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5 May 1949
Held at Lake Success, New York,
on Thursday, 5 May 1949 at 10.30 a.m.
General Carlos P. ROMULO
54. Application of Israel for admission
to membership in the United Nations (A/818) (
Mr. C. M
ALIK (Lebanon) took the floor in order to present the case for his draft resolution A/AC.24/62. He pointed out that the Committee was not dealing merely with the admission of one more State to membership in the United Nations; it was a matter of exceptional significance. The decision taken on it would directly affect millions of human beings.
An aura of sacredness had always surrounded Palestine. It had been hallowed for Jews, Christians and Moslems by the preaching of the prophets, by countless pilgrimages and by the presence there at one time of the Redeemer of Mankind.
The fundamental decision to be taken by the Assembly was whether to admit Israel to membership at the present session. Mr. Malik would consider that issue irrespectively of the position adopted by his Government in the past on the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine and without prejudice to any decision it might take with regard to Israel in the future.
The General Assembly had to determine first of all the criterion on which to base its decision to admit Israel. Ordinarily, applicant States were merely required to comply with the conditions laid down in Article 4 of the Charter. However, in so far as Israel had actually been created in November 1947 by a
resolution of the General Assembly (181 (II))
, the Assembly had first to consider the cardinal question of whether the new State in its present structure conformed to the previous decisions affecting it which had been adopted by the United Nations itself.
In that connexion, Mr. Malik quoted from section F, part I of the Assembly's resolution of 29 November 1947, which stated that sympathetic consideration should be given to the application for membership of either the Jewish or the Arab State, when the independence of either as envisaged in the plan had become effective and the declaration and undertaking as envisaged in the plan had been signed by either of them.
If the present structure of Israel did not conform to those conditions, two courses were open to the Assembly: either to make the membership of Israel dependent upon acceptance of the original recommendations of the United Nations, or to admit it notwithstanding its failure to comply with those recommendations, thereby cancelling or revoking them. Should the Assembly adopt the latter course, it must be fully aware of the implications of such a course for future decisions of a similar nature and of its effect on the general situation in the Near East, for the present structure of Israel did not in fact conform to the wishes expressed in the previous resolutions of the Assembly; it was not the same as the Jewish State, the existence of which had been sanctioned by that body in November 1947 and for which additional requirements had been laid down in
the General Assembly resolution of 11 December 1948 (194 (III))
. The differences were fundamental and could not be dismissed or condoned as secondary factors. Admission of Israel notwithstanding those essential and highly significant differences would be tantamount to the revocation of the previous Assembly decisions, the frustration of the human aspirations expressed by the highest spokesmen of great religions and the violation of the deepest spiritual sentiments of a large portion of mankind.
The State of Israel, in its present form, directly contravened the previous recommendations of the United Nations in at least three important respects: in its attitude on the problem of Arab refugees, on the delimitation of its territorial boundaries, and on the question of Jerusalem.
The United Nations had certainly not intended that the Jewish State should rid itself of its Arab citizens. On the contrary, section C of part I of the Assembly's 1947 resolution had explicitly provided guarantees of minority rights in each of the two States. For example, it had prohibited the expropriation of land owned by an Arab in the Jewish State except for public purposes, and then only upon payment of full compensation. Yet the fact was that 90 per cent of the Arab population of Israel had been driven outside its boundaries by military operations, had been forced to seek refuge in neighbouring Arab territories, had been reduced to misery and destitution, and had been prevented by Israel from returning to their homes. Their homes and property had been seized and were being used by thousands of European Jewish immigrants.
The United Nations had only recently taken measures to relieve temporarily the plight of the Arab refugees and to arrange for their resettlement in other countries. However, the problem was not a humanitarian one; it was not one of temporary relief and resettlement. The real need was to find means to prevent the growth in the hearts of those uprooted people and their children of deep resentment toward their fellow men and the spread of that resentment to the body politic of the countries in which they had taken refuge. Surely the Jews, who claimed that they had always been an uprooted people whose homelessness had driven them to fight for their ancient home, could not in all justice and conscience seek to remedy that uprooting by inflicting it upon others. The admission of Israel at the present stage, before it had accepted the principle of repatriation of the Arab refugees and clearly stated its position, could only strengthen the refugees' resentment and engender nihilism. The continued dispersion of one million of them could be expected to give rise to serious political, social, economic and spiritual disturbances in the Near East and in the whole world for generations to come. While there were some who welcomed and promoted such disturbances, those who genuinely hated disorder and anarchy should make every effort to prevent such a destructive wave of social unrest.
That the General Assembly had not been unaware of the real significance of the problem of Arab refugees had been demonstrated in its resolution of 11 December 1948, which provided for the return at the earliest practicable date of those refugees who wished to return, and for compensation for loss or damage to property of those who did not choose to do so. That had been a step in the right direction which could now be ignored, inasmuch as the situation of the refugees had not changed since that date. Yet the second progress report of the Conciliation Commission for Palestine (
) showed that the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Ben-Gurion, had emphatically rejected the principle of repatriation and had made it clear that the solution of the major part of the question of refugees lay in their resettlement in Arab States. Obviously that had not been the view of the General Assembly less than five months earlier.
Moreover, subsequent actions of the Israeli Government had proved even more revealing. The thousands of immigrants entering Palestine were occupying property which had been expropriated from the Arab inhabitants. They were intending to establish permanent residence there. Thus, the Israeli Government was attempting to create a
situation to support its contention that it would be difficult to apply the principle of repatriation of Arab refugees. Clearly, such a claim contravened the General Assembly's resolution.
The admission of Israel at the present time, before the Israeli authorities had pledged themselves to implement the principle of repatriation and to respect the fundamental rights implied in the Assembly's decisions, would be tantamount to a virtual condemnation of one million Arabs to permanent exile. There was no precedent in history comparable to the forced exile of almost the entire Arab population of Israel. Surely no delegation would endorse such action if it were fully aware of its implications. It supplied a stimulus to subversion and anarchy. Every vote in favour of the admission of Israel was thus actually a vote to perpetuate the physical and spiritual insecurity of the entire original population of the State of Israel.
Mr. Malik was not discussing the admission of Israel in principle; his remarks concerned the admission of that State in the present circumstances. He did not underestimate the philanthropic contributions to the alleviation of the plight of the refugees by some States which favoured Israel's admission, and the Arab world was profoundly grateful for them. Yet, temporary relief was not sufficient compensation for the uprooting of a million people. To admit Israel to the United Nations as a reward for its defiance of the Assembly's wishes was conducive to the perpetuation of the homelessness of the Arab refugees. Nothing had occurred since those wishes had been explicitly made clear to cause the Assembly to revise or revoke its previous instructions.
A decision to admit Israel at the present session would entail serious consequences in still another field: that of the delimitation of the territorial boundaries of the new State. It would be remembered that the 1947 Assembly resolution had allotted the whole of Western Galilee and the Arab towns of Jaffa, Lydda and Ramleh, as well as other Arab areas, to the proposed Arab State. However, the State of Israel now controlled all those territories and there was every indication that the Israeli authorities had no intention of giving them up. Immigrant Jews were being established there exactly as they were being settled in the rest of Israel. It was difficult to distinguish between what the authorities considered part of Israel and what they considered merely temporarily-occupied territory, if such a qualification existed at all in their thinking. To admit Israel before it had given up territories which had not been allotted to it by the Assembly's decision was equivalent to giving it a blank cheque to draw its frontiers wherever it wished. In effect, it meant condoning, by a solemn act of the United Nations, the right of conquest. Moreover, such a decision would be prejudicial to the negotiations on the demarcation of boundaries now in progress under the supervision of the Conciliation Commission.
Of all the territories now occupied by Israel in violation of the specific terms of the Assembly's resolution, the City of Jerusalem and its vicinity held a special position and therefore required special treatment. In that respect, Israel had committed its most serious violation of the will of the Assembly by encroaching not only upon territories which had been allotted to the Arabs, but upon what might be termed United Nations territory. The Israeli occupation of the greater part of the New City of Jerusalem was preventing the establishment of the "international régime" prescribed by the Assembly for the whole area of Jerusalem and its vicinity. While it could claim, rightly or wrongly, that Western Galilee, Jaffa, Lydda and Ramleh had been annexed as a result of war gains, there was no justification for the annexation of part of the proposed international territory of Jerusalem. Moreover, that action seriously threatened the religious rights of the Christian and Moslem communities there, and went counter to the expressed desires of the highest spokesmen for all Christian Churches and Moslem denominations. Thus the Assembly's recommendations had been violated not only in respect of the legal, political, social and economic guarantees they provided, but also in so far as they specifically required the observance of religious rights and principles.
It would be recalled that the 1947 General Assembly resolution had set up three political bodies: a Jewish State, an Arab State and a special international régime for the City of Jerusalem. That last body was of more than purely political significance, and it was doubtful that those delegations which had approved the resolution as a whole would have done so had it not included the provisions on the internationalization of Jerusalem. Those provisions remained the only expressed wish of the United Nations. In its subsequent resolution of 11 December 1948, the Assembly had reaffirmed that wish `y stating that the Jerusalem area "should be accorded special and separate treatment from the rest of Palestine and should be placed under effective United Nations control". Thus the intention of the United Nations was unequivocal.
The intentions and wishes of the representatives of the two other world religions concerned with the fate of Jerusalem was no less clear. His Holiness, the Pope, while remaining aloof from the political aspects of the question, had expressed the desires of the whole Catholic world in two Encyclicals issued within the last six months. In the Papal encyclical
issued on 23 October 1948, he had expressed confidence that the United Nations would consider it a better guarantee of the safety of the Holy Places and sanctuaries in the present circumstances, "to give an international character to Jerusalem and its vicinity", and to assure the "right of free access to the Holy Places ... and the freedom of religion and respect for customs and religious traditions". In the encyclical
issued on 15 April 1949, Pope Pius XII had recalled his earlier communication concerning the international status of Jerusalem and had appealed for a settlement of the question which would "accord to Jerusalem and its surroundings a juridical status whose stability under the present circumstances can only be adequately assured by a united effort of nations that love peace and respect the rights of others". He had also asked for guarantees of immunity and protection to all the Holy Places outside of Jerusalem itself. His concern had been echoed by a statement from three United States Cardinals and in a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury reasserting that "Jerusalem, new and old ... must remain under international control".
To the Moslems, Jerusalem was no less holy, not only because of the Moslem Holy Places, but because of the sites held sacred by Christians and Jews as well, for Islam, in a sense, tried to build upon the foundation of Christianity and Judaism. Yet, there was no certainty that some representatives of the Jewish faith did not wish to see the Holy City transformed into a secular Zionist State, rather than have it come under an international régime designed precisely to protect its Holy Places and preserve its religious freedoms.
The admission of Israel to the United Nations at the present time, notwithstanding the emphatic rejection by the Israeli authorities of the Assembly's recommendations on the internationalization of Jerusalem, would constitute an action taken despite the considered views and explicit desires of the highest representatives of Christianity and Islam. Israel's rejection had been reported officially by the Conciliation Commission in its second progress report. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion had informed the Commission that when it was in a position to do so on an equal footing with the Arab States, Israel "intended to request the General Assembly to revise part of that resolution concerning Jerusalem". He had further stated that while his Government accepted without reservation an international régime for the Holy Places, it could not "for historical, political and religious reasons" accept the establishment of an international regime for the City of Jerusalem. In all fairness, the Israeli authorities had to be reminded that for the very same reasons, the Christian and Moslem States of the world could not accept the annexation of part of Jerusalem by Israel.
Israel's reply to the United Nations recommendations and to the pleas of the world's religious leaders for the internationalization of Jerusalem had been to take steps to prepare for its being declared the capital of the State of Israel. The recent statements of the President of Israel, Dr. Weizmann, regarding the Holy Places did not change the fundamental issue. While Dr. Weizmann had affirmed what the Israeli authorities were prepared to do, he had not stated what they were not prepared to do, and therein they stood against the Assembly's decisions and the wishes of the Christian and Moslem world. They were prepared, in effect, to accept international safeguards for the protection of the Holy Places, but not of the city and community of Jerusalem as such. Dr. Weizmann had never pledged his Government's co-operation in implementing the Assembly's plan for internationalization of the city. Yet, both the United Nations resolution and the statements of Pope Pius had clearly distinguished between the Holy Places all over Palestine and the City of Jerusalem and its vicinity. The official position of Israel, as clearly and emphatically expressed by Mr. Ben-Gurion in his conversations with the Conciliation Commission, was still a rejection of the internationalization of Jerusalem, contrary to the insistent demands of the Assembly and the representatives of the Christian and Moslem worlds.
The differences in respect of Jerusalem between the United Nations plan, on the one hand, which had been supported by the most eminent religious leaders, and the clear position of the Israeli authorities on the other, were irreconcilable. They could not be settled by compromise; nor could they complacently be ignored or dismissed. The dilemma could be resolved only if Israel were to yield to the wishes of the highest civil and religious representatives of mankind or if the world were to renounce its legitimate rights and offer to Israel the privilege of determining the fate of mankind's religious capital. To admit Israel to the United Nations forthwith, before it had demonstrated its willingness to implement the plan for the internationalization of Jerusalem, was to surrender the Holy City of three great world religions to the secular representatives of one of them. Thus the General Assembly would be bowing to another
Every vote in favour of its admission during the present session was a vote to allow Israel to settle the future of Jerusalem single-handed. But Jerusalem did not, like every other city in the world, belong to its inhabitants. Still less did it belong to the forces which were now occupying it. Every Christian, Moslem and Jew had a claim to Jerusalem, and was entitled to see to it that his rights were preserved, not in the "Holy Places throughout Palestine" alone, but in the city itself.
Mr. Malik wished to make an important statement concerning the position of the Arab States in respect of the internationalization of Jerusalem. Certain newspapers, maliciously or with good intention, had reported that the Arabs did not favour the internationalization of the Holy City. Mr. Malik was authorized by his Government to state that they did favour such a régime and that all accounts to the contrary were not in conformity with the facts.
Mr. Malik assured the members of the Committee that the emphasis he had given to the religious argument had not been designed for political ends. That argument should not be discounted on the grounds that Lebanon was politically interested in the question before the Assembly. Precisely because he was an Arab and a Christian, Mr. Malik felt that he was particularly well fitted to present the religious aspects of the question. It remained for a Christian Arab to put forward the views cherished by Christians the world over.
The decision which the General Assembly was called upon to make would determine the fate of a million Arab refugees and of the religious capital of the world. It would directly influence the dignity of the religious authorities which claimed Jerusalem to be holy to their faiths, as well as that of the United Nations which now found that the State it had created was systematically defying its wishes.
There had been no major developments affecting the situation of the Arab refugees and the establishment of an international régime for Jerusalem since the Assembly had adopted the resolution governing those questions on 11 December 1948. No progress had been made in the implementation of that decision in the five months that had elapsed since its endorsement. Israel had given no assurances on the acceptance of the principle of repatriation or internationalization; yet those needs remained imperative. The various religious groups had not diminished their insistence on the provision of safeguards for the Holy City through internationalization. Surely the satisfactory settlement of the human and religious aspects of the problem, which had been recognized by the majority of the Assembly at the first part of its third session, had not now become less urgent. There seemed to be no grounds to give priority to the admission of Israel over that of Italy, Ireland, Portugal or Ceylon. The Lebanese Government held that the admission of Israel was not urgent and should be deferred until Israel had satisfactorily demonstrated its willingness and capacity to conform to the wishes of the General Assembly and other organs of the United Nations, especially with respect to the internationalization of Jerusalem and the repatriation of the Arab refugees. In no case should the Assembly condone Israel's defiance of United Nations decisions and admit it on the assumption that it might later change its policies.
Accordingly, the Lebanese delegation had submitted its draft resolution. It found it difficult to understand the position taken by some delegations which favoured unconditional admission of Israel during the present session in the hope that it would ultimately abide by the Assembly's earlier decisions, in view of the fact that Israel had demonstrated in advance its unwillingness to abide by those decisions.
Finally, it would be a serious mistake for the General Assembly to sanction the admission of Israel and thus to prejudice the negotiations upon which the Conciliation Commission had only recently embarked. In that connexion, a United States newspaper had quoted a representative of Israel to the effect that peace in the Near East was conditional upon that State's immediate admission to the United Nations. It was useless to think, the representative had been quoted as saying, that the Conciliation Commission could effectively proceed in its work before that condition had been fulfilled.
The Government of Lebanon had entered into those negotiations in good faith. It would consider the admission of Israel at the present stage as a revocation of the resolution of 11 December 1948 which had established the Conciliation Commission. The Commission could function only within its terms of reference, which were not respected by Israel. Mr. Malik stated his Government's view that if Israel should be admitted to membership in the United Nations at the present time, without prior assurance that in all details it would respect the terms of reference of the Conciliation Commission, the Lebanese Government reserved the right to reconsider its position toward the conversations now proceeding in Lausanne.
HAIRMAN recalled that at the preceding meeting the Committee had adopted a resolution "to invite the Government of Israel to send a representative to the
Political Committee with a view to answering such questions and making such statements as the Committee might deem desirable before reporting to the General Assembly on the question of the admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations".
At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr. Eban, the representative of Israel, came to the Committee table.
The CHAIRMAN indicated that the representatives of Sweden and Iraq had asked to speak before the representative of Israel presented his statement.
L-SWAIDY (Iraq) yielded the floor to the representative of Israel and indicated that Iraq would present its statement after the representative of Israel had been heard.
RAFSTROM (Sweden) stated that the Swedish delegation had studied the report on the assassination of the late United Nations Mediator, Count Bernadotte, and Colonel Sérot, submitted by the Government of Israel to the Security Council (S/1315). It considered that report unsatisfactory, since it left too many questions unsettled and shed no light on the responsibility for the crime.
The Swedish delegation would not enter into the consideration of that report before the Committee since that report had been submitted to the Security Council. Moreover, the matter was being discussed between the Swedish and Israeli Governments through normal diplomatic channels.
BAN (Israel) understood that the questions raised in connexion with Israel's application for membership in the United Nations were being discussed in the light of the compliance of Israel with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly.
He recalled that on 29 November 1948, Israel's application for membership in the United Nations had been submitted to the Security Council in accordance with Article 4, paragraph 2 of the Charter
On 14 May 1948, the State of Israel had proclaimed its independence, in accordance with the explicit instructions of the General Assembly itself.
He recalled that the Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 contained a recommendation that when either State envisaged by that resolution had made its independence effective, "sympathetic consideration should be given to its application for membership in the United Nations in accordance with Article 4 of the Charter of the United Nations".
By the date of its request for admission, the State of Israel had successfully withstood an aggressive onslaught launched against it by seven States including six Members of the United Nations, in an effort to negate the General Assembly's resolution by force. Israel had established the foundations of its government and had secured recognition by nineteen States. It had persistently made efforts to negotiate with the neighbouring Arab States for an end to the war and the establishment of peace. Israel was the only State involved in the war which had undertaken to comply with the Security Council's resolution of 16 November 1948
calling upon the Governments concerned to negotiate an armistice as a transition to lasting peace. Israel had emerged from mortal danger into the clear prospect of survival and, having reached that degree of stability both in its domestic institutions and its international position, had come forward to assume its obligations as a Member of the United Nations.
Israel's application had therefore been on the agenda of the United Nations for five months. During the first discussion in the Security Council in December 1948
there had already been a considerable body of opinion ready to favour an immediate recommendation for admission. Some delegations had, however, counselled a brief delay and had pointed out that a beginning had not yet been made in the process of negotiation called for by the Security Council and by the General Assembly. Other delegations invoked the provisional character of Israel's governmental institutions and the somewhat restricted basis of its international recognition at that time. The Israeli Government had found it difficult to admit that any reading of Article 4 of the Charter made those considerations strictly relevant. Many States had been admitted to membership before the establishment of elected Governments and, if the conciliation effort had not yet begun, the fault was not with Israel, which had been the first to propose direct armistice and peace talks in a formal communication to Arab States through the Mediator as early as August 1948.
Nevertheless, the Israel Government, realizing that the Security Council was the organ of the United Nations with "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security", had taken sympathetic note of the Council's hesitations and had waited until March 1949 before requesting further consideration of its application.
/ In the interim, Israel's consolidation had progressed rapidly; it had secured recognition by an overwhelming majority of other States; it had conducted the only democratic election with full popular participation which had been seen in that part of the Near East for several years; it had established a legislature based on popular suffrage, had formed a government dedicated to the principles of parliamentary democracy and social reform, and had elected a Head of State who symbolized Israel's concern for international prestige and scientific humanism. After direct and intricate negotiations under the skillful direction of the Acting Mediator, the Government of Israel had concluded an armistice agreement with Egypt, the leading Power in the Arab world, and wished to regard that agreement as the prelude to peace between the two countries.
In every other case of admission, a resolution of the Security Council, such as the one recommending the application of Israel by nine votes to one
had had a decisive effect when Assembly confirmation had been sought. Considering that Israel's claim for admission had been hotly contested within the Security Council by one of the States which had felt itself entitled to make a war for the extermination of Israel and the overthrow of the Assembly resolution by force, it was clear that the majority in the Security Council had not been achieved by a cursory review of the case. The suggestion of the United Kingdom that residual problems of the war, especially the question of the status of the city of Jerusalem and the Arab refugees, should be clarified before admission was recommended, had implicitly rejected the Council's vote. Remaining within the terms of Article 4 of the Charter and in full consciousness of Israel's position on both of those questions, the Security Council had sent its impressive verdict to the General Assembly (A/818). During the eighty-nine meetings devoted to the Palestine question, the Security Council had had an opportunity to observe the conduct of Israel and its constant recourse to the basic principles of the Charter which, by forbidding use of force in international relations, should have prevented that violent obstruction of the partition decision which was the source of all subsequent trouble and of all outstanding problems.
Since the adoption of the Security Council's resolution supporting Israel's application, that State had concluded armistice agreements with Lebanon and with Transjordan. In addition, armistice negotiations with Syria were in progress and an Israeli delegation had been sent to Lausanne at the invitation of the Conciliation Commission.
Mr. Eban stated that the Government of Israel had informed the Conciliation Commission that it wished to regard the Lausanne meetings not as a mere preliminary exchange of views, but as an earnest attempt by both parties to achieve a final and effective peace settlement. The entire issue of peace and stability in the Near East depended on the reply of the Arab countries on this point, indicating whether or not their delegations were similarly prepared to institute peace discussions. Clearly, progress towards peace between Israel and its neighbours had increased in momentum since the Security Council's recommendation for the admission of Israel.
Referring to the jurisprudence of the United Nations relating to the admission of new Members, the representative of Israel stated that it was his Government's understanding that nothing but the provisions of Article 4 were relevant in the consideration of an application for membership. That conviction, based on the spirit and the language of the Charter, had been confirmed by the General Assembly resolution of 8 December 1948 (197 (III)), which stated that juridically no State was entitled to make its consent to the admission of an applicant dependent on conditions not expressly provided by paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the Charter.
