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Security Council action on this report awaits completion. However, during the extensive debate which took place in 1947 the Soviet Representative indicated plainly that the Soviet Union does not intend to modify its position on the basic principles and that it considers acceptance of its views to be a prerequisite to starting negotiation of the special agreements called for by article 43. Nevertheless, the United States is continuing to study further suggestions for dealing with this problem.
During 1948 the Military Staff Committee continued its consideration of the over-all strength and the composition by types of the forces which should be made available. In July the Committee informed the Council that the Committee could go no further with that task until the Council had completed its action on the 1947 report. Beyond stating that unanimity had not been reached, the Committee did not submit to the Council or make public any other information about the results of its consideration of over-all strength and composition.
Efforts at Peaceful Settlement
Assembly's Plan of Partition With Economic Union
The year 1947 had closed with the General Assembly having adopted on November 29 a resolution on the future government of Palestine which provided for the partition of the country between separate Jewish and Arab states, bound together by a system of economic union, with an international area for Jerusalem. In order to take account of ethnological factors, Palestine under this plan was divided between Arab and Jewish areas by a system of intersecting hour-glass frontiers.
The year 1948 opened with the governments and peoples of the Arab world insisting that no recognition could be given to the validity of the General Assembly's recommendation and that the Arabs would never accept a system of partition in Palestine with economic union. Meanwhile, on the Jewish side, there was a demand that the provisions of the General Assembly's resolution be promptly fulfilled, if necessary by the use of forces supplied by the United Nations.
The United Nations Palestine Commission, established under the resolution of November 29, 1947, made five reports on its endeavors to carry out the mandate imposed on it by the General Assembly. This was, in brief, to establish temporary governments in Arab and Jewish Palestine and to facilitate the transition from these provisional regimes to permanent Arab and Jewish state authority. It became increasingly evident from the reports of the Palestine Commission to the Security Council that, owing to the intransigence of the Arab governments and the Arab population of Palestine, it would be impossible for the Commission to fulfil its duties unless the Security Council should compel the parties to agree to the provisions of the resolution of November 29, 1947.
Meanwhile fighting between the Jewish and Arab elements in Palestine continued with ever-mounting violence. · According to the Palestine Commission's first special report to the Council on the problem of security in Palestine, dated February 16, 1948, in the period from November 30, 1947, to February 1, 1948, 869 persons had been killed and 1,909 wounded.
The Palestine Commission pointed out that without the assistance of an armed force it would be unable to carry out the tasks assigned it by the Assembly's resolution of November 29, 1947. In consequence, the Commission referred to the Security Council
".. the problem of providing that armed assistance which alone would enable the Commission to discharge its responsibilities on the termination of the Mandate, because it is convinced that there is no step which it can take under the resolution of the Assembly to improve the security situation in Palestine between now and the termination of the Mandate."
Faced with the question of what further steps the Council could take under the circumstances, the United States Representative on the Security Council on February 24, 1948, stated :
“The Security Council is authorized to take forceful measures with respect to Palestine to remove a threat to international peace. The Charter of the United Nations does not empower the Security Council to enforce a political settlement whether it is pursuant to a recommendation of the General Assembly or of the Council itself.
“What this means is this: The Council under the Charter can take action to prevent aggression against Palestine from outside. The Council by these same powers can take action to prevent a threat to international peace and security from inside Palestine. But this action must be directed solely to the maintenance of international peace. The Council's action, in other words, is directed to keeping the peace and not to enforcing partition."
The Security Council on March 5 adopted a resolution calling on the permanent members of the Council (China, France, the
United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union) to consult and report within 10 days on the situation with respect to Palestine and regarding the guidance and instructions which the Council might usefully give to the Palestine Commission with a view to implementing the resolution of the General Assembly.
There ensued an active period of consultation in which the views of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Arab Higher Committee, which spoke for the Arab population of Palestine, were taken into careful consideration. On March 19 the American Representative pointed out that the Palestine Commission, the Mandatory Power, the Jewish Agency, and the Arab Higher Committee had indicated that the partition plan could not be implemented by peaceful means under present conditions and that, if the mandate should be terminated prior to a peaceful solution of the problem, large-scale fighting between the two communities could be expected.
United States Proposes Temporary Trusteeship
In the light of these facts, the United States Representative informally proposed that a temporary trusteeship for Palestine should be established under the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, to maintain the peace and to afford the Jews and Arabs of Palestine further opportunity to reach an agreement regarding the future government of that country. Such a United Nations trusteeship would be without prejudice to the character of the eventual political settlement. He advocated that the Security Council request the SecretaryGeneral to call a special session of the General Assembly to consider this proposal. Meanwhile, the Security Council should fulfil its inescapable responsibility to take steps necessary to bring about a cease-fire in Palestine and a halt to the incursions being made into that country. As a corollary of these proposals the United States suggested that the Security Council instruct the Palestine Commission to suspend its efforts to implement the proposed partition plan.
The President followed up this proposal by a public statement on March 25 in which he said that, although this country vigorously supported the plan for partition with economic union, it had become clear that the partition plan could not be carried out at this time by peaceful means. We could not undertake to impose this solution on the people of Palestine by the use of American troops, either on Charter grounds or as a matter of national policy. Since the United Kingdom had announced its firm intention to abandon its mandate in Palestine on May 15, it seemed evident that, unless emergency action
were taken, large-scale fighting would be the inevitable result and this fighting would infect the entire Middle East and lead to consequences of the gravest sort involving the peace of the Middle East and of the world. It was for these reasons that the United States had proposed a temporary trusteeship agreement which would not prejudice the character of the final political settlement.
On March 30 the United States Representative on the Security Council submitted two resolutions, one calling upon the Jewish Agency and the Arab Higher Committee to send representatives to meet with the Council for the purpose of arranging a truce between the Arab and Jewish communities in Palestine and calling upon the Arab and Jewish groups in that country to cease acts of violence immediately, and the other requesting the Secretary-General to convoke a special session of the General Assembly to consider further the question of the future government of Palestine. These resolutions were adopted by the Security Council at its 277th meeting on April 1, 1948.
Special Assembly Session
The Secretary-General promptly convoked a special session of the General Assembly, which met at Flushing Meadows on April 16, 1948. The Security Council assembled on the same day to consider the problem of maintaining peace in Palestine and in the early morning hours of April 17 adopted a resolution calling upon all persons and organizations in Palestine, and especially the Arab Higher Committee and the Jewish Agency, to cease all military activities and acts of violence, to refrain from bringing military personnel or war material into the country, and to refrain, pending the General Assembly's further consideration of the future government of Palestine, from any political activity which might prejudice the rights, claims, or position of either community.
The fighting in Palestine continued.
Prior to the convocation of the Special Session of the General Assembly, private consultations at the instance of the United States had taken place among the members of the Security Council to consider what elements might be incorporated in a temporary United Nations trusteeship agreement if that should meet with the favor of the General Assembly. Following these discussions, from which the Soviet and Ukrainian members of the Council abstained, the United States Delegation to the Special Session on April 20 informally sub
mitted to other delegations as a basis for discussion a working paper entitled “Draft Trusteeship Agreement for Palestine", which embodied the principles which the United States had put forward for discussion in the informal meeting of the members of the Security Council on April 5, 1948.
While the Security Council, on one hand, was attempting to maintain peace in Palestine and the General Assembly, on the other, was considering the best temporary form of government which should take over after the British Mandate was withdrawn on May 15, bitter fighting continued in Palestine. The United States played a major and active role in endeavoring to negotiate a truce and subsequently a temporary cease-fire between the Arab and Jewish factions.
In a further effort to re-establish peace in the area the Security Council on April 23 established a Truce Commission in Palestine, composed of the Representatives of those members of the Council which had career consular officers in Jerusalem (Belgium, France, the United States, and Syria) but noted that the Syrian Government was not prepared to serve on the Commission. The function of the Truce Commission was to assist the Security Council in supervising the implementation by the parties of the resolution of April 17. The Commission met in conditions of great personal danger to the Consuls General of Belgium, France, and the United States, who displayed the utmost valor in endeavoring to bring about a truce in the Holy City which might extend throughout Palestine. That their efforts were unsuccessful made more tragic the death of the American member of the Truce Commission, Consul General Thomas Wasson, who on May 22 was hit by a sniper's bullet while returning from a meeting of the Commission.
Meanwhile, in the Special Session of the General Assembly, it became evident that the necessary two-thirds majority of delegations present and voting could not be mustered in support of a temporary trusteeship for Palestine.
The Assembly, having failed to accept the proposal for a temporary trusteeship in Palestine, wound up its Special Session by adopting a resolution on May 14 which confirmed its support of the efforts of the Security Council to secure a truce in Palestine and called upon all governments and persons to cooperate in making effective such a truce. At the same time the Assembly established the office of a United Nations Mediator for Palestine, who was empowered to use his good offices with the local and community authorities to arrange for the operation