|United Nations on Palestine, 1947
The ‘two state solution’ to the Palestine question was adopted
by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 26th November
1947. On that date it voted to divide the territory of Palestine
into two parts, a Jewish state and an Arab state; Britain abstained
in the vote, although it had done everything since 1922 to make
possible the creation of a Jewish state in the area. Britain had been
in a position to do this because it had a League of Nations
Mandate, set up after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the end
of the First World War. The document setting up the Mandate
quoted the Balfour Declaration and set out Britain’s responsibility
for securing the establishment of the Jewish National Home in
Palestine. (The Declaration talked about establishing a Jewish
National Home whereas the Mandate wording was the Jewish
Britain helped to secure this National Home, on the one hand
by allowing the strengthening of the Jewish presence and on the
other hand by denying Arabs the political and administrative role
which would have prepared them for independence, the prospect
of independence being the declared aim of the mandate system.
In 1922, the administration provided by the Ottoman Empire
had long disappeared, destroyed by the conquest, and it was
Britain’s role to re-establish a working system of government.
The Mandate had envisaged the creation of a Legislative
Council which would have been representative of the population,
that is, overwhelmingly Arab, but this never happened. Far from
nurturing the formation of a local Arab elite capable of governing
after the end of the Mandate, as was meant to happen, Britain
suppressed and exiled potential leaders, on the occasion of the
Arab revolts against Jewish colonisation. The Mandate Document
on the other hand stated that ‘an appropriate Jewish Agency
shall be recognised as a public body to cooperate with the
Administration of Palestine’. This should have allowed for a
limited consultative role, rather than the position of virtual
dominance granted. The Jewish Agency was treated virtually as
an arm of government.
As the Mandatory Power, Britain was in charge of immigration.
The Jewish population increased from 7% of the total in
1918 to 33% in 1947.
The first Administrator of the Mandate was Sir Herbert
Samuel, a man with Zionist sympathies.
The official languages of Palestine were to be Arabic, English
Britain’s policy had the clear result that in 1948 the Zionist
presence in Palestine was strong enough in numbers, and political
and military organisation, to make possible, with the assistance
of the United Nations, the creation of the State of Israel. However
Britain also gave repeated assurances to the Arabs that this would
not happen, for example in the 1939 White Paper.
The Palestinian Arab population is not mentioned by name in
the Balfour Declaration, or in the terms of the Mandate; the
Declaration merely mentions the ‘non-Jewish communities’ in
the area as if they might be minorities, and emits the pious wish
that ‘nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and
religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’.
In the words of A. Koestler, by the Declaration ‘One nation
solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third’.
In 1947 Britain tried to put obstacles in the path of mass
Jewish immigration. Zionists made a great deal of this and Ernest
Bevin, the British Foreign Minister at the time, on a visit to New
York, read full page advertisements in the press describing him
as Hitler’s successor; the dockers refused to unload his luggage,
and when his presence was announced at a football match, he was
booed by the crowd.
In the end, the actions of Zionist terrorist organisations
encouraged Britain to refer the problem it had created to the
United Nations, and to leave Palestine. It refused to have
anything to do with the implementation of the UN resolution, and
especially refused to help militarily. It abstained in the final vote
The United Nations formed a committee of 11 supposedly
uninvolved countries (Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala,
India, Iran, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay and
Yugoslavia). Boycotted by the Arabs, the Special Committee
visited Palestine in 1947 where it heard testimony from Zionist
organisations and witnessed the turning back of a ship of European
Jewish refugees. This Special Committee on Palestine
wrote two reports; the majority report of 8 members recommended
the partition of Palestine into an Arab State and a Jewish
State. A minority report, of three members, recommended a
federal state. An Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine made up of 57
members including Arab states, but excluding Palestine as not yet
independent, then discussed the plans drawn up by the Special
Committee, between 25 October and 25 November 1947, in New
As the Iraqi delegate said at the end of the meeting, the
General Assembly had power only to discuss and make recommendations;
it could not deal with the imposition by force of a
settlement contrary to the wishes of the people concerned.
The principle of majority rule was ignored in 1947 in the case
of Palestine. The UN set aside the principles listed in its Charter,
namely the principle of the self-determination of peoples, the
principle of the institution of democratic governments by the free
choice of their peoples and the principle of the illegitimacy of
States created by means of racial or religious discrimination, as
Mr Chamoun of Lebanon reminded the Assembly.
In the event, Israel was not established in conformity with the
UN plan, since in 1948 it militarily seized large parts of the
territory reserved for Arabs in the partition resolution.
The text of the deliberations.,
Extracts from the record of the 34 meetings of the Ad Hoc
Committee On The Palestinian Question follow. Speeches were
reported indirectly (Mr ... said) and summarised. Square brackets
indicate further summary made for this presentation.
United Nations. Official Records Of The Second Session Of The General Assembly
On the Question of Palestine
Summary Records Of Meetings, 25 September to 25 November 1947.
Ad Hoc Committee On The Palestinian Question
Chairman: H.M. Evatt (Australian Minister for External Affairs
Vice Chairman: Prince Subha Svasti Svastivat (Siam)
Rapporteur: Thor Thors (Iceland)
57 Countries Represented
[There were 10 UK representatives: Arthur Creech-Jones; Hector McNeil; Hartley Shawcross; Alexander
Cadogan; H.M.G. Jebb; J.M. Martin; Harold Beeley; D.C. McGillivray; H.T. Moran Man; V.G. Lawford]
Mr. Creech-Jones (26 September 1947):
[UK would assume responsibility for implementation of any policy if there was
agreement between Arabs and Jews but not otherwise]
The UK agreed with Recommendation 1 of the Special
Committee regarding the end of the Mandate and with Recommendation
2 regarding independence. Recommendation 6 on
Jewish Displaced Persons: the problem of displaced persons,
Jewish or non-Jewish, was an international responsibility. ...
proposals would be made on a more appropriate occasion.
