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Sub-committee Set Up to Work out Unified Draft on Terms of Reference of Inquiry Body

May 9, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Political Committee decided tonight to set up an eleven-man sub-committee to reconcile the three proposals on the terms of reference of the proposed inquiry commission which are now before the U.N. into one working document. Varying proposals have been submitted by the United States, Argentina, and El Salvador.

Lester Pearson, chairman of the Political Committee, emphasized that it will be possible for any delegate to suggest amendments or additions to the draft which is worked out by the sub-committee. He announced, at the same time, that the Palestine Arab Higher Committee, had informed Dr. Aranha that it would be happy to send a delegation to testify before the Political Committee.

The sub-committee, which will meet in closed session tomorrow morning and report to the full committee at 3 p.m., consists of Britain, China, France, Soviet Union, United States, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Egypt, El Salvador and Czechoslovakia. Mr. Pearson will be the chairman.


During the earlier discussions, the Soviet and Polish delegations backed inclusion of one Arab state in the inquiry commission. They opposed the American resolution which advocates the creation of a small inquiry commission without the Big Five and the Arab states, and insisted that the Big Five must be included. Gromyko said that the USSR is interested in Palestine exclusively as a member of the U.N. and had no direct interest in Jewish immigration into Palestine since “Jews in the USSR are not interested in emigrating to Palestine.”

In supporting a Polish proposal for an eleven-member inquiry commission. Gromyko said that by taking up the Palestine issue the United Nations took the responsibility for the future fate of Palestine. Thus the Big Five should not evade the responsibility for preparing the final decision on Palestine. He criticized Britain and the U.S. for trying to evade such responsibility and announced that the USSR would be willing to be represented on the inquiry commission and to participate in the preparation of its recommendations for the September Assembly session.

Argentine delegate Jose Arce, “father” of the resolution for a large inquiry commission, said that in introducing his resolution he had in mind either that all the Big Five should be on the commission, or none of them.

The Polish proposal provides that the eleven-member commission be composed of the Big Five, one Arab state–preferably Syria–two Latin American states chosen by the Latin American bloc, one delegate from Africa or Asia, one West European, and one East European–either Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia.

El Salvador proposed a three-point resolution limited to the terms of reference of the inquiry committee. The resolution proposed “study of the situation on Palestine to submit to the next meeting of the General Assembly the solution or solutions it considers “most convenient to insure to Palestine the destiny which it deserves,” Secondly, it recommended “the most careful consideration to the interests of the different groups of population in Palestine”–the Arabs, Jews and Christians. Thirdly, it instructed the inquiry committee “that the ultimate purpose of any plan for the future of Palestine should be the freedom and independence of this nation at the most appropriate time.”


During the afternoon discussion on the composition of the inquiry commission and formulation of its terms of reference, Brazil, Haiti, Nicaragua and Uruguay supported the American proposal for a seven-member commission, without the Big Five and the Arabs. However, Brazil asked broad terms of reference to include the “peculiar interest of Christianity in the settlement of the Palestine question.”

The Czechoslovak representative urged inclusion of Great Britain because of her primary responsibility for future execution of the Assembly’s decision. Sir Alexander Cadogan replying, declared that Britain would not refuse membership on the inquiry committee if the Assembly requests it, but that his government did not wish to serve simultaneously as a witness and on the jury.

Austin, associating himself with Cadogan in assuring the delegates that the U.S. would not adopt an intransigent attitude and refuse to cooperate, expressed the hope that due regard would be taken of his government’s strong conviction in this matter. He stated that the U.S. purpose was to expedite a report on rival claims, and on facts, and that he was convinced that debates by the five permanent members of the Security Council over details would be prolonged by the intrusion of “other interests.” He strongly argued for Big Five exclusion in order to avoid the intrusion of “perfectly obvious and continuous” opposing views, which he contended would delay the attainment of an impartial decision.

It would be better, he urged, to have the five permanent members reserve their debate and the expression of their views until the special committee had settled details and reported facts. “We recognize our responsibilities and will face them but at the right time, after the report is available,” Austin said. He said it would be unwise to deviate from the principle of unanimity of the five permanent members by including only some of them, that it should be all or none.”

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