In addition to the legal considerations, the representative of Israel stressed the political and moral implications of the resolution and recalled the preponderance of opinion in favour of the principle of universality. In the opinion of the representative of Israel, no Member of the United Nations which rejected principles of totalitarian conformity could withhold its consent to Israel's admission on the grounds that Israel did not share its views on the solution of certain international problems.
While proposing to give the official views of the Government of Israel on the problems of Jerusalem and Arab refugees, Mr. Eban reserved Israel's opinion with regard to the relevance of extraneous issues to the question of admission to membership. While the invitation extended to the representative of Israel to speak established a new precedent, the adherents of "normal procedures" might well note that no other candidate for membership had been called upon to present its views on international problems in the context of the discussion on Israel's admission to membership. In the consideration of Yemen for membership, there had been no discussion of the officially sponsored policy of organized slavery. It could therefore be assumed that the General Assembly had taken the logical view that such international problems were better solved within the framework of the United Nations than outside it. The tasks of finding solutions to the problems of Jerusalem and Arab refugees had been allocated to the Conciliation Commission. The only question relevant to the Committee's discussion was the eligibility of Israel for membership within the meaning of Article 4 of the Charter. Israel held no views and pursued no policies on any questions which were inconsistent with the Charter or with the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.
The history of the responsibilities of the United Nations in the City of Jerusalem had originated in the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947, envisaging a special régime to protect the unique spiritual and religious interests located in the City. According to the resolution, the discharge of that responsibility would necessitate a special police force and the appointment of a Governor with a large military and administrative staff, and the Trusteeship Council had been instructed to draft a detailed statute for the City. Those were the responsibilities which the Assembly had assumed at that time. The major factor at the root of all the complex problems of the Palestine question, including frustration of the plans for Jerusalem, had been Arab defiance of the resolution of the General Assembly as reported by the United Nations Palestine Commission to the General Assembly in April 1948.
/ The same report had stated that the Jews were determined to ensure the establishment of the Jewish State as envisaged by the Assembly resolution.
Recalling that seven States, including six Members of the United Nations, had undertaken official "military intervention" in defiance of the General Assembly resolution, the representative of Israel stated that without recognition of the initial responsibilities for the war, no single aspect of the situation in the Near East could be properly evaluated. He drew attention to the paradox whereby the only States which had ever taken up arms to overthrow an Assembly resolution by force solemnly accused their intended victim of a lack of concern for Assembly resolutions. If any State's eligibility for membership should be under consideration, it would be the eligibility of those who consciously selected war as a method of contesting the authority of international judgment. If, as advocated by the representative of Lebanon, compliance with resolutions of the General Assembly should be a condition for membership in the United Nations, Lebanon would not be represented in the Organization. The Arab States had opposed by force the establishment of Israel as well as the establishment of an international regime in Jerusalem.
In the Trusteeship Council, the Arab States had refused to participate in the discussion of a statute for the City of Jerusalem, whereas Jewish representatives had co-operated fully. Significantly, Arab violence against the General Assembly's resolution had begun in Jerusalem itself. Reviewing the horrors of the protracted siege of Jerusalem by Arab forces, including the armed forces of Transjordan, Iraq and Egypt, and the failure of any organ of the United Nations to take effective action in assuming the responsibilities to which the Organization was pledged, the representative of Israel noted that rescue of Jerusalem had been effected not by the United Nations but by the people of Israel who were then engaged in a desperate struggle for their own survival. During the ensuing fight, the Jewish inhabitants of the Old City had surrendered amidst the destruction of its Holy Places. The few synagogues not then destroyed had since been laid waste by Arab occupation forces. The Wailing Wall had been barred to worshippers and that situation still prevailed.
The attachment between the Jews of Jerusalem and the Jews of Israel was explained not merely by ties of language, religion, culture and other forms of natural allegiance but also by the link forged in the desperate struggle for the survival of Jerusalem. He recalled how, immediately on termination of the mandate, Transjordan troops had invaded Jewish villages, killed their inhabitants, and laid waste their dwellings. In saving Jerusalem from capture by the combined Arab forces at tremendous sacrifice, the Jews had also kept alive Christian interests in the Holy City. If the assault upon Jerusalem had succeeded, it would have been immediately and irrevocably incorporated in an Arab State which explicitly asserted its undisputed right to wield complete sovereignty over the whole city, including its Holy Places. The current possibility of giving statutory expression to the international interest in Jerusalem derived solely from the success of the Jewish resistance. The Arab position on the internationalization of Jerusalem had been made abundantly clear.
Mr. Eban referred to Israel's achievement in restoring peace and normality to Jerusalem. Unless there was peace in Jerusalem between Arabs and Jews, no juridical status could assure the protection of the city or the immunity of its sacred shrines. If there was peace between the two in Jerusalem, then safeguards for the Holy Places could easily be provided by means of bilateral and international agreement.
It should be borne in mind that the Jews had complied and co-operated fully with the Jerusalem statute while the Arabs' fierce resistance had been carried to the point of violent attack. There was nothing inconsistent between Israel's almost solitary readiness to uphold the Jerusalem Statute the previous year and its current conviction that the application of the international principle to Jerusalem required the formulation of new proposals, and, if necessary, the acceptance of a new approach. Application of the international principle in Jerusalem required consideration of the changes which had occurred since November 1947. Those changes had arisen from the refusal of the United Nations to ratify or apply the statutes worked out by the Trusteeship Council, the armed conflict precipitated by Arab resistance to the November resolution and to the internationalization of Jerusalem, the events of the struggle for Jerusalem and its reintegration into the life of the States to which its people were bound, and the obvious unwillingness of the United Nations to undertake a heavy military, administrative or financial commitment in Jerusalem, which would not be unnecessary since order had been restored.
The process of integration of the life of Jerusalem into the life of the neighbouring States which now exercised the functions of administration, had made possible the restoration of peace to Jerusalem. Defence of the city by Jewish forces had been necessary to prevent its fall; restoration of its supply lines had been necessary to prevent starvation in Jerusalem; administrative and legislative controls had been required to prevent Jerusalem from becoming the centre of rebellious and dissident elements; re-establishment of institutions of health and learning, and of at least a proportion of the official business which had once been the main support of Jerusalem, had been dispensable to prevent the city from becoming impoverished and depressed. That was the sole motive for transferring to Jerusalem the personnel of non-political departments whose presence might stem the flight from Jerusalem and preserve the city's traditional primacy in the religious, educational and medical life of the country. No juridical facts whatever were created by such steps, which were dictated not by a desire to create new political facts, but to assist Jerusalem and to add economic recovery to the other aspects of its splendid recuperation.
The statement contained in the Lebanese draft resolution that the New City of Jerusalem had been proclaimed as part of the State of Israel was false and malicious. The most salient feature of the Government of Israel's present attitude to the Jerusalem problem was its earnest desire to see the juridical status of the city satisfactorily determined by international consent. The second progress report of the Conciliation Commission did not accurately reflect the attitude of the Prime Minister of Israel on that question, as expressed by him during his meeting with the Commission on 7 April 1949, namely that the Israeli Government would put its views before the General Assembly, where the actual decision on the matter would be taken.
The Israeli Government would have preferred to continue its discussions with the Conciliation Commission until the General Assembly, at its fourth regular session, was in a position to consider substantive proposals on the future status of Jerusalem. But the expression of international anxiety and the misrepresentation of certain events compelled it to state the main principles governing its approach at the present time. The Government of Israel, while believing that the international principle should be maintained, considered that, in existing circumstances, that principle should be expressed more realistically than in the previous resolutions of the General Assembly. The situation had considerably changed since November 1947. In that connexion, the fact of Jerusalem's integration into the neighbouring States and the necessity to take a more limited view of the United Nations' administrative task should not be overlooked.
