Palestine Crisis

March 17, 1948

Report Outline
Security Council and the Palestine Crisis
Past Efforts to Solve Palestine Problem
General Assembly's Action on Palestine

Security Council and the Palestine Crisis

Responsibilities of the United Nations in Palestine

Within less than two months the United Nations will become responsible for the administration of Palestine and for maintenance of order in what is presently one of the world's most turbulent and sensitive areas. The British government informed the Security Council a fortnight ago that its decision to terminate the Palestine mandate on May 15 was “irrevocably fixed.” On that day, therefore, barring an unexpected change of heart in London and regardless of the legal technicalities involved, the United Nations will become in fact the governing authority in the Holy Land.

As recently as Nov. 29 the General Assembly approved a plan which purported to solve the long-standing problem of Palestine. The plan provided for partition of the country into an Arab state and a Jewish state, with economic union, and laid down a time schedule calling for attainment of full independence not later than Oct. 1, 1948. But the commission created to carry out the plan had been in session little more than a month when it was obliged to report to the Security Council the obvious fact—officially ignored when the General Assembly voted for partition—that it could not perform its assigned task “unless military forces in adequate strength are made available to the commission when the responsibility for the administration of Palestine is transferred to it.”

Brought face to face with the political risks and practical complexities of the Palestine question, the Security Council on Mar. 5 asked its permanent members to consult together and report back with recommendations. Britain as an interested party took no formal part in the consultations, and the four other permanent members were unable to agree on recommendations within the ten-day time limit originally set. After being at one point on the verge of reporting that the Palestine situation should be declared a threat to international peace, the conferees decided to make one more effort to find another way out. The Council is now scheduled to take up the question again on Mar. 19.

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