Held in the General Assembly Hall at Flushing
Meadow, New York, on Friday, 28 November
1947, at 11 a.m.
President: Mr. O. ARANHA (Brazil)
125. Continuation of the discussion on the Palestinian question
The PRESIDENT: The representatives must have the best possible conditions in order to give proper consideration to the merits of the serious question before the General Assembly. The President, therefore, must remind the public to refrain from applause or any kind of intervention in the debate of the General Assembly.
There are ten speakers on the President’s list. I call upon the representative of Pakistan.
Sir Mohammed ZAFRULLAH KHAN (Pakistan) : It is with satisfaction that one notes, Mr. President, that you are anxious to secure, at least so far as this question is concerned, an undisturbed and uninfluenced discussion. Whether the vote is going to be equally free and uninfluenced is no longer a matter for satisfaction. But I shall not dwell on that.
Those who have no access to what is going on behind the scenes have known enough from the Press to have fear in their hearts not only on this question—because this is one individual question—but that the deliberations on crucial questions of this great body, on which the hopes of the world for the future are centred, will not be left free.
This is a solemn moment, solemn in the history of the world, in the history of this great —let us hope, at least—great Organization. The United Nations is today on trial. The world is watching and will see how it acquits itself— again, perhaps, not so much from the point of view of whether partition is approved or not approved, but from the point of view of whether any room is to be left for the exercise of honest judgment and conscience fin decisions taken upon important questions.
We are often apt to read history backwards, which, I submit, is a very wrong method of reading history. History, in order to be properly appreciated, has to be read forwards. One must put oneself behind the events which one desires to evaluate, and then judge and appraise them.
With your indulgence, Mr. President, let me invite the representatives to read history in that manner ‘for a few moments, at least that part of history which concerns the General Assembly.
Thirty-two years ago—not to go too far back —the Western Allies were in the midst of a mortal struggle with the Central European Powers. Turkey had just entered the war on the side of Germany. The fate of .the Allied cause trembled in the balance. The Arabs, who alone could help to redress the balance in the Middle East, the vital region, were invited to repudiate their allegiance to Turkey and to throw in their lot with the Allies. In return for what? In re-turn for the pledged word of the United Kingdom, subsequently confirmed by France, that at the end of the struggle, the Arabs in their own lands would be free. They agreed and did their part.
How have the pledges given to them been fulfilled? We have often been reminded that these pledges have been fulfilled to the extent of nine-tenths, and that such fulfilment ought to be sufficient. Is that the standard we wish to see established and adhered to in international, national, and even private affairs? We have fulfilled these pledges to the extent of nine-tenths and, therefore, that ought to be sufficient. If that is so, pause and consider whether faith will ever again be placed in pledges, particularly in the pledges of the Western Powers. Remember, nations of the West, that you may need friends tomorrow, that you may need allies in the Middle East. I beg of you not to ruin and blast your credit in those lands.
It has been said that there is some doubt whether Palestine was included in the pledges given to the Arabs. Throughout all these long discussions in committee and in sub-committee, back again in committee, and then in the General Assembly, no one has sought to argue that Palestine was not included in those pledges or was excluded from those pledges. Nevertheless, it was suggested that if there were any doubt concerning that question, it should be referred to the International Court of Justice, whose advisory opinion should be requested so that the question might be settled, once and for all, one way or the other, inasmuch as so far no independent and impartial tribunal had been invited to express an opinion on that question. That suggestion was not adopted.
What is the conclusion? That those who entertain any doubt concerning the matter are convinced what the reply of the International Court of Justice would be.
It was stated, particularly by the representative of Czechoslovakia, that these pledges were only promises, that they were not international agreements; the meaning was that a promise need not be fulfilled whereas an international agreement is binding. However, before an international agreement emerges, particularly in the midst of an emergency like a world war, we have to place faith in promises. If no faith need be placed in promises, we shall never be able to get promises or pledges accepted.
It is then said: but the Balfour Declaration is also a pledge. True, it is also a pledge, but there is this point: either it can stand with and be consistent with the prior pledges or it is not consistent with the prior pledges. If it is not consistent with the prior pledges, then since the prior pledges occupy the field, there is no more field to be occupied by an inconsistent pledge; or else it is consistent with the prior pledges. In other words, the Balfour Declaration meant the establishment of a Jewish national home in a free and independent Palestine. Both these pledges can stand together let them stand together and let both be fulfilled.
As far as the mandatory Power is concerned, one pledge has been fulfilled: the Jewish national home has been established. The independence of Palestine as a whole should now be established. Again, it has been argued: no, the Balfour Declaration meant something more than this. Very good. If there is a question of the legality, of the scope of the Declaration, refer it to the International Court of Justice. Sub-Committee 2 made that proposal also. It has been rejected.
Much emphasis has also been placed on the humanitarian aspect of this question, an aspect which is not denied. But from the humanitarian point of view, it is not only a question of Jewish refugees and displaced persons. Any person who is persecuted or discriminated against or unjustly or unfairly used has the right to appropriate redress. That is not denied.
What has Palestine done? What is its contribution toward the solution of the humanitarian question as it affects Jewish refugees and displaced persons? Since the end of the First World War, Palestine has taken over four hundred thousand Jewish immigrants. Since the start of the Jewish persecution in nazi Germany, Palestine has taken almost three hundred thousand Jewish refugees. This does not include illegal immigrants who could not be counted.
One has observed that those who talk of humanitarian principles, and can afford to do most, have done the least at their own expense to alleviate this problem. But they are ready— indeed, they are anxious—to be most generous at the expense of the Arab.
There have been few periods in history when members of the Jewish race have not been persecuted in one part or another of Europe. When English kings and barons indulged in the pastime of extracting the teeth of Jewish merchants and bankers as a gentle means of persuading them to cooperate in bolstering their feudal economy a sort of medieval one-way lead-lease—Arab Spain provided a shelter, a refuge and a haven for the Jews.
Today it is said: only the poor persecuted European Jew is without a home. True. And it is further said: why, then, let Arab Palestine provide him, as Arab Spain did, not only with a shelter, a refuge, but also with a State so that he shall rule over the Arab. How generous! How humanitarian!
The United Nations special Committee on Palestine, as we know, in recommendation VI1, one of the unanimous recommendations, urged that the General Assembly take up this question of refugees and displaced persons immediately, apart from the problem of Palestine, in order to afford relief to the persecuted Jew so that there should be an alleviation of this humanitarian problem and an alleviation of the Palestinian problem.
What has this great and august body done in that respect? Sub-Committee 2 made a recommendation and drew up a draft resolution on that basis (resolution II, document A/AC.14/ 32). First, let those Jewish refugees and displaced persons who can be repatriated to then* own countries be repatriated; secondly, those who cannot be repatriated should be allotted to Member States in accordance with then-capacity to receive such refugees; and, thirdly, a committee should be set up to determine quotas for that purpose.