The UK Government was not prepared to undertake the task
of imposing a policy in Palestine by force of arms. In considering
any proposal that it should participate in the execution of a
settlement, it would have to take into account both the inherent
justice of the settlement and the extent to which force would be
required to give effect to it" [p4].
He earnestly hoped that the UN would have more success than
the UK had had in persuading the two peoples to co-operate in
attaining their independence.
Mr Sandstrom (Sweden, Chairman of Special Committee):
Whilst the Palestinian problem was insoluble in the sense that
it was impossible to satisfy all the parties concerned, any solution
adopted by the General Assembly ought, nevertheless, to be
accepted by all.
[Gives 1914 population as 80,000 Jews to 500,000 Arabs
1947 650,000 Jews to 1,200,000 Arabs]
That Jewish minority, settled on a territory so long occupied
by the Arabs, represented a different civilisation
[The Jews were industrious:]
The newcomers had not mingled with the Arabs and their
colonies had cut Western Galilee off from the rest of the country
The tragedy of Palestine lay in the fact that the claims of both
sides were legitimate [therefore compromise was required]
Mr. Husseini (Arab Higher Committee) (29 September
The case of the Arabs of Palestine ... was that of a people
which desired to live in undisturbed possession of the country
where Providence and history had placed it. The Arabs of
Palestine could not understand why their right to live in freedom
and peace, and to develop their country in accordance with their
traditions, should be questioned and constantly submitted to
One thing was clear: it was the sacred duty of the Arabs of
Palestine to defend their country against all aggression. The
Zionists were conducting an aggressive campaign with the object
of securing by force a country which was not theirs by birthright.
Thus, there was self-defence on one side and, on the other,
aggression. The raison d’etre of the U.N. was to assist self-defence
The rights and patrimony of the Arabs in Palestine had been
the subject of no less than 18 investigations within 25 years and
all to no purpose. Such commissions of inquiry had made
recommendations that had either reduced the national and legal
rights of the Palestine Arab or glossed over them. The few
recommendations favourable to the Arabs had been ignored by
the Mandatory Power. It was hardly strange, therefore, that they
should have been unwilling to take part in a 19th investigation
[and refused to appear before the Special Committee]
The struggle of the Arabs of Palestine against Zionism had
nothing in common with anti-Semitism. The Arab world had
been one of the rare havens of refuge for the Jews until the
atmosphere of neighbourliness had been poisoned by the Balfour
Declaration and by the aggressive spirit which the latter had
engendered in the Jewish community.
The claims of the Zionists had no legal or moral basis. Their
case was based on the association of the Jews with Palestine over
two thousand years before. On that basis the Arabs would have
better claims to those territories in other parts of the world, such
as Spain or parts of France, Turkey, Russia or Afghanistan, which
they had inhabited in the past.
Mr. Husseini disputed three claims of world Jewry. The claim
to Palestine based on historical association was a movement on
the part of the Ashkenazim, whose forefathers had had no
connexion with Palestine. The Sephardim, the main descendants
of Israel, had mostly denounced Zionism. Secondly, the religious
connexion of the Zionists with Palestine, which he noted was
shared by Moslems and Christians, gave them no secular claim to
the country. Freedom of access to the Holy Places was universally
accepted. Thirdly, the Zionists claimed the establishment of
a Jewish National Home by virtue of the Balfour Declaration. But
the British Government had had no right to dispose of Palestine,
which it had occupied in the name of the Allies as a liberator and
not as a conqueror. The Balfour Declaration was in contradiction
with the Covenant of the League of Nations and was an immoral,
unjust and illegal promise.
The British Government and the Zionist organisation had
joined hands 30 years before to carry out a policy in Palestine
aimed at the destruction of the national existence of the Arabs.
Mr. Husseini went on to describe the main trends in that policy.
[In the mid-19th century there was the national awakening of
Syria "of which Palestine was the southern part". Opportunity of
WWI for Arabs to realize their desired independence.]
An agreement with Great Britain in 1916, in which the latter
had undertaken to assist the Arabs to gain independence, had led
to the Arab revolt when Arabs left the Ottoman forces to fight on
the side of the Allies. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 had been
received with vehement protests by the Arabs, and Great Britain
had in consequence sent a special envoy to reassure the Sherif
Hussein that that Declaration meant only a spiritual and not a
political home for the Jews and, further, that it would not affect
Arab rights or freedom. That reassurance had been given by the
same Cabinet that had been responsible for the Balfour Declaration.
In 1922, the Mandate for Palestine, which had been drawn up
by the Zionist Executive and the UK Government, had been
ratified by the League of Nations in the absence of the Arab
owners or the country and against their unceasing protests. The
Mandate did not correspond in any way to Article 22 of the
Covenant of the League of Nations, which defined the mandatory
system. The Mandate for Palestine had in no sense fulfilled its
object—tutelage—since both tutor and pupil were the UK Government
or its nominees. The Palestine administration did not
represent the inhabitants of Palestine and consequently had no
legal basis under the League Covenant.
Contrary to the letter and spirit of Article 22 of the Covenant,
the Arabs had no political freedom in Palestine. They had no say
in legislation or administration and held no responsible position.
On the other hand, the Jewish community had an Agency, the
original function of which had been to advise the administration
on the establishment of a Jewish National Home and which was
in a position to express the will of the Jews in a manner more
effective than any form of democratic representation. Thus the
Jewish minority had been given a privileged position with regard
to the Arab majority. [...]
Mr. Husseini stated that there was discrimination against the
Arabs in Palestine. For example, in the field of immigration all
illegal entries by Arabs were dealt with in accordance with the
law, whereas Jews were still entering illegally in great numbers
without being deported. Lately, when Jewish illegal immigration,
by its manner and its magnitude, had become a challenge to
the administration, Jewish immigrants had been deported to
Cyprus until their entry had been legalized. Meantime the
expense of their maintenance fell on the Palestinian taxpayer. In
that record of discrimination the case of the SS Warfield had been
the only exception, and the Jewish Agency had made capital out
of it in its efforts to enlist the sympathy of the world for illegal
Mr. Husseini contrasted the drastic measures used in the
treatment of Arabs during their revolt in 1936-1940 with the
treatment of the Jewish terrorists in their current campaign, in
which no such stringent measures had been taken.
[Article 6 of the Mandate, regarding economic absorptive
capacity had been breached.]
If there were any room in Palestine for an increase in the
population, that should be left for its natural increase. Without
immigration the population of Palestine would be doubled in less
than twenty years, which would make Palestine one of the most
thickly populated countries in the world, with a density of 400
persons per square mile in a country of which more than one-half
was uncultivable ...
Education offered another example of the Mandatory Power's
basic policy of undermining Arab national existence in Palestine
... [There was 70% Arab illiteracy under the Turks, and that had
hardly changed. Less was spent on education than in other Arab
The Jews ... had control of their own educational system,
while the Arabs were deprived of that right.
There was economic discrimination: with Jordan and Red Sea
concessions to the Zionists. Action by the High Commissioner
for Palestine during the 1920s had compelled the sale of Arab
lands by Arab debtors to the Jews. [...] Jews were not to employ
Arabs [...] and any land bought by Jews could not be resold or
leased to Arabs.
In the financial field [...] Jewish local authorities received a far
greater proportion of government loans and special loans for
housing and other purposes [than the Arabs].
[The 1939 curbs on Jewish immigration were not implemented.]
The UK Government had finally declared that the aims of the
Mandate were contradictory and that it was therefore unworkable.
Mr. Bevin ... had said that there was nothing in the Mandate
which would warrant him or the Government of the UK taking a
step to deprive the Arabs of their rights, liberties or land. The
obvious fact was that both the Balfour Declaration and the
Mandate contained inconsistent terms which could not be fairly
applied. The UK Government and those who drafted the Mandate
had created the problem which had led to the current crisis.
No people would be more pleased than the Arabs to see the
distressed Jews given permanent relief. But the Jews could not
impose their will on other nations by choosing the place and
manner of their relief, particularly if that choice was inconsistent
with the principles of international law and justice and prejudicial
to the interests of the nation directly concerned. [...]
...The Zionist organisation, however, did not want Palestine
for the permanent solution of the Jewish problem nor for the relief
of the distressed Jews: it sought power; it had political ambitions
and designs on strategically important Palestine and the Middle
One other consideration of fundamental importance to the
Arab world was that of racial homogeneity. The Arabs lived in
a vast territory stretching from the Mediterranean to the Indian
Ocean, spoke one language, had the same history, tradition and
aspirations. Their unity was a solid foundation for peace in one
of the most central and sensitive areas of the world. It was
illogical, therefore, that the United Nations should associate itself
with the introduction of an alien body into that established
homogeneity, a course which could only produce new Balkans.
[There should be a democratic Palestine Arab state with
human rights and protection of minorities.] The Special Committee's
report was unacceptable and not a basis for discussion.
Dr. Silver (Jewish Agency for Palestine) (2nd
[The Arab Higher Committee was flouting the authority and
denying the competence of the United Nations.]
History was not a story out of the Arabian Nights, and the Arab
Higher Committee was indulging in wishful thinking. Its theory
that the Jews of Western Europe were descended from a tribe of
Khazars in Russia was a relatively recent invention, politically
inspired. He was surprised that the Arabs of Palestine should
wish to engage in genealogical research.
He recalled that at the time when the Allies had liberated
Palestine, the country had formed part of a province of the
Ottoman Empire and there had been no politically or culturally
distinct Arab nation. The Arabs had held sway over a heterogeneous
population between 636 and 1071 AD and later the Seljuks,
the Kurds, the Crusaders, the Egyptian Marmelukes, and finally
the Ottoman Turks—all non-Arab peoples—had conquered the
country. But by 636 AD the Jewish people had already had 2,000
years of history behind it, and the Jewish civilization, besides
giving rise to both Judaism and Christianity, had also brought
forth spiritual leaders venerated also by Islam. In contrast to that,
Dr. Silver quoted the report of the Royal Commission of 1937,
which stated that in the 12 centuries and more that had passed
since the Arab conquest, Palestine had virtually dropped out of
history, and that in the realms of thought, of science or of letters,
it had made no contribution to modern civilization.
Palestine owed its very identity to the Jews, losing it with the
Jewish dispersion and resuming its role in history only at the time
of the Mandate, which had given it a distinct place alongside the
Arab world. [...]
In a speech made in the House of Lords on 27 June 1923, Lord
Milner, who had called himself a strong supporter of the pro-Arab
policy, had said that the future of Palestine could not be left to be
determined by the temporary impressions and feelings of the
Arab majority of the day.
[Quotes High Commissioner, Sir John Chancellor, on Arab
riots of 1929:]
"atrocious acts committed by bodies of ruthless and bloodthirsty
evil-doers, of savage murder perpetrated upon defenceless
members of the Jewish population, regardless of age or sex,
accompanied, as at Hebron, by acts of unspeakable savagery, by
the burning of farms and houses in town and country, and by
looting and destruction" [which brought] "the execration of all
civilized peoples throughout the world ..."
Great Britain had offered no opinion on the Report of the
[Quoted Creech-Jones, on Sept 26:]
there was "a distinction between accepting a recommendation
in the sense of not impeding its execution by others, and accepting
responsibility for carrying it out by means of a British administration
and British forces:
He [Creech-Jones] could not easily imagine circumstance in
which the UK would wish to prevent the execution of a settlement
recommended by the Assembly. However the crucial question
for his Government was the matter of enforcement.
