Lake Success (May. 26)
The confidence of millions of people in the United Nations will be “greatly influenced” by the results of the work of the U.N. inquiry committee on Palestine, the members of the eleven-nation commission were told here today by Trygve Lie, U.N. Secretary-General.
The committee started its work this afternoon at a public session opened by Mr. Lie, who expressed the hope that the fact-finding body will “prepare a way for a just and workable solution” of the Palestine problem “which will be acceptable to all.” He emphasized that the committee’s freedom of action is “very great” since its terms of reference are extremely broad. Its only limitation, he said, is the rigid time limit set by the General Assembly for the completion of the committee’s report.
“As a committee,” the Secretary-General stated, “you will inspire the confidence of the United Nations by studying the challenging problem of Palestine–fraught with so much emotion and passion, surrounded by so many appeals for humanity and for justice–in the characteristic spirit of a special committee of the United Nations; impartial but not detached; objective but deeply comprehensive.”
COMMITTEE ADJOURNS 14 MINUTES AFTER OPENING OF FIRST SESSION
Only five of the eleven delegates to the inquiry committee were in their seats around the circular table in the Social and Economic Council chamber when Mr. Lie spoke. The other seats were filled by alternates. The session adjourned exactly fourteen minutes after its opening.
In the absence of a working majority, Mr. Lie suggested that the election of a chairman and vice-chairman be postponed. To save the day he further suggested that the Committee retire to the privacy of a closed conference room “to exchange views on technical arrangements only.” When John D.L. Hood, Australian representative, asked if there was an approximate date when the others might arrive, the Secretary-General replied that this was one of the objects of the closed meeting–”to find out why the others had not arrived.”
FULL TEXT OF U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL’S OPENING ADDRESS
Today’s delay was embarrassing both to the members of the committee who were present and to Mr. Lie. The latter told the committee that it had only 14 weeks within which to carry out its “complicated tasks.” The full text of Lie’s address reads:
“I am glad to welcome you at the headquarters of the United Nations where you have now assembled to make preparations and plans for the important inquiry which has been entrosted to you. The resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations is couched in very broad terms. You have “the widest powers to ascertain and record facts, and to investigate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of Palestine.” You will “conduct investigations in Palestine and wherever” may deem useful. You may “receive and examine testimony from the Mandatory powers from the representatives of the population of Palestine, from governments and ## such organizations and individuals” as you may consider necessary.
“Your freedom of action is accordingly very great. There is, however, one it to it, and an important one: the time limit set by the General Assembly for the ?pletion of your report. You have been asked to communicate the report not later on September 1 because your findings and such proposals as you may consider approate to submit must be received in time to be considered by the General Assembly at next regular session.”
LIE STRESSES DIFFICULTIES FACING COMMITTEE IN DISCHARGING OBLIGATIONS
“In view of the rigid time limit, you are confronted with a very heavy program work during the next fourteen weeks; a very short period for a complicated task. ? will need to decide carefully on the most effective means of discharging your Man? I can assure you that I and the staff at my command in the Secretariat of the ?ted Nations will furnish you with all the aid which we have been requested by the ?eral Assembly to give.
“I wish to thank you for your willingness to serve on this vital committee. ? have come from different parts of the world and you enjoy the confidence of your ? spective governments. You are aware that you form a special committee of the United ?dons which represents the hope and faith of millions of people. Their confidence ? the ability of the United Nations to fulfill its momentous mission will be greatly ?duenced by the results of your work. As a committee, you will also inspire the ?fidence of the United Nations by studying the challenging problem of Palestine–?ught with so much emotion and passion, surrounded by so many appeals for humanity ? for justice–in the characteristic spirit of a special committee of the United ?ions: impartial but not detached, objective but deeply comprehensive.
“While it is for the General Assembly to make recommendations, there is no ?bt that your findings as regards facts and your proposals will greatly assist the ?eral Assembly in discharging its responsibilities. The wide publicity which your ?ort will receive will help towards a better understanding in all countries and ?ng all peoples of the relevant questions and issues and, I sincerely hope, prepare ? way for a just and workable solution which will be acceptable to all.”
JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS REQUEST HEARINGS BEFORE COMMITTEE
Following the conclusion of the closed session, it became apparent that the ?se of the meeting was that the committee’s next stop would be Palestine. There ? no discussion of the possibilities of visiting the DP camps in Europe. Mr. Lie ?caled that he had reserved two plane transports to leave for Palestine, on June 6 ?d 10, respectively and that a smaller 10-seat transport is being held for a June 2 ? parture.
It was revealed that four communications had been received from Jewish organizations and an individual, requesting hearings. They are the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Conference and the League for Peace and Justice in Palestine ?d a letter from an individual whose name was not disclosed. No final decision was ?ken on these communications nor on a request of the Jewish Agency that it be per?tted to appoint a liaison officer to the committee.
Some of the members of the inquiry body believe that it is vital that contact ? maintained with the Agency. Other members were dubious concerning the rights and ?ivileges of such an officer.