The resolution is put forward for consideration. Shall they be repatriated to their own countries? Australia says no; Canada says no; the United States says no. This was very encouraging from one point of view. Let these people, after their terrible experiences, even if they are willing to go back, not be asked to go back to their own countries. In this way, one would be sure that the second proposal would be adopted and that we should all give shelter to these people. Shall they be distributed among the Member States according to the capacity of the latter to receive them? Australia, an over-populated small country with congested areas, says no, no, no; Canada, equally congested and over-populated, says no; the United States, a great humanitarian country, a small area, with small resources, says no. That is their contribution to the humanitarian principle. But they state: let them go into Palestine, where there are vast areas, a large economy and no trouble; they can easily be taken in there.
That is the contribution made by this august body to the settlement of the humanitarian principle involved.
What is the position today, apart from these other considerations? As soon as the Mandate is laid down, this is the situation that arises. I invite attention to paragraph 4 of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, under which the Mandate was granted. I quote: “Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone.” That is the paragraph that refers to Palestine.
The mandatory Power says that it will .lay down the Mandate. The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine says that the Mandate should be laid down. Everybody is agreed that in some shape or other Palestine should be independent.
That stage of rendering administrative advice and assistance having been concluded, the legal position, is that Palestine, whose provisional in-dependence has been recognized juridically, will be from that date independent. That is the problem with which the United Nations has to deal.
How is Palestine to be independent? What sort of independence? What is the solution that we are invited to endorse and to attempt to carny through? In effect, the proposal before the United Nations General Assembly says that we shall decide—not the people of Palestine, with no provision for self-determination, no provision for the consent of the governed—what type of independence Palestine shall have. We shall call Palestine independent and sovereign, but Palestine shall belong to us and shall be, not the apple of our many and in different-direction-looking eyes, but shall become the apple of discord between East and West, lest, perchance, the unity which our name so wistfully proclaims may have a chance to establish itself.
We shall first cut the body of Palestine into three parts of a Jewish State and three parts of an Arab State. We shall then have the Jaffa enclave; and Palestine’s heart, Jerusalem, shall forever be an international city. That is the beginning of the shape Palestine shall have.
Having cut Palestine up in that manner, we shall then put its bleeding body upon a cross forever. This is not going to be temporary; this is permanent. Palestine shall never belong to its people; it shall always be stretched upon the cross.
What authority has the United Nations to do this? What legal authority, what juridical authority has it to do this, to make an independent State forever subject to United Nations administration?
The representative of the United States said that the problem is without precedent meaning obviously that it was not visualized and therefore is not. provided for in our Charter. But he feels that if thirty-eight States accept the partition scheme, that would almost amount to law in and of itself. What is the significance of that observation made by the representative of the United States to the Committee and then to the Press? Is that not a confession that the scheme lacks legal, juridical and constitutional authority, and that you are called upon not only to accept the scheme as a scheme, but by your vote also to supply the juridical authority that it lacks? In other words, you are in effect invited to amend the Charter by your vote, and to write into it a new and a most controversial chapter. Will you take the responsibility? Where in the Charter is there the authority to do what you are invited to do? Has the General Assembly the authority to do it? Has the Security Council the authority to do it? Are both combined authorized to do it?
What are you invited to do? You are invited first to set up a commission to exercise sovereign authority over two independent States. You are invited to set up these States and exercise authority over them during the transitional period— all the functions of government; legislative, executive and administrative. To whom is the permanent sovereignty of these two States to belong? To the people of these two States? By no means. The permanent sovereignty is to be in the hands of a joint economic board. Is that board to be a link between the two States in the sense that nobody else will be concerned? Again, no. That board will be a council of nine, in effect, ruling Palestine: three members from the Arab State, three from the Jewish State, and three from the United Nations. In every case, they will be managing customs, currency, railways, international airways, the development of water resources and water power, the development of agriculture and so on. Without then-contribution, neither State, it is admitted, will be viable; that is, neither State will be able to render either its administrative services or its social services, or to make any progress whatsoever, or to provide for its defence. Who will in effect be the sovereign? The sovereign is the Joint Economic Board. The Joint Economic Board is constituted of three Arabs, three Jews and three United Nations representatives. The United Nations will permanently exercise sovereignty in Palestine. Where is the authority for doing that?
Moreover, so far as Jerusalem is concerned, an international city is to be created to be internationally administered — again, forever. There was a provision in the report of sub-Committee 1 that after ten years this system might be revised; that if two-thirds of the in-habitants of Jerusalem were to express a view, one way or another, that view shall also be given consideration. But that provision has been wiped out by amendments. It was stated that we must make Jerusalem an international city forever, to be administered by a governor to be appointed by the United Nations.
Is there any pretence even there that it is going to be an independent city? No. Where is die authority for it? So far as the General Assembly is concerned, it is stated in Articles 11 and 14 of the Charter. Article 11 states that the General Assembly may discuss and make recommendations. Article 14 states that the General Assembly may take steps for the peaceful adjustment of disputes—obviously, between Member States.
Where is the authority to do what the General Assembly is invited to do here? So far as the Security Council is concerned, Articles 34, 39 and 41 of the Charter were referred to. Moreover, as the result of what is called the Danish amendment, (document A/AC.14/43/ Rev.l) Articles 39 and 41 have now been incorporated in the final resolution. But do they apply? The preamble of the resolution contained in document A/516, states, in effect, that if the situation so demands, the Security Council, by taking measures under Articles 39 and 41, of the Charter, shall authorize the United Nations Commission to do what the Commission has been asked to do in this scheme. I utterly fail to grasp the meaning of the statement to the effect that, taking measures, under Articles 39 and 41, shall authorize the United Nations Commission to do what the Commission has been authorized to do. Where do Articles 39 and 41 come in? Articles 39 and 41 apply as between Member States.
But the problem is this. In the first place, where is the authority for the United Nations to rule sovereign States? In the second place, the Members of the Assembly are aware that the Arabs of Palestine will not cooperate in setting up the Arab State. I am not talking of blood-shed; I am not talking of violence. They will not cooperate. How is the General Assembly, then, going to set up the Arab State? How is it going to set up the administrative services in the Arab State? How is it going to provide for the Arab State’s defence? How is it going to provide for all the numerous functions that a working government has to carry out? Where has the General Assembly provided the authority for that? Those questions have been put repeatedly, but they have not been dealt with. All that has received attention is, the problem of how are they to be dealt with if the surrounding Arab States should create trouble.
That is not the problem about which I am worried. I am hoping—as a matter of fact, I am convinced—that the Arab States, being Members of this Organization, will not do nor attempt to do anything which would be contrary to the obligations we have undertaken under the Charter as Members of this Organization. But how is the General Assembly going to set up the Arab State if the people say: no, we are not cooperating? Where are you going to get the services? Who is going in to keep order? These problems were put, but where have they been provided for?