The Israeli Government had suggested at the first part of the current session
that the problem might be solved by limiting the area in which the international régime operated, so that it would apply not to the entire city but only to that part of it which contained the largest number of religious and historic shrines. Another possibility was to envisage an international régime applying to the whole city of Jerusalem but restricted functionally, so that it would be concerned only with the protection of the Holy Places and not with any purely secular aspects of life and government. That was the approach which the Government of Israel favoured at the present stage; the President of Israel, in a statement on 23 April 1949, had expressed the official policy by saying that the Government "pledged itself to ensure full security for religious institutions in the exercise of their functions; to grant the supervision of the Holy Places by those who hold them sacred; and to encourage and accept the fullest international safeguards and controls for their immunity and protection ... If there was a genuine desire to reconcile ... (the interests of Christianity and those of the people of Jerusalem) ... a harmonious solution could swiftly be secured with international consent."
That was a far-reaching commitment and no similar pledge had been made by the Arab Government in control of most of the Holy Places in Jerusalem. If the United Nations could secure such a commitment from the Government of Transjordan, and then proceeded to establish in Jerusalem an international régime which would confine its jurisdiction and authority to the Holy Places, the problem of Jerusalem could be successfully solved. The Conciliation Commission's belief, lately confirmed by the representative of Lebanon, that some Arab States had modified their hostility to the principle of international control, was ineffectual since it did not commit the only Arab Government directly concerned in the matter, which had failed to give any assurances to that effect. Thus, the effective Arab position on the matter remained negative, despite the Lebanese representative's statement.
The consideration of the question of Jerusalem was still at an intermediate stage. The Government of Israel would give its sympathetic attention to any proposal genuinely designed to meet the two main interests in the case, namely the universal interest in the fate of the Holy Places and the need to provide the people of Jerusalem with an administration conforming with their welfare and national sentiments. In Mr. Eban's view it was for the Committee to decide whether it endorsed or did not endorse the views of the Government of Israel on the future status of Jerusalem. The Committee's task was to decide whether those views were compatible with the position of a responsible Government.
Many Governments represented in the United Nations had recently agreed that the concepts of international control embodied in the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947 should be revised. Thus, Mr. Mayhew, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the United Kingdom Government, had remarked in a statement to the House of Commons on 14 April 1949 that the United Nations would surely be expressing the will of the entire civilized world in insisting that the Holy Places be protected and free access to them be assured for all religions as well as for all inhabitants of Jerusalem. The Government of Israel fully shared that opinion. Mr. Mayhew had further observed that the main obstacle to the setting up an international régime was the problem of implementation; to impose an international régime in the considerable area foreseen in the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947 would be a formidable task requiring a large police force and administration. The appraisal of the position was correct; the representatives of Israel were convinced by their contacts with leading Members of the United Nations that no military or administrative commitment with regard to internationalization was feasible; moreover, it was no longer necessary since peace now prevailed within the city. Mr. Mayhew's doubts concerning the implementation of the scheme for full internationalization were shared by the Government of Israel, although the latter continued to favour an international régime for the Holy Places.
Mr. Eban remarked that the late United Nations Mediator had in June 1948 written of the "enormous difficulties" connected with the attempt to isolate the Jerusalem area from surrounding territory. Both the late Mediator and Mr. Bunche had stated orally in July 1948 that the original conception of an internationalized Jerusalem would have to be, if not abandoned, then at least modified. Furthermore, Mr. Jessup, United States representative at the first part of the current session of the General Assembly, had expressed his delegation's opinion "that the Jerusalem area should be integrated, in so far as was consistent with its special international character, with the remainder of Palestine", and that lasting decisions with regard to the future status of Jerusalem could not be taken until the fourth session of the General Assembly
/ That last opinion fully coincided with the statement of the Prime Minister of Israel already referred to.
In recent weeks the Israeli delegation had received proposals on the Jerusalem problem from a number of Governments, including one of the leading Members of the United Nations. All those proposals indicated a desire to evolve new principles in the light of changing circumstances, and favoured the idea that the exercise of international authority should be restricted as far as possible to the actual protection and control of the Holy Places. In instructing the Commission to prepare a new proposal to express the principle of internationalization, the General Assembly had clearly indicated that its old decision on the subject was no longer effective. Besides, the General Assembly resolution of 11 December 1948 did not recommend an international regime but "effective United Nations control".
Summing up his Government's attitude on the Jerusalem problem, Mr. Eban stressed that the Government of Israel had co-operated to the fullest extent with the Statute drawn up in November 1947, and bore no responsibility for the failure of that project. That failure was due rather to the armed resistance of the Arab States and the refusal of United Nations organs to assume the obligations necessary for the fulfilment of the Statute.
The Government of Israel advocated the establishment by the United Nations of an international régime for Jerusalem concerned exclusively with the control and protection of Holy Places, and would co-operate with such a régime.
It would also agree to place under international control Holy Places in parts of its territory outside Jerusalem, and supported the suggestion that guarantees should be given for the protection of the Holy Places in Palestine and for free access thereto.
It was prepared to offer the fullest safeguards and guarantees for the security of religious institutions in the exercise of their functions, and to negotiate immediately with all religious authorities concerned with that end in view. In fact, negotiations of that nature had already been opened between the Government of Israel and the Papal Envoy to Jerusalem. Similar negotiations had also begun with Governments interested in obtaining the safeguards in question, notably the Government of France.
The Israeli Government would persevere in its efforts to repair the damage inflicted on religious buildings and sites in the course of the war launched by the Arab States. Israel regarded with satisfaction its part in the restoration of peace and order essential to reverent care for the Holy Places and sites.
Integration of the Jewish part of Jerusalem into the life of the State of Israel had occurred as a natural historical process arising from the conditions of war, the vacuum of authority created by the termination of the Mandate, and the refusal of the United Nations to assume a direct administrative responsibility on the scene. That integration, which was parallelled by a similar process in the Arab area, was not incompatible with the establishment of an international régime with full juridical status, for the protection of Holy Places, no matter where situated. One or more proposals on that subject would be submitted by Israel to the fourth session of the General Assembly. A proposal of that nature had already been submitted to the Conciliation Commission by the Prime Minister of Israel, as was mentioned in the second progress report of that Commission.
The Government of Israel would continue to seek agreement with the Arab interests concerned in the maintenance and preservation of peace and the reopening of blocked access into and within Jerusalem. Negotiations on that subject would not, however, affect the juridical status of Jerusalem, to be defined by international consent.
The Government of Israel noted a disposition on the part of the Conciliation Commission and individual Member States to formulate new proposals for the effective and practical satisfaction of international interests with regard to Jerusalem, and would give its full attention to all such proposals, in the firm belief that the United Nations should assume only such responsibilities as it was willing and able to exercise and as did not exceed the limits required for the genuine satisfaction of universal religious interests. It noted the General Assembly resolution of 11 December 1948, providing for the discussion of a lasting solution of the Jerusalem problem at its fourth regular session, and hoped to contribute either by commenting on proposals put forward or by submitting proposals of its own.
The Government of Israel drew attention to the existence of profound Jewish religious interests which gave Jerusalem a central and abiding place in Jewish spiritual life. All the sacred associations of Jerusalem derived ultimately from its Jewish origins. The preservation of synagogues and the right of access to the Wailing Wall and of residence within the Old City required international guarantees and implementation.
Those views of the Government of Israel were fully in accord with the principles of the Charter, the General Assembly resolution of 11 December 1948 and the views of many Members of the United Nations. The conscientious regard which the Government of Israel had shown and would continue to show both for international interests and for the welfare of its own population entitled it to regard its record on Jerusalem as its highest credit.