The UK Government was ready to assume the responsibility
for giving effect to a plan on which agreement was reached by the
Arabs and the Jews. If the Assembly were to recommend a policy
which was not acceptable to the Jews and the Arabs, the UK
Government would not feel able to implement it. It would then
be necessary to provide for some alternative authority to implement
Dr. Silver wondered why the UK had asked that the problem
of Palestine should be placed on the agenda of the General
Assembly if, as would appear from its representative's statements,
it did not intend to accept the recommendations made and
to help in implementing them. In that case, why appeal to the UN
and waste months, during which time the situation had gravely
Recommendation XII, of the Special Committee report, to the
effect that any solution for Palestine could not be considered as
a solution of the Jewish problem in general, was unintelligible.
[...] The Jewish problem in general was none other than the ageold
question of Jewish homelessness, for which there was but one
solution – that provided for by the Balfour Declaration and the
Mandate – the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in
The minority report called for Palestine as an Arab state with
two Jewish enclaves with no control over tax or immigration (it
was a variant of the Morrison plan).
According to Mr. Lloyd George [...] the Balfour Declaration
implied that the whole of Palestine, including Transjordan,
should ultimately become a Jewish State. Yet Transjordan had
been cut off from Palestine in 1922 and later set up as an Arab
kingdom; and now a second Arab State was to be carved out of
the remainder of the country. Thus the Jewish National Home
would finally represent less than one eighth of the territory
originally set aside for it. Such a sacrifice should not be asked of
the Jewish people. [...]
[He (Silver) would be prepared to accept a smaller territory]
subject to further discussion of constitutional and territorial
Mr. Chamoun (Lebanon) (3rd October 1947)
Mr. Chamoun recalled the history of Palestine from 632 AD
when it had been conquered by the Arabs. He emphasized that
that had not been a conquest of the Jews, who had completely
abandoned Palestine during the first century, but a conquest over
the Byzantine Empire. From the 11th to the 13th century it had
been the Arabs and not the Jews who had fought and triumphed
over the crusaders, and later over other invaders, to preserve
Palestine from foreign occupation. Finally, in the 16th century,
they had succumbed to conquest by the Ottomans; but that
conquest, as in the case of other conquests, such as those of the
Germans by the Romans and the English by the Normans, had not
changed the national or ethnic character of Palestine. Palestine
had remained Arab in its population, language, culture and ideals.
For nearly two thousand years the Jews had had no connexion
with Palestine ... At the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917,
the population of Palestine, according to official statistics, had
been 93% Arab and only 7% Jewish ... Mr. Chamoun claimed
that the statement made by the representative of the Arab Higher
Committee that the term “Jew” did not designate a race but a
religion, and that the European Jews, the strongest partisans of
Zionism, had nothing in common with those who had inhabited
Palestine two thousand years before, was no fiction but a reasoned
statement drawn from the Jewish Encyclopedia ..."
[British negotiations with Hussein:
Peel commission of 1937 recommended partition; but it was
followed by a Commission under Sir John Woodhead which
found the Peel partition proposal iniquitous.
1939 White Paper saw that Palestine could become a continuous
source of friction in the Near East:]
The British Government had accordingly been faced with two
solutions: first, to seek to expand the Jewish National Home
indefinitely against the wish of the Arab people or, secondly, to
permit its further expansion only with the acquiescence of the
Arabs. The British Government had recognized that the former
policy meant the use of force and would thus be contrary to the
spirit of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and
The British Government had had no right to dispose of a
country over which it had no jurisdiction. From the standpoint of
international morality, the Balfour Declaration was completely
without foundation, and the fact that it had been incorporated into
the Mandate for Palestine did not give it any added validity. [...]
It was important not to confuse the humanitarian aspect of the
problem, with which the Arab countries were the first to sympathise,
with the political aspect, which aimed at the domination of
a territory to which the Jews had no claim.
The Palestine question could not be solved by expedients
which might appear to have the superficial attraction of practicality,
but which were incompatible with the principles of the
Charter, namely, the principle of the self-determination of peoples,
the principle of the institution of democratic governments
by the free choice of their peoples, and the principle of the
illegitimacy of States created by means of racial or religious
[Majority plan gave 6,000 square miles to the Jewish State and
4,000 to the Arab.
Figure of 407,000 given as the Arab population of the proposed
Jewish State should properly be 500,000.
Jaffa, a centre of Arab nationalist thought, with a population
of 70,000 Arabs and 30,000 more in its immediate environs, to be
given to the Jewish state.
Beersheba with an exclusively Arab population of 100,000
was to be given to the Jewish state although separated by a
corridor which would belong to the Arab State.
[Haifa, the only important Palestine port, to be linked to
Hula, Safad, Tiberias and Beison regions, each predominantly
Arab, to be in Jewish State]
In the Arab State, the Jewish minority would be small (8,000
to 10,000), while in the Jewish State the Arab population would
be the same as or even greater than the Jewish.
The Special Committee had taken the view that the tragedy of
the situation arose out of a conflict between two series of rights—
the rights of the Arabs and the rights of the Jews—and the
Chairman of the Special Committee, speaking at the second
meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee, had confirmed that view. In
... the special Committee's Report it was stated that the rights of
the Arabs were based on the fact that the Arabs had been the
indigenous inhabitants of the land for several centuries and that
the rights of the Jews were based on historical association and on
international undertakings. Mr. Chamoun considered that those
matters deserved more critical study than the Special Committee
had given them ... The claims of the Arabs were based on their
natural rights and on the occupation of Palestine for more than a
thousand years, while the claims of Zionism were based on a
fictitious historical association which had lapsed for two thousand
[Regarding the protection of the Holy Places, he saw no
reason for a Jerusalem enclave to protect them, taken from the
territory of Arab Palestine. The right of access had been preserved
Jews with Palestinian nationality could have guaranteed political
as well as economic rights [...] and full local autonomy.]
