting Member of the United Nations can favour chaos. Consequently, we are obliged to return to our original position, not favouring one side or the other.
If it is true that there are Powers which desire confusion in order to infiltrate into Palestine and obtain political advantages, we declare that we cannot support them in this. If it is true that there are Powers interested in dominating the Middle East for economic reasons, we declare that such interests are foreign to us and we hope that they will pursue their activities in a lawful manner and in conformity with the principles of the Charter.
But we again ask the Arabs and the Jews to reach agreement; they will gain nothing by killing each other. In order to reach this agreement both communities must show more understanding and both must give way until agreement is reached.
If they agree, both great and small Powers will have no alternative but to endorse the solution that the parties themselves have reached. The worst agreement will always be better than the best solution imposed from outside. They must reflect; it is their duty to reflect and to seek this agreement.
The Assembly’s recommendation will not be nullified by the Council’s approval of the United States proposal. The Argentine delegation will vote for this proposal.
Before concluding I wish to quote the words of President Perón: “We have always stood beside suffering nations and we reaffirm the past and present acts of solidarity at this critical time in the world, when discord and confusion seem likely to become the general rule in international life.”
We therefore urge that the Arabs and the Jews seek an agreement, in their own interest and in the interests of world peace.
Mr. NISOT (Belgium) (translated from French): For my part, this is how I see the situation at the present stage. By its resolution of 29 November, the General Assembly requested the Council to take the necessary steps for the implementation of the Plan of Partition. The Council considered this request and on 5 March [263rd meeting]; voted to reject the United States proposal that the Council should comply with the General Assembly’s request. Moreover, the Assembly was aware that the Council was free to accept or reject its ‘request; it knew that, under the Charter, the Council was entitled to come to its own independent conclusions.
In so doing, the Council acted within the limits of its powers. Indeed, it was under no obligation to comply with the General Assembly’s request.
The Council would be guilty of grave negligence, however, if it failed to inform the General Assembly of the action it had taken on the Assembly’s request, and if it did not immediately convoke the Assembly and thus enable it to deal with the situation.
No doubt it has been objected that the General Assembly itself might have as much difficulty as the Council in finding a solution to this problem. I am not unmindful of the importance of this objection, but I think that this consideration primarily concerns the General Assembly and that, in any case, it does not relieve the Council of its bounden duty to convoke the Assembly and to inform it that the Council has not been able to comply with its request to implement the Plan of Partition. If it neglected to do this, the Council would fail to justify the confidence placed in it by the General Assembly when it entrusted the Council with this problem.
I would add that the convoking of the General Assembly would not prevent the Council from considering, in the meantime, any substantive proposals which it might be in a position to submit to the General Assembly.
I shall, therefore, vote in favour of the United States draft proposal to convoke a special session of the General Assembly.
The United States delegation submitted another proposal for a truce between the parties concerned. There is no need for me to explain the reasons which prompt me to vote for this proposal as well.
At this point the system of simultaneous interpretation was introduced.
Mr. SHERTOK (Jewish Agency for Palestine): The Jewish Agency for Palestine is grateful for the opportunity to comment on the two resolutions submitted by the representative of the United States to the 275th meeting of the Security Council on 30 March 1948.
The first of these resolutions [document S/704] provides for a conclusion of a truce between the Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine under the auspices of the Security Council in consultation with the Jewish Agency and the Arab Higher Committee. In its final paragraph the draft resolution proposes that the Security Council should “call upon Arab and Jewish armed groups in Palestine to cease acts of violence”.
Before defining the views of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish people of Palestine on the conclusion of a truce, I feel bound to comment upon the setting in which the United States draft resolution seeks to present the problem of restoring peace in Palestine. I fear that this setting distorts the picture in two vital respects. It conveys the impression, first, that the armed conflict now raging in Palestine is a purely local affair, affecting only the population of Palestine, Jewish and Arab; and second, that the fighting has broken out as result of both sides having fallen upon one another, so that both art now equally guilty, or, at least, that it is impossible or immaterial to determine which is the attacker and which the attached.
Because of these misleading implications, the resolution itself becomes a wrong starting point for the quest for peace, for you cannot attack the root of the evil which now afflicts Palestine if you omit all reference to the central and salient feature of the country’s disturbed condition, namely, the presence of Arab aggression from outside, sponsored and organized by Arab States, Members of the United Nations, in an effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged by the General Assembly’s resolution of 29 November 1947.
I wish that it were easier to ascribe this omission to mere inadvertence which the Security Council, by virtue of its primary duty to “suppress acts of aggression”, will hasten to correct, for rarely in the modern history of international relations can an act of aggression have occurred in a manner more blatant, more scornful of concealment, or more exultantly arrogant.
The campaign of aggressive violence was launched amidst clamorous proclamations by the heads of Arab Governments of their intention to use force against the Jews of Palestine and again any agencies of the United Nations which might proceed to carry out their lawful duties in implementing the General Assembly’s resolution.
These statements were swiftly translated into action. Armed forces were recruited under the direction of the Governments of Arab States. They were equipped and financed from the resources of those Governments. Their commanders were appointed by ministers and officials of Arab States under the chairmanship of one of their heads, namely, the President of the Syrian Republic. They have been dispatched across the frontiers with arms and mechanized transport, in successive and open acts of frontier violation. They have launched attacks on peaceful Jewish villages and organized riots and bloodshed among the urban population. They have fastened their effective military control upon large areas of the country. As the Security Council deliberates week after week, in Palestine those Arab armed forces are moving into battle positions on what is still the territory of the British Mandate, perfecting their organization and periodically breaking out into attacks upon the Jewish population in preparation and training, for the major assault whereby they hope to intimidate the United Nations into final submission and to impose a settlement of the Palestine question by force.
It is the presence of these foreign Arab forces on the soil of Palestine and the preparation for further incursions which constitute the main threat to law and order in Palestine today. But for these invasions from neighbouring States, the situation in Palestine would hardly have raised a problem which could not be quickly resolved; and the implementation of the plan adopted by the General Assembly would have involved no international crisis.
It is therefore astonishing to find the United States representative setting the problem of violence in Palestine in terms of a conflict between the “Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine”. There is nothing secret or even controversial about the facts which I have tried to summarize. The Mandatory Power has reported to the United Nations Palestine Commission on three separate incursions which took place in January. The Mandatory Power has also reported to the permanent members of the Security Council on several further incursions which took place in February and March.
The United Kingdom Government has made public further authentic information on this subject through official statements in the House of Commons. I believe that the United Kingdom representative here present will agree with me, if, basing myself on official United Kingdom figures, I would estimate the total strength of these invading forces at approximately 7,500. From the same United Kingdom sources it can be deduced that these men come well armed and equipped, uniformed and organized in military formation.
The Mandatory Power, which has abdicated its responsibility as the guardian of the frontiers of Palestine and relegated itself to the rote of a mere recorder of their violations, does not seem to have registered the direct responsibility of Arab Governments for all these invasions, save as regards an incursion from Syria on 21 January 1948 against which His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom lodged a protest of sorts with the Government of the Syrian Republic and with the Kingdom of Transjordan. The protest was ignored, no further action was taken by the United Kingdom, and incursions from Syria continued and became more open.
But we need not resort to the good offices of the Mandatory Power to provide evidence that Arab Governments have organized these invasions. The evidence is more direct and authentic. It comes from those Governments themselves. It is revealed in recruiting regulations issued by the Syrian Minister of Defence; in photographs of the Syrian Prime Minister supervising the training of troops for war in Palestine at Qatana Barracks in Syria; in the action of the Egyptian Government in allotting military barracks at Hilmiyeh and Helwan for the same purpose; in the assignment by the Egyptian Government of budgetary allocations for operations in Palestine; in the announcement of the Lebanese Prime Minister on 25 February of his Government’s intention to supply Palestine with arms, money and men until there “will be nothing in Palestine but a unitary Arab State”.
The evidence of these aggressive invasions and of the responsibility of the Arab Governments for them is too voluminous for me to recite here. I therefore beg leave to submit, as written information, under rule 39 of the provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council, two memoranda on the subject with annexes. The Security Council should at least not fail to record this notorious aggression, even if it proves unable to suppress it.
This campaign of aggression raises two questions which are relevant, in my submission, to the first of the United States resolutions [document S/704].
First, there is a fundamental point of principle. Is it legitimate for Member States to use force against a settlement adopted by the General Assembly? The representatives of Arab States in their statements before the Security Council have tried to evade the issue by arguing that Member States are under no obligation to comply with a resolution of the General Assembly. Not to comply is one thing. Openly and actively to defy is quite another. So much for the aggressor States.
A more serious question arises in relation to the Security Council itself. Is it proper for the Security Council, having received conclusive evidence of aggression actually committed, to take no steps at all to suppress, nay, not even to condemn — nor even to record — that aggression? Is it a just interpretation of the Security Council’s function in this question that it should obey the demand of the aggressor at pistol-point, and advocate a revision of a General Assembly resolution for no other reason than that the resolution is assailed by armed force? Does the United Nations seek in the case of Palestine a settlement on the basis of equity and mutual adjustment, or is it merely in pursuit of a settlement against which the Arabs will graciously condescend not to use force? It would be presumptuous on my part to elaborate the point that the principle involved in these questions transcends even the grave episode which is under discussion and affects the very foundations of international order.
It is all the more inadmissible for the Security Council to take no action against the patent external aggression which is in progress in view of the fact that there is general, agreement on the requirements of the Charter in this matter. Thus, on 24 February 1948, the representative of the United States on the Security Council took a keen interest in this matter of aggression. He said;
“Attempts to frustrate the General Assembly’s recommendation by the threat or use of force…on the part of States or peoples outside Palestine are contrary to the Charter.” [253rd meeting].
But on that very day of 24 February, as though in direct response to Ambassador Austin’s words, the Mandatory Power reported to the permanent members of the Security Council that “between 500 and 1,000 Iraqis, Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians, and Transjordanians entered Samaria and Galilee across the Jordan and the Lebanese frontier.”
Again, the representative of France declared in the Security Council:
“It is quite inadmissible that any Member State of the United Nations in a territory which is not its own, should by armed force oppose the efforts of other Members of the United Nations to implement a resolution of the General Assembly. Such action goes much further than mere abstention from participation in implementation which the Charter allows. We are faced here with open revolt which is not authorized by the Charter and which is clearly contrary to the Charter.” [262nd meeting]
These exemplary words were spoken on 5 March. Yet on that day of 5 March, according to British official sources, the notorious protégé of Adolf Hitler, Fawzi Al-Kawukji, entered Palestine with his headquarters troops to assume command of the so-called Yarmuk formation. He was acting in conformity with the decision taken at a meeting which took place in Damascus on 5 February, under the chairmanship of the President of the Syrian Republic, when, according to a first-hand report by the Damascus correspondent of the Cairo daily Al-Masri:
“General Ismail Safwat was appointed commander-in-chief of the Arab Liberation Army, General Taha Pasha Al-Hashimi was nominated inspector of the Liberation Armies, and Fawzi Al-Kawukji was entrusted with the command of the Al-Yarmuk formation.”
It is always a diverting experience to contrast the learned speeches of the Syrian representative here, replete with quotations from the Charter and protestations of loyalty to the ideals of peace, with the quite different aspect of affairs at Damascus. As a member of the Security Council, Syria is one of those States on which the Members of the United Nations have conferred “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”.
It is all very well for the Syrian representative on the Security Council to make here the bold assertion, as he did on 16 March, [267th meeting] that “the Arab States, including Syria, have not interfered by taking part in these encounters”. The representative of Syria took no trouble to explain the overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary: the fact that it was no less a person than the President of his Republic who presided over the appointment of commanders of the Arab forces of invasion, the numerous statements made by the Syrian Defence Minister acknowledging his direction of the operations, the official proclamations of the Syrian Government regarding the recruitment of volunteers, the physical appearance of the Syrian Prime Minister and Defence Minister, respectively, at training centres and at the head of convoys driving towards the Palestine frontier, and so on. It is on Syrian territory, under the direct charge of the Syrian Government, that armed forces are trained, equipped and dispatched across the frontier to commit aggression and attempt to overthrow a United Nations decision by force.
If the Security Council sees aggression going on before its very eyes and proceeds to fulfil the main objective of that aggression by recommending a revision of the General Assembly’s resolution, the consequences for world peace must indeed be grave. These consequences entail a very heavy responsibility for the leading world Power which sponsors the present resolution.
To recapitulate, the United States draft resolution tears the problem out of its context and treats the conflict in complete isolation from the question as to who upholds and who defies the United Nations authority; it ignores the gravest feature of the Palestine crisis, which is aggression from outside; it flies in the face of facts by diagnosing the crisis as the result of a mere local communal clash; by implication, it exonerates the aggressor States of all guilt; without even attempting to deal with the invasion of Palestine by foreign forces, it misses the target by urging a local truce as a remedy.
In brief, the resolution perpetrates a triple optical illusion: first, it arbitrarily separates the conflict from its international setting; second, it artificially reduces its scope; third, it wantonly creates a position of false equality between the Jews and the Arabs. In presenting the resolution, the representative of the United States, quoting from his earlier report, in order to balance the uneven scales conjures up an imaginary “infiltration into Palestine…by sea, of groups…with the purpose of taking part in violence”. [270th meeting]
In the resolution itself the Jewish Agency and the Arab Higher Committee are put on an equal footing of culpability. The fact that it was the Arabs who started the offensive while the Jews reacted in defence, is completely obliterated.
It is against this background that it is my duty to set before the Security Council the attitude of the Jewish Agency and of the Jewish population of Palestine towards the proposals for a truce. That attitude was expressed in a letter which I had the honour to address on 17 March to the Secretary-General in response to a question put to us by the United States delegation in the course of the consultations held by the permanent members of the Security Council. The letter reads as follows:
“I have the honour, on behalf of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, to submit the following reply to the question addressed to the Jewish Agency as to whether it would be prepared to enter into the necessary agreements to bring about an effective truce in Palestine:
“1. It must be emphasized that in so far as the term ‘truce’ implies a conflict between two belligerents, it does not accurately fit the facts of the present situation, in which, on the one hand, an attempt is being made by the Arab States and the Arabs of Palestine to alter by force a settlement approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, while the Jewish community has been defending itself and the decision of the United Nations which it has loyally accepted.
“2. Subsequent to the adoption of the resolution of the General Assembly, of 29 November, on the future government of Palestine, the Jewish population in Palestine has been subjected to attacks by Arab forces, including armed bands from outside the country which, as the United Nations Palestine Commission has reported to the Security Council, are attempting to alter the resolution of the General Assembly by force.
“3. The Jewish people has in no case resorted to aggression against the Arab people, nor does it seek conflict with them. At the same time, the Jews of Palestine have been obliged to take measures to protect themselves from attack and to uphold their rights under the United Nations resolution.
“4. The moment that Arab aggression ceases, Jewish armed reaction will also terminate. There must, of course, be a clear understanding that the cessation of Arab aggression will also include the stoppage of preparations for future aggression, the evacuation of foreign forces and the prevention of further incursions of armed bands into Palestine.
“5. It is assumed that any arrangement for a truce will be carried out within the framework of the implementation of the resolution of the General Assembly and in strict conformity with the time-table provided in that resolution.”
It will be seen from this letter that the aim of avoiding violence in Palestine is one which the Jewish Agency and the Jewish people of Palestine wholeheartedly uphold. The sacrifice of young lives in defending the community against wanton attack is a source of continuing grief and sorrow, and the damage and casualties inflicted upon all elements of the population are a grievous burden. We long to end this sequence of bloodshed, in the context of obedience to international law and without detriment to legitimate rights. Therefore, the underlying idea of a truce is most welcome to us. We must be concerned only to pursue the aim in a manner that will ensure a real truce and lead to a lasting peace and not produce a mere breathing spell as a prelude to renewed violence under worse conditions. In particular, the purposes of order cannot be separated from the purposes of law. Order cannot be purchased by setting law aside.
I now draw particular attention to paragraph four of our letter in which the Jewish Agency stipulates “the evacuation of foreign forces and the prevention of further incursions of armed bands into Palestine” as indispensable conditions of any truce. There is no reality in “a truce between the Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine” [document S/704] when the Arab community is merely a subsidiary agent of aggression, while the Jewish community has no other interest but to defend itself and move forward to the fulfilment of an authorized international programme, and when the source of aggression lies outside the control of both parties and flourishes unhindered in the very centre of the country.
The Jews of Palestine can attach no validity to any assurance of peaceful intentions on the part of the Arabs so long as these foreign forces remain on Palestine soil, where they have no right of access, no jurisdiction and no internationally valid purpose to pursue.
We believe that we are justified in claiming their expulsion and that the fulfilment of this claim is both practical and necessary. No people anywhere in the world will voluntarily sign a truce with invading forces converging upon it and poised to strike. This would not be a truce; it would be a capitulation.
Moreover, the armed formations concerned are easily identifiable. The report of that memorable Damascus meeting of 5 February, to which I have already referred, goes on to say:
“It was agreed to divide Palestine into four military areas, each of which will be under a commanding officer responsible to the commander-in-chief; that is to say, General Ismail Safwat, an Iraqi general, with his headquarters at Damascus. Certain internal powers, however, were granted to the Palestine Arab command in the Jerusalem area.”
The location of the main formations of these foreign invaders can easily be found. Thus, on 16 March, the battle order of Fawzi Al-Kawukji’s troops was, according to our information at that date, roughly as follows: the First Yarmuk regiment of Syrian troops at Jaba village between Nablus and Jenin, commanded by a Syrian officer, Mohammed Safa; the Second Yarmuk regiment of Syrian troops at Jenin, under Hashem Mohammed, an Iraqi; the Al-Hussein Regiment at Attil village, commanded by Abdul Wahhab, an Iraqi; the Al-Hasan Regiment at Tubas village, commanded by Mahmud Al-Hindi, an Iraqi; an Iraqi contingent at Ras ul-Ain, near the source of the Jerusalem water supply; an Egyptian contingent at Gaza; a Bosnian-Moslem contingent at Lydda.
The authority supervising the truce should not have much difficulty in locating any of these large units, though some individuals may be found to have merged with the general population.
It is clear from the above quoted report of the Damascus meeting, and from other local evidence, that foreign commanders responsible to Damascus are in control of all Arab military operating under the orders of the Mufti, has that city alone the Arab Higher Committee, operating under the orders of the Mufti, has been awarded qualified freedom. Its role, according to a statement issued on Good Friday, is to organize force against any attempts to establish Jerusalem as an international city held by the United Nations in trust for mankind.
It would thus be quite unrealistic to negotiate a truce with the Arab Higher Committee for any area except Jerusalem, where alone this local Palestinian body has some jurisdiction. So far as Jerusalem is concerned, the Jewish Agency has already stated that it is prepared to negotiate a truce with the body which it recognizes as responsible for the disorders there.
I would also draw attention to the first paragraph of the letter quoted which explains the inapplicability of the term “truce” to the situation now existing in Palestine. The parties confronting each other are the Jews defending a lawful international decision, and the Arabs, both inside and outside Palestine, who are, in the words of the United Nations Palestine Commission, “defying the resolution of the General Assembly” [document A/AC.21/9] and attempting to overthrow it by force. Neither in their aims nor in the relation of their activities to the terms of the Charter, can these two sides justly be equated. In this respect the United States draft resolution, ignoring any distinction between aggression and defence, between obedience to and defiance of an international judgment, offers the Security Council an escape from the basic conceptions underlying the Charter, with their clear differentiation between the legitimacy and illegitimacy of force, into a world where all force is identical, irrespective of the purposes to which it is applied.
In paragraph 5 of our letter of 17 March we stipulate that the proposed truce shall not hamper nor delay the implementation of the General Assembly’s resolution of 29 November 1947. It is obvious that to delay the implementation of that resolution would be no neutral act in the spirit of a truce, but a concession, under pressure of violence, to the main objectives of the attacking party. It is necessary to make this point clear since a situation may arise in which one of the parties makes the truce conditional on the suspension of the General Assembly’s resolution, while the other makes it conditional on the maintenance of that resolution. It should go without saying that there can be no equation between the upholding of an international instrument and its violation. The Security Council, as an organ of the United Nations, can hardly take any other view.
On 5 March the representative of France said in the Security Council:
“If its validity” — that is, the validity of the General Assembly’s recommendation — “and its binding character on certain States can be questioned, there can be no discussion as to its application to and its binding character upon all the organs of the United Nations, including, of course, the Security Council.” [262nd meeting]
We fully share this conception of the binding character of the resolution and of the Security Council’s lack of competence to set it aside. It is unreasonable to require one of the parties to the truce to sacrifice its rights in law in order that the other party, having won its aim, may desist from the violence by which it was achieved.
Dr. Chaim Weizmann, universally acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of our generation, stated last week in this connexion:
“There has been a solemn judgment by the authorized tribunal. The duty of conciliation is to summon all parties to the obedience of judgment, not to adapt judgment to the will of a defiant party.”
We do not deem it useful at this stage to go into all the detailed aspects of a truce negotiation. The main principle to be followed is to avoid any impression, under the terms of a truce, that violence is politically rewarded, that it is left free by the conditions of the truce to renew itself with even greater vigour when occasion arises, and that it is encouraged by the very circumstances of the truce to repeat itself in the future.
I would refer only to one overriding question which should be cleared up, I submit, before this resolution is voted upon. The maintenance of a truce requires an authority to supervise its observance by both parties, if and when they have agreed to its terms. This authority must also have power to take action against any violation of the truce by one of the signatories. Its particular function in Palestine must be to watch over the frontiers and prevent their violation. It seems to us that it would not be realistic to pursue this matter far without an assurance that such a supervisory authority is available. The United States can hardly be unaware that the issue of enforcement cannot be shirked in relation to the Palestine problem, not even in the maintenance of a truce.
Finally, I should like to urge, on the basis of these submissions, that the resolution may be amended to conform with the realities of the situation, the dominant fact of which is foreign aggression. As has been pointed out, the draft in its present form is based on the illusion of an internal conflict, and if it is accepted as setting the line of a truce negotiation, it may prejudice the end it has in view, namely, the restoration of peace in Palestine and the elimination of violence as a factor affecting international policy.
I come now to the second resolution submitted by the representative of the United States [document S/705]. It is proposed that, the General Assembly be convoked once again in special session “to consider further the question of the future government of Palestine”. There is a curious, if not ironic, coincidence attached to this proposal. It is debated here today exactly one year, less one day, since the same request was originally presented by the United Kingdom. It is phrased in language which is almost identical. A word has been added. That word is “further”. This may, or may not, represent progress.
One may assume that this resolution, like the truce proposal, emanated from the consultations of the permanent members of the Security Council. He permanent members, it will be recalled, were asked by the Security Council:
“…to consult and to inform the Security Council regarding the situation with respect to Palestine and to make, as a result of such consultations, recommendations to it regarding the guidance and instructions which the Council might usefully give to the Palestine Commission with a view of implementing the resolution of the General Assembly.” [document S/691]
Up to this moment no such suggestion has been made to the Security Council as to how the General Assembly’s resolution may be implemented. If there were any consultations on this particular subject, and if any conclusions were reached on their result, these have not been reported.
The Jewish Agency, for its part, did submit to the conference of the four permanent members of the Security Council its concrete proposals regarding the steps that might be taken by the Council with a view to ensuring the implementation of the General Assembly’s resolution. For the sake of the record and for the information of the non-permanent members of the Security Council, I would, with the permission of the President, read the text of these proposals made on 12 March 1948. They were as follows:
“1. To assume the responsibilities assigned to it”— the Security Council — “in the General Assembly’s plan for implementation.
“2. To determine any attempt to alter by force the Assembly’s resolution as a ‘threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression’.
“3. To determine that a threat to the peace does exist in view of actions by certain Arab Governments.
“4. To call upon Arab Member States to stop recruiting and organizing armed forces to resist the Assembly’s resolution, and to withdraw their nationals already sent for this purpose.
“5. To call upon Arab States to stop their warlike propaganda and incitement contrary to the unanimous resolution of the Assembly against warmongering (12 October 1947).2
“6. To call upon the Mandatory Power to prevent the entry of unauthorized foreign forces and to expel those already in Palestine.
“7. To instruct the Palestine Commission to proceed with all speed with all phases of implementation, with special priority to the establishment of Provisional Councils of Government and the organization and equipment of militias.
“8. To call upon Member States to offer arms to parties co-operating with the United Nations resolution and to withhold them from those defying it.
“9. To empower the Palestine Commission to take all steps which may assist in the maintenance of peace in Jerusalem.”
These were the proposals which Dr. Silver put forward on our behalf at our meeting with the four permanent members of the Security Council. The Jewish Agency is not aware whether this nine-point programme was ever discussed.
In motivating his counsels of inaction to the Security Council, the representative of the United States has stated that it has been found impossible to implement the General Assembly’s resolution by peaceful means. One may search the text of the resolution of the General Assembly in vain for any provision, express or implied, that unless it can be carried out peacefully, it must remain inoperative.
Threats of violence against implementation re-echoed in the course of the discussions in the General Assembly and in the ad hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question. They resounded until the very last moment before the voting. The General Assembly adopted its historic decision in the teeth of these threats. If it had intended to retreat and drop the Plan of Partition when confronted by an attempt to resist it by force, what was the meaning of the express and emphatic provisions included in the resolution regarding the duties of the Security Council to take specific action if faced with such an attempt? Yet the fact that the General Assembly did not set peaceful implementation as a prerequisite by no means signifies that the implementation of the Plan could not be carried out peacefully.
What is undeniable is that the peaceful implementation of the Plan must inevitably have been gravely jeopardized, as it has indeed been jeopardized, by the absence of an adequate force to back it up. But since when has the building up and maintenance of an armed force to buttress peace, national or international, become morally opprobrious or politically unacceptable? History abounds with instances, of which the most tragic is the position of the democracies in 1939, when lack of force in defence of peace became the direct cause of war.