Mr. Eban then pointed out that the problem of the Arab refugees had been a direct consequence of the launching of a war for the purpose of overthrowing by force the General Assembly's November 1947 resolution on partition. No great movements of population would have occurred if the Arab world would have joined with Israel in an attempt to give peaceful implementation to that resolution. Such tragic movements were a familiar accompaniment of any war, and especially of wars affecting countries of mixed populations and conflicting allegiances. The representative of Lebanon had correctly remarked that it had never been the General Assembly's intention that the Arab population should be driven out of Palestine. But neither had it been its intention that Lebanon and six other States should wage war upon Israel, a war of which the plight of the Arab population of Palestine was a direct sequel.
The exodus of the Arab population had already assumed large proportions by the time the Government of Israel had been established. Efforts by that Government to stem the flood of refugees had been unavailing. A vivid account of the circumstances could be found in the April 1949 issue of
of London. The French representative on the Conciliation Commission, who had undertaken a detailed interrogation of Arab refugees, had stated at a meeting of the Commission on 7 April 1949 that it was wrong to describe the refugees as having been driven out; rather, they had fled in an atmosphere of fear, insecurity and danger inseparable from war.
So many passions had been aroused by the problem of refugees that the issue of initial responsibility presented itself again and again. That responsibility lay with the Arab States which, by virtue of having proclaimed and initiated the war which had rendered those refugees homeless, were under moral obligation to take a full share in the solution of their problem, even apart from their own ties of kinship with the refugee population.
Mr. Eban took exception to the terms of the preamble to the Lebanese draft resolution which implied that the Conciliation Commission's conversation with the Prime Minister of Israel on 7 April 1949 had proved that the Israel Government's attitude to the question of repatriation was a negative one. The second progress report of the Commission showed that one of the chief points stressed by the Prime Minister of Israel on that occasion was that the refugee question should be examined and solved in the course of the general negotiations for the establishment of peace in Palestine. That view could hardly be challenged. The rehabilitation of displaced persons could not take place while the countries of the Near East were divided by armistice lines, while peaceful contact was not assured, while considerations of military security were still paramount, while all movements of the population, whether refugee or not, were subject to the restrictions of a wartime régime, and while the economic and social effort required for such rehabilitation was paralysed by mobilization and a war economy. Indeed it was particularly urgent that peace negotiations should be initiated, because only such negotiations could open the way to the solution of the grave humanitarian problem of refugees.
Furthermore, the restrictive conditions laid down by the General Assembly itself, such as that those who wished to "live in peace with their neighbours", should be permitted to return to their homes, clearly presupposed a situation of peace and excluded the possibility of a renewal of hostilities. Similarly, the reference in the resolution of 11 December 1948 to the "earliest practicable date" was also a definite acknowledgment of the fact that the restoration of normal conditions was essential to any fruitful discussion on the proportion of refugees willing and able to return, as against those eligible for resettlement and compensation. In stressing the need for a peace settlement as a condition for solving that problem, the Government of Israel was concerned not to postpone a solution but to accelerate the achievement of peace.
The second point stressed by the Prime Minister of Israel was that his Government did not exclude the possibility of a measure of repatriation. The third point, as set forth in the Conciliation Commission's second progress report that the Israeli Government recognized the humanitarian aspect of the problem and the opportunity it would have to take part in the efforts necessary for its solution in a spirit of sincere co-operation. Any Arab refugee to be rehabilitated either in Israel or in an Arab country would have to undergo a complicated process of resettlement. It was therefore legitimate to weigh the relative virtues of resettlement in the different countries of the Near East in the light of long-term Arab-Jewish relations of economic possibilities in the countries concerned, and of the genuine interests of the refugees themselves.
The Government of Israel had not taken any irrevocable decision. It was reluctant to commit itself either for or against any particular formula for a solution, and regarded the question of refugees as the main one which should form the subject of early negotiations under the auspices of the Conciliation Commission. The clear prospect of a genuine peacemaking effort, including the delimitation of frontiers, was so fundamental a requisite of any serious discussion that the Government of Israel found it difficult to state its principles more specifically until that prospect had matured. Israel was about to embark on negotiations with the Arab States, during which the latter might try to evade their share of responsibility in the matter and to place the full burden on Israel alone, as the Lebanese representative had suggested. It would be unfair to demand of the Israeli Government what was not demanded of the Arab side, namely a full and detailed statement of the exact extent of its possible contribution.
Israel had noted the general desire to learn its attitude with regard to the matter. Statements in the Press and within the United Nations had portrayed the attitude of the Government of Israel in an unjustifiably negative light. In calling attention to the advantages inherent in a regional programme of resettlement, the Government of Israel might inadvertently have conveyed the impression that it would refuse to make any contribution to a solution. In order to dispel that misapprehension, the representative of Israel was authorized by his Government to make the following statement of the principles governing its approach to the matter:
1. The problem of the Arab refugees was a direct consequence of the war launched by the Arab States which were entirely responsible for that as well as for other forms of suffering inflicted by that war;
2. The ensuing problem had raised a humanitarian issue and also had serious implications for the future peace, development and welfare of the Middle East. The Government of Israel believed that a solution of the problem was inseparably linked with a solution of the outstanding issues between it and the Arab States and that no satisfactory solution was possible except by the restoration of peace in the Middle East. A solution could be found only within a final settlement creating conditions of co-operation between Israel and its neighbours;
3. The Government of Israel was earnestly anxious to contribute to the solution of that problem although the problem was not of its making. That anxiety proceeded from moral considerations and from Israel's vital interest in stable conditions throughout the Middle East. Any rehabilitation of Arab refugees in any part of the Middle East, whether in Israel or in the neighbouring countries, involved intricate tasks of resettlement. The two most widely advocated principles were (
) resettlement of the refugees in the places from which they had fled, thus creating a large minority problem and a possible menace to internal peace and stability and also placing masses of Arabs under the rule of a Government which, while committed to an enlightened minority policy, was not akin to those Arabs in language, culture, religion or social or economic institutions; (
) the resettlement of the refugees in areas where they would live under a Government akin to them in spirit and tradition and in which their smooth integration would be immediately possible with no resultant friction. A study of the economic, irrigation and other potentialities of the under-populated and under-developed areas of the Arab States revealed greater possibilities for a stable solution by the latter method than by resettlement in Israel. Therefore, the Government of Israel contended that resettlement in neighbouring areas should be considered as the main principle of solution. Israel, however, would be ready to make its own contribution to a solution of the problem. It was not yet ascertainable how many Arabs wished to return under conditions that might be prescribed by the Assembly or how many Arabs Israel could receive in the light of existing political and economic considerations. Israel's first objective at Lausanne would be to reach an agreement by direct negotiation on the contribution to be made by each Government toward the settlement of that grave problem. The extent of the contribution of the Israeli Government would depend entirely on the formal establishment of peace and relations of good neighbourliness between Israel and the Arab States;
4. The Government of Israel had already announced its acceptance of obligations to make compensation for abandoned lands. The entire question of compensation as well as the general question of reparations and war damage might well be settled by negotiations at Lausanne;
5. The Government of Israel reaffirmed its obligation to protect the persons and property of all communities living within its borders. It would discountenance any discrimination or interference with the rights and liberties of individuals or groups forming such minorities. The Government of Israel looked forward to the restoration of peaceful conditions which might enable relaxation of any restrictions on the liberty of persons or property. Now that an armistice prevailed and peace talks had begun, it would be reasonable to expect the Arab Governments to contribute to an improvement in the atmosphere by a similar declaration of willingness to discontinue measures instituted against Jewish citizens in their countries and to restore their full freedom and equality of status. It was to be noted that the Economic and Social Council was so perturbed by the situation of Jews in Arab countries that it had formally submitted an item to the Security Council
6. Deeply conscious of the humanitarian problems involved, the Government of Israel observed with sympathy the efforts of international, governmental and non-governmental agencies to alleviate the immediate plight of those refugees suffering hardships as a result of the war. The Government of Israel was prepared to lend its assistance to those efforts;
7. The Government of Israel felt deeply that prolongation of that distress without alleviation and final settlement undermined the stability of the Middle East, the maintenance of which was its vital interest.
No other statement of view could be accurately taken as an authoritative expression of the Israeli Government's attitude on that question. Its hope was that with the clear prospect of a settlement, taking the Near Eastern countries as they were, and examining all schemes of refugee settlement on their merits, the Governments concerned would enter into peace negotiations which would lead to an agreed formula on the exact contribution to be made by each Government concerned and the amount of assistance required from the international community. That line of approach was fully in accord with the views of those in close contact with the problem. Thus the Conciliation Commission itself had declared in its second progress report that "the Commission is of the opinion that the refugee problem cannot be permanently solved unless other political questions, notably the questions of boundaries, are also solved".
Mr. Eban then stated the views of his Government on the boundary question, remarking that they did not seem to constitute a major obstacle on the road to a settlement. The fact that an Arab State had not arisen in the part of Palestine envisaged by the resolution of 29 November 1947, as well as the circumstances of war and military occupation, rendered essential a process of peaceful adjustment of the territorial provisions laid down in that resolution. The General Assembly itself had twice endorsed the need of such a peaceful adjustment and its representatives had even from time to time made proposals for effecting changes in the territorial dispositions of that resolution. The view expounded by the Israeli Government during the first part of the third session
was that the adjustment should be made not by arbitrary changes imposed from outside, but through agreements freely negotiated by the Governments concerned. That principle had commended itself to the overwhelming majority of the General Assembly which had declined to endorse any specific territorial changes and had dealt with the problem in paragraph 5 of resolution 194 (III) which called upon Governments and authorities concerned to extend the scope of the negotiations provided for in the Security Council resolution of 16 November 1948 and to seek agreement by negotiations conducted either with the Conciliation Commission or directly with a view to a final settlement of all questions outstanding between them.
Israel interpreted that resolution as a directive to the Governments concerned to settle their territorial and other differences and claims by a process of negotiation. It was understood that the Conciliation Commission shared that interpretation and had indicated its willingness to commence boundary discussions at an early stage of the meetings in Lausanne. In that connexion Israel drew encouragement from the success of the armistice negotiations which had led to the establishment of agreed demarcation lines between the military forces of the Governments concerned. Those agreements had been reached through free discussion and reciprocal concession. The United Nations mediating agencies had attempted to lay down no fixed principles but to leave the parties to a process of unfettered negotiation, having in mind the general interest of peace and stability rather than the absolute assertion of unilateral claims. It was to be presumed that the same process would be followed by the parties in the forthcoming boundary discussion.
Mr. Eban thought that the General Assembly would rejoice in any territorial dispositions which rested upon the agreement and consent of the parties concerned. Membership in the United Nations and the consequent protection of the Charter would enable the Government of Israel to see its prospects of territorial security in a more hopeful light and would thus contribute to the rapid conclusion of agreements. The Commission's view that a settlement of the question of boundaries was essential for a permanent solution of the refugee question reinforced the need for the urgent institution of peace discussions.
Just as the views of the Israeli Government on the question of the Holy Places in Jerusalem should be regarded as a legitimate opinion shared by many thoughtful students of that problem, so the idea that the resettlement of Arab refugees should be envisaged against the entire Near Eastern background was commending itself increasingly to international opinion. Paragraph 13 of the second progress report of the Conciliation Commission stated that neither repatriation to Israel nor resettlement in Arab territories could be carried out without preparatory work of a technical nature and it advocated the setting up of a technical committee.
In paragraph 14 of that report the Conciliation Commission fully accepted the principle that the refugees would be distributed among various countries in the Near East, and stated that "in the long run the final solution of the problem will be found within the framework of the economic and social rehabilitation of all the countries in the Near East".
The Committee would note that the principles he had enunciated formally on behalf of his Government did not differ fundamentally from the line of thought pursued by the Conciliation Commission even though there was still a difference of emphasis which might be adjudicated at the Conference in Lausanne.
Israel envisaged the economic and social development of all the countries of the Near East as a process which would be pursued as far as possible within the framework of the United Nations. Israel's duty and willingness to contribute to such programmes therefore reinforced the urgency of favourable action by the General Assembly on the Security Council's recommendation regarding Israel's admission to membership in the United Nations.
Among other recent statements in that same direction, the Israeli Government had noted a declaration made by Lord Henderson in the House of Lords on behalf of the United Kingdom: "Until there is a peace settlement between the Jews and the Arabs, it will not be known what proportion of the Arab refugees can be repatriated ... but of greater effect will be a programme of long term constructive plans by which absorption and resettlement on a large scale can be carried out for those who cannot return to their old homes". Lord Henderson had mentioned specific irrigation projects by which that urgent problem of Palestinian refugees could be tackled with success.
In quoting such statements in favour of resettlement, he wished to emphasize again his Government's readiness to make its own contribution in the context of a peace settlement.
Mr. Eban then came to the third and last question raised in the preamble to the resolution inviting him to the Committee, namely the measures taken following the assassination in Jerusalem of Count Folke Bernadotte and Colonel André Sérot. A report on that matter had been submitted to the Security Council
and had also been conveyed by an envoy of the Israeli Government to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm. That communication contained a report of the police investigation and court proceedings. He would not deny that it had been a source of deep distress and acute mortification to the Government and people of Israel that the record of the first year of their existence as an independent nation should have been marred by a despicable political assassination and that its victim should have been a distinguished son of the Swedish people representing the United Nations itself. Despite all efforts to discover and bring to justice the perpetrators and instigators of the crime, the results had thus far been disappointingly negative. It was useless to deny that there had been a failure. In appraising that deplorable situation the following considerations could not be overlooked:
1. For several years prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, Palestine had been afflicted by political terrorism which had developed as a pernicious form of reaction of the Jewish population to the former régime;
2. At the time of the assassination, the organization of internal security in the State of Israel had been still in its initial stages. The police force had not yet achieved the necessary degree of internal stability and efficiency which would have enabled it to cope swiftly and effectively with that revolting crime. Political assassinations had occurred in many countries of well-established authority, which could be easily confirmed by the representative of Egypt himself. Israel had been faced with that emergency when its security forces, civil and military, were only a few months old and were engulfed in chaos and war;
3. A situation of particular complexity had existed in Jerusalem at the time of the murder. Despite a supposed state of truce, hostilities had been continuous and the military forces of the Israeli Government had been absorbed day and night in watching forward positions. The city in fact had not yet ceased to be a battlefront;
4. Another aggravating feature of the situation, which had had a direct and fateful bearing on the crime, had been the existence within Jewish Jerusalem itself of armed units of dissident military organizations operating in wanton and open defiance of the authority of the Israeli Government. The struggle against those intractable groups carried on in the midst of war against Israel's external enemies had been prolonged and difficult. The
incident, in which regular troops of the Israeli Army had opened fire and had inflicted fatal casualties on the dissidents, had put an end to the open existence of such groups throughout Israel with the exception of the Jerusalem area. Owing to a variety of circumstances outside the control of the Israeli Government, the liquidation of the dissident military organizations in that city had proved more difficult;
5. Actually, during the very week in which the assassination had occurred, the Government had resolved upon an ultimatum calling on the dissident groups in Jerusalem to disband and threatening the use of military force in case of refusal. The gravity of the situation which would have arisen had that ultimatum been defied was obvious: the army would have had to fight a civil war inside the city whilst at the same time being engaged in repelling unceasing attacks on its perimeter. For that reason a renewed attempt had been made during that week to explore the possibility of the voluntary dissolution of the dissident groups without resort to threats. In fact an ultimatum had been served to the dissidents immediately after the assassination with the result that the dissident military units in Jerusalem had been completely disbanded;
6. The interval of twenty-four hours which had elapsed between the assassination and the rounding up of the dissident strongholds had been due to the need to bring in additional troops for that operation as it had been impossible to spare the forces engaged in active defence duties.
