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Silver Tells U.N. That Jews Will Accept Partition; Wants Unscop Plan Modified

October 3, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Declaring that although the partitioning of Palestine “entails a very heavy sacrifice on the part of the Jewish people,” Dr. Abba Hillel Silver today told the United Nations that the Jewish Agency is prepared to accept the partition recommendations of the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine “subject to further discussion of the constitution and territorial provisions,” which, he said, should take place at the present session of the General Assembly.

Speaking on behalf of the Jewish Agency at the Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine, Dr. Silver said that at least two features of the UNSCOP majority report “are open to most serious objections.” One is the elimination of Western Galilee from the Jewish State, and the other is the exclusion of all of Jerusalem from that state.

He pointed out that the Peel Commission included Western Galilee in the Jewish State and that in Jerusalem a modern new city has grown up which contains a compact Jewish section of approximately 90,000 inhabitants. Also, Jerusalem holds a unique place in Jewish life and religious traditions, he said.


Rejecting the minority UNSCOP plan for the federalization of Palestine as wholly unacceptable even as a basis for discussion,” Dr. Silver presented the following proposals:

1. The Jewish Agency is prepared to accept the UNSCOP majority recommendation of an economic union between the Jewish and the Arab states, but must have in its own hands those instruments of financing and economic control that are necessary to carry out large -scale Jewish immigration and related economic developments.

2. The Jewish State must have independent access to those world resources of capital and supplies that are indispensable for the accomplishment of the above purposes. Although the UNSCOP recommendation for an economic union provides, in effect, for a large subsidy from the Jewish to the Arab State, the Jewish Agency is “prepared to assume this burden as one of its sacrifices designed to find a way out of the present intolerable impasse.”

3. The Jewish State will “scrupulously” respect the equal rights of the Arab population within its own territory and will follow a good neighbor policy towards the Arab State of Palestine, and all the Arab states throughout the Middle East. If the Jewish good neighbor policy is not reciprocated, the Jews will be compelled to “defend their rights to the utmost.”

4. The Jewish Agency favors an international authority under the United Nations to supervise and insure the implementation of its partition decision. It urges that the transitional period be as brief as possible. It considers a period of two years “considerably longer than is necessary or desirable.”

5. The Jewish Agency assumes that the transfer of the powers and functions of administration to the two peoples in their respective states would not take place at the end of the transitional period, but would be inaugurated immediately and consummated as rapidly as possible.

6. It is the hope of the Jewish Agency that the transition period from the present status of Palestine to the new status of the two independent states, will be attended by a minimum of friction and conflict. Once the boundaries are defined and the states established by the United Nations, they should be entitled to have their territorial integrity and sovereign rights respected and protected as fully as all other nations which are covenanted to peaceful relations under the U.N. Charter.

7. The Jewish Agency assumes that in the constitution of whatever military or police force may be required during the transitional period, full use will be made of the trained manpower available in Palestine which will be prepared to offer its services to the United Nations to maintain law and order.

8. The Jewish people of Palestine will provide without delay the necessary effectives to maintain public security within their country, should British armed forces not be available to the United Nations during the transitional period and should these forces be subject to early withdrawal from Palestine.


Referring to the threats voiced by Jamal Husseini, during the testimony on behalf of the Palestine Arabs at the Ad Hoc Committee, Dr. Silver repeated that the Jews are “not impressed by idle threats” and are prepared to defend themselves. “We recall with satisfaction that similar threats uttered by the same parties during the first Special Session did not influence the resolution of the Assembly,” he said. “Nor was the Special Committee impressed by these threats during its hearings.”

In indicating acceptance of the UNSCOP majority proposals, Dr. Silver emphasized that these are not proposals of the Jewish Agency, but of the United Nations Committee on Palestine. “They do not represent satisfaction of the rights of the Jewish people and are a serious attenuation of these rights,” he said, explaining that “partition was never contemplated by the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate.

“It was intended,” Dr. Silver continued, “that Palestine, the whole of Palestine should ultimately become a Jewish State. This is the clear testimony of Mr. Lloyd George, who was the British Prime Minister at the time of the issuance of the Declaration. The land referred to as Palestine in the Declaration included what is now Transjordan. The Royal Commission of 1937 declared that “the field in which the Jewish National Home was to be established was understood at the time of the Balfour Declaration to be the whole historic Palestine.” That area has already been partitioned.

The first partitioning of Palestine took place in 1922 when Transjordan, representing three-quarters of the original area of Palestine, was cut off and has since been set up by the British as an Arab kingdom. Thus, one Arab state has already been carved out of the area assigned to the Jewish National Home. It is now proposed to carve a second Arab state out of the remainder of the country. In other words, the Jewish National Home is now to be confined to less than one-eighth of the territory originally set aside for it. This is a sacrifice which the Jewish people should not be asked to make.”

While giving “full approval to all other unanimous UNSCOP recommendations, Dr. Silver said that the Jewish Agency takes issue with the sixth recommendation which calls upon the General Assembly “to undertake immediately the initiation and execution of an international arrangement whereby the problem of the distressed European Jews, of whom approximately 250,000 are in assembly centers, will be dealt with as a matter of extreme urgency for the alleviation of their plight and of the Palestine problem.

“It will be recalled,” Dr. Silver said, “that the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry likewise recommended that efforts be made immediately to find new homes for these displaced persons. In making this recommendation the Anglo-American Committee stated: ‘We have to report that such information as we received about countries other than Palestine gave no hope of substantial assistance in finding homes for Jews wishing or impelled to leave Europe.’ The position in this respect has remained completely unchanged. The recommendation has remained a dead letter. Our unfortunate refugees are still languishing in the displaced persons camps facing a third winter after the termination of the war.”

The Jewish Agency, Dr. Silver declared, strongly hopes that the nations of the world will welcome those among the displaced persons who wish to emigrate to other lands. “The Jewish Agency,” he stated, “never contemplated that any displaced person should be forced to go to Palestine. But surely, to compel those Jewish refugees, many of whom have close family ties with Palestine, to go against their will to other lands and to deny them the right to go to the Jewish National Home, would be most unjust and unkind and would be bitterly resented.”


Dr. Silver also took issue with the twelfth recommendation of the UNSCOP which says that in appraising the Palestine question it be accepted as incontrovertible that any solution for Palestine cannot be considered a solution of the Jewish problem in general.

“We are at a loss to understand the meaning of this recommendation — actually not a recommendation but a mere postulate,” Dr. Silver said. “The ‘Jewish problem in general’ is not a problem of Jewish immigration or of refugees. It is the age aid problem of Jewish national homelessness. There is but one solution to this problem, a national home. This was the basic Jewish problem which was faced by the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, and to which the proper solution was given –the reconstitution of the national home of the Jewish people in Palestine.”

Bitterly attacking the British Government for its statement before the Ad Hoc Committee, Dr. Silver pointed out that it indicated no support of the UNSCOP report and “offers in its stead — nothing.” He said that the Jewish Agency welcomes the British announcement of its intention of making an early withdrawal from Palestine, and emphasized that the failure of Britain “to give the United Nations a measure of guidance and support” makes it more imperative than ever that the General Assembly should proceed with the work before it “with utmost dispatch.”

Pointing out that Britain “might just as well have announced six months ago what it declared the other day” at the United Nations, the leader of the Jewish Agency drew attention to the fact that it was Britain which requested that the question of Palestine be placed on the agenda of the General Assembly.

“It was His Majesty’s Government which asked the Assembly to make recommendations under Article 10 of the Charter for the future government of Palestine,” Dr. Silver stated. “In making these far-reaching requests, with which the United Nations complied, the United Kingdom surely must have had in mind not the thought of ultimately imposing its own solution on the United Nations, but the hope that this great international body, approaching the problem anew and without bias, might find a solution, which, while not fully acceptable to everyone, would nevertheless represent the collective wisdom and judgment of the nations of the world and would have behind it such weight of authority that His Majesty’s Government would be prepared to accept it and to cooperate in its implementation. Surely such loyal cooperation on the part of member nations is presupposed when any international problem is considered by the United Nations.”


Emphasizing that the UNSCOP report does not ask the British Government to accept the sole responsibility for enforcing a solution which is not accepted equally by the Jews and the Arabs, but clearly recommends that, if so desired, more members of the United Nations shall be invited to assist in administering the country along with the present Mandatory Power, Dr. Silver declared:

“In view of His Majesty’s Government’s reluctance to impose a policy by force of arms – a policy which would have behind it the sanction of the community of nations — one may be pardoned for inquiring why His Majesty’s Government has not hesitated to employ in recent years a military force of 100,000 men, along with its navy and its air force, to impose by force a policy on Palestine which no international body has approved, which is contrary to the purposes and provisions of the Mandate, and which has been thrice disapproved by international bodies. It would have been more helpful if the statement of His Majesty’s Government had been more revealing. Surely it must be clear to everyone that no settlement of the Palestine problem is possible without some enforcement. The Palestine problem is not at all unique in this regard.”

It was the realization that an Arab-Jewish agreement was impossible that prompted Mr. Bevin to turn the problem over to the United Nations, Dr. Silver emphasized, Mr. Creech-Jones’ declaration, therefore, that “the United Kingdom Government are ready to assume the responsibility for giving effect to any plan on which agreement is reached between the Arabs and the Jews” is very singular indeed and does not advance the solution at all, he added. He also recalled that the principle of partition on which the UNSCOP report is based was first projected by the all-British Royal Commission in 1937.


Dr.Silver sharply replied to Jamal Fusseini’s allegation that the Jews of western Europe are descendants not of Israel of old, but of an ancient tribe called the Khazars, in Russia. He called this allegation a “canard.” Concerning the Arab grievances which Husseini outlined at the Ad Hoc Committee, Dr. Silver said that the UNSCOP examined them all and its report, as well as the Royal Commission report, “conclusively prove that the Palestine Arabs benefited considerably and directly from the Jewish development in the economic, financial and social spheres.”

The Jewish Agency leader dismissed Husseini’s “historic improvisation” on the history of Palestine and pointed out that when the Palestine mandate recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” it was only stating afact that was universally acknowledged through the ages.

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