What has happened in so far as the Plan of Partition in Palestine is concerned? A special international force to ensure its implementation was not provided. The force which is in Palestine today by virtue of an international dispensation, the British Army, has refused to co-operate in the execution of the Plan. Its very passivity served as a most powerful encouragement to the forces of disorder. But the role of the United Kingdom in the present Palestine crisis has not been purely passive. It is not merely that the United Kingdom, as the Mandatory Power, has chosen administratively to obstruct the Plan. Its political attitude had more far-reaching and more calamitous effects. The policy of the United Kingdom in the Middle East is based on the active support of the Arab League. The United Kingdom cannot, therefore, divest itself from responsibility for the militant line of active aggression against the Jews of Palestine and of armed defiance of the United Nations authority, which its collective ally, the Arab League, has adopted and is steadily pursuing.
On the other hand, as regards arms, a position of the most glaring inequality was created between the Jews and the Arabs. The United Kingdom has continued to supply arms to the Governments of the Arab League regardless of the fact that those very Governments were, in turn, supplying arms for the anti-United Nations rebellion in Palestine. Only three weeks ago, the Arab Legion in Palestine received considerable quantities of new British arms. At the same time, the United Kingdom has continued to blockade the shores of Palestine against any importation of arms by the Jews inside the country. Simultaneously, armed Arab forces have poured in from outside before the eyes of the British forces, which have maintained the role of mere onlookers. The Mandatory Power disarmed many Palestinian Jews and armed many Palestinian Arabs. Only a few days ago, it passed to Arab attackers a quantity of arms which it took away from the Jews.
As to other Governments, the United States has instituted an indiscriminate embargo on the exportation of arms to the Middle East, denying arms to the hard-pressed Jews in the same measure as to the Arab aggressors. Certain other Governments are reported to be selling arms to the Arabs. The Arabs have seven States; the Jews have none. The Security Council has taken no action either to provide a force in support of the Plan or, at least, to arm those defending it and themselves.
The sordid record of how every proposed step of the Palestine Commission has been impeded and obstructed is too well known to need repetition. To sum it up, the will to implement the Plan peacefully was not forthcoming. In the absence of that will, the way to implementation has not been found.
Yet, despite all chicanery and indifference, the stream of life has proved irresistible. What is inherent in the nature of things and in the logic of developments is forcing it way through. Partition and the establishment of a Jewish State are actually in progress. The mandatory regime is disintegrating. The vacuum created thereby cannot but be filled. A new regime has already been born and is growing in the womb of the old. The Jewish State, potentially and actually, is an organic, integral part of Palestine. Come what may, the Jews of Palestine are determined to obtain the necessary arms and defend themselves and their State. Self-preservation and responsibility for the future of the Jewish people dictate their course of action. They have no other choice.
It is at this stage that the United States delegation has come forward with the proposal that a special session of the General Assembly be called to consider again the problem of Palestine. It has been made clear, although the draft resolution itself is silent on this point, that what it would propose in the special session is a plan for a temporary trusteeship without prejudice to the character of the final political settlement. Our attitude toward this proposal has already been concisely stated, both in the immediate reaction of our representative before the Security Council and in the declaration adopted jointly by the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the National Council of Palestine Jews in Tel Aviv.
Trusteeship means denial, or at least postponement, of independence. We believe that we are ripe for independence. So are the Arabs. We challenge anyone to prove that we are not. We have passed, in fact, the threshold of statehood. We refuse to be thrown back.
The United States Government cannot fail to be aware that the idea of trusteeship for Palestine has been thoroughly discussed by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine and rejected by that body. Here is what UNSCOP had to say in its unanimous recommendation II:3
“(a) Although sharply divided by political issues, the peoples of Palestine are sufficiently advanced to govern themselves independently.
“(b) The Arab and Jewish peoples, after more than a quarter of a century of tutelage under the Mandate, both seek a means of effective expression for their national aspirations.
“(c) It is highly unlikely that any arrangement which would fail to envisage independence at a reasonably early date would find the slightest welcome among either Arabs or Jews.”
UNSCOP also pointed out in its comment to the unanimous recommendation III3 that a transitional period “would in all likelihood only serve aggravate the present difficult situation in Palestine unless it were related to a specific and definite solution, which would go into effect immediately upon the termination of that period”.
But the United States Government, through its Chief Executive, has declared that partition still remained the ultimate goal of its Palestine policy, and that the proposed temporary trusteeship was designed merely to pave the way for its peaceful achievement. One looks in vain for consistent reasoning to explain this deviation from the original programme. If the reason for abandoning partition as an immediate objective is armed opposition, why should that opposition not apply to a trusteeship, the only purpose of which is to serve as an intermediary stage toward partition in the future? If the Security Council capitulates to violence, why should not violence press its advantage further? Does not aggression feed on appeasement? If, on the other hand, what is meant by “eventual” partition is something quite different from what was resolved on 29 November 1947, how can the Jews be expected to submit now to a course calculated eventually to lead to their undoing?
Moreover, we note that it is proposed to force a trusteeship upon a country ripe for independence, without any assurance that a trustee is available, that means of enforcement can be supplied, that any section of the population will co-operate, that the General Assembly will approve an agreement, or that a working regime can be established by 15 May.
The charted course of the implementation of partition is to be replaced by a leap into the perilous unknown.
At the 274th meeting of the Security Council, the representatives of France and Canada stated that it would be necessary for them to have more specific knowledge of what was actually involved in the trusteeship proposal before they could commit their Governments to support a reconsideration of the Palestine question based on the trusteeship idea. It is, therefore, surprising that not a single one of the crucial and intricate questions raised by trusteeship has been elucidated so far by the United States delegation.
The second draft resolution still invites the Security Council to set out on a course with no clear destination and no milestones on the way.
It is not too late to return to the path clearly traced by the General Assembly’s resolution. That path represents the product of eight months of continuous constructive international thinking. The reversal of the process can lead only to chaos and to a crisis of confidence in the United Nations, the results of which are incalculable. A clock may not be turned so sharply backwards without injury to its mechanism. The General Assembly of the United Nations, which is so precious an instrument for the peace and progress of mankind, should not be exposed to this rejection of its judgment and undermining of its authority.
In conclusion, I beg leave to call the attention of the Security Council to one specific problem of a most critical urgency, a problem which has a direct bearing on the question of a truce. I refer to the situation in Jerusalem and to the responsibilities of the United Nations for the immunity, peace and welfare of that Holy City and its environs.
Under the plan adopted by the General Assembly, a Special International Regime under the United Nations Trusteeship Council was decreed for Jerusalem. The exclusion, from the Jewish State, of Jerusalem with its unique historic associations for the Jewish people and with the central place it occupies in its tradition and modern life, was a most painful sacrifice. Eloquent appeals were made to the Jewish Agency during the General Assembly session by the representatives of Powers, great and small, to realize the transcendent importance of Jerusalem to the entire civilized world and to let the City’s universal associations take precedence over its predominantly Jewish character.
In deference to an overwhelming concensus of world opinion, the Jewish Agency accepted the idea of an international regime for Jerusalem. Since then, the Jewish Agency has co-operated actively with the Trusteeship Council in helping to formulate a statute for Jerusalem, as provided for in the General Assembly resolution.
In thus subordinating Jewish claims to the fervently expressed interest of the Christian world, the Jewish Agency confidently expected that the United Nations would take all the steps necessary to secure the objectives which aroused such strong and widespread support in the General Assembly. It is tragic to record what has, in fact, happened.
The Mandatory Power has allowed the control of the Old City of Jerusalem to slip into the hands of armed Arab bands, and has taken no effective action to prevent the approaches to the City from being likewise dominated by Arab forces. Commanders appointed by the Arab Higher Committee — that is to say, the Mufti — now control access to the gates of the Holy City and to the Holy Places. The Arab Higher Committee has recently announced its determination to use force against any attempt to establish Jerusalem as an international city held by the United Nations in trust for mankind.
The cruel historic paradox which now threatens Jerusalem is not apparently realized by the civilized world. After centuries of neglect and depredation, Jerusalem was conquered in 1917 by the British and Australian forces. The conquest ushered in a period of civilized rule for Jerusalem which has now lasted for three decades. Jews formed the majority of the population of Jerusalem even before the British Mandate. Today they are 100,000 out of 160,000 inhabitants.
As the Mandate now draws to an end, instead of coining under an international regime which would maintain the civilized standards of its government, Jerusalem seems about to fall, as most of its Holy Places have already fallen, into the clutches of the most fanatical and impious elements in the country.
One of the two henchmen of the Mufti, now in command, Sheikh Yasin Bakri, has boasted in public of his prowess in sniping at Jewish funeral parties on their way to the hallowed cemetery on the Mount of Olives. He has been photographed by Cairo newspapers in the act of directing fire from the walls of the Haram enclosure, the so-called Mosque of Omar. When we see other photographs of this person, photographs which have been submitted to the Security Council, receiving courtesy visits from the British Area Commander of Jerusalem, we are forced to assume that he is considered in some quarters as a suitable custodian of the holy sites. He has proclaimed another success: for the first time since Roman days, Jewish worshippers are now forcibly prevented from having access to the Wailing Wall, the greatest sanctuary of the Jewish faith.