7. The inability of the authorities to track down those responsible for the assassination had been due in the last analysis to a combination of two circumstances: the high degree of conspiracy prevailing in the apparently small group which had planned and executed the crime, and the absence of any exact information which would have led to the identification of the culprits.
Nevertheless, the Government of Israel by no means regarded the assassination as a closed chapter and would continue to make all possible efforts to discover and punish the assassins.
The Government and people of Israel were deeply grieved that Sweden, to whom the Jewish people was much indebted both for help to victims of Nazi persecution and for its contribution to the establishment of the State of Israel, should have lost so illustrious a representative as the late Count Bernadotte, as the result of a wanton assassination perpetrated in a Jewish-controlled area.
Mr. Eban did not conceal from the Committee that the Government of Israel regarded that event with a deep sense of failure. That failure however could not be ascribed to any lack of will to succeed. For weeks on end it had been the major task of hundreds of men both in the police and the military services, to devote themselves unremittingly to a search for the assassins. In the proceedings that had eventually taken place in court, it would obviously have been wrong for conscientious judges to have relied on anything but the most cogent evidence.
While admitting that failure had been reported in the functioning of its security system in the past, the Government of Israel could not admit that any conclusions could be drawn from that event with respect to its present capacity to fulfill its international obligations. It had not applied for membership in the United Nations until it had been satisfied that it had overcome all the natural sources of internal weakness and dissidence which might hamper a democratic Government in the exercise of its international obligations. Consequently, while submitting that report in all frankness, the Israeli Government did not admit that it should be allowed to have a bearing on the Security Council's recommendation for Israel's admission, a recommendation which had been made in full knowledge of the above evidence.
Referring to Arab opposition to the application of Israel, Mr. Eban stated that the Arab States which now advocated compliance with General Assembly resolutions had in the past assaulted the very foundations of the United Nations by attempting to overthrow a General Assembly resolution by force. The threats they had uttered in various bodies of the United Nations, and which had been translated in destruction and slaughter, had rested upon the doctrine of the optional character of the resolutions of the General Assembly. On 24 February 1948 the representative of Syria had said that "in the first place, the recommendations of the General Assembly are not imperative on those to whom they are addressed" ... The General Assembly "only gives advice, and the parties to whom the advice is addressed accept it ... when it does not impair their fundamental rights."
On 19 March 1948, he had said that "not every State which does not apply, obey or execute such recommendations would be breaking its pledges to the Charter".
The representative of Egypt had made that theory his own and had said it was his country's privilege under the Charter not to comply with the General Assembly resolution on Palestine.
Such defiance alone would have been sufficient to disqualify Arab States from discoursing on the binding force of General Assembly resolutions. Their defiance, however, had gone further and they had taken up arms to overthrow a resolution by force, after which they had persistently refused to cease fighting when ordered to do so by the Security Council. The only States ever described by the Security Council as having caused a threat to the peace under Chapter VII of the Charter were now posing as the disinterested judges of their own intended victim in his efforts to secure a modest equality in the family of nations.
Without wishing to discuss the exact degree of legal compulsion inherent in a General Assembly resolution, he felt certain that the right of a State to appeal against the resolution or to seek its revision fell very far short of armed violence. The Government of Israel would never be among those who, by depriving General Assembly resolutions of all compelling moral force, would sacrifice the restraints of international law upon the altar of undiluted sovereignty. A resolution or a policy could be revised and even opposed, but certainly not by the use of force. It had been a signal victory for the United Nations when the first forcible attempt to sabotage a solution desired by the General Assembly had failed in its objective. Thus, in assuring its own establishment and survival, Israel had vindicated the supreme international authority.
Israel was bound to the United Nations and its Charter by many links of peculiar intimacy and strength. The doctrines of the Charter founded on the hopes of international brotherhood had been bequeathed to modern civilization by Israel's prophetic writings expressing the longing of mankind for an era when "nations shall not lift up the sword against nation nor shall they know war any more". In the minds of many contemporary historians, Israel represented the modern element in Near Eastern life striving for progress by the results of modern technology and science. On the other hand, no less potent an influence in the life of the new republic was its sense of continuous association with the traditions of Israel's past.
In addition to that deep historic affinity between Israel's ideals and the basic concepts of the Charter, there was a more recent experience of common interest and endeavor. Israel was the only State in the world which had sprung into existence at the summons of the international community. The people of Israel had lost six million of its sons in the cause of the victorious United Nations struggle against Nazi despotism, and its battle for sheer survival had gone hand in hand with the most successful effort of the United Nations to solve an international conflict by judgment, mediation and conciliation. It would be an extraordinary paradox if the United Nations were to close its doors upon the State which it had helped to quicken into active life. The decision of the United Nations on that question would affect the prospects of peace and the future authority of the United Nations in the solution of outstanding problems. Nothing could be more prejudicial to the prospects of conciliation and peace than any doubts regarding Israel's international status.
The time had come for the United Nations, if it wished Israel to bear the heavy burden of Charter obligations, to confer upon Israel the protection and status of the Charter. Israel and the Arab States had sent delegations to Lausanne in what Israel regarded as an endeavour to conclude final peace. One party was represented by six members with a powerful capacity to influence the decisions of the Assembly, while the other had no standing whatever in the Organization. That position was most unjust. At every stage of its checkered relations with the Arab world, Israel had felt equality of status to be the essential condition of partnership. Until the scars of conflict were healed and Israel became integrated with its immediate world, the United Nations might be the only forum in which it could sit as a colleague and partner of its neighbouring States in the transaction of international business and in the paths of social and economic co-operation.
The Arabs could not be logically expected to recognize Israel if the United Nations hesitated to do so itself. The Committee should not delay the decisive moment when the Arab world would recognize Israel as a partner in its destiny and in the progress of Asia. The foundations of peace were not so strong as to withstand easily another unnecessary period of juridical uncertainty and strife. The problems of Jerusalem and the Arab refugees could only be solved within the United Nations--formal links between the United Nations and Israel would make it easier to reach the desired solutions. The provisions of Article 4 of the Charter were thus reinforced by unique considerations of history and sentiment, practical statesmanship, equity and deep concern for an immediate prospect of stability which, if surrendered, might not easily recur.
He had tried without obscuring honest difficulties and differences to reassure the Committee on the basic issue of Israel's good-will. He could now do no more. Whatever intellectual and spiritual forces Israel evoked anywhere in the world were at the service of the United Nations. Whatever happened, Israel would dedicate itself to the ideals of peace, national independence, social progress, democracy, and cultural dynamism. With its many imperfections, but perhaps also with a few virtues, Israel offered itself to the common defense of the human spirit against the perils of international conflict and despair.
The meeting rose at 2.30 p.m.
/ See S/1093.
Official Records of the Security Council,
Third Year, No. 126.
Nos. 128, 129 and 130.
/ See S/954.
/ See S/1267.
Official Records of the Security Council,
Fourth Year, No. 17.
Official Records of the second special session of the General Assembly,
Supplement No. 1.
Official Records of the third session of the General Assembly, Part I,
First Committee, 200th meeting.
Official Records of the third session of the General Assembly, Part I,
First Committee, 209th meeting.
/ See S/1291.
Official Records of the third session of the General Assembly, Part I, First Committee,
/ See S/1315.
/ See S/P.V.254. [ S/PV.254 ]
/ See S/P.V.270.[ S/PV.270 ]