Rivera Reyes (Panama) (6th October 1947)
... Comparing the demographic situation in Palestine with that
in Belgium and the Netherlands, Mr. Rivera Reyes said he
thought it was no cause for pessimism regarding the scope for
immigration into Palestine. But every country had the right to
settle such problems for itself.
It would be a mistake to believe that the majority solution
would satisfy the Jews but, should the Jews agree to make
sacrifices, particularly in the economic sphere, their example
might well be followed by the Arabs ... He referred to the
sufferings of the Jewish people and recalled that other States,
Great Britain and Ireland for instance, or India and Pakistan, had
settled analogous difficulties by partition. Any settlement involved
a sacrifice of rights and legitimate interests ...
General Noury As-Said (Iraq)
recalled that the Committee had heard both the representative
of the Arab Higher Committee and Dr. Silver, a US citizen
representing the Jewish Agency for Palestine. To see the whole
question in its true light it was necessary to go back to 1916, to the
British Government's promise to ensure the political independence
of the Arabs of the Ottoman Empire. In 1917 Mr. Balfour
had proposed to promote the establishment of a Jewish National
Home without prejudice to the rights of the non-Jewish communities.
The anxious Arab rulers had been assured by the British
Government that politically it was not intended that the Jewish
National Home should be a State. The UK had maintained that
point of view in its military proclamations of 1917, 1918 and
1919, the White Papers of 1922, 1930 and 1939, its parliamentary
statements and its annual reports to the League of Nations: the UK
Government had stated that it would indeed regard as contrary to
its obligations to the Arabs under the Mandate as well as to the
assurances which had been given to the Arab people in the past,
that the Arab population of Palestine should be made the subject
of a Jewish State against their wish. According to the Command
Paper of 1922, the development of the Jewish National Home in
Palestine was not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the
inhabitants of Palestine as a whole but the further development of
the existing Jewish community in order that it might become a
centre in which the Jewish people as a whole, on grounds of
religion and race, might take an interest and a pride.
The Zionists, however, had their own interpretation, and
spoke of a Jewish commonwealth, a Palestine as Jewish as
England was English, a Jewish State which should embrace the
whole of Transjordan and parts of Syria and Lebanon. Finally, on
1 October 1947, the Jewish National organ, The Day, in an appeal
to the President of the United States, had gone so far as to insist
on the necessity of establishing a Jewish State of Palestine, to
absorb the millions of displaced persons still in the camps and
ghettos, in order to build up an American rampart in the Near
East. In the days to come, it had said, American democracy could
not look for a more steadfast ally in that part of the world than a
Replying to what had been said by the representative of the
Jewish Agency, General Noury As-Said declared that Zionist
arrogance alone had been the cause of the Arab revolt of 1936,
which, moreover, had been put down by the Arab States in 1938.
In 1939, Egypt, as well as Iraq, had collaborated with the
British. In 1940 Iraq had offered to declare war on the Axis
Powers and to place half its army at General Wavell's disposal,
provided the UK agreed to carry out its policy as stated in the
White Paper of 1939. The Jewish Agency had prevented the UK
from accepting that offer, and the Axis had alleged that the UK
did not intend even to apply its own White Paper of 1939. In spite
of that, Iraq had declared war on the Axis at the end of 1942.
During its 25 years of stewardship, the UK had not even
attempted to give Palestine a measure of autonomy and to assist
its people to attain full independence. Instead, it had devoted its
efforts to establishing the Jewish National Home. It was not until
the UK had settled over 500,000 foreign Jews in Palestine that it
had realized that it would be unable to carry out [its] fundamental
duty in accordance with paragraph 4 of Article 22 of the Covenant,
namely, to assist the people of Palestine to attain full
independence. After the foreign Jewish community which the
British had settled in Palestine had armed itself and had attacked
them actively for two years, they had submitted the question to
the UN. The Special Committee had prepared its report with
commendable speed, but without basing its solutions on the very
facts it had itself described ...
[Its proposals were like something from the Arabian Nights.
Two courses open to UN: To invite Britain to carry out its
promises to the Arabs or:]
to start afresh without taking into account either British
promises or the Mandate, and to base the solution of the Palestinian
problem on the Charter ...
The second solution would be the better, for the peace of the
world depended on strict observance of the Charter to the exclusion
of all politics and all favouritism.
[In either case the objective was an independent Palestinian
...the problem of finding a home for the Jewish refugees from
Europe should never have been referred to the Ad Hoc Committee:
it was one for the International Refugee Organisation, which
dealt with Jewish as well as other refugees. If one started from the
principle that the Palestinian question must be dealt with in the
spirit of the UN, then the future of the country had to be
considered without reference to the refugee problem, which was
quite another matter. A real and lasting peace could be ensured
in Palestine only by keeping to the principles and purposes of the
Mr. Jamali (Iraq)
attached primary importance to respect for the fundamental
international principles for which the Allies had waged two wars,
on which the peaceful and just world of the future should rest, and
which had been enunciated in President Wilson's fourteen points,
the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Atlantic Charter and
the UN Charter ...
[Ownership of the country by the people with long inhabitance
was the principle:]
If three hundred years was enough for the Americans, the
rights of the Arabs were incontestable, since the Arabs had lived
in Palestine for the previous fourteen centuries. Moreover, they
were mainly descendants of the inhabitants of Palestine who had
been there before the Jews. Violation of the principle of ownership
was an aggression which usually led to hostilities, and
neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate could deprive
the Palestinians of their right to their own country.
