Written May, 2004.
On April 2, 1947, the U.K. took its first steps in unloading its " problem with Palestine" onto the United Nations. This first step came in the
form of a letter written by Sir Alexander Cadogan, the U.K. representative to the U.N. Security Council. The letter requested the U.N. make
recommendations "concerning the future government of Palestine." A Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly was docketed for April 28 to
discuss the issue.
Immediately the Arab leaders in the region reacted and in a concerted effort seized the moment of opportunity offered by the U.K.'s willingness to
hand-over the issue; and their Mandate. The Iraqi Government submitted a request on April 21 to include in the agenda of this special session "The
Termination of the Mandate over Palestine and the Declaration of its Independence." A telegram from Egypt was sent to the U.N. on the same date
from Egyptian Ambassador Mahmoud Hassan requesting the identical item be included in the session. The next day brought an identical request from
the governments of Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. And finally, on the 23rd, the same request from the Syrian government.
The issue of the termination of the British mandate over Palestine, and the independence of a Palestinian state was added to the General Committee
items on April 25, 1947. The General Committee was to vote on which items submitted to it would proceed either to the General Assembly for
discussion, or to a Special Session. However, On May 1, the General Committee voted on whether the Palestinian question would, in fact, be
considered at the Second Regular Session and though the vote was positive to hear the Palestinian issue (as requested by the U.K.), only one member
of the 14 voted to also consider the issues of termination of the British Mandate and the independence of Palestine. These issues were stricken
from consideration for the following reason:
1. Absence of Jewish organizations authorized to appear;
2. Lack of sufficient information;
3. Eventual repercussions on the present state of affairs in Palestine.
When the intent of the General Committee is taken into account, to vote on whether an issue will be considered before the General Assembly or a
Special Session, the above reasons for exclusion of the Palestinian issues on the agenda become perplexing. As the Syrian delegate would point out
later, the only legitimate reasons for voting against inclusion would have been procedural, and none of the reasons given were procedural, but
instead political. The only procedural requirement that could have left the issues unqualified for discussion was that they be submitted within 4
days of the General Committee meeting. They were submitted 5 days prior.
The U.S. was among the nations that voted against the Palestinian independence issue being brought before the Special Session. The statement given
by the U.S. with it voted against the Palestinian independence issue gives no reason for the negative vote:
"The United States, in declining to give its consent and vote to the Arab resolution, is not by any means precluding the independence of
Palestine as an ultimate issue for the solution of this problem. The terms of all class A mandates, whether expressly included in the special
treaties setting up the mandate, or by reference to the Covenant of the League of Nations, envisaged ultimate independence for all class A mandates.
None of us are in disagreement on that point ."
The first U.N. Special Session in history convened on April 28 in New York. The Special Session accepted statements from the various parties
involved in the Palestinian issue. The British reiterated their original statements in their request for U.N. involvement by stating they had tried
for years to solve the problem of Palestine and had been unsuccessful and, therefore, welcomed a solution from the U.N.
The Jewish Agency for Palestine restated the commitment to a Jewish Homeland in Palestine made in the Balfour document. The Agency stated that the
Balfour document had recognized their historic connection to the area. It requested that the Special Session review the pioneering efforts of the
Jews in Palestine and the improvements that had resulted, and investigate the cause of the increasing violence in the area.
On the other hand, the Arab Higher Committee stated the Balfour document itself was "the root cause of all the troubles in Palestine and the
because it was made without consideration or voice of the people most affected, and it was in direct contradiction to " the
principles of national self- determination and democracy and the principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations..."
. It stated that
the problem was not an Arab-Jew problem, but at the same time declared all Jewish immigration into Palestine illegal. Albeit indirectly, the Arab
Committee recognized the Jewish historical connection to the land but stated: "History could not be put back twenty centuries to give away a
country on the ground of a transitory historic association, or the map of the whole world should have to be re-drawn."