Another agent of the Mufti, now in a position of command, Abdul Kader Al-Husseini, has a notorious record for his murderous activities during the 1936 rebellion, and for his pro-Nazi collaboration during the war. He is now engaged in plans for cutting off the City’s water supply and for reducing its Jewish population to starvation.
I said that the Jews yielded to the international verdict. They did not yield in favour of Sheikh Bakri or in favour of Abdul Kader Al-Husseini. If the international regime is not promptly instituted and effectively enforced, it will soon become a matter of elementary self-preservation for the Jews to do their utmost — maybe their desperate utmost — even alone and unaided, to save Jerusalem from a monstrous tyranny. But in such a case, the City would become a battlefield. It may, indeed, become a shambles. We consider that the United Nations is most solemnly bound to avert the catastrophe by assuming its responsibilities in Jerusalem: first and foremost, the responsibility of ensuring law and order and safeguarding access and supplies to the City.
The fate of Jerusalem disproves the assumption that Arab resistance is directed merely against the partition settlement and the Jewish State. Arab violence is the reaction to any policy which recognizes any specific non-Arab interest, whether Jewish or international, in any part of the country. The Jews will do their utmost to ensure that this claim to exclusive Arab mastery is defeated in the area of the Jewish State. If the United Nations is unable to assist the Jews in that legitimate endeavour, let the United Nations at least prevent the triumph of Arab defiance of world opinion in Jerusalem and, by the provision of a proper force, inaugurate an era of peace and order in a City which is sacred to vast multitudes of civilized mankind.
The system of consecutive interpretation was resumed at this point.
Mr. FAWZI (Egypt): The Security Council has before it, among other matters, the two draft resolutions presented to the Council by the representative of the United States. I beg leave to limit myself now mostly to the first of these draft resolutions and to postpone until later what I may have to say further concerning the second draft resolution. I beg leave also, for the moment at least, to limit myself to a few words in connexion with what we heard from today’s spokesman of the Jewish Agency.
As two wrongs cannot make a right, I shall not indulge in the sort of language and invective which the representative of the Jewish Agency has seen fit to use regarding the Egyptian Government and other Arab Governments. I have said before that the Arab States have not taken part in the conflict in Palestine. I still say so. If the spokesman of the Jewish Agency delves into all available newspapers and tells us stories which officially we do not know, that is his own choice and responsibility. When, exceptionally, he goes to official records, and when he quotes the reports of the representative or representatives of the United Kingdom, he chooses to quote only those parts in which mention has been made of Arab infiltrations into Palestine. He chooses to forget to quote the part summing up the result of a British investigation into the matter, upon the basis of which the claim that is the Arabs who are the attackers and the Jews who are the attacked, could not be substantiated or borne out.
At long last I find something on which I readily agree with the spokesman of the Jewish Agency. I agree that the word “truce” in the draft resolution of the United States does not accurately apply to the situation. We do not recognize that there is a war in Palestine in regard to which we can employ the word “truce”. But, after all, this is either a military technical matter or a purely linguistic term into which I am not going to delve more deeply.
Now I go back to the story of Arab incursions into Palestine. May I ask, just for argument’s sake, whether the leaders of Zionism would be willing to have a most careful search made in Palestine and indiscriminately to exclude from that unfortunate land everyone who went there without legal authority? I shall be waiting for the answer, and I am afraid I shall be waiting in vain. While, when participation by Arab States in the conflict in Palestine is spoken of, I most emphatically deny it, I would simply mention that the picture would have been completely different had the Arab States really taken part in that conflict.
The Arab States are not the mightiest of the mighty, but indeed what is going on in Palestine does not indicate an any way that the Arab States are actually taking part in that conflict. I want, parallel to this, to point out another consideration with respect to Egypt and the other Arab States. I want, with the President’s permission, to point out the fact that, with all the provocation and with all the excitement in and around Palestine, the Jews have not been molested in Arab States around Palestine. We have many thousands of them living in Egypt, in Iraq, and in other Arab countries. They have until now been living most safely, and, if necessary, I myself would claim this item to our credit. I shall not add many words to a subject which is both near and dear to our hearts and painful to us. Since olden times and very particularly in recent times, Arab lands have been probably the greatest and the securest haven for the persecuted among the Jews. I am not going to indulge, at this time, in anything approaching sentimentalism nor to comment extensively on the largely lost virtue of gratitude. Instead, I shall simply add; in connexion with what we have heard today from the spokesman of the Jewish Agency, a few words relating to the legal part, if we may call it such, of what he told us.
I say “a few words” because the position of my delegation in regard to the Charter, to the authority of the General Assembly and of the Security Council under the Charter, and to the obligation of Member States under the Charter, is based on solid law. It cannot crumble at the first breeze nor even at the first storm or any storm that will come upon it. It is a position based, up to this very minute, on what we believe to be fairness, logic, and the background of the inception of the Charter, and it cannot crumble as easily as some people might tendentiously desire. That is all I wish to say at this time in connexion with the statement of the spokesman of the Jewish Agency.
I wish to return to the first draft resolution presented by the representative of the United States. If, contrary to our belief, the truce were to be interpreted and applied to mean the use of armed force to keep the peace during the partition of Palestine, then each and every one of the Arabs is opposed to it. On the other hand, if it is order that is meant, then indeed the Arabs are all for it.
In this connexion I feel impelled to point out certain facts which are in flagrant contradiction to any order in Palestine. For example, the Palestine Commission continues to work on the partition programme. It is not for me to discuss the merits of what, formally speaking, the Palestine Commission is bound to do or is relieved from doing in the light of its terms of reference and the new developments. But it is sufficiently dear that there is increasingly a discordance between what the Palestine Commission is doing and what is being said or done almost everywhere else in and around the United Nations.
I wish always to be able to believe that no Member of the United Nations and no friend of the United Nations desires to see this Organization fall below par in its activities, nor to become like the famous village band whose members supposedly play together while, in fact, each of them plays a different piece. Such discordance must be corrected in time, and I believe now is the time.
Unfortunately, the continued work of the Palestine Commission on the Plan of Partition is not all that blocks the road back to order in Palestine. In this regard I must point to certain activities — which are only a part of the activities — of the Jewish Agency.
The document addressed on 24 March 1948 to the Secretary-General by the distinguished non-American spokesman of the Jewish Agency, and orally repeated on the same day [274th meeting] before the Security Council by the distinguished United States citizen and Zionist spokesman of the Jewish Agency, indicates that the Jewish Agency is still intent, no matter what the circumstances are and no matter what the requirements of peace, law and order may be, to go on with its plan for implementing and effecting what it calls a decision of the General Assembly and what we call a recommendation — an unfortunate recommendation — of the General Assembly. This is not all, and it is very unfortunate that it is not all.
Under our very eyes — not only in the newspapers — we can walk along certain streets and public places of New York City and see the great commotion caused by the recruiting of volunteers. Right here in New York City, in the shadow of the United Nations, the recruitment of volunteers to go to fight in Palestine is taking place.
In fairness, I must recognize and state for the record that the United States Government has rightly decided to allow no visas for such recruits. This will mean no visas for Palestine, but who knows that these recruits will not obtain visas for other places and from those places infiltrate into Palestine?
I know that time is precious and I shall not speak very much longer. I only wish to remind the Security Council and all concerned that since mention was made of the word “partition” we have seen nothing but strife, trouble, agony and bloodshed in Palestine.
If it is said that what is happening in Palestine today is merely or mostly the work of the surrounding Arab States, I should only point out a reminder of what happened in Palestine, among the Palestinians themselves, from 1936 until 1939, just because a mere beginning of an attempt at partition was made.
In reading and listening to what the leaders of Zionism want us to believe, I have a small warning for everybody, including myself. We must all be careful, when we hear again the false prophecies of militant political Zionism promising us that “everything will be smooth and quiet if only you let us extort a part of the lands and the country belonging to the Arabs, if you let us set up a State, a bridgehead for things to come”.
I do not want to close without repeating that, if what is meant by the draft resolution presented by the representative of the United States is the re-establishment of order in Palestine, I sincerely believe — and I state it here for the record — that we, the Arabs, each and every one of us, are all for it.
Sir Alexander CADOGAN (United Kingdom): I have asked the President’s leave to speak only in order that I may give a short statement in regard to the manner in which I shall vote on the two draft resolutions which have been submitted to the Security Council by the representative of the United States.
