UNITED NATIONS PALESTINE COMMISSION
Second Draft of First Special Report to the Security
Council: Resistance by Force to the Resolution, and
the Problem of Security in Palestine.
The United Nations Palestine Commission herewith presents to the Security Council a special report on the attempt to alter by force the settlement of the Palestine question envisaged by the resolution of the General Assembly on the Future Government of Palestine; on the general problem of security in Palestine in relation to the implementation of that resolution and on the need for an international armed force in Palestine. In its First Monthly Progress Report to the Security Council (Section 13) the Commission had informed the Security Council that “it was devoting most serious attention to the various aspects of the security problem, with particular reference to the possible need for an international force” and that this problem would be the subject of a subsequent special report.
I. THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM
1. The Commission has appraised the security situation in Palestine on the basis of a considerable volume of information, official and unofficial, available to it from a diversity of sources. These sources have included official reports and appraisals is from the Mandatory Power; reports and interpretations from the Jewish Agency for Palestine; statements by the Arab Higher Committee, the latest of which, dated. 6 February, and communicated to the Secretary-General, is couched in violent and threatening terms; and dispatches from the Press of the world. These reports, from whatever source and from whatever motive, are virtually unanimous on one conclusion, viz, the security situation in Palestine, by virtue of wide-spread Arab hostility to the resolution and the demonstrated inability of the Mandatory Power to control the mounting violence, is steadily deteriorating and may well collapse completely.
2. This information ineluctably leads the Commission to make two fundamental deductions:
3. It is because of the extreme gravity of the situation in Palestine now, and the anticipated worsening of conditions there, that this special report is presented to the Security Council at this time. The Commission realizes that both the future well-being of the peoples of Palestine and the authority and effectiveness of the United Nations are deeply involved.
4. It is a source of regret to the Commission that the circumstances are not such as to make it possible for the will of the General Assembly, as expressed is the resolution, to be carried out by this Commission, as the agent of the General Assembly, without the necessity of thus calling upon the Security Council for assistance.
5. Although the security aspects of the problem are referred to the Security Council by this report, the Commission intends to continue with much of the vast amount of preparatory work essential to the implementation of the recommendations as can be undertaken without the assistance from the Security Council sought herein.
6. The paragraphs Set forth under Sections II, III, and IV of this report relate particularly to the deduction that organized effort is afoot to alter the resolution, and to the general security situation. Sections V, VI, and VII have a bearing upon the need for assistance from the Security Council.
II. ARAB RESISTANCE
1. As reported in the Commission’s First Monthly Progress Report to the Security Council, paragraph d of Section 3, the Commission has been informed by the Arab Higher Committee, that it is determined to persist in its rejection of the partition plan and its refusal to recognize the resolution of the Assembly and “anything deriving therefrom”. The communication of 6 February from the Representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the Secretary-General emphasized the determination of the Palestinian Arabs to resist by force the recommendations of the General Assembly and reiterated that the “Arabs of Palestine…will never submit or yield to any power going to Palestine to enforce partition”.
2. In the same report, paragraph d of Section 7, the statement of the member of the delegation of the United Kingdom was recorded, which read in part, “the Arabs have made it quite clear and have told the Palestine Government that they do not propose to co-operate or assist the Commission, and that, far from it, they propose attack and impede its work in every possible way. We have no reason to suppose that they do not mean what they say”.
3. The annex to this report includes an enumeration of a considerable number of incidents of Arab resistance and hostility to the Plan, including organized preparations by Arab groups inside and outside of Palestine for defeating the purposes of the resolution. To cite but a few recent example:
4. The Commission has no reason to doubt the determination and force of the organized reasistance by strong Arab elements. The Commission frankly recognizes that however unfortunate this may be from the viewpoint of carrying out the will of the General Assembly, it does constitute a formidable obstacle in doing so. This Arab resistance, as freely admitted by its leaders, is a deliberate plan to defeat by force the will of the General Assembly, and as such is tantamount to waging war against the United Nations. The most recent communications sent to the Commission by the Mandatory Power, as cited in paragraph 3 above, suggest that the ‘in ion of Palestine has already begun.
III. SUMMARY ANALYSIS OF THE SECURITY SITUATION IN PALESTINE
1. In its First Monthly Progress Report to the Security Council the Commission pointed out in Section 3.3 that:
2. Information available to tale Commission since the submission of its First Monthly Report to the Security Council tends only to confirm the above conclusions regarding security, to emphasize the increasing gravity of the situation, and to reveal more clearly the resistance of a determination to oppose a will of the Assembly force.
3. The plain fact is that there has been a steady deterioration of the security situation in Palestine ever since the adoption of the General Assembly’s resolution, and there appears to be no hope, failing effective instruments of enforcement; for checking the progress of that deterioration. The resolution pitied that the Mandatory Power would be responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the areas from which it had not withdrawn its armed forces, and for a progressive transfer of administrative authority to the Commission. The Mandatory Power, however, has stated that it must and will be exclusively responsible for maintenance of law and order in all of Palestine until the termination of the Mandate, on or before 15 May 1948, and that “after the termination of the Mandate, British forces will be responsible only for their own protection in the areas which they occupy and for the protection of their lines of communication:. It follows, therefore with significant effect on the security situation, that at one and the same time the Mandatory Power is faced with the necessity of evacuating its troops (which are to be completely out of the country by 1 August 1948) ending its civil authority on 15 May, and maintaining law and order. Moreover, in this transitional period the security situation, which for some time prior to the adoption of the Assembly’s resolution had already been bad, is materially worsened by the fact of vigorous Arab resistance to the implementation of the recommendations of the resolution.
4. The controlling elements in the security situation in Palestine today, therefore, are the following:
5. The representative of the Mandatory Power informed the Commission at its sixteenth meeting on 21 January 1948 that as regards Arabs and Jews in Palestine “elements on each side were engaged in attacking or in taking reprisals indistinguishable from attacks”, and that as a result, were it not “for the efforts of the security forces over the past month, the two communities would by now have been fully engaged in internecine slaughter”. He further stated that “the Government of Palestine fear that strife in Palestine will be greatly intensified when the Mandate is terminated”, and that therefore “the Commission will be faced with the problem of how to avert certain bloodshed on a very much wider scale than prevails at present”.
6. The representative of the Mandatory Power provided the Commission with a list of casualties in Palestine for the period from 30 November 1947 to 18 January 1948 which gave the following totals in killed and wounded: British, 153; Arabs, 1,222; Jews, 966; Others, 27. A table showing the details of these casualties appears in the Annex to this report.
7. Statements made to the Commission by the representative of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and in memoranda submitted by that Agency have corroborated fully the appraisals of the security situation in Palestine made by the Mandatory Power and the Government of Palestine.
8. An annotated enumeration of incidents involving violence and hostility to the resolution which have occurred, or are alleged to have occurred, since the adoption of the Assembly’s revolution are appended to this report in the Annex.
IV. ANSWERS OF THE MANDATORY POWER TO QUESTIONS CONCERNING SECURITY
1. At its twenty-seventh meeting on 30 January, the representative of the Mandatory Power gave to the Commission answers to a number of questions put by the Commission which warned the security problem in connection with the Commission of the Assembly’s resolution. Those answers are memorized in the following paragraphs:
2. As regards the relationship of the Mandatory Power to the security problem in Palestine, therefore, the situation, on the basis of policies thus far announced by the Government of the United Kingdom, is as follows:
V. IMPOSSIBILITY OF USING THE ARMED MILITIA OF EITHER STATE FOR POLICE PURPOSES IN THE OTHER STATE OR IN THE CITY OF JERUSALEM.
