Soviet Asks End of Palestine Mandate Within Two Months; Differs with American Proposals
Menu JTA Search

Soviet Asks End of Palestine Mandate Within Two Months; Differs with American Proposals

Download PDF for this date

The Soviet Union today put forward a tenpoint plan for the partitioning of Palestine, which calls for abrogation of the British Mandate within two months and withdrawal of all British forces by April 30, 1948.

The plan, which differs in both content and application from the American proposals made last Friday, provides for Security Council supervision over Palestine ##during the transitional period before creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, which it suggests should be set up by January 1, 1949.At a closed session of the sub-committee on partition, Semyon Tsarapkin, the Soviet delegate, outlined the following program:

1. Termination of the Mandate by January 1, 1948.

2. Withdrawal of British troops in the shortest possible time and no later than four months after the termination of the Mandate.

3. The shortest possible transition period between abrogation of the Mandate and proclamation of independence, but no longer than one year from the end of the Mandate.

4. Assumption of the administration of Palestine in the transition period after abrogation of the Mandate by the United Nations, through its Security Council which shall administer Palestine through a special commission composed of representatives of the Council’s member states. The seat of this commission shall be in Palestine.

5. Implementation by the special commission, upon its reaching Palestine, of the General Assembly’s decision on borders.

6. Election by the same special commission of provisional councils of government in both states, after consultation with the democratic parties and social organs of the Jewish and Arab states. The activities of the Jewish and Arab provisional governments shall be carried on under the direction of the special commission.

8. The constituent assembly of each state shall work out a democratic constitution and elect its government.

9. The provisional governmental councils of each state shall establish central and local administrative organs of government under the supervision of the special commission.

10. The provisional governmental councils shall form armed militias as soon as possible, composed of the citizens of their own states and sufficiently strong to mintain internal order and prevent frontier clashes. The militias shall operate unber their own command, but remain under the military and political control of the special commission.


The Soviet proposals received a mixed recoption from the American delegation, as well as from Jewish Agency leaders. The two points to which the American delegation is inclined to take particular exception are: that the Mandate be terminated on January “1st.,–six months earlier than proposed by the U.S.–and that the U.N. special commission to be sent to Palestine should be composed of representatives of the member states of the Security Council.

The Americans feel that the best means of guaranteeing a smooth transition peried is to have Britain retain its mandatory obligations until July 1st. On the ##estion of having the special commission composed of members of the Security Council the U.S. delegation believes that this may prejudice attempts to secure the necessary two-thirds vote at the Assembly, since the smaller countries have indicated that they want the Palestine issue settled outside of the Security Council, where any of the big powers can invoke its veto.Ambassador Herschel Johnson, the U.S. representative on the Palestine Committee, indicated that on the other points of the Soviet plan, the Americans might see eye to eye with the Russians. The Jewish Agency, it was learned reliably, will propose a compromise between the U.S. and Soviet stands, by suggesting that the U.N. commission be set up by the General Assembly, but be responsible to the Security council, since the Ascembly is not in continuous session.


Agency leaders were puzzled as to why the Soviets suggested that the transition period run six months longer than the Americans proposed. Moshe Shertok, Agency political chief, put this question to Tsarapkin. Shertok also wanted to know whether all the members of the Socurity Council would necessarily have to be represented on the special commission. Speaking later, Tsarapkin said that the USSR would welcome a storter transition period.

On the whole, it is felt in United Nations circles that the Soviet ten points may prolong discussion on partition rather than shorten it. Each point opens an avenue for long discussions and interpretations, some of the delegates pointed out, and thus, instead of acting speedily on the American proposal, which imposely avoided details in order to secure a basic decision immediately, the sub-committee and later the Ad Hoc Committee and still later the Assembly will spend much time discussing the Soviet suggestions.

At the same time, it was pointed out that the Soviet proposal has some advantages. For instance, Jews and Arabs would be able to form their own armed militia them among their own citizens without waiting until July 1st when Britain would complete the evacuation of its troops from Palestine under the U.S. plan. It also inables the immediate establishment of central and local ddministrative organs of government in each of the two states without waiting for Britain to leave.

United Nations circles consider that the primary purpose of the Soviet proposal is to get Britain out of Palestine within the next two months and, at the same time, place a Soviet representative on the commission to be sent to Palestine.

The fact that the Soviet proposal specifies that the provisional council of government in each of the two states should be selected by the Security Council’s commission after consultation with democratic parties and social organizations of each state is looked upon with some misgivings, since the Soviet conception of “democratic parties” is different than that of the western countries and therefore leaves the door open for the Soviet to use its vete power if dissatisfied with the parties consulted.


The first attempt to reconcile the American and Soviet positions was made this afternoon at an open session of the partition sub-committee, when the Venezuelan delegate suggested that members of the United States, Soviet and Guatemalan delegations–the three states which submitted implementation proposals–set themselves up as a working group to coordinate their schomes.

Maj. Gen. John A. Hilldring, speaking for the American delegation, welcomed the suggestion. He said that the margin of difference between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. implementation plans was not wide and that the U.S. delegation was ready to join a working group for coordination of the various proposals. The Guatemalan delegate also expressed his readiness to join. Tsarapkin, however, urged that before taking any stand on the proposal to form such a working group, the sub-committee provide further opportunity for questions and answers regarding the various implementation plans.

Since the members of the sub-committee did not ask any questions on the implamentation issue, the afternoon session proceeded to discuss the ouestion of economic union between the Jewish and Arab states leaving the Venezuelan suggestion open until the Soviet delegation is ready to announce whether it is willing to participate.


One of the major points on economic union discussed was that of access to water and power facilities by each of the states and Jerusalem. Clarification of the meaning of the phrase “access to” was reouested by British observer Harry Martin who wanted to know whether this provision meant that one state can purchase water rights from the other state. Johnson emphasized that it meant equality of treatment, and that irrigation was the main purpose.

Another issue discussed at great length was the autonomy of each state in control of foreign exchange. The Jewish Agency insisted on its original request for control of foreign exchange receipts to enable the Jewish state to secure loans for its development, and for financing imports.

David Horwitz, the economist of the Jewish Agency, told the sub-committee that the subsidy which the Jewish state is to contribute to the Arab state under the economic union must be fixed. He said if no ceiling is placed on it, it would mean diverting to the Arab state Jewish funds secured abroad through loans and otherwise for the specific purpose of settling immigrants. He also expressed the opinion that a fixed subsidy would help to eliminate any possible differences between the Jewish and Arab states with regard to their income under the joint economic union. The viability of a Jewish state would be affected if no ceiling were placed on the subsidy, to concluded.

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