The Zionists alleged that historical links with a country
conferred a right of possession. That principle would apply to the
Greeks, to the Romans and to many others, and would sow
discord throughout the world. There was only one sound principle
which could be universally applied: any country belonged to
its existing rightful inhabitants.
The Zionists were relying on dollar diplomacy and extraterritorial
rights. However, economic development of another
people's country did not entitle a foreigner to political rights
there. In the modern world technical and economic superiority
should not lead to political domination ... Zionist achievements
due to American funds and western techniques did not give them
political rights and should not allow them to dominate the country
The inhabitants of a country were the sole authority on the
admission of immigrants into their country.
[Only the inhabitants should decide on immigration. There
should be no foreign interference in internal affairs. The democratic
character of community life should be respected.]
The US Government [should] close schools in the United
States where terrorist and military instruction was given.
Loyalty to one's country was indispensable. The homelessness
of the Jews was an acquired feeling which was detrimental
to their loyalty and destroyed the unity of the countries in which
they lived ...
Humanitarian aid should be given to displaced persons [...]
The whole world should share the burden equally.
A distinction should be made between politics and religion.
Judaism was a world religion linked indeed with Palestine as
were Christianity and Mohammedanism, whereas Zionism was a
modern political movement of an aggressive character founded
on the association of religion and racial mythology, and using
Nazi propaganda methods ...
Sir Mohammad Zafrullah Khan (Pakistan) 7th
Meeting, 7 October 1947
... The Balfour Declaration ... was invalid, since it had been
issued without reference to King Hussein and was contrary to the
British pledges made to him concerning Arab independence
...[i.e. that Arab areas of the Ottoman Empire would become
independent after the defeat of Turkey.] and contrary to promises
that the creation a Jewish refuge in Palestine would not interfere
with the freedom, both political and economic, of the existing
[Hussein protested. Hogarth got his cooperation with spin.]
[King-Crane Commission at the end of WW1 had gone to
Syria and Palestine and concluded that] the idea of making
Palestine a Jewish State should be abandoned.
Cited letter from Dr. Magnes, President of the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem, in New York Times, 26 September 1947,
criticising the majority plan:]
Dr Magnes had said that partition would not stop the terrorist
activities of Jewish groups, and that having secured partition
through terror, they would attempt to secure the rest of the
country for the Jews in the same way. Moreover partition would
arouse the Arab front, which had been quiescent ...
Mr. Winiwicz (Poland) 8 October 1947
regarded Palestine as a powder keg. The Mandatory Power
had adopted the motto divide et impera. The authors of the
Balfour Declaration and of the Mandate had considered, indeed,
that the various obligations assumed towards the Arabs and the
Jews were compatible with one another. The policy of the
Mandatory Power had not, however, been inspired by the interests
of the Palestine community. Even today the British Press was
still asking what would happen to British interests in the Near
The Arab States had used all possible arguments and even
[Poland was interested in the national democratic aims of
Arabs, but gave primary importance to the Jews:]
The Poles had witnessed the massacre of 6 million Jews.
From their fellowship in suffering had been born a moral solidarity
to which Poland would adhere.
The Jewish claims had been confirmed by numerous documents
of international importance
[e.g. the Feisal/Weizmann agreement of January 1919, Articles
1 & 4, Sevres Treaty of 1920, US declarations.
There was the shocking case of Exodus 1947
Anti-semitism and the immigration restrictions imposed by
certain States which could have accepted Jewish refugees had led
the Jews to look towards Palestine, which the Mandate had
promised them as an immigration area.
[He supported the majority report:]
The Polish delegation considered that the problem [of distressed
European Jews] could and ought to be solved primarily by
Jewish immigration to Palestine. The immediate admission of
250,000 refugees who were awaiting their turn would not have
any decisive effect upon the numerical relationship between Jews
and Arabs. The UN should solemnly repeat the promise made in
the Covenant of the League and open the doors of Palestine to
Jewish immigrants immediately, while at the same time giving
favourable consideration to the suggestion for opening up greater
possibilities of immigration for Jewish refugees into other countries.
In solving the Jewish refugee problem, an effort should also
be made to do away with racial discrimination. Anti-Semitism
was not dead. It was only by combating it, by creating better
conditions for Jews and by facilitating Jewish immigration into
Palestine that a healthier atmosphere could be created ...
Mahmoud Fawzi Bey (Egypt)
wished the UN would be a little more realistic ...
[The Arabs opposed to Zionism but had nothing against
Yet the Arabs were being asked to pay for others ...
[Palestine was already overcrowded:]
Zionist aggression had been generously subsidized, while
great and rich countries had scarcely responded to the UN appeal
on behalf of displaced persons
Mr. Masaryk (Czechoslovakia)
The Arab people had taken a seemingly uncompromising
stand. Mr. Masaryk appealed to that great people and to the noble
Jewish people to find a solution beneficial to both parties ...
Mr. Arslan (Syria) 9 October 1947
[The UK had no right to make Balfour Declaration promises:]
Mr. Lloyd George ... had stated in his memoirs that the
Balfour Declaration had been made as a reward to Dr. Weizmann
for his invention of toxic gas. It was a paradox that although the
civilized world, including the UK, had forbidden the use of
poison gas, the UK had continued to concern itself with rewards
for the inventor ... The Balfour Declaration would live in the
history of Great Britain as an unfortunate gesture, for never had
that country been compelled to carry out a policy so contrary to
its basic interests ...
[Balfour had no conception of the link between Palestine and
It was an undeniable fact that the persecuted Jews from
Europe had always found a refuge in the past with the Arabs. If
the question were one of a large number of orphan children, the
Arabs would not fail to give them hospitality; but the question
was one of machinations on the part of an organisation which
considered everything was permitted to it because Jewish voters
held the electoral balance in a certain country. Zionism was a
purely aggressive imperialistic plan, with a Zionist Army behind
it; and to attempt to give it a humanitarian aspect did not conceal
the facts, which were transparent. Mr. Arslan called upon other
countries to open their doors to the Jewish refugees and to make
the same sacrifices as the Arabs had already made.