In regard to the first draft resolution, which deals with the truce, I would recall that my Government have always favoured the adoption of all possible measures to bring disorder to an end and to establish better relations between the two communities in Palestine. Consistent with that policy, they support the idea of a truce, and I have been authorized to vote in favour of this draft resolution.
At the same time, I must make it quite clear that my Government adhere firmly to their announced dates for the termination of the Mandate and for the final evacuation of British troops from Palestine. There can be no question of their retaining responsibility for civil administration after 15 May 1948, even though it be for the purpose of ensuring the observance of a truce.
In regard to the second draft resolution, I would say this: My Government cannot depart from their neutral position, and they therefore still pass no judgment on the solution which the General Assembly originally worked out in November last. In view, however, of the intense disturbances which have taken place in. Palestine and the failure, as we see it, of the General Assembly, when it came to its original decision, to realize that this situation may arise; and in view of the apparent desire on the part of the Security Council that the General Assembly should be given an opportunity to review its decision in the light of events, I have been authorized to cast my vote in favour of giving the General Assembly this opportunity, and I shall vote, also, in favour of that resolution.
Mr. EL-KHOURI (Syria): I think it would be appropriate, at the present stage, to express the attitude of my delegation concerning the two draft resolutions which are now before us for discussion.
As to the resolution referring the matter again to the General Assembly and convoking a special session, I say that this would coincide with our attitude in the past in the General Assembly, in the Security Council, and in all the organs of the United Nations. We have always opposed the partition plan. Referring the matter again to the General Assembly will provide another chance for reminding the delegations of the General Assembly of the blunder which was committed in the past. For this reason, I am ready to cast my vote in favour of this draft resolution.
As to the resolution concerning trying to establish a truce in Palestine, I should state that the Syrian Government and people, as well as all the other Arabs in the Near East, are more desirous than any other people or nation to see peace and security reign in Palestine. They themselves, especially the Arabs of Palestine, are suffering in the present situation of disorder in Palestine. No Arab would like this situation to continue, but, at the same time, they wish a truce and peace to reign in Palestine with justice.
The Arab States in general — I am authorized to say this in their names here — wish to make available all facilities and pave the way for the Security Council and the General Assembly to attain some basis on which to establish order in Palestine and to avoid the commotions and disorders which are going on. They could never try to put obstacles in the way so long as good intentions prevail to avoid injustice and exorbitant measures.
In this matter of the truce, I am inclined in the present situation to reserve the attitude of my delegation until the two parties concerned in this matter meet with the Security Council and substantiate what the basis and conditions of this truce will be. I have just heard the representative of the Jewish Agency say that it would never agree to any truce if it impeded or interfered with the time-table of the implementation of the Plan of Partition. I know that the views of the Arabs of Palestine are just the contrary. They say, “We will agree to a truce if it is not used as a screen to shield the activities for the continuation of the implementation of the Plan of Partition.”
The Arabs have never tried to keep it secret that they oppose the Plan of Partition, and they will never agree to it. They have said that flatly and squarely on every occasion, and they still do not retreat from this position, nor has their attitude changed in any respect. For this reason, as I have said, I reserve the attitude of my delegation at the present time on the draft resolution in order to see what are the conditions under which the truce will be concluded. I would prefer that the truce be made on the basis of establishing a complete stand-still agreement that would be serviceable and useful, but if it is not on that condition and that basis, it would be useless to discuss the matter. I believe this should be the situation when this resolution is adopted. The Arabs of Palestine will certainly have their representative, and he will speak in the name of his country.
As to the statements which you have heard today from the representative of the Jewish Agency — his severe accusations against the Arab States and especially Syria, and his statement that they are interfering with partition and upholding and supporting the Arabs in Palestine in different ways — I have made solemn statements in the past that Arab States, including Syria, did not take any part in the actual encounters in Palestine.
That accusation cannot be made so long as there are volunteers infiltrating into Palestine from all the frontiers around that area, frontiers which are practically open. It cannot be interpreted that the Arab States are responsible for that. They are not doing anything, and these statements which were quoted from the press or from other reports cannot be taken as a good basis on which the Security Council can pass resolutions. They may be called warmongering or preparation for eventualities in the future, but these eventualities have not arrived, and nothing effective has been done in that respect.
The spokesman for the Jewish Agency accused the Security Council of not preparing an adequate force to go with the Palestine Commission in order to help the implementation of the Plan of Partition, but the Security Council, as was well stated here, has its functions well defined in the Charter. It cannot, on the application of one person or another, go astray and take steps which are not justified by the provisions of the Charter to which — and to which only — we are bound.
The Jewish Agency spokesman also complains that the Arabs have seven States while the Jews do not have any State. This is a statement which has been made repeatedly on different occasions. I say that, in that respect, there is no Jew in all the world who has no State or who is state-less. Every Jew has his nationality. The Jews of the United States are United States citizens; the Jews of the USSR are citizens of the USSR; the Jews of France are French citizens; the Jews of the United Kingdom are United Kingdom subjects. What does he mean when he says that the Jews have no State? What religion has a State? Not only the Jews have none; the Quakers have no State; the Methodists have no State; the Episcopalians have no State; the Presbyterians have no State. What religions have States? Has any religion a right to claim a State and have aspirations for a sovereign State? This is absurd, and a precedent could be created here which would make religion a nationality and encourage other religions to claim States wherever they are found. This is a situation which is exorbitant and extraordinary. Judaism is a religion, and people must enjoy all the privileges of freedom of worship and freedom of access to all the Holy Places.
Mr. Shertok stated that the Arabs are not good custodians of the shrines and the Holy Places. They have been custodians for thirteen centuries now, and not a single Holy Place has been defiled nor has any sacrilege been committed. They have protected the Holy Places very carefully and correctly during all that time, and, since the Byzantine Empire left Palestine, neither the Jewish shrines, the Moslem shrines nor the Christian shrines have been affected in any way. They have been well protected, and access to the country always has been available and continues to remain so.
If, as a religion, the Jews want to establish a State in Palestine, that is something which is extraordinary and which we cannot admit. The Arabs would not allow the establishment of a foreign State, not only in Palestine, but in any other part of the Arab world. As to Jerusalem, the Arabs are ready to protect all the Holy Places and to fulfil all the provisions and recommendations not only of the General Assembly, but of the conscience of the world, regarding the protection of the Holy Places in Jerusalem and other countries. However, the Arabs certainly do not agree to the establishment of a permanent trusteeship regarding the City of Jerusalem for the reason that there are Holy Places and shrines in Jerusalem.
Although there are Holy Places located in Jerusalem, I feel that the people of Jerusalem are not holy. They are not to be given special consideration and special privileges, nor are they to be deprived of the rights of democracy and self-determination which are enjoyed by all the peoples of other democratic countries. The shrines and Holy Places may be protected and given all the necessary safeguards, but the people should be left their freedom and liberty in order to determine their fate and their future administration in the way in which they wish, just as any democratic country would confer privileges and rights upon its population.
In this respect, I wish to repeat over and over again that the Arabs consider the idea of creating a foreign state within their region, with sovereign power in Palestine, as an act of aggression, and that those who attempt to carry out this act are aggressors against human rights and the rights of the Arabs. Furthermore, the Arabs are ready to oppose such an act. The Arabs of Palestine would prefer, as I said before, to be exterminated rather than to allow such an act of aggression to go on within their country. This is a feeling which wet have never tried to hide; it has been stated publicly on several occasions.
Mr. AUSTIN (United States of America): I have only a few words to say. The pending matter is document S/704, that is to say, the draft resolution introduced by the representative of the United States of America at the 275th meeting of the Security Council calling for a truce in Palestine, and I invite the Security Council to return to the subject. In so doing I would just call attention to the simple eternal truth that the objective of this resolution is to save human life. If there is any other objective equal to that I do not know what it is. All these long speeches and this repeated re-argumentation about legalistic claims, about history, and about who is at fault and who more at fault, are as nothing compared to that objective for which the Security Council has the primary responsibility — that is, to save human life.
The draft resolution is couched in the language of the Charter which deals with that matter, and I would read it because I think that the [MISSED WORD] at this moment ought to be made clear:
“The Security Council,
“In the exercise of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security…” — that is to say, it is acting under that provision and that responsibility —
“Notes with grave concern the increasing violence and disorder in Palestine and believes that it is of the utmost urgency that an immediate truce be effected in Palestine;
“Calls upon the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Arab Higher Committee to make representatives available to the Security Council for the purpose of arranging a truce…” — not for the purpose apparently indicated in the speeches which have been made here today but — “a truce between the Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine; and emphasizes the heavy responsibility which would fall upon any party failing to observe such a truce; and
“Calls upon Arab and Jewish armed groups in Palestine to cease acts of violence immediately.”