1. In its First Monthly Progress Report, the Commission communicated to the Security Council the message received on 19 January from the Arab Higher Committee. The Arab Higher Committee “is determined to persist in its rejection of partition and in its refusal to recognize the resolution of the United Nations in this respect and anything deriving therefrom”. The policy of the Arab Higher Committee is a policy not only of non-co-operation, but of opposition. Though the Commission is determined to make every possible effort to seek the co-operation of the Arabs of Palestine, the attitude of the Arab Higher Committee creates a situation the consequences of which sent be faced. The possibility seems remote, at any early date, of selecting and establishing in the proposed Arab State a Provisional Council of Government which would act “under the general direction of the Commission” and would at the same time enjoy sufficient authority and popular support to function effectively, in face of the opposition presented by powerful Arab interests. It will be equally difficult to establish in the Arab State an armed militia over which the Commission must exercise “general political and military control”. In any event, if because of the security situation the Commission cannot be acceptable in Palestine until the last critical moment, the responsibility for exhausting every effort to consult with Arabs is destroyed.
2. According to the statements made by the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the militia of the Jewish State can be established in conformity with the plan of the General Assembly. The refusal or. the Mandatory Power to allow the formation of such militia until the termination of the Mandate, however, will entail delay in the implementation of the plan, and renders much more difficult the problem of the security of the Jewish State when the Mandate is relinquished. The militia of the Jewish State, if and when it is adequately armed and equipped, can, however, be responsible only for the security of that State and it would be contrary to the Assembly’s plan if a militia was used on the other side of the border for preventative retaliatory action, however necessary such action might appear to be in order to succour the Jewish minority in the Arab State or to forestall military preparations tor an aggression.
3. The plan of the General Assembly provided for the establishment of two States, in both of which the Commission, up to the end of the transitional period, would exercise definite powers of direction and control. If the authority of the Commission can extend only to one State, an entirely new situation arises to which the Commission has the duty to draw the attention of the Security Council. The prospect that it may prove impossible to police the country according to the plan must be a subject of serious pre-occupation.
4. It is clear that if authorities hostile to the plan of the General Assembly and outside the control of the Commission govern the Arab State, it follows that not only the provisions concerning the establishment of the Arab State and the Economic Union will be unfulfilled, but the establishment of the Jewish State and of the international regime for the City of Jerusalem will most assuredly be in grave danger.
5. The City of Jerusalem, in particular, which has been conceived as a de-militarized enclave in the proposed Arab State, is incapable of defending itself against attacks if British security forces are not replaced by another non-Palestinian force. It is hardly necessary to point out the consequences of a struggle between communities in the Holy City of three world faiths. The repercussions would be immediate throughout Palestine and would quickly extend for beyond its borders. It is scarcely en exaggeration to state that the whole of mankind is interested in the maintenance of internal peace in Jerusalem. The United Nations would be dealt a severe blow if its effort to maintain the sacred character of the City and to preserve it as a possible center of peace and harmony should end in a sanguinary struggle between religious communities. To invite even a regularly constituted and controlled militia of either State to defend or succour the City will not only be contrary to the plan of the General Assembly but would inflame passions and provoke religious war.
VI. THE FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMISSION WITH REGARD TO THE NEED FOR A NEUTRAL FORCE
1. Apart from the impossibility of maintaining order without the assistance of an auxiliary neutral force, there are in the recommendations of the General Assembly specific provisions which absolutely require such a force.
2. The first duty assigned to the Commission “on its arrival in Palestine” is to “proceed to carry out measures for the establishment of the frontiers of the Arab and Jewish States and the City of Jerusalem”. The Mandatory Power has stated that demarcation of frontiers on the spot could not be carried out be before the end of the Mandate. The demarcation commission, composed of neutral members, which the United Nations Commission intends to constitute will not be in a position to start its work under the protection of British security forces, since the Mandatory Power holds to the position that such efforts may be undertaken only after be termination of the Mandate. In view of Arab opposition to the resolution, it would be highly undesirable if a neutral Commission had to rely on the security forces of the other party for its protection.
3. The same considerations apply to the United Nations Commission itself. It intends to carry out then recommendations of the Assembly impartially and to the best of its abilities. Its freedom of action, its very liberty of movement cannot depend exclusively on the protection it may receive from the Jewish side. This would be contrary to the dignity and efficiency of a Commission of the United Nations endowed with powers of direction and control over the very authorities from which it walker to, ask protection.