Discussing the problem of the persecuted Jews in Europe, Mr.
Arslan asked whether the Jews of Europe were still persecuted
and, if so, who was responsible for that persecution, and what
efforts had been made to prevent it. If there was still persecution,
he could not understand how 30,000 German Jews in Palestine
had asked to be repatriated to Germany. He asked also why they
had been prevented from returning. Zionism was responsible for
that situation ...
[He quoted documents about displaced persons] only 12
countries out of 48 asked by the International Refugee Organisation
had given information regarding reception facilities for
Garcia Granados (Guatemala)
Jews are superior to Arabs in culture and intellect; he read a
letter for Mgr Mobarat, Archbishop of Beirut, to that effect.
Mr. Johnson (USA) 11th Meeting, October 11th:
[mentioned continued violence in Palestine over a period of
He recalled that in consequence of the 1st World War, certain
areas of the Near East, including Palestine, had been liberated and
a number of States had gained independence. The United States,
having contributed its blood and resources to the winning of that
war, had felt that it had a certain responsibility in the disposal of
the freed territories and in the fate of the liberated peoples. The
United States had taken the position that those peoples should be
prepared for self-government and also that a National Home for
the Jews should be established in Palestine ...
[But as it was not a member of the League it had in 1924
concluded a Convention with the UK regarding American rights
He supported the plan of the Special Committee in principle,
but changes had to be made to bring it more into accord with the
principles on which it was based:]
Certain geographical modifications would have to be made,
such as the inclusion of Jaffa in the Arab State, since Jaffa was
predominantly an Arab city ...
In the final analysis, it rested with the people of Palestine to
make any solution work ...
[He could see what Weizmann referred to after all the Arabs
have many states already.]
Mr Tsarapkin (USSR) 12 October
[in favour of partition]
It was necessary to take into consideration all the sufferings
and needs of the Jewish People, whom none of the States of
western Europe had been able to help during their struggles
against the Hitlerites and the allies of the Hitlerites for the defence
of their rights and their existence.
The Jewish people were therefore striving to create a State of
their own and it would be unjust to deny them that right.
Mr. Vieux (Haiti) October 14:
He did not believe that the Jews had any right to claim a whole
or part of Palestine as their fatherland on the basis of historical
connexion. The suffering of the Jewish people, distressing as it
had been, was not an argument for the partition of Palestine or for
their claims on a land inhabited for thousands of years by another
people; nor did their material contribution during the preceding
twenty-five years constitute a vested interest in Palestine. If such
a principle were accepted, it would create an unfortunate precedent
for the determination of possession on the basis of material
contributions ... Although the world was growing narrower every
day, frontiers did exist and small nations had reason to attach
great importance both to frontiers and to the concept of sovereignty
[But he supported the Partition plan because it was an act of
sovereignty by the Powers to whom sovereignty over the Middle
East had passed from the Ottoman Empire. Sovereignty had
transferred from the Ottomans to the League and:]
those who were advocating partition were after all, the Powers
which had had sovereign authority over Palestine by virtue of the
treaties which had followed the 1st World War ...
[A matter of law, not of national self-determination was in
question. It could not be supported on any other basis.]
Mr. Ilsley, Canada:
Canada's problem as a nation of two peoples with two cultural
traditions bore some points of resemblance to that confronting the
Committee. A satisfactory working arrangement had finally
been reached in the establishment of a federal State. Confederation
in Canada, however, was based on agreement and it had been
stated in the Committee that partition should not take place
without consent. As yet, however, there was no evidence that
Arabs and Jews would accept unity in a single State. In fact, they
had emphatically rejected even the form of federation proposed
in the minority plan. In the circumstances, the Canadian delegation
had been led, somewhat reluctantly, to accept, as a basis for
discussion, the partition plan ...
It was to be hoped that ... the executive functions of the
Security Council would not have to be invoked in the implementation
of any decisions.
[Implementation should be studied by a special sub-committee
which would include the 5 permanent members of the Security
Mr Ulloa (Peru)
The Jews, because of their intellectual development and
financial and commercial activity, often inundated those spheres
of life to their own advantage. That factor, especially in countries
which were not economically strong, was prejudicial to the
nationals themselves and created discontent which was often
used against the Jews by political and religious groups.
Mr Chamoun (Lebanon)
[On the question of refugees coming to Palestine] It was easy
to be humane at the expense of others.
[About Mgr Mobarat, Archbishop of Beirut] The supreme
head of the Greek Church of Antioch condemned his speaking for
the community. [Mr Chamoun as a Christian of the Roman
Catholic faith thought the cause of the Palestinian Arabs was
The King-Crane Commission had said that to subject a people
to unlimited Jewish immigration would be a gross violation of the
principle of self-determination.
In 1922, in the House of Lords, a motion of non-acceptability
of the Mandate, on the grounds that its terms were in contradiction
to the sentiments and wishes of the majority of the people of
Palestine, had been carried.
British assurances to the Arabs in the Hogarth message,
Declaration to the Seven, Bassett letter, Anglo-French Declaration,
White Paper of 1922 and of 1939, had shown unequivocally
that it had never been the intention of the British Government to
establish a Jewish state in Palestine or in any part thereof.
[On refusal of other countries to accept Jewish refugees
mentioned the non-passage by US Congress of the Stratton Bill
designed to admit 400 000 displaced persons to the United States]
Mr Jamali (Iraq) 16 October
The effect of the United States interference in the Palestine
problem had been publicly proclaimed in the House of Commons
in 1947 by Mr Bevin [ie US support for a Jewish State].