The first contention is this. There are 1,300,000 Arabs in Palestine and 650,000 Jews—with room wanted for more—and the problem has become insoluble. It is said: therefore, let us divide because it would be unjust and unfair that thirty-three per cent of the population— which is the Jewish population of Palestine to-day—should occupy a minority status in a unitary State. Let us have a fair solution, the Arabs to have their State and the Jews to have theirs.
The boundaries were drawn accordingly. The Arab State will be an Arab State in the sense that there will be only 10,000 Jews in it and almost 1,000,000 Arabs. Very well, but what of the Jewish State? In the Jewish State there will be 498,000 Jews and 435,000 Arabs. Have you solved the problem? Jews are not to live as a minority under the Arabs, but the Arabs are to live as a minority under the Jews. If one of these is not fair then neither is the other; and if one is not a solution, the other is not.
Let us now consider the boundaries for a moment. How about the area? Jews constitute 33 per cent of the population and Arabs 67 per cent, but 60 per cent of the area of Palestine is to go to the Jewish State. Moreover, what is the character of the area, excluding for the moment the desert waste to which I shall refer later? Of the cultivable area of Palestine the plains, by and large, go to the Jewish State, the hills to the Arabs. There was a document circulated to members of the Committees by the United Kingdom representative showing that, of the irrigated, cultivable areas, 84 per cent would be in the Jewish State and 16 per cent in the Arab State. A very fair division for one-third of the population to receive 84 per cent while two-thirds receive 16 per cent.
The United Nations Special Committee itself has observed that the largest export from Pales-tine is citrus produce, and that it is owned almost half and half by Arab and Jew, and that the citrus area will be almost entirely in the Jewish State. How fair is that? Palestine pro-duces only 50 per cent of the cereals it requires, and the rest has to be imported. Eighty per cent of the cereal-producing area is in the Jewish State, and only 20 per cent in the Arab State.
Moreover, there is the question of scope for development. Look at the map. Where is there scope for development in the Arab State? We were told by one representative: Oh, in the hills you can grow a lot of olives. Admittedly, you can increase the production of olives in the hills; but on the average olives take twenty-five years to come to full yield.
What about ordinary agriculture? In the Negeb, as was pointed out in the Committee, there are two million dunams of land cultivated by Arab Bedouins whenever the scanty rainfall there permits. Ninety-nine per cent of that area is being allotted to the Jewish State. In that area, 15 per cent of the land is owned by private owners. Of the 15 per cent, 14 per cent is owned by Arabs and one per cent is owned by Jews. The whole of it is to go into the Jewish State. There is an Arab population of one hundred and some odd thousand, and a Jewish population of only two thousand. The whole of it is to go into the Jewish State.
Take the area farther south. It is admitted on all sides that that extreme triangle is uncultivated waste, burning desert. I understand, although my information may not be correct, that the representative of the United States in Sub-Committee 1 raised the question of why it was proposed to allot this area to the Jewish State. No reason has been given. However, there is a reason if one looks at the map: it takes the Jewish State down to the Gulf of Aqaba and gives it access to the Red Sea. At one time— in connexion with its recently proposed scheme which was not accepted—the mandatory Power was anxious to retain that area. However, the mandatory Power said frankly that its reason was that possession of that area would provide access to the Gulf of Aqaba, which was strategic-ally important for its purposes. Is that area strategically important to the Jewish State? That cannot be the case. So far as access to the sea is concerned, the Jewish State will be on the Mediterranean itself. Why go through this desert to the Gulf of Aqaba? To whom is it strategically important? This area is to be retained in the Jewish State for some other purpose, because no reason has been disclosed for including it in the Jewish State.
Consider the situation in regard to industry. Practically the whole of Jewish industry is within the Jewish State. After I had pointed this out in the Committee, one representative said: “Oh, objection is being taken to having Jewish industry within the Jewish State! But that is where it ought to be.” Of course, that is where it ought to be. I have not said that it should not be there. I said that it was perfectly correct perfectly just, perfectly fair. As against that, however, what about Arab industry? Forty per cent of Arab industry is in the Jewish State. Is that fair?
It will be said, and it has been said, that a great concession has been made to the Arabs in regard to Jaffa. What is the concession? The predominantly Arab city of Jaffa has been cut out as an enclave to be included in the Arab State. Why as an enclave? The map included in the minority report of the Special Committee1/ shows that, through Arab areas, it could be connected with the southern portion of the Arab State. The map included in the majority report2/ shows that, through predominantly Arab areas, it could be part of the Arab State toward the cast. Why is it to be an enclave? The lands between Jaffa and the Arab State to the east and to the south are predominantly Arab. Why should Jaffa be an enclave?
An amendment was proposed in regard to the boundaries. It was suggested that, if there must be partition, at least fair boundaries should be drawn. The amendment proposed that proper boundaries should be recommended by a commission composed of three boundary experts to be appointed by the Security Council; and that they should ensure that inside the Arab State there should not be more Jewish-owned land than would constitute ten per cent of the privately-owned land in that State, and that in the Jewish State there should not be a greater area of Arab-owned land than would constitute ten per cent of the privately-owned land in that State. That would have been quite fair, but the proposal obtained almost no support outside the Arab States.
We now come to the question of whether the plan is workable, in general. As I have said, the representative of the United States has expressed the hope that, given the support of the surrounding Arab States and of the people of Palestine, the scheme might work. The surrounding Arab States will certainly not support the experiment; all that can be expected of them is that, as States, they will do nothing which is contrary to their obligations under the Charter.
But the Arabs of Palestine have declared that they are not going to cooperate. And the members of the Assembly must remember that this plan is not an experiment. It is not like the experiment regarding the Interim Committee which was set up for a year. If that fails, it can be scrapped and the General Assembly can then adopt another scheme.
On the contrary, this plan is proposed as a permanent solution. If it fails, the United Nations has failed. It is a permanent system, and it pledges the credit, the honour, and indeed the very existence of the United Nations. Therefore, we had better give heed at this stage to what we are going to lend ourselves to. Is the General Assembly prepared to make the gamble?
Let us pause and consider before we launch the United Nations upon a course which commits it to carrying through a scheme which lacks moral justification, is beyond the legal and juridical authority of the United Nations, and is impossible of achievement. In making this futile, this fatal attempt, you set at nought the wishes of sixty-six per cent of the people of Palestine. You destroy the faith and trust of all the surrounding and neighbouring States in the fair-ness and impartiality of the United Nations, particularly having regard to what has been happening during the last three or four days—all the manoeuvres, even with regard to the meetings of the General Assembly, that great and honourable nations are descending to.
In the hearts of the populations of all the countries from the North African Atlantic Coast to the steppes of Central Asia, you sow doubt and mistrust of the designs and motives of the Western Powers. You take the gravest risk of impairing, beyond the possibility of .repair, any chance of real cooperation between East and West, by thus forcibly driving what in effect amounts to a Western wedge into the heart of the Middle East.
