Full Text of Colonial Secretary Creech-jones’ Speech’ to U.N. Committee on Palestine
Menu JTA Search

Full Text of Colonial Secretary Creech-jones’ Speech’ to U.N. Committee on Palestine

Download PDF for this date

The full text of the speech delivered today by British Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech-Jones before the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine follows:

It will be for the convenience of this committee if I, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, make a statement at the beginning of our deliberations. I appreciate the opportunity afforded me and I shall be brief. His Majesty’s Government is in a special position as the Mandatory Power at present administering Palestine. We have before us a proposal involving certain assumptions concerning the future attitude of my government. You are therefore entitled to know before you proceed very far in your discussions, to what extent those assumptions are justified.

I congratulate the Special Committee on the way in which they have carried through their difficult task and the expedition they have shown in presenting their report in time for consideration by the Assembly. The Special Committee have made recommendations to the Assembly of two kinds. There are twelve recommendations of a general character, eleven of which are put forward unanimously and the twelfth by a substantial majority of the Committee. These are followed by two decailed proposals for the future government of Palestine, one supported by a majority of seven members and the other by a minority of three.


I can say at once that the United Kingdom Government are in substantial agreement with the twelve general recommendations. In particular, they endorse and emphasize three of these statements of principle. The first, recommending that the Mandate for Palestine shall be ter{SPAN}##ted{/SPAN} at the earliest practicable date, and the second, recommending that independence shall be granted in Palestine at the earliest practicable date, are an exact expression of the guiding principle of British policy in Palestine. The record of our various attempts to secure agreement on a firnal settlement of the problem–which I will not delay the Committee by repeating — is sufficient and obvious proof of this fact. Nevertheless I take the opportunity of reaffirming that in this fundamental matter the aims of my government and of the Special Committee are identical. The third general recommendation to which my government directs attention is the sixth. This is to the effect that the General Assembly should immediately undertake the initiation and execution of an international arrangement to deal with the problem of distressed European Jews as a matter of extreme urgency. It is the opinion of the United Kingdom Government that the entire problem of displaced persons in Europe, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, is an international responsibility and one which demands urgent action. We shall make proposals to this end on a more appropriate occasion.

I would therefore only reiterate on the subject of the Special Committee’s general recommendations that there is no conflict between their general conclusions and the broad objectives of British policy. We approach the subject of Palestine and its related problems in the same spirit.


I come now to the question of the future government of Pulestine. I desire on behalf of His Majesty’s Government to state that they endorse, without reservation, the view that the Mandate should now be terminated. It was the original intention of the League of Nations that the Mandatory regime in Palestine should lead towards independence. The situation which has since developed clearly necessitates the termination of the Mandate. We accept this necessity and shall willingly lay down the abligations imposed upon us so that the goal of independence may be brought within realization.

It was made clear by Sir Alexender Cadegan at the Special Session of the Assembly held earlier this year that the United Kingdom Government would be in the highest degree reluctant to oppose the Assembly’s wishes in regard to the future of alestine. At the same time, he drew a distinstion between accepting a recomendation, 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.

The attitude of my government remains as then stated. It is hardly necessary for me to emphasize our readiness to cooperate with the Assembly to the fullest possible extent and I cannot easily imagine circumstances in which we should wish to prevent the application of a settlement recommended the Assembly. The crucial question for His Majesty’s Government is its enforcement. About that I must say a few words.

First, the United Kingdom Government are ready to assume the responsibility for giving effect to any plan on which agreement is reached between the Arabs and the Jews. Second, if the Assembly should recommend a policy which is not acceptable to the Jews and the Arabs, the United Kingdom Government would not feel able to implement it. Then it would be necessary to provide for some alternative authority to implement it.

His Majesty’s Government are not themselves prepared to undertake the task of imposing a policy in Palestine by force of arms, Likewise, in considering any proposal to the effect that His Majesty’s Government should participate with others in the enforcement of a settlement, they must take into account both the inherent justice of the settlement and the extent to which force would be required to give effect to it.


I repeat again, that His Majesty’s Government have determined to base their policy on the assumption that they must lay down the Mandate, under which they have sought for 25 years to discharge their obligations to facilitate the growth of the Jewish National Home and to protect the interests of the Arab population. In order that there may be no misunderstanding of the attitude and policy of Britain, I have been instructed by His Majesty’s Government to announce with all solemnity that they have consequently decided that in the absence of a settlement they must plan for an early withdrawal of British forces and of the British Administration from Palestine.

In conclusion, I may perhaps be allowed to make one or two observations on the task which now confronts this committee. Our common aim is to bring about a settle ment in Palestine which is likely to endure because it is founded on the consent of the peoples concerned. I carnestly hope that the United Nations may have more success than the United Kingdom has had in persuading the two peoples to cooperate in attaining their independence. The United Kingdom delegation will place at the disposal of the Committee any experience or knowledge they have which may help it in its task. It is also my hope that the statement I have just made will contribute to this end. May I venture to add that if, however, no basis of consent for a settlement can be found, it seems to me of the highest importance that any recommendations made by the General Assembly should be accompanied by a clear definition of the means by which they are to be carried out.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund