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Statement to the Ad Hoc Political Committee by the British Colonial Secretary, Arthur Creech-Jones

(September 26, 1947)

The UNSCOP recommendations were placed on the agenda of the second regular session of the General Assembly which met in New York in September 1947 It was first dealt with by the Ad Hoc Political Committee. On 26 September, Mr. Creech-Jones addressed the Committee:

Mr. Creech-Jones (United Kingdom) recalled that his Government was in a special position, inasmuch as the United Kingdom, as the mandatory power, was administering Palestine. The proposals submitted to the Ad Hoc Committee involved certain assumptions regarding the future attitude of the United Kingdom, and the Committee was entitled to know to what extent these assumptions were justified. .

He congratulated the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine on the way in which it had carried through its task and on the diligence it had shown.

The Government of the United Kingdom was in substantial agreement with the twelve general recommendations made by the Special Committee in chapter V of its report, and endorsed in particular three of those statements of principle.

Recommendation I, regarding the termination of the Mandate, and recommendation II, regarding independence, were an exact expression of the guiding principles of United Kingdom policy, as shown by the various attempts of the United Kingdom to secure agreement on a final settlement of the problem. In those fundamental matters the aims of the United Kingdom Government were the same as those of the Special Committee.

With regard to recommendation VI, on Jewish displaced persons, the United Kingdom was of the opinion that the entire problem of displaced persons in Europe, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, was an international responsibility and one demanding urgent attention. It would make proposals to that end on a more appropriate occasion.

Mr. Creech-Jones wished to reiterate that there was no conflict between the Special Committee's general recommendations and the broad objectives of British policy: both approached the subject of Palestine and its related problems in the same spirit.

With regard to the future government of Palestine, the United Kingdom Government endorsed without reservation the view that the Mandate should be terminated. The intention of the League of Nations had from the first been that the mandatory regime in Palestine should lead towards independence. Furthermore, the situation that had since developed necessitated the termination of the Mandate. The Government of the United Kingdom accepted that necessity and would willingly lay down the obligations imposed upon it so that the independence of Palestine might be attained.

It had been made clear by Sir Alexander Cadogan at the special session of the General Assembly that the United Kingdom would be in the highest degree reluctant to oppose the Assembly's wishes in regard to the future of Palestine. At the same time Sir Alexander had drawn a distinction between accepting a recommendation, in the sense of not impeding its execution by others, and accepting responsibility for carrying it out by means of a British administration and British forces.

Mr. Creech-Jones said that there had been no change in the attitude of his Government, which was ready to co-operate with the Assembly to the fullest possible extent. He could not easily imagine circumstances in which the United Kingdom would wish to prevent the execution of a settlement recommended by the Assembly. However, the crucial question for his Government was the matter of enforcement.

The United Kingdom Government was ready to assume the responsibility for giving effect to any plan on which agreement was reached by the Arabs and the Jews. If the Assembly were to recommend a policy, which was not acceptable to the Jews and the Arabs, the United Kingdom Government would not feel able to implement it. It would then be necessary to provide for some alternative authority to implement it.

The United Kingdom Government was not prepared to undertake the task of imposing a policy in Palestine by force of arms. In considering any proposal that it should participate in the execution of a settlement, it would have to take into account both the inherent justice of the settlement and the extent to which force would be required to give effect to it.

It had determined to base its policy on the assumption that it had to lay down the Mandate under which it had sought for twenty-five years to discharge its obligations, to facilitate the growth of the Jewish National Home and to protect the interests of the Arab population. In order that there might be no misunderstanding of the attitude and policy of the United Kingdom, Mr. Creech-Jones had been instructed by his Government to announce with all solemnity that in the absence of a settlement it had to plan for an early withdrawal of British forces and of the British administration from Palestine.

In conclusion, he stated that the common aim of all members of the Ad Hoc Committee was to promote a settlement of the Palestinian question, which would be likely to endure because it was founded on the consent of the peoples concerned. He earnestly hoped that the United Nations would have more success than the United Kingdom had had in persuading the two peoples to co-operate in attaining their independence. The United Kingdom delegation would place at the disposal of the Committee its experience and knowledge of the subject. It considered it essential that if no basis of consent for a settlement could be found, any recommendations made by the General Assembly should be accompanied by a clear definition of the means by which they were to be carried out.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs