Political Committee Rejects Bernadotte Plan in Surprise Vote; Conciliation Body Ordered
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Political Committee Rejects Bernadotte Plan in Surprise Vote; Conciliation Body Ordered

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The United Nations Political Committee adjourned tonight shortly after a surprise vote had knocked out the props from under the thrice amended British resolution on Palestine. Israel opposed the major portion of the resolution throughout.

The vote defeated Paragraph 4 of the resolution, which British delegate Harold Beeley early described as expressing the central purpose of the resolution. The paragraph, which outlined the terms of reference of a proposed conciliation commission, would have instructed that the commission attempt to achieve a final settlement of all questions outstanding between the parties to the Palestine dispute, including those points raised by the Bernadotte report. This is also the section which would have forced Israel to surrender some of the Negev territory if it wanted Galilee or a territorial link with Jerusalem.

Earlier in the day, the Committee voted to establish a three-nation conciliation commission. This was a victory for the Anglo-American bloc which favored a small, powerful body. The Committee also voted to turn over to the conciliation commission the functions of the mediator. This too was a British-American victory.

The vote on crucial Paragraph 4 came like a thunderbolt to the Anglo-American delegations, and Dean Rusk, of the United States, moved for adjournment so that the two delegations could reconsider their position. The Political Committee immediately agreed to the adjournment.


Banding together to defeat the British sponsorship of the Bernadette plan were such diverse groupings as the Arab states, the pro-Arab nations of Latin America, the pro-Israel states of Latin America, the British dominions and the East European bloc. The vote on the measure was 25 against and 22 for.

When the Political Committee attempted to vote on the next portion of the British resolution, the New Zealand delegate insisted that further voting was meaningless without giving the commission some terns of reference. He therefore proposed, and was immediately joined by the British and American delegates, that the section which was just defeated be revoted.

Over the strenuous objections of the U.S.S.R. and Byelorussia, a second vote was taken, However, the second vote of 27 for, 17 against and eight abstentions was insufficient to pass the paragraph because the rules require a two-thirds majority on a second vote.

Observers and members of various delegations bailed today’s vote as a victory for the Jewish state, Insomuch as Israel had opposed this particular feature of the Anglo-American resolution most vigorously. Amazement was expressed in many quarters at the Arab vote which contributed to the de facto gain for Israel.

Even as the shaken British delegation met tonight with the Americans in an attempt to draft a new resolution and rally sufficient forces to pull a victory out of this defeat, or at least to salvage part of the program, informed Israeli circles called today’s victory “tactical and local,” pointing out that the British could still amend their resolution to restore exactly those points which were today rejected. In addition, they said, Israel is still faced with the extremely unfavorable paragraph on the Jerusalem and Arab refugee problems.

Earlier this afternoon, before Paragraph 4 was defeated, the British had already agreed to accept, with considerable modification a more favorable clause dealing with free access to Jerusalem. They told the Israeli delegation that they were prepared to meet the Israeli viewpoint and would after their text so as to make it clear that such access presupposes a final peace settlement.


Earlier in the debate, Shertok declared that in principle, his government would welcome a conciliation commission aiming to lend its good offices to both parties in order to promote agreement on all outstanding points. The Israeli Foreign Minister added that Jewish representatives wholeheartedly supported U.N. representatives in consecutive stages of their work in Palestine.

“We are now as before,” Shertok declared, “ready to cooperate fully with the United Nations for the sake of lasting peace.” He then made the following observations: 1. Israel favors the formation of a five-member conciliation body to allow for a broader geographic composition; 2. Israel believes that to enable the Israeli Government to cooperate effectively, it must be placed on an equal footing with the Arab states in the United Nations; 3. The commission, as its name indicates, should be a good offices body and it should not be entrusted with administrative functions, since otherwise it is liable to clash with existing authorities, and the cooperation of the Israeli Government would thus be rendered most difficult.

For these reasons, Shertok declared, Israeli reserves its position on these points. Touching on the question of Jerusalem and the Arab refugees, Shertok stated briefly that only after the establishment of an effective peace and complete cessation of hostilities, which will have to be terminated finally and formally, could Israel be ready to cooperate on these two points. He added that he made this statement not only to present the Jewish viewpoint, but in order to make a contribution toward facilitating the work of the U.N.

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