This calls for a stand-still; this calls for a cessation of hostilities; this calls for the stopping of the slaughter, the civil disobedience, the destruction of property and the anarchy which exists in a territory that is under a mandate. Just remember that this is not a free territory. It does not belong to anybody. If you search out the title to it, I think you will find that it has a legal position as a result of the war. This is a mandatory property under a mandatory administrator. Events are occurring there which are a shame to humanity, and it is up to the Security Council, of all organizations in the world, to put a stop to them.
This resolution, if passed, would impose an obligation under the Charter upon every Member of the United Nations to carry out the decision made in it. Our position would be somewhat different after the adoption of a resolution like this from what it is under a recommendation made by the General Assembly.
There is no mystery about the word “truce”. It requires two things above all others: one is the cessation of hostilities; the other is the cessation of provocation. And it is that part of the duty of the Security Council that is indicated in the third paragraph of the resolution which reads as follows:
“Calls upon the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Arab Higher Committee to make representatives available to the Security Council for the purpose of arranging a truce between the Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine…”
No such effective change in the military aspect of this matter could be had without arranging the terms of the truce; that is, reaching an agreement between the parties which are now violating the peace. Now this stand-still idea is not new. It was recognized when the United Nations Charter was made, and it was recognized largely at the instigation of those who represented the Jews in Palestine. Paragraph 1 of Article 80, which deals with a trusteeship or a mandatory, is contained in Chapter XII, “International Trusteeship System”. It reads as follows:
“Except as may be agreed upon, in individual trusteeship agreements, made under Articles 77, 79, and 81, placing each territory under the Trusteeship System, and until such agreements have been concluded”— that is for how long: “until such agreements have been concluded” — “nothing in this chapter shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any States or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.”
I understand that this Article was suggested at San Francisco by the Zionists in order to assure continued recognition of their national home in Palestine. But the text equally protects the rights of Arabs to maintain the continuity of the unity of Palestine in their civil and religious rights in the territory protected by the Mandate.
I find that the following statement from the summary record of the tenth meeting of Committee 11/4, held on 24 May 1945 at San Francisco, was attributed to the United States representative, who said that this Article meant “that all rights, whatever they may be, remain exactly the same as they exist —that they are neither increased or diminished by the adoption of this Charter. Any change is left as a matter for subsequent agreements…”
With Palestine under a Mandatory Power, who has a right to use force there — anybody but the Mandatory Authority? And if men, women and children are being slaughtered, are being blown up, and if public services are being discontinued and ruined and the possibility of complete anarchy is being created, who has a right and who has an obligation there?
In the first place, the Mandatory Power has come to us and said, in effect, “We are unable to handle that. The condition is such that we cannot handle it.” That is one of the reasons why we found, as a group of permanent members of the Security Council, that we could not implement the General Assembly resolution at this time by peaceful means. It was not because these people, on both sides, did not have individually the characteristics that would make them competent for self-government. They do have that intelligence, culture and high aim necessary to produce good government anywhere.
That is not the trouble. The trouble is this blood feud that is on at this time and that causes more and more death and desolation. The object of this resolution is to put a stop to that. It is in full harmony with the spirit of Article 80, which recognizes that so long as there is a mandate there — which we believe will exist until 15 May — so long as that responsibility is fixed, is settled on the United Kingdom, no other country or people has a right to use military force in Palestine. Until an agreement is entered into which transmits this responsibility from the United Kingdom to its successor, or until an agreement is made with the United Nations, the Security Council has the responsibility of trying to maintain order and peace in Palestine.
I sincerely hope, therefore, that this resolution will be passed by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT: I have no more speakers on my list. Does any representative wish to speak before the Security Council proceeds to take a vote on the United States draft resolution?
No response was indicated.
The PRESIDENT: The Assistant Secretary-General in charge of Security Council Affairs will read the United States draft resolution incorporated in document S/704.
Mr. SOBOLEV (Assistant Secretary-General):
“The Security Council,
“In the exercise of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,
“Notes with grave concern the increasing violence and disorder in Palestine and believes that it is of the utmost urgency that an immediate truce be effected in Palestine;
“Calls upon the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Arab Higher Committee to make representatives available to the Security Council for the purpose of arranging a truce between the Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine; and emphasizes the heavy responsibility which would fall upon any party failing to observe such a truce; and
“Calls upon Arab and Jewish armed groups in Palestine to cease acts of violence immediately.”
Mr. TARASSENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) (translated from Russian): I propose the deletion of the three words “with grave concern” from the beginning of the second paragraph. The second paragraph would then read:
“Notes the increasing violence and disorder in Palestine and believes that it is of the utmost urgency that an immediate truce be effected in Palestine”.
Mr. AUSTIN (United States of America): If the deletion of those three words from the United States draft resolution would gain the unanimous vote of the Security Council, so far as I have the authority, I would accept the amendment. Therefore, I ask: Would the deletion of these words gain the votes of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic?
Mr. TARASENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) (translated from Russian): Speaking for myself, I am prepared to accept this text of the resolution.
The PRESIDENT: As the amendment has not been accepted by the representative of the United States, the Security Council will have to vote upon it.
Mr. AUSTIN (United States of America): I have not heard the response from the representative of the USSR. I have reason to think he probably wishes to reply.
The PRESIDENT: The President can recognize representatives only when they ask to speak, but he cannot ask them to speak if they do not choose to do so.
Mr. AUSTIN (United States of America): We do note “with grave concern” — I want that understood — but in order to gain one more vote, I am willing to give up those three words.
The PRESIDENT: As there is no objection, the Security Council will now vote on the United States draft resolution, document 5/704, on the basis of deleting those three words “with grave concern”.
A vote was taken by show of hands, and the resolution was adopted unanimously.
The PRESIDENT: The Security Council will now vote on the United States draft resolution incorporated in document S/705. I shall ask the Assistant Secretary-General in charge of Security Council Affairs to read it.
Mr. SOBOLEV (Assistant Secretary-General):
“The Security Council,
“Having received, on 9 December 1947, the resolution of the General Assembly concerning Palestine dated 29 November 1947, and
“Having taken note of the United Nations Palestine Commission’s First and Second Monthly Progress Reports and First Special Report on the problem of security, and
“Having called on 5 March 1948 on the permanent members of the Council to consult, and
“Having taken note of the reports made concerning those consultations,
“Requests the Secretary-General, in accordance with Article 20 of the United Nations Charter, to convoke a special session of the General Assembly to consider further the question of the future government of Palestine.”
A vote was taken by show of hands, and the resolution was adopted by 9 votes in favour, with 2 abstentions.
United States of America
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
The PRESIDENT: Before we adjourn the meeting, I should like to know what is the pleasure of the Security Council as to what we should do next. There appear to be several questions on which we might profitably try to exchange views. The Palestine Commission has addressed itself to the Security Council asking for guidance in its task. So far, the Security Council has made no provision with regard to the question of the Palestine Commission. That is one very important point, because from the reports published by the press it would appear that while the Security Council has just agreed to convoke a special session of the General Assembly, for the purpose of advising the latter of the difficulties which the Security Council is encountering, the Palestine Commission is going ahead with the implementation of the resolution of the General Assembly. Also, the question of conciliation arises, which, to a rather large extent, involves the truce.
We might consider the advisability of appointing a sub-committee to advance some of the work and to consider if there are any recommendations that we should make to the General Assembly, and to meet the representatives of the two parties to the truce that is contemplated. That is one suggestion.
Another suggestion would be to have the Security Council go on with the discussions in full committee. And a third suggestion might be one approaching the system that has been followed in the India-Pakistan question. Therefore, before we decide as to when we should again meet, I should like to have the view of the representatives on the Security Council in this connexion.
After the interpretation into French, the President added the following remarks:
The Secretary-General has informed me that he plans to convoke the General Assembly on 16 April; that is within fifteen days. Consequently, it becomes more pressing for the Security Council to decide what action it should take in connexion with this situation. I suggest that we might meet tomorrow morning, if the representatives on the Security Council so desire, in order to go on with the discussion that I have suggested. We can meet in private or have a public meeting and decide how to proceed, unless there is some concrete proposal now as to what we should do.
Mr. EL-KHOURI (Syria): As to the first question which the President has raised — what guidance is to be given to the Palestine Commission as far as I myself am concerned, I have voted for both proposals on the understanding that the author of these proposals, the representative of the United States, said, in the first place, that it would be a stand-still agreement; and in the second place, he mentioned in his speech at the last meeting that no political activities should be undertaken towards the implementation of the Plan of Partition and that instructions would be given to this effect.
I so understood the matter, and at the 275th meeting of the Security Council on 30 March the representative of the United States repeated the same thing. It was on this basis, I think, that the Palestine Commission asked the Security Council to provide them with an adequate force in order to implement the Plan of Partition. The Palestine Commission also stated that they cannot proceed with the implementation of the Plan of Partition without such an adequate international force, so I think it goes without saying that they will wait until they have the adequate international force. As long as the Security Council has not prepared a positive answer to their request, I think everything should be suspended until the General Assembly submits new directives with regard to this matter.