It suggested to the
Special Session that the only way the issue could be resolved was to declare Palestine independent.
On May 15th, the Special Session announced the creation of a special committee, the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), via Resolution
106. The member nations were: Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay and Yugoslavia. The
Great Powers had been eliminated from consideration as members to UNSCOP because of the perceived inability for them to be impartial due to
"The Special Committee was given wide powers to ascertain and record facts, to investigate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of
Palestine, and to make recommendations. It was authorized to conduct investigations in Palestine and wherever it might deem useful, and was to
report not later than September 1, 1947."
On June 13, 1947, the Arab Higher Committee cabled the U.N. and declared that after consideration of the situation "they resolved that Palestine
Arabs should obstain from collaboration and desist from appearing before the Special Committee."
On July 10, UNSCOP sent a communication to the Arab Higher Committe requesting that it reconsider its decision and cooperate with the UNSCOP
investigation. Three days later UNSCOP received a letter from the Arab Higher Committee stating they saw no reason to reverse it previous decision.
The Jewish Agency, on the other hand, did provide representation to the UNSCOP meetings when invited.
Eventually, at the request of certain members of UNSCOP, another attempt was made to bring in the Arab voice. This time, rather than approach the
Arab Higher Committee, letters of invitatin were sent to the consular representative in Jerusalem of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and
Transjordan, and to the consular representative in Lebanon of Yemen. Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria accepted.
Included in UNSCOP's finding of "The Present Situation"
The atmosphere in Palestine today is one of profound tension. In many respects the country is living under a semi-military regime. In the streets
of Jerusalem and other key areas barbed wire defences, road blocks, machine-gun posts and constant armoured car patrols are routine measures. In
areas of doubtful security, Administration officials and the military forces live within strictly policed security zones and work within fortified
and closely-guarded buildings. Freedom of personal movement is liable to severe restriction and the curfew and martial law have become a not
uncommon experience. The primary purpose of the Palestine Government, in the circumstances of recurring terrorist attacks, is to maintain what it
regards as the essential conditions of public security. Increasing resort has been had to special security measures provided for in the defence
emergency regulations.128/ Under these regulations, a person may be detained for an unlimited period, or placed under police supervision for one
year, by order of an area military commander; and he may be deported or excluded from Palestine by order of the High Commissioner. Where there are
"reasons to believe that there are grounds which would justify . . . detention ... or deportation", any person may be arrested without warrant by
any member of His Majesty's Forces or any police officer and detained for not more than seven days, pending further decision by the military
commander. The regulations concerning military courts prohibit a form of judicial appeal from or questioning of a sentence or decision of a military
court.129/ Under the regulations, widespread arrests have been made; and as of 12 July 1947, 820 persons130/ were being held in detention on
security grounds, including 291 in Kenya under Kenya's 1947 ordinance dealing with the control of detained persons. The detainees were all Jews
with the exception of four Arabs. In addition to these, 17,873 illegal immigrants were under detention."
"The right of any community to use force as a means of gaining its political ends is riot admitted in the British Commonwealth. Since the beginning
of 1945 the Jews have implicitly claimed this right and have supported by an organized campaign of lawlessness, murder and sabotage their contention
that, whatever other interests might be concerned, nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of a Jewish State and free Jewish immigration into
Palestine. It is true that large numbers of Jews do not today attempt to defend the crimes that have been committed in the name of these political
aspirations. They recognize the damage caused' to their good name by these methods in the court of world opinion. Nevertheless, the Jewish
community of Palestine still publicly refuses its help to the Administration in suppressing terrorism, on the ground that the Administration's
policy is opposed to Jewish interests. The converse of this attitude is clear, and its result, however much the Jewish leaders themselves may not
wish it, has been to give active encouragement to the dissidents and freer scope to their activities."
