U.N. Assembly Authorizes Britain to Appoint a “neutral Mayor” for Jerusalem
Menu JTA Search

U.N. Assembly Authorizes Britain to Appoint a “neutral Mayor” for Jerusalem

Download PDF for this date

Dr. Jose Arce, president of the United Nations General Assembly, today gaveled the world organization into authorizing the British Government to appoint a “neutral mayor” for Jerusalem, shorn of all effective powers to maintain peace.

The person selected must be acceptable to both the Jews and Arabs. He will serve as special commissioner, succeeding the defunct Jerusalem commission. The final vote was 35 to zero, with 17 nations abstaining. Arce, whose ruling was attacked after the Assembly adjourned as “high-handed” and “a piece of expert railroading,” maneuvered a vote on the first three paragraphs of his own draft resolution authorizing the British appointment.

He ruled that a French amendment which would have made the major a U.N. appointee with specific police powers was not an integral part of the resolution. The Assembly thus deferred the major question of what powers the mayor would eventually exercise, passing the matter to the Political Committee on a motion proposed by John Hood of Australia.

Even if Jews and Arabs should now agree upon a mutually acceptable candidate, he would not have the power to maintain law and order until the Assembly makes a decision on the French proposal or a similar enforcement provision.


Before the balloting, Francis B. Sayre, of the U.S., restated America’s pledge to undertake a share of the responsibility for administering Jerusalem, but only under a trusteeship agreement. His assertion that the United Nations has no authority to administer any territory except under the Charter’s trusteeship article was echoed by Faris El Khouri, of Syria.

Exactly what shape the eventual administration will take now depends upon the Political Committee. It will have to choose between some version of the French amendment submitted this morning and the U.S. plan for a simple trusteeship. The French proposal calls for the immediate appointment of a U.N. delegate — not a British appointee — who would fly to Jerusalem and take charge. His task would be to recruit and control a municipal police force, to observe the cease-fire order in the Old city, to assume the municipal administration of Jerusalem, protection of the Holy Places and safeguarding of the city’s food and water supply lines.

Sayre told the assembly that further delay in appointing an administrator for Jerusalem was impossible because the British have set a deadline for appointing a special commissioner. Unless the request were made before May 9, he said, the British Government would not have time enough to have the enabling legislation, vesting in him the continuing authority for Jerusalem’s administration, ready until after the Mandate expires.

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