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U.N. Report Urges Internationalization of Jerusalem and Autonomy for Arab, Jewish Areas

September 14, 1949
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine today released a draft statute for the establishment of “a permanent international regime for the Jerusalem area.” The 25-article statute, drawn up by a technical committee of the Commission, calls for internationalization of the entire city–both new and old–under the authority of the world organization.

In a brief preamble to the statute signed by the three members of the Commission, the U.N. group asserts that the draft ‘would guarantees” each distinctive group the “maximum local autonomy,” based on the division of the city into Arab and Jewish communities, as tentatively designated on an appended map of the Jerusalem area. The Commission cautions that this should not be interpreted as the final boundaries of the city and that it will not prejudice the final over-all peace settlement for Palestine.

The report has been submitted for consideration of the General Assembly–which opens here next week–as a basis for discussion. While the draft purports to establish a permanent regime in the exercise of full and permanent U.N. authority over the Jerusalem area, in effect it sets up only a weak U.N. structure consisting of an Assembly-elected commissioner, supported by a mixed 14-man general council–consisting of five Jews, five Arabs and four members of minority groups–two judiciaries, and some temporary guards. Their powers are mainly restricted to safeguarding the safety of and access to the Holy Places.


The territory of the international area of Greater Jerusalem would be expanded to a territory of 100 square miles, including the city of Bethlehem. The exact boundaries of the area shall be decided by an on-the-spot mixed boundary commission, the report says.

The report also recommends that the entire area of Jerusalem should be “permanently demilitarized and neutralized.” It calls on the parties concerned to guarantee to the General Assembly that “there shall be no military or paramilitary forces or stocks of war materials” kept in the city. Another provision of the report would limit the police forces of each municipality to 500 persons.

In defining the precise rights and jurisdiction of the two municipalities, one of the articles of the report states: “All matters not reserved by the present instrument to the competence of the U.N. Commissioner” and the other organs of the international regime “are delegated” to the local authorities.


The U.N. plan would prohibit mass immigration into either the Jewish or Arab sector of the city. It would maintain immigration in one sector in the same ratio as that in the other, so that if the present, small number of Arabs in the Old City were not increased it would not be possible for more Jews to enter the new city.

The day-to-day life of the two zonal communities will remain largely within their respective autonomy, according to several articles. A key provision permits them to maintain only those officials, administrative organs and public services normally “necessary for the administration of municipal affairs.”

The proposed regime would have none of the characteristics of a strong political or legal government; it would not be backed by security forces or by a municipal budget. All U.N. officials are to be subsidized by the United Nations. The precise legal position of the peoples of the area is left in doubt.


The Commissioner would be appointed by the General Assembly for a term of five years and would be responsible to the assembly for safeguarding the Holy Places. He would preside over the 14-man council, with powers to coordinate common services, promote mutual and outside commerce, and to allocate contributions to the maintenance of common civil and religious endeavors.

A three-man international tribunal, elected by the Assembly and the Security Council, will render decisions under its own procedures–on all disputes affecting relations between the parties. It will also have powers to review decisions of another three-man judiciary, known as the mixed tribunal for Jerusalem, with powers to adjudicate tensions arising from civil and criminal cases between Arabs and Jews but under current law. In the absence of a U.N. executive, their decisions will have to be carried out by the zonal authorities.

The Commissioner is empowered to hire guards to maintain the security of U.N. bodies and for the protection of communications lines to shrines and Holy Places. He can supervise undertakings for the protection of Holy Places outside of Jerusalem and negotiate for the protection of the free pilgrimages.

Both areas must ensure observance of the U.N. concept of human rights, especially on freedom of worship and education. The official languages of the area will be Hebrew, Arabic, French and English.

At one point in the report, the Commission says that the draft is so flexible as to be applicable to “any territorial situation that might emerge from the final settlement of the Palestine problem.”

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