And as relayed by three of the Arab states that particpated:
"Zionism, however, does not content itself with mere propaganda in favour of the fulfilment of its expansionist projects at the expense of the
Arab countries. Its plan involves recourse to terrorism, both in Palestine and in other countries. It is known that a secret army has been formed
with a view to creating an atmosphere of tension and unrest by making attempts on the lives of representatives of the governing authority and by
destroying public buildings . . . This aggressive attitude, resulting from the mandatory Power's weakness in dealing with them, will not fail to
give rise in turn to the creation of similar organizations by the Arabs. The responsibility for the disturbances which might result therefrom
throughout the Middle East will rest solely with the Zionist organizations, as having been the first to use these violent tactics." It was declared
at the same meeting that "against a State established by violence, the Arab States will be obliged to use violence; that is a legitimate right of
It must be pointed out that by 1947 the Jewish population had grown to one-third the total population of Palestine.
UNSCOP recommended that the British mandate be terminated immediately and that the independence of Palestine (in whatever form it might exist) be
achieved as quicky as possible.
UNSCOP quickly rejected both extremes for the future "state" of Palestine: a single independent state of Palestine under either Jewish or Arab
domination. It focused instead on the "binational" and "cantonal" proposals. After lengthy discussion it was concluded that neither of these
systems would be practical. The committee moved to analyzing the feasibility of partitioning, or a federal-State plan.
UNSCOP ultimately by majority recommended a partitioned Palestine. ( The minority plan, backed by India, Iran and Yugoslavia was for an independet
federal state comprising an Arab state, Jewish state and Jerusalem as the capital.)
The recommendations for a partitioned Palestine included the recommendation of a "unified economy". The Economic Union of the separate states
would be administered via a Joint Economic Board.
The partitioning plan would result in Palestine being divided into three parts: an Arab state, a Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem.
"The proposed Arab State will include Western Galilee, the hill country of Samaria and Judea with the exclusion of the City of Jerusalem, and
the coastal plain from Isdud to the Egyptian frontier. The proposed Jewish State will include Eastern Galilee, the Esdraelon plain, most of the
coastal plain, and the whole of the Beersheba subdistrict, which includes the Negeb.
The three sections of the Arab State and the three sections of the Jewish State are linked together by two points of intersection, of which one is
situated south-east of Afula in the sub-district of Nazareth and the other north-east of El Majdal in the sub-district of Gaza."
The Arab State
"Western Galilee is bounded on the west by the Mediterranean and in the north by the frontier of the Lebanon from Ras en Naqura to Qadas; on the
east the boundary starting from Qadas passes southwards, west of Safad to the south-western corner of the Safad sub-district;
thence it follows the western boundary of the Tiberias sub-district to a point just east of Mount Tabor; thence southwards to the point of
intersection south-east of Afula mentioned above. The south-western boundary of Western Galilee takes a line from this point, passing south of
Nazareth and Shafr Amr, but north of Beit Lahm, to the coast just south of Acre.
The boundary of the hill country of Samaria and Judea starting on the Jordan River south-east of Beisan follows the northern boundary of the Samaria
district westwards to the point of intersection south-east of Afula, thence again westwards to Lajjun, thence in a south-western direction, passing
just west of Tulkarm, east of Qalqilia and west of Majdal Yaba, thence bulging westwards towards Rishon-le-Zion so as to include Lydda and Ramie in
the Arab State, thence turning again eastwards to a point west of Latrun, thereafter following the northern side of the Latrun-Majdal road to the
second point of intersection, thence south-eastwards to a point on the Hebron sub-district boundary south of Qubeiba, thence following the southern
boundary of the Hebron sub-district to the Dead Sea.
The Arab section of the coastal plain runs from a .point a few miles north of Isdud to the Egyptian frontier, extending inland approximately eight
The Jewish State
The north-eastern sector of the proposed Jewish State (Eastern Galilee) will have frontiers with the Lebanon in the north and west and with Syria
and Transjordan on the east and will include the whole of the Huleh basin. Lake Tiberias and the whole of the Beisan sub- district. From Beisan the
Jewish State will extend north-west following the boundary described in respect of the Arab State.
