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United Nations: U.S. Proposes Temporary Trusteeship of Palestine

(March 19, 1948)

During December 1947 and the early months of 1948, there was heavy fighting in Palestine as the Arabs attempted to prevent by force the creation of the two States proposed by the United Nations. The efforts of the UN Palestine Commission to implement the Resolution were frustrated by lack of cooperation on the part of the British Administration in Palestine and of support on the part of the other Great Powers. On 19 March 1948, the United States suddenly abandoned its endorsement of the Partition Plan and called for a special session of the General Assembly to place Palestine under a United Nations trusteeship until such time as an Arab-Jewish compromise could be reached Here is the relevant part of the speech by Ambassador Warren R. Austin in the Security Council.

1. The plan proposed by the General Assembly is an integral plan which cannot succeed unless each of its parts can be carried out. There seems to be general agreement that the plan cannot now be implemented by peaceful means.

2. We believe that further steps must be taken immediately not only to maintain the peace but also to afford a further opportunity to reach an agreement between the interested parties regarding the future government of Palestine. To this end we believe that a temporary trusteeship for Palestine should be established under the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations. Such a United Nations trusteeship would be without prejudice to the rights, claims or position of the parties concerned or to the character of the eventual political settlement, which we hope can be achieved without long delay. In our opinion, the Security Council should recommend the establishment of such a trusteeship to the General Assembly and to the Mandatory Power. This would require an immediate special session of the General Assembly, which the Security Council should request the Secretary-General to convoke under Article 20 of the Charter.

3. Pending the meeting of the proposed special session of the General Assembly, we believe that the Security Council should instruct the Palestine Commission to suspend its efforts to implement the proposed partition plan.

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs