U.N. Hears Eban on Israel’s Application for Membership and Control of Holy Places
Menu JTA Search

U.N. Hears Eban on Israel’s Application for Membership and Control of Holy Places

Download PDF for this date

The state of Israel will accept United Nations control of the Holy Places and sites in and outside Jerusalem but not any Jurisdiction extending to any secular aspects of life and government. That was Israel’s offer today to the General Assembly in the 58-nation Political Committee, which was debating Israel’s application for membership, largely on the Jerusalem issue.

The offer was made by Israeli representative Aubrey Eban in a 10,000-word address in which he reminded the delegates of their failure to come to the rescue of Jerusalem when It was under attack, leaving it to the youth of Israel, he said, to defend it from destruction and incorporation into an Arab state. Elaborating on his offer on Jerusalem, Eban declared: “It is possible to envisage an international regime which applies to the whole city of Jerusalem, but which is restricted functionally so as to be concerned only with the protection and control of Holy Places and not with any purely secular aspects of life and government. This is the approach which we favor at our present stage in the consideration of this problem.”

Before Eban spoke, Dr. Charles Malik, Lebanese delegate, warned the Committee that if Israel is admitted as a member, his government may have to “reconsider” its position with respect to the Lausanne conference now in session. After Eban’s lengthy statement the Committee adjourned until tomorrow.

High points of Eban’s statement on Jerusalem were:

1. The Israeli Government has made every effort to make the 1947 U.N. partition decision a success, but bears no responsibility for the failure of the project due to the Arab war.

2. The government is also prepared to place under international control Holy Places outside of Jerusalem.

3. Israel is prepared to offer fullest safeguards and guarantees for the protection of religious institutions and is prepared to enter into immediate negotiations to that end.

4. Israel will “persevere” in efforts to repair damage inflicted on religious sites during the “war launched by the Arabs.”

5. Israel “regards with pride” its part in restoring peace which is the only safeguard for the religious shrines.

6. Israel will submit a proposal in the next General Assembly session for incorporation of new Jerusalem into Israel without conflict of religious interests.

7. Israel will continue to negotiate with the Arabs over access to and within Jerusalem but with no prejudice to the juridical status of the city.

8. Israel draws attention to Jewish interests in Holy places of Hebrew character and deems that access to them–the Wailing Wall, the synagogues and their preservation also “require guarantees.”

9. The views of Israel on Jerusalem are in accordance with the principles of the U.N. Charter.

10. Israel will continue to study any plans on Jerusalem which may be put forth by the U.N. Conciliation Commission or by any other U.N. body, but that these proposals must “not go beyond the limits” of religious interest.

(The New York Times reported from Lausanne today that “France has great hopes of attaining recognition as the protector of Christian interests in Jerusalem–a subject that Pope Pius has spoken of with increasing directness.”)

Israel, Eban said, was ready to help in relief for Arab refugees. He warned however, that the refugee problem could not be settled in the absence of a general peace settlement. He said an immediate declaration by the Arab governments that they desire an early peace settlement would create “a favorable atmosphere for discussion of this problem.”

Turning to the Bernadette assassination, Eban admitted that the Israeli Government “regards this event with a deep sense of failure.” He emphasizes, however, that conditions in Jerusalem last September were extremely tense, the city was in a” state of siege despite the uneasy truce, and the government, struggling to defend its territory and suppress dissident groups at the same time, “had to struggle very hard to make its rule effective.”

Eban pointed out that while the Arab states were now “posing” before the committee as staunch defenders of the General Assembly and its authority, charging Israel with violation of U.N. decisions, it was the same Arab states which went to war in defiance of a General Assembler resolution creating the Jewish state.

“The time has come for the United Nations, if it wishes Israel to bear the heavy burdens of Charter obligations, to confer upon Israel the protection and status of Charter as well,” he said.

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