United Nations Special Committee on Palestine

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The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created on 15 May 1947[1][2] in response to a United Kingdom government request that the General Assembly "make recommendations under article 10 of the Charter, concerning the future government of Palestine". The British government had also recommended the establishment of a special committee to prepare a report for the General Assembly. The General Assembly adopted the recommendation to set up the UNSCOP to investigate the cause of the conflict in Palestine, and, if possible, devise a solution. UNSCOP was made up of representatives of 11 nations. UNSCOP visited Palestine and gathered testimony from Zionist organisations in Palestine[3] and in the US. The Arab Higher Committee boycotted the Commission, explaining that the Palestinian Arabs' natural rights were self-evident and could not continue to be subject to investigation, but rather deserved to be recognized on the basis of the principles of the United Nations Charter.[4]

The Report of the Committee dated 3 September 1947[5] supported the termination of the British mandate in Palestine. It contained a majority proposal for a Plan of Partition into two independent states with Economic Union (CHAPTER VI) and a minority proposal for a Plan for one Federal union with Jerusalem as its capital (CHAPTER VII).The Zionist side accepted the Plan of Partition while the Arab side rejected both proposals.

Following release of the report, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question was appointed by the General Assembly.

On 29 November 1947 the General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, based on the UNSCOP majority plan (with only slight modifications to the proposed recommendations).[6]

Creation of the Committee[edit]

On 15 May 1947, the General Assembly established the "United Nations Special Committee on Palestine" (UNSCOP). The Special Committee was given wide powers to ascertain and record facts, to investigate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of Palestine, and to make recommendations. It was authorized to conduct investigations in Palestine and wherever it might deem useful.[7]

It was decided that the committee should be composed of "neutral" countries, excluding the five permanent members of the Security Council, including the Mandatory power.[8] The Committee's final composition was: Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay and Yugoslavia.[9]

List of Members[edit]

Work of the Committee[edit]

UNSCOP arrived in Palestine on June 16 , 1947. While the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Council cooperated with UNSCOP in its deliberations, the Arab Higher Committee charged UNSCOP with being pro-Zionist, and decided to boycott it. It announced a one-day general strike to protest its arrival, and Arab opposition figures were threatened with death if they spoke to UNSCOP. It first heard evidence from two British representatives and the head of the Jewish Agency's Political Department, Moshe Shertok, who submitted documents and were questioned by the committee's members.[10]

From June 18 to July 3, the committee embarked on a tour of Palestine, visiting Jerusalem, Haifa, the Dead Sea, Hebron, Beersheba, Gaza, Jaffa, the Galilee, Tel Aviv, Acre, Nablus, Beit Dajan, Tulkarm, Rehovot, Arab and Jewish settlements in the Negev, and several Jewish agricultural communities. When visiting Jewish areas, committee members were warmly welcomed. Jewish Agency officials also ensured that they met with Jews who spoke the native languages of committee members such as Swedish, Spanish, and Persian. By contrast, committee members were ignored and faced hostility in Arab areas. It then held 12 public hearings from July 4 to July 17, during which 31 representatives from 12 Jewish organizations gave testimony and submitted written depositions, totaling thirty-two tons of material. Jewish Agency representatives such as David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Shertok, and Abba Eban testified, along with Chaim Weizmann, a former senior Zionist official who held no office at the particular time and testified as a private citizen. Anti-Zionist Jewish representatives from the Palestine Communist Party and Ichud party were included.[10][11][12][13]

Despite the Arab boycott, several Arab officials and intellectuals privately met committee members, among them AHC member and former Jerusalem mayor Husayn al-Khalidi.[11]

The Committee actively followed the unraveling of the SS Exodus, carrying 4,554 Jewish Holocaust survivors seeking to illegally immigrate to Palestine. Some Committee members were present at the port of Haifa and witnessed the immigrants being forcibly removed from the ship and deported back to Europe. The committee completed its work in Palestine by hearing the eyewitness testimony of the Reverend John Stanley Grauel,[14] who was on the Exodus, convinced UNSCOP to reverse an earlier decision[which?]. The Committee decided to hear the testimony of the Jewish refugees in British detention camps in Palestine and in European Displaced Persons camps trying to gain admittance to Palestine.[15] Golda Meir, a later Prime Minister of Israel, observed that Reverend Grauel's testimony and advocacy for the creation of the Jewish state fundamentally and positively changed the United Nations to support the creation of Israel.[16]