How has the United Nations discharged its responsibility with reference to this very difficult, very live and very human problem?
There were two proposals, and they have been described as extreme proposals. One was for a unitary State and the other for partition. Two Sub-Committees were set up. One sup-ported the unitary scheme with the responsibility of drafting a proposal on that basis; and the other was composed of Members in favour of partition, with the responsibility of drafting a proposal on that basis.
Has the United Nations made any effort to bring the Arab and the Jew together, to find a middle way which might provide a solution on which both peoples might combine to work— the only solution that could have any possible chance of being successfully worked out?
There was the minority report. There were other suggestions—and there can be other suggestions, if statesmanship is not entirely bankrupt—which could have been committed to the consideration of a third body. A large number of delegations did not support either the unitary idea or the partition idea. Why was their talent not utilized to find some solution, some middle way?
Sub-Committee 2, when it began to work, found itself composed of Members who had taken one view. The representative of Colombia, who in the meantime had been elected the Chairman of the Sub-Committee, felt very uncomfortable because of the situation. He suggested that we approach the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question and request him to nominate to Sub-Committee 2 certain States other than Colombia who were not committed to the idea of a unitary State, who could take the middle view, and who could try to bring about a solution that might be acceptable.
This was submitted to the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee and he was informed that two of the Arab States were willing, indeed were anxious, to step down from the Sub-Committee so that it might be reconstituted on that basis. But that suggestion was rejected; the Chairman did not see his way clear to accede to the request. The only attempt that was made in that direction was rejected.
Now we are told: you must accept either partition or nothing. But is that so? Is that the only choice? How much genuine support has the scheme of partition received? In the Ad Hoc Committee, it received the support of twenty-five delegations. Some of these twenty-five delegations said they supported the partition plan with a heavy heart; others said they supported it with reluctance. Why? Because there is nothing else. This shows that the General Assembly as a whole is, at least, not happy to commit itself to this so-called solution.
It is said that if partition is not accepted, there will be no room left for a solution. On the contrary, if partition is accepted the fatal step will have been taken. The Arabs and the Jews will have been set by the ears and never again will there be a chance of bringing them together. Far too many unfinished vendettas will then bar the way. If you delay and do not take the fatal step, you still leave open to the Arabs and the Jews the chance of a conciliatory solution through which they combine and work. It is not that if you do not take a final decision today, your jurisdiction to decide anything is barred. It means that ‘neither of these two solutions is acceptable and that something else must be found. The responsibility remains with you. Do not throw away that chance. Do not dose a door that may not be opened again. The United Nations must find a solution which is not only just and fair, but which has the best chance for success as regards the largest number of Jews and Arabs in Palestine.
Our vote today, if it does not endorse partition, does not rule out other solutions. Our vote, if it endorses partition, bars all peaceful solution. Let him who will shoulder that responsibility. My appeal to you is: do not shut out that possibility. The United Nations should seek and strive to unite and bring together rather than to divide and put asunder.
The representative of the United States made reference to the prayer and the wish that I expressed at the end of my statement to the Ad Hoc Committee. I again utter it humbly, sincerely, and earnestly: May He who controls all hearts and knows their innermost thoughts and designs, who alone can appraise the true value and foresees the consequences of all human action, in His Grace and Mercy so guide our judgment that what we decide here today shall promote and foster the peace, prosperity and welfare of all His creatures, Jews, Arabs, and Gentiles alike, and shall redound to His Glory forever.
Sir Mohammed Zafrullah Khan continued his remarks in Arabic. (Translated from Arabic): Our last cry is: All praise is due to God, the Lord of all the Universes.
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of China.
Mr. Lio CHJEH (China): Ever since the General Assembly was seized of the Palestine, question, the Chinese delegation has maintained the view that a solution to the situation, if it is to be carried out successfully, must be based on the consent of the parties immediately concerned. At the beginning of the discussion in the Ad Hoc Committee, the Chinese delegation urged that every effort should be made to bring about conciliation and cooperation between the Arab and the Jewish peoples in the search for a settlement. Unfortunately, the two plans submitted to the Ad Hoc Committee were drawn up by two Sub-Committees, each working independently of the other, and each representing a set point of view diametrically opposed to that of the other. The efforts of the Conciliation Group were consequently of no avail.
Up to the last stage of the discussion in the Committee, when the report of Sub-Committee. I was considered, the Chinese delegation continued to hope that the modified report of the Sub-Committee might be taken as a basis for further consideration and that the area of disagreement might be further reduced so as to make the plan, if not acceptable to both parties, at least less objectionable to both of them. But again, no progress has been made in the last few days in narrowing the gap between the two divergent views; and it is apparent that the Little tune left to the Committee did not permit adequate efforts to be made in that direction.
This is made more evident by the expressions of categorical objections which have been given before this General Assembly by those delegations whose assent or acquiescence forms an essential part of any workable plan. The-Chinese delegation has made it dear that in the formulation of such a plan, the welfare of the inhabitants of Palestine must be considered of paramount importance, and that the decision of the General Assembly must take into account not one or two individual factors, but all the factors which have given rise to the present situation. Above all, the ultimate aim of peace in the Middle East, and consequently in the whole world, should be given the greatest possible assurance. From the point of view of the United Nations, the yardstick in the measurement of any proposal must be the extent to which peace and tranquillity in that part of the world may be assured by its adoption.
As the present draft resolution stands, the Chinese delegation finds it difficult to give it positive support and, in accordance with the instructions of the Chinese Government, the Chinese delegation will abstain from voting.
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of Guatemala.
Mr. GARCIA GRADADOS (Guatemala) (translated from Spanish): The fact that Guatemala is hi favour of the resolution on which we are to vote today, is well known to you, as it has been stated in the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, known as UNSCOP, in the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, and in the Sub-Committee which considered and revised the majority plan.
Our representatives went to Palestine filled with the hope that a solution might be found which would be satisfactory to both parties. I am sure that all the members of UNSCOP were animated by the same spirit. Our Chairman and the Committee as a whole sought many times to bring about a settlement between the Arabs and the Jews. Our efforts were frustrated by the intransigent attitude of the Arab Higher Committee, which would not give a hearing even to Judge Sandstrom, and which ordered all its affiliated organizations to refuse to collaborate with the Committee and to threaten and intimidate all Arabs who seemed to favour conciliation.
Nothing daunted, UNSCOP made every possible approach to the Arabs, visiting their towns and villages and taking no notice of the hostile reception. Our representatives never failed to hold out the hand of friendship; but in vain, for no Arab would grasp it.
We learned something on our trips. In town and country we heard words of hatred for the Jews and noticed the scowls and threatening gestures with which the Arabs greeted every Jew. Arab monuments, schools and even factories were closed to the Jewish newspapermen accompanying us, even when they were of European or American nationality, and represented internationally famous newspapers and news agencies. In Palestine, a Jew may not visit the tomb of Abraham, the common ancestor of both Arabs and Jews, nor the tombs of Isaac and Jacob, forefathers of the Jewish race. No Jew dare risk entering the mosque which was once the great temple of Solomon, the most celebrated Holy Place of the Hebrew religion, be-cause if he did so he would be killed.
Years of propaganda have filled the simple hearts of the Arabs with a rancour which makes an efforts at conciliation and the establishment of friendly relations seem useless today.
These are the facts which we ascertained for ourselves. On these realities, we must base our judgment.
At the hearings in Jerusalem, the Palestine Government frankly declared through its representatives that it considered the Mandate impracticable. The apparently irreconcilable conflict between Arabs and Jews, on the one hand, and between the Jews and the mandatory Power on the other, proved to the Committee that this was indeed the case.
The Mandate, then, had to be terminated. Both peoples felt the desire for independence. But this meant that UNSCOP must also submit to the United Nations a plan for the future organization of the country.
The unitary State suggested by the Arab Higher Committee, with the support of the neighbouring States, is impracticable. In the present disturbed state of Palestine, the Jews could expect nothing from an Arab Government but persecution, slavery and death. And the nations of the world cannot deliberately condemn to extermination a hard-working, honest community, which has established a culture of its own in the land of its fathers, and which is inspired by a deep and indomitable national spirit.
The United Nations is faced, in Palestine, with a thirty-year-old problem, and, since, we cannot put the clock back, there is no remedy but partition. We put forward this proposal with full realization of its difficulties, but with the conviction that its determined purpose makes it the only remedy for a conflict which otherwise threatens to become perpetual.
Furthermore, the creation of a Jewish State is a reparation owed by humanity to an innocent and defenceless people which has suffered humiliation, and martyrdom for two thousand years.
The Palestine Arabs must know that we who vote in favour of this resolution have no desire to harm then- interests, and that the intransigent attitude of their leaders is the only obstacle to the attainment of liberty by both peoples and to the forging of ties of brotherhood between them.
We hope that as the years go by and friendly human relations are established, new ideas and new generations will wipe out the old grudges between these two great peoples, and that they will become closely united hi peace and prosperity.
Mr. Aranha left the Chair and Mr. Paditta Nervo (Mexico) replaced him.
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of Cuba.
Mr. DIHIGO (Cuba) (translated from Spanish): I should like to explain very briefly why the Cuban delegation feels bound to vote against the plan for the partition of Palestine recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee.
We have followed the discussions with interest, and analysed the arguments of speakers on both sides, in order to arrive at what we believe to be the fairest conclusion. Cuba has shown its sympathy for the Jews and its appreciation of their qualities by admitting into her territories thousands of Jews, who are, today, living freely and peacefully amongst us, free from discrimination or prejudice. Nevertheless, we cannot vote as the Jews would wish us to do because consider that the partition of Palestine is neither legal nor just.
In the first place, all their claims are based primarily, on the Balfour Declaration, the root of the problem with which we are faced today. But the Balfour Declaration, in our opinion, is not legally valid because in it the British Government was offering something which did not belong to it and which it had no right to give. But even if we accept the Declaration as valid, the course of action that is contemplated goes far beyond its scope. The Balfour Declaration promised to the Jews a “national home” in Pales-tine, without prejudice to the civil rights of the Arab population; but it did not offer a free State, the creation of which must necessarily prejudice those very rights which the Declaration was trying to safeguard^
Partition is also illegal when considered in the light of the League of Nations Mandate. One may question whether the League of Nations had any right to do what it did, namely, to order the establishment of a Jewish national home, with all the serious demographical and political consequences involved, in a foreign territory, without the consent of the inhabitants. But even if we admit that fact, the partition which we are now considering contravenes the terms of the Mandate, article 6 of which provides that the rights and position of the non-Jewish population of Palestine shall not be prejudiced. And it can hardly be maintained that these rights are not prejudiced when the indigenous population is to be deprived of more than haft of its territory and hundreds of thou-sands of Arabs are to be placed under a Jewish Government, and forced to become a subject people in a land where they were once the rulers.
Thirdly, we consider the plan illegal because it is inconsistent with the self-determination of peoples, an essential principle of the Covenant of the League of Nations. In fact, the plan would mean deciding the fate of a nation with-out consulting it on the matter, and depriving it of half the national territory which it had held for many centuries. Moreover, leaving aside the Covenant of the League of Nations, if we turn to the Charter of the United Nations, we find that the plan violates its provisions too; for the principle of self-determination of peoples is recognized in paragraph 2 of Article 1 in a general manner, and reaffirmed in paragraph, b of Article 76 which states, in connexion with Non-Self-Governing Territories, that the Trusteeship System (equivalent to the League Mandate) shall take into account “the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned”. We are not convinced by the argument which has been put forward to the effect that Palestine is not a State and therefore is not subject to international law, because these provisions speak of peoples, not States, and there can be no doubt that the inhabitants of Palestine are a people.
We have solemnly proclaimed the principle of the self-determination of peoples, but we note with alarm that, when the moment comes to put it into practice, we forget it. This attitude seems to us highly dangerous. The Cuban delegation is firmly convinced that true peace and the international justice about which the great leaders of the Second World War spoke so often cannot be brought into being by setting forth certain fundamental principles in conventions and treaties, and then leaving them there as a dead letter; on the contrary, these ends can be attained only if all of us, great and small, weak and strong, are prepared to put our principles into practice when the occasion arises.
Why was the democratic method of consulting all the people of Palestine not applied in this case? Is it because it was feared that the results of such a procedure would be contrary to what it was intended the outcome should be in any case? And, if that was so, where are the democratic principles which we are continuously invoking.
Our doubts as to legality do not end there. In the course of the discussion, the Assembly’s power to decide in favour of partition has been attacked. The answer to this attack was that, in accordance with Articles 10 and 11 of the Charter, the Assembly may make recommendations on any question within its jurisdiction or connected with the maintenance of international peace and security. Without discussing here whether or not the Palestine problem comes within that jurisdiction or whether it is likely to endanger international peace, we must point out that it is one thing to make a recommendation and quite another to adopt a plan prejudicial to the territorial integrity of a people and their political and legal status, and to appoint a committee of the Assembly to carry out that plan. Nor does it seem to us possible to contend that this plan is merely a recommendation, because there is always the possibility that a recommendation may not be accepted. On the contrary, this plan undoubtedly implies coercion, as is proved by the fact that one of its clauses provides that any attempt to alter by force the settlement set forth in the resolution shall be considered a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression in conformity with Article 39 of the Charter. This, then, is a settlement which is to be imposed by force, and is not merely a recommendation; and as this procedure, in our opinion, constitutes an infringement of the Charter, we cannot vote in favour of the plan.
It was because we had these doubts as to the legality of the proposed measure that we voted in the Committee in favour of consulting the International Court of Justice, so that we might be able to go forward on solid ground. The proposal for consultation was rejected by a majority vote. We consider that this was a mistake, which cannot be justified on the grounds of the delay consultation would involve. The fact is that it would have been better to have waited for a few months than to have rushed into such a dubious course of action, apart from the fact that refusal to consult the International Court of Justice may well give the impression that the Assembly is avoiding solutions which conform to the law.
Furthermore, we consider that the plan is unfair. The Arabs have held Palestine for many centuries, and according to the official data provided for us, at the end of the First World War, they constituted nearly 90 per cent of the entire population. Through the agency of the United Kingdom, as the mandatory Power, and in conformity with the decisions of the League of Nations, Palestine was opened to foreign immigration, offering immigrants a place where they could live as they pleased, enjoying freedom of religion and free from humiliating discrimination. I said foreign immigration intentionally, because, with all due respect to what the Jews themselves think, they are, in our opinion, foreigners in the territory of Palestine.
Indeed during the discussions in the Committee, information was submitted to show that the ancestors of many of the Jews who have entered Palestine already, and of others who wish to do so, never lived in that country. But even if then- remote ancestors were born there, it is certain that they left the country so many years ago to settle in other countries, that their descendants have ceased to belong to Palestine, just as we people of the Americas, descendants of immigrants from the four corners of the earth, have no claim on the countries which were the homes of our ancestors in Europe.
The burning desire of the Jews to return to Palestine, based perhaps on tradition, perhaps on mystical reasons or religious enthusiasm, is worthy of all our consideration and sympathy. But, in our opinion, it does not contribute a valid reason for giving them a land that does not belong to them, especially not if it must first be taken by force from those who have a greater right to it.
We also consider this plan unjust because it involves forcing the will of a minority upon an overwhelming majority, in contravention of one of the cardinal principles of democracy. In the present case, that minority, not wishing to submit to the will of the majority, is trying to keep apart, but in order to do so it is annexing part of the territory belonging to the people who originally allowed it to enter.
There is another aspect to the question, on which I should like to touch, which has a bearing on the future. The plan of partition for Palestine implies the establishment by this Assembly of the principle that any racial or other minority may ask to secede from the political community of which it forms part.
As the head of our delegation has already informed the Committee, not many years ago Cuba was in danger of losing part of its territory owing to immigration of United.States citizens into Pinos Island. Fortunately for us, and to the honour of the United States Government, ‘ which was magnanimous enough to recognize our rights, this attempt failed. Nevertheless, we cannot forget how much that danger meant to us; and, knowing what our feelings would have been if we had lost part of our territory hi that way, we can easily imagine the feelings of the Palestine Arabs if the partition plan were approved. We cannot vote in favour of doing to them what we were not prepared to have done to us.
It is useless to tell us that a political solution must sometimes be accepted despite the fact that it is unjust; for international peace and friendship cannot be built upon injustice.
With regard to the Jewish or non-Jewish refugees now in camps for displaced persons, a problem on which so much emphasis has been laid by those in favour of partition, the Cuban delegation has stated that it should be solved by good will on the part of all the United Nations, each of which should receive a proportion of refugees in accordance with its ability to do so and the particular conditions in each country. But we do not see why Palestine should be expected to solve the whole problem alone, especially as that country had no hand in deter-mining the circumstances which originally caused the displacement of all these persons.
For these reasons, we feel bound to vote against the plan of partition, as we have already done in the Committee, for having taken our stand, we feel that it is our duty to make it clear through our vote and to adhere firmly to it, despite the negotiations and despite the pressure which has been brought to bear upon us.
The PRESIDENT: I call upon the representative of Iraq.
(1) What is the nature of the issue of Palestine?
(2) What has the United Nations General Assembly done so far?
(3) What would be involved if the partition plan were adopted?
(4) What could the United Nations General Assembly do now before it is too late?
The nature of the issue. In simple terms, the issue of Palestine is the following. Palestine is a country which has been inhabited by the Arabs without interruption for the last fifteen centuries, at least. It was part of the Ottoman Empire before the First World War. During the First World War the Arab inhabitants of Palestine joined the Arab revolt and fought on the side of the Allies with the hope of attaining their freedom and independence. This freedom and independence was pledged to them by the United Kingdom in preparation for the formation of an Arab Kingdom.
The United Kingdom, France, and the United States all made it clear that their aim in the war was not conquest but liberation, and that self-determination and the wishes of the people of any country should be the guiding principles for future adjustments. To this end, the late President Wilson sent the King-Crane Commission to Syria, Lebanon and Palestine to determine the wishes of the people. That Commission did not fail to make clear the wishes of the people and their keen desire for independence.
The Covenant of the League of Nations, Article 22, paragraph 4, recognized the right to independence of the communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire and prescribed a mandate which would provide administrative advice until such time as the people could stand on their own feet. Thus, Arab rights to Palestine are indisputable. Their right to the ownership of the country and to their independence therein is supported not only by the right of continued occupation but also by all principles of democracy and self-determination for which two world wars were waged.
The Arabs are entitled to undisturbed independence and a peaceful life in Palestine. In this respect the Arabs of Palestine are no different from those of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Trans-jordan, who have achieved their independence. Any infringement or violation of the right of the
The first special session of the General Assembly, 28 April-15 May 1947.
Arabs to lead a free and independent life in their own country is an act of injustice.
The Zionists, on the other hand, make two claims to Palestine. The first is that of historical connexions of two thousand years ago. Can this be accepted as a universal principle? Can any people today claim the right to territories which it inhabited two thousand years ago and which it lost as a result of war? The second Zionist claim is based on the Balfour Declaration, which promised a Jewish national home in Palestine and which was included in the Mandate based on Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, but which, in fact, was contradictory to the letter and spirit of the same Article.
It is often said that there were contradictory promises made to the Arabs and to the Jews, but that these promises are of equal validity. This is a very superficial and unjust view to hold. To promise somebody the right to live in his own house and to own it is not a promise but a recognition of an existing right. On the other hand, to promise an outsider support if he goes to another person’s house and occupies it is neither valid nor binding. The fact that such a promise was registered by the League of Nations in man-date form does not add to its validity. The Arabs have never recognized the validity of the Balfour Declaration or of the Mandate. In spite of these facts, the United Kingdom did its utmost to enforce the Mandate, a mandate which was both illegal and unworkable, as well as contrary to the wishes of the inhabitants of the country. Immigration on a large scale took place to an extent which went much beyond the normal capacity and normal area of the country. Some six hundred thousand Jews have entered Palestine during the last fifty years.
The least that can reasonably be demanded from the newcomers is to live in peace with the inhabitants and develop friendly relations. I repeat that. The least that can reasonably be demanded from the newcomers is to live in peace with the inhabitants and develop friendly relations. This was made impossible because of the growing political designs and ambitions of the newcomers. If they had attempted to live on good terms with the Arabs, it would have been quite feasible. The Mandate did not promise the Jews a State in Palestine. This was made clear in the many statements by the mandatory Power and by the representative of the United Kingdom at the one hundred and twenty-fourth plenary meeting, when he said that the Mandate did not provide for a Jewish State against the wishes of the Arabs.
