Sharett Urges U.N. to Sign Agreement with Israel on Protection of Jerusalem Holy Places
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Sharett Urges U.N. to Sign Agreement with Israel on Protection of Jerusalem Holy Places

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Making his initial appearance at this session of the United Nations General Assembly, Israel Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett today told the 59 delegates of the U.N. Special Political Committee, discussing the question of Jerusalem, that Israel accepted the principle of an international regime in Jerusalem to give effect to world concern in the Holy Places, but that this need not entail the sacrifice of the rights and duties of Israel’s citizens.

Declaring that the time had come to “remove Jerusalem from the arena of international debate by a worthy and lasting settlement,” Mr. Sharett introduced a resolution under which the General Assembly would “authorize the Secretary-General to sign on behalf of the United Nations an agreement with the state of Israel relating to the supervision and protection of the Holy Places in Jerusalem.” It would also request the Secretary-General to report to the next Assembly session on progress made with respect to the signature and implementation of this agreement.

Circulated with the resolution was an Israel draft text for such an agreement which listed the various guarantees on the part of the Israel Government in respect to the Holy Places. In support of his resolution, the Israel Foreign Minister declared that “there is no need for sacrifice on either side–the Jews of Jerusalem and the world community–when mutual harmony can be obtained.”

He said an agreement solemnly concluded between the U.N. and the Government of Israel would be the best way to ensure effective supervision of the Holy Places in the area controlled by Israel, would represent no derogation from the authority of the General Assembly, and would place the greatest responsibility on the shoulders of the Israel Government. It would allow, he added, for a “functional” international regime rather than one of “territorial character.”


In rejecting the draft plan for Jerusalem of the U.N. Conciliation Commission, “even in its mitigated form” as interpreted by the American delegation, Mr. Sharett made the following observations:

1. The “local autonomy” of the plan is “an obvious euphonium for lack of independence,” since “the inevitable split between the two national entities would enthrone the U.N. commissioner as a supreme arbiter, to the complete denial of self-government.” The Commission instrument, he said, is unacceptable because its basis is the subjection of the Jews of Jerusalem to undemocratic rule and the curtailment of the independence of Israel.

2. Demilitarization is no more than “an easy catchword. It would leave the Jewish area extremely vulnerable to sudden attack. Pacification,” he added, “is a process which cannot be artificially forced. It should be left to take its normal and gradual course.”

3. Jerusalem is not merely a collection of Holy Places, religious buildings and sites. In its new part, it is a town of industry and commerce, of education and culture, of literary and artistic activity. “Its proud citizens have declared time and again,” Mr. Sharett asserted, “that their government is the Government of Israel and that they will acknowledge no other.”

4. No international regime would have ever been able to meet the needs and provide for the growth and development of Jewish Jerusalem as adequately as, with all its limitations and shortcomings, the Government of Israel is doing. In this connection Mr. Sharett spelled out the recent history of the city, desorbing how the Israel Government had taken responsibility for its rescue and rehabilitation when the U.N. failed to do so. “The whole living tissue of day-to-day and long-term connections between Jewish Jerusalem and the rest of Jewish Palestine has now been completely restored,” he pointed out.


Speaking on behalf of Great Britain, Sir Alexander Cadogan told the Committee that his country gave wholehearted support to the Commission’s plan, although saying that it would welcome any changes that might be suggested if presented in a spirit of conciliation. He specifically lined up his delegation behind the U.S., France and Turkey, who make up the Commission, in claiming that the plan was an effective compromise.

Another speaker in today’s debate was Ahmed Shukairy, of Syria, who put the seal of Arab approval on the U.N.’s 1947 partition plan, when he stated that any internationalization plan for Jerusalem “should only be implemented upon the enforcement of the territorial clauses” of the partition resolution. He intimated that the Arabs would support the Conciliation Commission’s blueprint if it also entirely demilitarized and neutralized the area within a specified minimum time limit, if it provided for the repatriation of all displaced inhabitants without delay and were to set up a unitary central administration of the United Nations.

The Soviet Union introduced an amendment to an Australian resolution which would dissolve the Conciliation Commission and recommend that “the U.N. Trusteeship Council complete the preparation of the draft statute for Jerusalem, introducing therein amendments in the direction of its greater democratization.”


The draft agreement suggested by Israel includes these provisions: a detailed listing of Holy Places as of May 14, 1948; guarantee of the free exercise of all forms of worship; prohibition of any act impairing the sacred character of the shrines; prohibition of any racial or religious discrimination in respect to the rights of visit and access; free access for all nationalities, subject only to requirements of national security, public order and health; police protection for the religious sites by the Israel Government; freedom from taxation for the shrines; installation in Jerusalem of U.N. representatives for the purpose only of implementing the agreement; arbitration of any disputes.

The agreement provides that the application of laws and regulations in Israel regarding the entry of aliens shall not be affected, that the laws of Israel shall apply within the Holy Places and that Israel courts shall have jurisdiction over acts done and transactions taking place within the precincts of the Holy Places.

El Salvador introduced an amendment to the Australian resolution which would establish Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under an international regime, designate the U.N. Trusteeship Council as the administrative power and include Nazareth in the area to be placed under this international control. Egypt, in also putting forth the idea of a corpus separatum, completely rejected the Conciliation Commission’s plan as not going far enough.

Cuba, expressing satisfaction with the Conciliation Commission’s plan, said it would introduce amendments looking back to the original partition plan and Trusteeship Council forms of international rule. Belgium reserved its position for the time being. The Brazilian delegate, saying he spoke for 45,000,000 Catholics, came out in support of the Commission’s plan.

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