On July 21, the committee traveled to Lebanon, where they met with Lebanese Prime Minister Riad al-Solh, and with Foreign Minister Hamid Frangieh. On July 23, the representatives of Arab League states testified before the committee in Sofar. Privately, the committee met with pro-Zionist Maronite Christian leaders. Half of the committee's members then flew to Amman to meet with King Abdullah of Transjordan, who claimed that the Arabs would have "difficulty" accepting partition but refused to completely rule it out, hinting that in such an event, the Arab parts of Palestine should go to Transjordan.[11]

UNSCOP then flew to Geneva, and on August 8, a subcommittee began a weeklong tour of displaced persons camps in American and British occupation zones in Germany and Austria, and interviewed Jewish refugees and local military officials, finding that there was a strong desire to immigrate to Palestine among the Jewish DPs.[11]

In Geneva, while writing the report, the committee was subject to Jewish, Arab, and British pressure. Zionist representatives vigorously lobbied the committee. They repeatedly submitted memoranda and recruited a Palestinian Arab representative whose father had been murdered by the Husseini clan that dominated the Palestinian Arab community to argue in favor of a Jewish-Transjordanian partition of the country before the committee. The Arab League liaison submitted a memorandum demanding a solution satisfactory to the Palestinian Arabs, threatening catastrophe would result otherwise. The British submitted a memorandum arguing partition was a feasible option.[11]

Report of the Special Committee[edit]

Ad Hoc Committee Deliberations[edit]

The unanimous decision of the UNSCOP was for the termination of the mandate.

The Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question was appointed by the General Assembly, and two plans were drawn up for the Governance of Palestine on the termination of the Mandate. Seven members of the UNSCOP endorsed a partition plan (the Majority report) favoured by the Zionist leadership on 2 October 1947.

Further reading[edit]

Ben-Dror, Elad (2015). Ralph Bunche and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Mediation and the UN 1947–1949,Routledge. ISBN 978-1138789883.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ A/RES/106 (S-1) Archived 2012-08-06 at the Wayback Machine. of 15 May 1947 General Assembly Resolution 106 Constituting the UNSCOP
  2. ^ Report of the First Committee Archived 2014-12-24 at the Wayback Machine., 13 May 1947. Preparing meeting (doc.nr. A/307)
  3. ^ UN Doc A/364/Add.2 PV.33 Archived 2015-09-10 at the Wayback Machine. of 16 July 1947 UNSCOP report, Verbatim record (Waad Hair, Federation of Jewish Labour, Jewish Agency for Palestine)
  4. ^ UN Doc A/364 Add. 1 d.d. 3 September 1947 Archived 3 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine. See ANNEX 8 Letter dated 10 July 1947 from the Arab Higher Committee confirming its decision concerning collaboration with the Special Committee
  5. ^ UNITED NATIONS: General Assembly: A/364: 3 September 1947: OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: SUPPLEMENT No. 11: UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PALESTINE: REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLYL VOLUME 1: Lake Success, New York 1947: Retrieved 9 May 2012 Archived 3 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ UNITED NATIONS: General Assembly: A/RES/181(II): 29 November 1947: Retrieved 10 May 2012 Archived 24 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ ST/DPI/SER.A/47: Background Paper No. 47 Archived 2011-01-03 at the Wayback Machine., 20 April 1949]
  8. ^ It was urged that the special interests of the Great Powers meant that they would not be impartial and that their inclusion in the committee might result in political discussions which would delay its work, that the committee must not only be impartial but must also give the impression of being impartial. It was also felt that the United Kingdom as the Mandatory was an interested party and should not therefore sit on the committee."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-03. Retrieved 2007-07-31. 
  9. ^ A/RES/106 (S-1)15 May 1947: Creation of the Committee: Retrieved 18 April 2012 Archived 6 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ a b Report of UNSCOP - 1947
  11. ^ a b c d e Morris, Benny: 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
  12. ^ R. Judah Magnes Urges U.N. Committee to Recommend Bi-national State in Palestine
  13. ^ Munists Ask Independent Jewish-arab State in Testimony Before U.N. Probers
  14. ^ http://www.palyam.org/Hahapala/Teur_haflagot/John_the_Priest.pdf
  15. ^ The Birth of Israel The Drama as I Saw it, by Jorge Garcia Granados, Guatemalan Ambassador, Alfred Knopf, 1949
  16. ^ Elfenbein, Eleanor, 1982 Grauel An Autobiography As Told to Eleanor Elfenbein Ivory House

External links[edit]