The United Kingdom could not keep peace in the Middle East in the face of these unbridled ambitions and designs. It came to the General Assembly of the United Nations for consultation as to what was to be done. We assume that the United Kingdom purposely did not go to the Security Council, knowing the international political complications that might arise if it referred the matter to that body.
I come now to the second point. What has the United Nations General Assembly done so far? During its special session, the United Nations appointed the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine which included Members which had already made known their views in favour of one group. The terms of reference of the Special Committee were not based on the terms of the Charter explicitly. The result was that we received a majority report containing the views of those Members which had prejudged the issue. This, we now suspect, had been designed specially by one of the great Powers. As a result, the Arabs of Palestine boycotted the Committee, which submitted a majority- report under the pressure and influence of the Jewish Agency. The majority report prescribed partition. It was brought before the General Assembly which referred it to an ad hoc Committee. This ad hoc Committee organized three Sub-Committees.
Sub-Committee 1 consisted only of Members who supported the partition plan, with no neutrals to study that plan. Sub-Committee 2 consisted only of those who held views in favour of a united Palestine. The third Sub-Committee was designed for reconciliation, but we heard practically nothing about reconciliation with the exception of a letter addressed to General Marshall and another to Prince Feisal of Saudi Arabia by the Chairman of the Committee.
In other words, we can safely state before this august assembly that the report now before us was drafted by partisans, and not by neutrals; and that the main function of the United Nations, which is reconciliation and adjustment of human problems, was hardly attempted. Instead, the General Assembly has before ft a report which is totally unacceptable to the Arabs, which needs force for its implementation, and which, if adopted, means that the United Nations, which came into being to eradicate the causes of war and international trouble, is sowing the seeds of war and trouble and is setting out to conquer a people which refuses to be subjected to alien rule.
If the partition plan is adopted, I wonder how the United Nations will be able to reconcile its action with its own Charter. It is a plan drafted by people who are confessedly partial, people who had no neutrals to cooperate with them. On the contrary, those who drafted the plan had only the Jewish Agency and its wishes to take into consideration. The General Assembly is now asked to vote upon a plan which has not given the least consideration to the Arab point of view. And that is done in the name of the Charter.
Great pressure is being brought upon Members who have already formulated their point of view, pressure designed to have them change their minds; and power politics is playing havoc with the independence of judgment of the members of this General Assembly. All of that is being done in the name of the United Nations.
It is no secret that some great Powers are bringing pressure upon Member States to have this plan adopted. But do they need to do that? They could easily send an army to enforce their -designs in Palestine. Why should they use the United Nations to justify the designs of their power politics? If the United Nations adopts this plan, we know very well that it will be not a United Nations plan, but a plan imposed by power politics.
I come now to the third point. What would be involved if this plan were to be adopted? Firstly, it would mean that the General Assembly had failed to exercise its function under Article 14 of the Charter; the function of recommending peaceful adjustment of any situation. No member of this Assembly can claim that an effort at peaceful settlement of this situation was ever seriously attempted by the United Nations. Some prominent members, such as the representative of El Salvador, honestly emphasized the need for such an effort, but their voices were not heard. We do not know the reasons.
Secondly, if this plan were to be adopted, it would mean that the General Assembly had avoided assuring many members of the legality of the case. There were many legal questions raised by Sub-Committee 2, but these were turned down. The very competence of this General Assembly to recommend anything like partition and to send a commission to execute the recommendation was questioned on legal grounds. Voting on the question of referring this matter to the International Court of Justice showed that twenty Members were in favour of such a course of action, while twenty-one were opposed to it.
The representative of Colombia tried in vain to convince the Committee that the International Court of Justice should be resorted to. The suggestion to refer some matters to the Court was made at the beginning of the session. This matter was postponed until the end of the session, and then it was said that there was no time left to do it.
Thus, if the General Assembly were to adopt this plan, the legality of the matter would still be seriously questioned.
This plan gives the Jews something which was never promised to them. The Jews were promised a national home in Palestine and not a State. The home is already established by the very declaration of the mandatory Power, which stated that the national home is there now. A Jewish State means a further concession by the General Assembly at the expense of the Arabs. About an equal number of Arab inhabitants is included in the proposed Jewish State, and over eighty per cent of land which is non-Jewish.
The plan, if adopted, would violate the very principle of self-determination, which is the basis of the Charter. The people of Palestine are given no say in shaping their destiny. That is not self-determination; it is an imposed determination, imposed not by the United Nations but by power politics played in the United Nations.
This plan is most partial and unjust, for it was drafted by a Sub-Committee which contained no neutral Member States as members. It is Zionist-designed, and was adopted by a pro-Zionist Sub-Committee which gave all its care and attention to Zionist demands, leaving to the Arabs what Zionist benevolence permitted. We cannot forget the scene enacted in the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question when the representative of the Jewish Agency, through his own benevolence, agreed to give a portion of the Negeb to the Arab State. The gift was graciously accepted by the representative of the United States.
The plan is unworkable from an economic, administrative and political point of view. Partition had already been proposed by the Peel Commission ten years ago. At that time, the United Kingdom, which was the great Power best qualified to judge the issue, sent another commission to study the implementation of partition. After receiving its report, the United Kingdom Government issued a White Paper declaring that it had reached the conclusion that this further examination had shown that the political, administrative and financial difficulties involved in the proposal to create independent Arab and Jewish States inside Palestine were so great, that this solution of the problem was impracticable.
Partition imposed against the will of the majority of the people will jeopardize peace and harmony in the Middle East. Not only the uprising of the Arabs of Palestine is to be expected, but the masses in the Arab world cannot be restrained. The Arab-Jewish relationship in the Arab world will greatly deteriorate.
There are more Jews in the Arab world outside of Palestine than there are in Palestine. In Iraq alone, we have about one hundred and fifty thousand Jews who share with Moslems and Christians all the advantages of political and economic rights. Harmony prevails among Moslems, Christians and Jews. But any injustice imposed upon the Arabs of Palestine will disturb the harmony among Jews and non-Jews in Iraq; it will breed inter-religious prejudice and hatred.
A Jewish State in Palestine would be a great danger to international peace in that part of the world. It would be a place where conflicting power politics would play a role. A recent trial of underground communists in Baghdad who were precipitating a subversive movement against the constitution of the country revealed that these communists were financed by Zionist sources in Palestine from the sale of all forms of merchandise, the returns of which were spent on subversive movements. This, by the way, is a method which was used by the nazis before the last war. The immigrants coming into Palestine—the origins of many of whom are not known—carry the seeds of many a subversive movement into the Near East. This certainly will contribute to the disturbance of international peace and security in the Arab world.