General MCNAUGHTON (Canada): The President has asked the opinion of the Security Council as to what the procedure should now be in view of the fact that the Council has just passed two very important resolutions.
As regards the first resolution, it seems to me that the course is very clear, namely, that the President should meet with the representatives of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Arab Higher Committee in order to discuss the substance of that resolution and to bring forward some specific proposals for the consideration of the Security Council. I think that in this matter we would be right in entrusting that duty and that responsibility to the President of the Security Council. This procedure provides an orderly and expeditious manner of getting forward in this situation, which is full of grave urgency.
As regards the second resolution, namely, the matters which the Security Council is to bring before the General Assembly when it meets, this resolution was put before the Security Council at the instance of the representative of the United States, and he asked that it be adopted so that the action of the Secretary-General, in calling the General Assembly, could proceed while the Security Council in the meanwhile debated the proposals for trusteeship of an interim character which the representative of the United States indicated it would be his intention to put before it.
It seems to me, therefore, that the Security Council should meet again at the earliest practicable opportunity to hear the specific proposals which the representative of the United States has undertaken to put before it. I believe that those are very important matters. It is absolutely imperative that the position of the Security Council and its conclusions on these important matters should be available for 16 April, on which date the Secretary-General has indicated he will have the General Assembly meet here.
I therefore urge most strongly that the President should enter into consultation with the representative of the United States, and that, immediately when the representative of the United States is ready to place specific proposals before it, the Security Council should meet to consider them.
Mr. AUSTIN (United States of America): I endorse the propositions of the representative of Canada. The United States has, of course, been at work endeavouring to formulate concrete ideas, but these are not yet in finished form suitable for submission, and we should like very much to consult informally with our colleagues in the Security Council in order to have their advice and suggestions. We should like all representatives on the Security Council to participate with us in the drafting of the terms of the trusteeship proposal, and it would be convenient to us if the President could hold over the next meeting until 6 April.
After the interpretation into French, Mr. Austin added the following remarks:
I have been advised that it would probably be convenient for all the members of the Security Council to make a fixed appointment for an informal study. If that meets with your approval — all of you — I invite you to come to my office on 5 April, when we can meet informally on this matter.
Mr. GROMYKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (translated from Russian): This raises a number of question with which I do not intend to deal. I want to say a few words, however, on what should be done with regard to the Palestine Commission. I do not share the view that the Security Council’s adoption of a resolution to convoke a special session of the General Assembly signifies that the Palestine Commission must cease the work incumbent on it by virtue of the General Assembly resolution. The Security Council can direct the Palestine Commission, but only with a view to implementing the General Assembly’s decision on Palestine. It cannot and may not give any other instructions which would be contrary to, or not in accordance with, that decision. The Security Council cannot, therefore, take any decision which would have the effect of stopping the work of the Palestine Commission.
If, in explaining his draft resolution to call a truce and to convoke a special session of the General Assembly, the United States representative pointed out that all political activity in Palestine. (and he apparently had in mind not only Palestine) should stop — that is his business. If anybody wishes to interpret that statement as meaning that the United States representative had in mind the cessation of the Palestine Commission’s work as well, that concerns the member of the Security Council who wishes to put that particular interpretation on the United States statement. I, however, cannot accept such an interpretation. We supported the resolution calling for a truce on the understanding that the Palestine Commission would continue to act in accordance with the powers conferred upon it by the General Assembly resolution.
Mr. PARODI (France) (translated from French): The question referred to by the President raises a difficulty, namely, the problem of whether the Security Council is authorized to ask the Commission established by the General Assembly to cease its work.
As a matter of fact, I think that the Commission can be trusted to draw the necessary practical conclusions from the resolution we have just adopted. Consequently, I think the Commission could continue that part of its activity which is in the nature of pure study and preparatory or theoretical work, and should, in my opinion, refrain from anything involving practical measures.
Such is my suggestion. I repeat, however, that the United Nations Palestine Commission should be permitted, to draw its own conclusions from our decisions.
Mr. ARCE (Argentina) a (translated from Spanish): I think it is obvious that the Security Council would have no power to request the Palestine Commission to continue or to cease its work; but I also think it obvious that the circumstances have power that derives from no law, but rather from themselves. The fact that the General Assembly will meet again to discuss the question whether to reaffirm its previous resolution or to amend it, makes it advisable, I think, not to follow a course that may be changed so soon.
I am not giving this as a definite opinion, but I do make this suggestion in support of what has been said here to the effect that the Security Council should not intervene in the work of this Commission. In my view, if the General Assembly of the United Nations, which appointed this Commission, is to meet within fifteen days, the progress of the Commission’s work should be delayed during this period.
The PRESIDENT: It seems to me that the Security Council has four different questions with which to deal. The first is the question of the truce. The representative of Canada has offered a suggestion as to how the question of the truce should be handled. I have yet to hear whether it is the pleasure of the Security Council that the procedure suggested by the representative of Canada should be adopted.
The second question is the matter of the Palestine Commission, namely, whether or not any indications should be given to it. I had suggested that we should meet to discuss all of these matters without, however, indicating that we should tell the Palestine Commission anything specifically. Substantially I agree with what the representative of France has said. It seems perfectly clear that the resolution which the Security Council has just adopted should offer a clear indication to the Palestine Commission as to how it should proceed. In other words, I believe that the Palestine Commission cannot fail to take due notice of the manner in which events are moving under the direction of the Security Council.
The third question is the matter of the recommendations of the Security Council to the General Assembly. I believe that it is within the discretion of every representative of the Security Council to submit proposals or recommendations if he so desires, and that it is entirely within the discretion of the representative of the United States to invite the other representatives on the Security Council to attend any informal discussions concerning the resolutions and to receive any recommendations which they may wish to submit. Of course, that does not prevent or exclude any representative from submitting proposals or recommendations directly to the Security Council.
The fourth question is the matter of conciliation, namely, whether some action should be taken towards trying to bring about agreement between the Jewish Agency and the Arab Higher Committee.
I had thought it advisable, in order to discuss these matters with the greatest speed and the least possible formality, to meet tomorrow morning. However, the schedule is very crowded, and representatives may prefer to postpone the matter until next week.
The representative of Syria has asked why we cannot meet tomorrow afternoon instead of in the morning. If it is agreeable to the Security Council, I prefer to meet in the morning because I have arranged to leave for Cincinnati tomorrow afternoon to deliver an address on the United Nations, and I shall not be back until Sunday morning.
To summarize, the Security Council can do either of two things. I am perfectly willing to go ahead as fast as the Security Council desires on the Palestine question and hold a closed meeting tomorrow morning. On the other hand, the matter can be left until next week.
Mr. TARASENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) (translated from Russian): I cannot quite understand what the Security Council would discuss were it to meet tomorrow, as there is nothing to discuss. I think it would be better to postpone the meeting until, say, Monday.
The PRESIDENT: I should like to repeat that the Security Council has not yet settled how the conversations in regard to the truce should be conducted, and that is one of the things which I suppose could be profitably discussed tomorrow.
Mr. NISOT (Belgium) (translated from French): I am also of the opinion that we should not be serving any useful purpose by meeting tomorrow. As far as I am concerned I think that our next meeting should take place on Monday, 5 April.
The PRESIDENT: I want to make it clear to the Security Council that, so far as I am concerned, I am perfectly ready to go forward as fast as possible with these very urgent questions, but, as I have already intimated, it is more convenient for me to have a meeting of the Security Council next week.
I should like to make this remark: inasmuch as the United States delegation is not yet ready with its proposals, and since we have not been advised by either the Jewish Agency or the Arab Higher Committee that their representatives are ready to begin the conversations on the truce, we might leave the matter open and the President would then advise the members of the Security Council when we shall next meet, either on the Palestine question or on the India-Pakistan question: whichever of the two is ready first. If that is satisfactory to the Security Council, we shall proceed in that way.
Mr. AUSTIN (United States of America): First, I accept the suggestions of the President with reference to the procedure outlined. They seem to me to be reasonable. Second, I now invite all the members of the Security Council to come to my office at 2 Parke Avenue on 5 April, at 2.30 p.m., for the purpose of an informal conversation relating to proposals for a temporary trusteeship.
The meeting rose at 6.43 p.m.
1 See Official Records of the second session of the General Assembly, Resolutions, No 181(11).
2 See Official Records of the second session of the General Assembly, Resolutions, No 110(11).
3 See Official Records of the second session of the General Assembly, Supplement No. 11, Vol. II, page 43.
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Document Type: Meeting record, Provisional verbatim record
Document Sources: Security Council, Trusteeship Council, United Nations Palestine Commission (UNPC)
Subject: Incidents, Middle East situation, Negotiations and agreements, Palestine question, Peace proposals and efforts
Publication Date: 01/04/1948