The Jewish sector on the coastal plain extends from a point south of Acre to just north of Isdud in the Gaza sub-district and includes the towns of
Haifa, Tel-Aviv and Jaffa. The eastern frontier of the Jewish State follows the boundary described in respect of the Arab State.
The Beersheba area includes the whole of the Beersheba sub-district, which includes the Negeb and the eastern part of the Gaza sub-district south of
the point of intersection. The northern boundary of this area, from the point of intersection, runs south-eastwards to a point on the Hebron
sub-district boundary south of Qubeiba, and thence follows the southern boundary of the Hebron sub-district to the Dead Sea.
The City of Jerusalem
The boundaries of the City of Jerusalem are as defined in the recommendations on the City of Jerusalem...The City of Jerusalem shall be placed under
an International Trusteeship System by means of a Trusteeship Agreement which shall designate the United Nations as the Administering Authority, in
accordance with Article 81 of the Charter of the United Nations."
The partitioning plan recommended by UNSCOP would have certain issues that would be problematic. Though the areas proposed to be included in the
Arab state would be predominantly Arab, the areas proposed to be included in the Jewish state would be almost 50/50 Jewish/Arab. In addition, the
areas proposed to be the Jewish state would leave no inherent outlet to the Mediterranean sea for the Arab state and therefore the recommendations
included a "policy" allowing Arab access through Jewish territory.
On September 26, 1947, Britain accepted the recommendations of UNSCOP on the termination of the British Mandate and committed to removing British
troops from Palestine as quickly as possible. However, the U. N. had not worked out exactly who would enforce the partitioning and transitional
On September 29th, the Arab Higher Committee rejected the UNSCOP recommendations and that it would settle for nothing less than an independent Arab
state and included the following statement:
"...that the Arabs of Palestine were determined to oppose with all the means at their disposal, any scheme that provided for segregation or
partition, or that would give to a minority special and preferential status."
At the next General Assembly meeting the U.K. stated that it was not prepared to solely oversee the partitioning and transitional periods of the
UNSCOP recommendations and that the U.N. needed to determine what member nations would participate. The Jewish Agency stated their acceptance of
the UNSCOP recommendations. The Arab Higher Committee flatly rejected them.
The General Assembly formed two sub-committees. One to work out the details of the partitioning plan. Members were: Canada, Czechoslovakia,
Guatemala, Poland, Union of South Africa, United States, Uruguay, U.S.S.R. and Venezuela. The second sub-committee was to work on the Arab Higher
Committee proposal for an independent unitary state of Palestine. Members were: Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi
Arabia, Syria and Yemen.
Ultimately the General Assembly placed the "Plan of Partition with Economic Union" up for vote. It was adopted by a vote of 33 to 13 with 11
abstentions. The voting record is as follows:
In favour: Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussian S.S.R., Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador,
France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland,
Sweden, Ukrainian, S.S.R., Union of South Africa, U.S.S.R., United States, Uruguay, Venezuela
Against: Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen
Abstained: Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia
The partitioning plan was detailed in U.N. Resolution 181 with the partitioning map included.
U.N. Partition Plan Map -
Annex B City of Jerusalem
1. Cadogan Letter to
2. Letter from Iraqi
3. Telegram from Egyptian
4. Letter from Saudi
5. Telegram from Lebanese
6. Telegram from Syrian
7. Additional Item to
8. Background Paper No.
9. General Committee
Decision on Considering Palestine
10. UNSCOP Report
11. U.K. ACCEPTS UNSCOP
.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/9a798adbf322aff38525617b006d88d7/a8c17fca1b8cf 5338525691b0063f769/$FILE/gapal03.pdf" target="_blank" class="postlink">The Arab Case Stated by Mr. Jamal
13. U.S. Position on Palestine Question
Original ATSNN Article
[edit on 1-9-2006 by Valhall]