Certain moderate Jews, such as Dr Magnes and the American-
Jewish Committee, did not sponsor a Jewish State.
Mr Mahmoud Fawzi Bey (Egypt)
Palestine had nothing to do with Zionist aspirations or with the
solution of anti-semitism.
Jewish Agency Statement (Mr. Shertok) 17 October 1947
The Jewish Agency was a body representing Jews throughout
the world who were organised to defend the interests of the
Jewish people as a whole in regard to Palestine ...
[There was a disparity in status vis a vis the Arab Higher
Committee, since there were also delegations from Arab States.]
First, Palestine was the only country in which the Jewish
people could hope to attain a secure home and a national status
equal with that of other independent nations; secondly, that the
Arabs of Palestine were not a people in themselves, but a fraction
of a much larger unit secure in their possession of vast areas and
enjoying full-fledged sovereignty and independence.
He referred to King Hussein's article in Al-Quibla, which said
that immigration was welcomed so long it was an exclusively a
Palestine phenomenon. He referred also to the 1919 agreement
between Weizmann and Feisal, when Feisal had agreed to the
encouragement of Jewish immigration into Palestine.]
Certain representatives had argued that Great Britain had had
no right to promise Palestine to the Jews, yet its pledges to Syria
and Iraq had been regarded as binding. Jews from all over the
world, including Palestine, had fought with the Allies in the First
World War, and it was an established fact that no Palestinian
Arabs had taken a share in the fighting. The final victory of the
Allies had been responsible for the liberation and creation of the
independent Arab States, as well as the promise of Palestine to the
Jews. Similarly the victory in the Second World War, to which
the Arab States had contributed nothing and in which they had
finally joined at the last moment in order to qualify for membership
of the UN, had saved Arab independence from possible
Nazi-Fascist enslavement. Mr. Shertok seriously doubted whether
Iraq had offered to send troops to fight in North Africa with the
Allies in 1940, and denied that the offer had been rejected owing
to intervention on the part of the Jewish Agency, as had been
alleged by the representative of Iraq ... The Jews of Palestine had
been the only community in the Middle East which had really
fought in the war, and their contribution had been rewarded by a
regime in Palestine which had inflicted untold suffering on the
Jewish survivors of the European tragedy. Yet the Arab States,
without having participated in that war, were resisting the claim
of the Jewish people for a place in the family of nations by
invoking the Charter.
Mr. Shertok invoked the Preamble and purposes of the Charter
in support of his contention that there was no effective way of
saving succeeding Jewish generations from extermination and
the sorrow of homelessness except by the establishment of a
Jewish State in Palestine. The Jews of Palestine had become a
nation, deserving the same rights and the same self-determination
as other peoples.
With regard to the Arab denial that the Jews were a people or
that they had any valid connexion with Palestine, it was true that
historical associations alone could not decide a burning political
issue. It was rather the organic facts of history which counted.
The Jewish people had been born in Palestine, their mass settlement
had continued until the seventh century and their efforts to
return had never ceased. Zionism and the idea of a Jewish State
had not been conceived with the Balfour Declaration, but were
the products of history and the practical ideals which had animated
the first returning pioneers in the 19th century.
Claims that the Jews of Europe were not Jews at all but
descendants of a Mongolian tribe were fantastic. The Jewish
Encyclopaedia frequently referred to by Arab representatives in
that regard in no way substantiated such a claim. Such discussion,
of a pseudo-scientific kind, was quite irrelevant.
The Arabs had attempted to draw a distinction between
Judaism and Zionism and had resorted to false statistics to show
that organized Zionists were only a small minority of the Jewish
people. Zionism was the quintessence of Jewish national life and
Jewish striving for a better future. It was the core of Jewish
national will and energy, centred on Palestine. Large numbers of
Jews were Zionists at heart if not in name. Zionism had in recent
times been universally accepted as a decisive political factor in
A parallel had been drawn between Zionism and Nazism. The
very charge refuted itself. It was not the Jews who had associated
with Hitler or who had been interned during the war as allies of
With regard to the historical claims of the Jews, the Arab
spokesmen had argued that the guiding principle in the determination
of the right of sovereignty could not be based on past
possessions and that, under such a thesis, the Arabs would have
the right to return to Spain. But the Arabs were settled in their
own countries and had no tie with Spain whereas the Jews were
striving to regain their cherished land. The so-called analogy
served merely to stress the uniqueness of the Jewish attachment
to Palestine ...
[The Pakistan representative had argued that as Jewish claims
could be based on benefits conferred, then the British claim to
India would have been equally valid:]
But India was not the native land of the British, nor had they
endured physical hardship by wresting a living from the soil. The
Jews had never based their claim on benefits conferred, but the
benefits were an incontrovertible fact. The development of
Palestine by the Jews had inundated the entire economic sphere
and in consequence had brought greater prosperity to their Arab
It had been alleged that as a rule Jewish enterprise employed
only Jewish labour, but it was a fact that the proportion of Arabs
employed by Jews was a hundred times greater than that of Jews
employed by Arabs. A conspicuous trend in Palestine's economic
life was the increase of Arab employment in proportion to
Jewish enterprise. Apart from positive evidence of that, it could
be proved by the large increase in the Arab population and the rise
in its standard of living, together with the fact that Arabs no longer
emigrated from Palestine but came from neighbouring States to
be employed as labourers ...
[As to the allegation that Jews were driving Arabs from their
land, Jews had so far got 7% of the land area of Palestine:]
and less than one-half of that was national Jewish property.
The remainder was held under private ownership [and much of
that had been given up by the Arabs as uncultivable.]
Along the coastal plain, over 150 Jewish settlements had
arisen, but not a single Arab village had disappeared.
(To be continued in next issue)