Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

U.N. Names Eleven-man Inquiry Committee on Palestine; Bars Both Big Five and Arabs

May 14, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An 11-man committee, excluding the Big Five, was named today to inquire into the Palestine problem and make recommendations to the next regular session of the U.N. General Assembly in September. It includes no Arabs.

Approving an Australian amendment, the Political Committee elected the seven nations originally suggested by the U.S., plus two nominated by Chile and an additional one each from the Asian and the South Pacific areas. The inquiry committee will consist of the following: Canada, Czechoslovakia, Iran, the Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay (all proposed by the U.S.), Yugoslavia and Guatemala (suggested by Chile) and Australia and India. The last two were elected by secret ballot at the suggestion of Canadian delegate Lester Pearson, the committee chairman.


Earlier, the Political Committee completed action on the terms of reference by approving a seven-point list of instructions. While the Jewish Agency was generally pleased by the terms, the Arab states sharply attacked the exclusion of the independence issue, and hinted that they might boycott the fact-finding body. A statement issued by Lebanese delegate Charles Malik, on behalf of the five Arab delegates, said that they “reserved the right of their governments to take such attitudes as will be warranted by the circumstances surrounding the work of the inquiry committee.”

The decision to set up an 11-man commission was approved 30 to 4, with 4 nations abstaining. Its composition was endorsed 39 to 3, with 11 abstentions. The negative votes were cast by the USSR, the Ukraine and Byelorussia. Among the 11 abstainees were the five Arab states.

The action came after the committee had rejected Soviet and Polish resolutions both of which called for inclusion of the Big Five and other states representing Latin America, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, Africa and one Arab state.


A last attempt to have the inquiry commission include in its report to the September session of the Assembly a proposal for “establishing without delay an independent democratic state of Palestine” was made this morning by the delegations of the USSR and India in a joint amendment to the text in the terms of reference which dealt with the preparation of the report. However, the amendment was rejected 26 to 15 with eleven delegates abstaining and the remainder absent.

A similar Polish proposal which did not contain the words “without delay” was also defeated, 25 voting against it, 10 for it and 18 abstaining. The Political Committee then adopted a brief text instructing the inquiry commission to “prepare a report to the General Assembly and submit such proposals as it may consider appropriate for the solution of the problem of Palestine.”


These all-inclusive instructions, which the Jewish Agency delegation favors because they omit any mention of immediate independence for Palestine while the Jews are in a minority there, also provide that the inquiry commission shall submit its report to the United Nations Secretary-General not later than September 1, in order that it may be circulated to member states in time for consideration by the September Assembly.

The Jewish Agency delegation scored another victory when the Political Committee adopted as part of the terms of reference a decision that the inquiry commission “shall give most careful consideration to the religious interests in Palestine of Islam, Judaism and Christianity,” omitting from the text a provision that similar consideration be given also “to the interests of all the inhabitants of Palestine.” Moshe Shertok, Agency political chief, advocated last week before the Political Committee that such omission be made, or that it should read “to the interests of the Jewish people and all other inhabitants of Palestine.”

On the whole, the completion of the discussion on the terms of reference and their acceptance this morning passed very smoothly and without any lengthy speeches. None of the Arab delegates spoke, although they participated in the voting.


The following is the full text of the terms of reference for the inquiry committee:

“Whereas the General Assembly of the United Nations has been called into special session for the purpose of constituting and instructing a special committee to prepare for the consideration at the next regular session of the Assembly a report on the question of Palestine, the General Assembly resolves that:

“1. A special committee be created for the above-mentioned purpose consisting of the representatives of (those elected today.)

“2. The special committee shall have the widest powers to ascertain and record facts, and to investigate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of Palestine.

“3. The special committee shall determine its own procedure.

“4. The special committee shall conduct investigations in Palestine, and wherever it may deem useful, receive and examine written or oral testimony, whichever it may consider appropriate in each case, from the Mandatory power, from representatives of the population of Palestine, from governments and from such organizations and individuals as it may deem necessary.

“5. The special committee shall give most careful consideration to the religious interests in Palestine of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

“6. The special committee shall prepare a report to the General Assembly and shall submit such proposals as it may consider appropriate for the solution of the problem of Palestine.

“7. The special committee’s report shall be communicated to the Secretary-General not later than 1 September 1947, in order that it may be circulated to the members of the United Nations in time for consideration by the second regular session of the General Assembly.”

Recommended from JTA