4. It is really necessary that adequate freedom of movement should be enjoyed by the members of the Preparatory Economic Commission (paragraph B.11 of the plan), and of the staff which will assist the Commission in discharging its duties.
5. The carrying out of the functions of the Commission pre-supposes a minimum of public-order which will not exist in many parts of Palestine after the termination of the Mandate.
6. The Commission is convinced that in view of the security problem in Palestine it would be impossible for the Commission, with its present means, to fulfil, among others, the following important tasks defined in the resolution:
7. The question of providing an international force to assist the Commission is the maintenance of law and order in Palestine during the transitional period is repeatedly arose in the discussion of the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly and its Subcommittee I which elaborated the plan of partition with economic union. It was generally considered that the matter fell within the competence of the Security Council which would subsequently take such action in the matter as circumstances might dictate. It was on the proposal of the Ad Hoc Committee that the General Assembly addressed to the Security Council the requests set forth in sub-paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of the Preamble.
VII. IMPLICATIONS OF THE SECURITY PROBLEM FOR THE COMMISSION
1. The Commission foresees the prospect that except for the areas still occupied by British troops on the date of termination of the Mandate, there would be on that date no legal armed force other then totally inadequate local police, Arab or Jewish, for the purpose of maintaining law and order in Arab or Jewish villages and towns. There would be no legally constituted overall security organization in either State, since Arab and Jewish local police will be scattered throughout the country in Arab and Jewish areas without regard to the Plan of Partition. Moreover, as previously indicated, the local Arab police, because of their possible hostility to the Commission and the partition plan, may well constitute an additional security hazard. The Commission, therefore, would be required to step into a security vacuum immediately following the termination of the Mandate, arrange for the establishment in each of the proposed States of an armed militia, and assume responsibility for the security of the City of Jerusalem, in the very midst of the inevitable turbulence and. intensification of internecine warfare which will follow the relinquishing of the Mandate and the cessation of British responsibility for law, order, and. civil administration.
2. In view of the provisions of the Assembly’s resolution regarding the establishment of armed militia regularly recruited and placed under the general political and military control of the United Nations Commission, the Commission has approached the Mandatory Power in order to determine whether adequate preparatory steps might be taken with the end in view of enabling such militia to be responsible for the maintenance of order immediately following the termination of the Mandate. The Mandatory Power has nada it clear, however, that re will not permit the formation of the militia envisaged in the Assembly’s resolution while it retains authority in Palestine. It follows, therefore, that no plan for recruiting, arming, and training in Palestine of forces to be placed under the “general political and military control” of the Commission can be openly pursued. This will inevitably result in the grave situation that at the time of the termination the Mandate there will be no responsible force in either the Arab or Jewish State which could be immediately available to the Commission for the preservation of law end order.
3. In view of the policy of the Mandatory Power in this regard, it may be taken for granted that the armed organizations in the two communities will continue to pursue their clandestine recruiting, with the result that upon the termination of the Mandate more or less disciplined. and unified underground forces will abruptly emerge in the guise of security forces and will probably be arrayed against each other in organized combat — a development which was certainly not contemplated in the resolution of the General Assembly.
4. It is also a matter of vital significance that such Arab and Jewish underground organizations as now exist is Palestine are already in open conflict not only in the areas of the two proposed states, but also in the City of Jerusalem, which, according to the resolution, is to be demilitarized and its neutrality declared.
5. The security problem in Palestine has ramifications which affect the implementation of the Assembly’s resolution in virtually all of its important aspects. To take but one example, the Commission has been officially learned by the representative of the Mandatory Power that it is the security situation in Palestine which primarily accounts for the decision of the Mandatory Power that Commission should not arrive in Palestine until approximately a fortnight before the date on which the Mandate is to be terminated. Precisely because the Commission is thus del aye in its arrival in Palestine, its progress is impeded with regard to many of its important objectives, including the formation of Provisional Councils of Government (even in the Jewish State) by 1 April, preparations for the transfer of authority from the Mandatory Power to the Commission, and the essential preparatory work looking toward Economic Union.