Palestine as a whole, is a Holy Land. Partition would dissect its holiness. The Right Reverend W. H. Stewart, Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, and the Reverend Dr. Clarke-Kerr of the Church of Scotland, submitted a statement to the Special Committee on Palestine which called for the protection of Holy Places, not only in particular points in Jerusalem and Bethlehem but also of the whole Holy Land. Distress at the growing industrialization and commercialization of Galilee was specially mentioned. Since the Jewish Agency acquiesced in having Jerusalem separated from the Jewish State, it could ask for a State in any other part of the world. The United States, Australia, and Birobidjan could easily provide areas for a Jewish State. Industrialization and commercialization in these countries should be welcome. Palestine is a holy place, a Holy Land, and it should be left holy as a whole.
The separation of the City of Jerusalem and the regime proposed for it, according to the plan, have not taken into account the Islamic point of view. No Moslem participated in the drafting of the scheme. It is a well-known historical fact that Moslems fought to defend Palestine from the Crusaders in the Middle Ages. Islamic attachment to Palestine is at least equal to the attachment of Christians. Any regime which does not meet with Islamic consent might disturb inter-religious harmony. Thus, the partition of Palestine revives problems with which we need not engage ourselves today.
Yet, neither the members of the Special Committee on Palestine nor the members of Sub-Committee 1 which dealt with Palestine ever realized the full implications of their neglect of the Islamic point of view. Palestine united represents the unity of the three great faiths. Palestine divided may lead to inter-religious dissensions and quarrels.
The plan, as recommended, provides trusteeship for the City of Jerusalem. This contradicts the Charter in two ways. First, trusteeship over any territory, according to the letter and the spirit of the Charter, must lead to independence and cannot be permanent. Secondly, a trusteeship agreement has to be made by the States directly concerned. The United Nations, or its Trusteeship Council, is not the authority to initiate a trusteeship agreement. Only the mandatory Power and the States directly concerned can do that, if they see fit, according to Article 79 of the Charter.
The partition plan assumes that the Security Council will provide an armed force to implement the plan against the wishes of the majority. We know that the Security Council actually has no armed force at its disposal. If the two great Powers, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, were to provide an army, we might very well have another Korea in Palestine. If other States were asked to send armed forces, they would be singled out as enemies of the Arab world. From whichever angle you look at it, partition will lead to the disturbance of international friendship and harmony between Member States, a situation which is contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Charter.
Palestine is the heart of the Arab world. The Arab world, through the League, is trying to achieve unity and regional organization in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter. A Jewish State breaks that unity and endangers the peace and security of the Arab States. The Arab States cannot tolerate this break in their unity and this menace to their political and economic life. They are entitled to have a decisive voice in all matters which affect then regional interests. Therefore, they oppose the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine now or at any future time.
The partition of Palestine will necessarily set a precedent for other areas and countries. Some Powers which support this partition of Palestine may have this very end in view. The representative of Bolivia stated in the Ad Hoc Committee that he supports the partition of Palestine, provided that it shall not be a precedent for other countries. I do not know why it should not be a precedent if the principle is accepted. If it is a sound principle to divide a country whenever a minority dictates that it should be done, why not divide other countries as well? Imagine the mess into which the world would fall if this principle were to be adopted by the United Nations.
In short, whoever thinks that the partition of Palestine will settle the problem of Palestine is mistaken. Partition will create a dozen new problems dangerous to peace and international relations. It is much better to let Palestine alone than to attempt to enforce a solution which will bear bitter fruit.
We were repeatedly told by the representatives of the United States, Canada and other countries that we are faced with two possible solutions: this plan or chaos and disorder. That is not correct. You cannot produce more chaos and disorder, not only in Palestine but all around it, than by adopting this plan. If you abandon this plan, it is not necessary that there should be chaos and disorder at all. There are ways and means which the United Nations has not yet tried. The United Nations has not earnestly attempted a reconciliation. The Arabs and Jews can still live together. Wide municipal powers can be granted to Arab and Jewish areas which would not unduly impose the will of one people on the other. That is just an example.
Reconciliation along this line has never been attempted or discussed. It is extremely regrettable that the General Assembly should be led to believe that the answer is either partition or nothing else. There is nothing more sure to lead to chaos than the partition plan submitted to the General Assembly.
A distinguished Belgian was talking to me the other day, and he wondered whether the map of partition was drawn in a madhouse or in the offices of the United Nations. Of course, the gentleman does not represent the point of view of his Government, and he spoke to me in his unofficial capacity.
We still think that the General Assembly of the United Nations can do better than this. The, General Assembly has not attempted re-conciliation seriously. Solutions other than this plan are available. The Arabs, who have been accused of making threats, have never been the aggressors. They did not close the door to negotiations. It was they who asked for resort to the International Court of Justice. It is they who wish to abide by the Charter in order to reach a just and reasonable solution.
The fact that such a solution is possible is proved by the following statement from a speech delivered by the Right Honourable Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, on 25 February 1947 in the House of Commons:
“I did reach a stage, however, in meeting the Jews separately…when things looked more hopeful. There was a feeling…when they left me in the Foreign Office that day, that I had the right approach at last. But what happened? I went back to the Paris Peace Conference, and the next day …I believe it was a special day of the Jewish religion—my right honourable friend, the Prime Minister, telephoned me at midnight and told me that the President of the United States was going to issue another statement on the hundred thousand. I think the country and the world ought to know about this.
“I went next morning to the Secretary of State, Mr. Byrnes, and told him how far I had got the day before. I believed we were on the road, if only they would leave us alone. I begged that the statement be not issued, but I was told that if it was not issued by Mr. Truman, a competitive statement would be issued by Mr. Dewey. In international affairs, I cannot settle things if my problem is made the subject of local elections.”
This shows that reconciliation is still possible if elections do not interfere. There is no enmity between the Arabs and the Jews as such if the Jews decide to lead their own lives. Trouble starts the minute the Jews begin to cherish dreams of domination. We sincerely believe that if we discard the plan of partition, Arabs and Jews could be brought together to lead a just, peaceful, and settled life.
The United Nations should embark on a scheme of reconciliation in the spirit of the Charter and should not use the knife. Those who tell us that we have to choose between this plan or chaos are not right, for it is partition which will create chaos, disorder, and uncertainty for the future.
Before closing, I wish to read the following quotation from an address by that great President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln:
“Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.
“. .. Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot remove our respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other; but the different parts of our country cannot do this. They cannot but remain face to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? … Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides, and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions as to terms of intercourse are again upon you.”
At this eleventh hour, we still have a last chance to think in terms of the Charter and to abide by the principles of unity, democracy and self-determination. We can still attempt a solution, just and abiding. Pressure and power politics should not influence our votes and decisions. A United Nations General Assembly, acting in the spirit of the Charter, can recommend only a unified, not a dismembered Palestine.
The meeting rose at 1.22 p.m.
1/ See Official Records of the second session of the General Assembly, Supplement No. 11, Volume II.