6. There is also a vital factor in the security problem, particularly as it will effect the situation at the time of the transfer of authority to the Commission which will require some clarification by the Mandatory Power. This involves the schedule for the evacuation of the troops of the Mandatory Power. It is not known by the Commission whether that evacuation will actually take place in such manner as to ensure, on a reasonable basis of parity, and with particular regard to adjacent frontiers, that substantial areas in both Arab and Jewish zones will be free of British armed forces at the time or the termination of the Mandate.
1. The pertinent facts in support of the Commission’s unavoidable decision to call upon the Security Council for assistance in the discharge of its duty to the General Assembly are not at all obscure. The United Nations has taken a firm decision regarding the future government of Palestine. Following that decision the General Assembly created this Commission as its agent in the matter and charged it with responsibility, under the guidance of the Security Council, for implementing the Assembly’s recommendations. This Commission now finds itself confronted with a planned, organized, and strongly supported effort to defeat its purposes, and the purposes of the General Assembly, by threat, invective, and, use of force.
2. For the above reasons the Commission has decided to refer to the Security Council at this time rather than to await the date of 1 April 1948, set forth in Part I, B.4 of the resolution, the problem of providing that armed resistance which alone can overcome the efforts to nullify the resolution and which would enable the Commission to discharge its responsibilities. The Commission has reached this decision because it is convinced that with the present means at its disposal there is no step which it can take which is likely to affect lot materially attempts to alter by force the proposed settlement within the meaning of sub-paragraph (c) of the Preamble is to the resolution, or which will involve the security situation in Palestine between now and 1 April 1948; and all the more so in view of the difficulty confronting the Commission in even arriving in Palestine before that date. In this connection, it may be frankly admitted that as regards the Commission’s ability to select and have functioning the Provisional Council of Government in the Arab State, and for that matter, even in the Jewish State, by 1 April 1948, the Commission has no hope whatsoever of carrying out the intent of the Assembly’s resolution. Were it not for the attempt to alter by force the proposed settlement and the grave problem of insecurity in Palestine, the Commission would not now be submitting this report.
3. The Commission realizes that time is a factor of utmost importance in its endeavor to fulfil the Mandate given to it by the General Assembly. The Commission, therefore, must emphasize the compelling need for prompt action. This urgent need for action is not alone to assist the implementation of the resolution, which the Commission, notwithstanding all difficulties, is exerting every effort to carry out; but also to avert great bloodshed and human suffering in Palestine.
4. In the view of the Commission’s basic lime of international order, and morality is involved. A dangerous and tragic precedent will have been established if force, or the threat of the use of force, is to prove in effective deterrent to the will of the United Nations.
5. The Mandatory Power, which for almost three decades has be responsible for the administration of Palestine, now, on the eve of relinquishing authority there, finds its own policies largely influenced and even controlled by this show of resistance to the decision of the United Nations. The neutral position as regards the resolution which the Mandatory Power has announced that it will pursue, therefore, is, in particular manifestations, influenced to the detriment of the Commission’s work by Arab resistance and consequent British concentration on security.
6. It is the considered view of the Commission that if the security forces the Mandatory Power, which at the present time prevent the situation from deteriorating completely into open warfare on an organized basis, are not replaced by an adequate non-Palestinian force which will assist law-abiding citizens in both the Arab and Jewish communities, organized under the general direction of the Commission, in maintaining order and security in Palestine to the end that the recommendations of the General Assembly may be carried out, the period immediately following the termination of the Mandate will be a period of uncontrolled, wide-spread strife and bloodshed in Palestine, including the City of Jerusalem. This would be a catastrophic conclusion to an era of international concern for that territory.
7. The Commission submits this report with a profound appreciation of its duty the United Nations. The sole motivation of the Commission in to obtain from the Security Council that effective assistance without which, it is firmly convinced, it cannot hope to discharge the great responsibilities entrusted to it by the General Assembly.
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Document Type: Report, Working document
Document Sources: General Assembly, Security Council, United Nations Palestine Commission (UNPC)
Subject: Armed conflict, Governance, Jerusalem, Legal issues, Negotiations and agreements, Palestine question, Protection, Security issues, Statehood-related
Publication Date: 09/02/1948