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U.S. Opposes, Soviet Backs Arab Plea for Full Debate; Poland Asks Jewish Representation

April 30, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The U.S.-Soviet cleavage on international affairs was reflected at the General Committee of the United Nations today when the American delegate opposed and the Russian representative endorsed the Arab request for addition to the General Assembly agenda of a special item calling for the termination of the Mandate and the proclamation of Palestine’s independence.

The Arab demand touched off such a bitter debate that the Committee was in session until early in the evening and the plenary session of the Assembly, which had been originally scheduled for today and was advanced until tomorrow at the request of the Arabs, has been postponed until further notice to allow continued debate by the General Committee tomorrow.

Herschel Johnson, the delegate of the United States, in a long statement outlining the position of this government on the question of solving the Palestine problem announced that he will vote against the Arab request because it prejudices the decision which the fact-finding commission to be appointed by the General Assembly must reach.

Andre Gromyko, speaking for the Soviet Union, said that he was ready to vote in favor of including the Arab item on the agenda since it would only mean a wider discussion of the Palestine issue at the present session, and not the adoption by the Assembly of any basic decision. A wide discussion by the Assembly of the fundamental problems underlying the Palestine issue can only prove helpful to the fact-finding body, Gromyko argued.

Gromyko’s views were apparently not shared by the delegation from Poland, which usually votes with the Soviet Union. The Polish delegate, Joseph Winiewicz, announced that although the Arab request merits discussion, he would abstain from voting on it, since it would not be fair to grant their demand before the Jews are heard on the very important question of termination of the Palestine Mandate. He urged the admission of a Jewish representation to the Assembly, and was the only member of the General Committee to do so.


Canada supported the view of the American delegation that the Arab request be rejected because it would prejudice the work of the projected fact-finding committee. However, the delegates of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia attacked the American opposition to inclusion of their item on the agenda.

The Polish delegation was also attacked by the Arab delegates for suggesting admission of a Jewish representative. Mahmoud Hassan Pasha, the Egyptian delegate,


All the Arab countries were invited to participate in the General Committee discussion, although only Egypt is a member of the committee. The other four were seated without voting rights. All five delivered bitter attacks against “political Zionism” and four of them emphasized their opposition to the creation of a fact-finding committee. They insisted on immediate action by the U.N. on the Palestine issue.

The Iraq delegate, who was the first Arab representative to speak, voiced bitter opposition to the creation of a fact-finding committee and aggressively attacked “political Zionism.” He said that political Zionism may affect the position of Jews in various countries where adherents of the Zionist idea could be considered to be practicing double loyalty. He demanded independence for Palestine now and said that the entire Arab world would stand behind the Arabs of Palestine.

The delegates from Syria and Egypt argued at length against the stand of the United States delegation, while the Lebanese and Saudi Arabian delegates advanced a member of reasons why action must be taken by the Assembly now on a final solution of the Palestine issue.

The Arab attacks on the United States elicited a reply from Johnson, who contested their “assumptions.” He vigorously denied that U.S. opposition to the Arab resolution precluded independence of Palestine as an ultimate solution. He also termed “exaggerated” an Arab argument that the Assembly would send the committee to Palestine without terms of reference. He said that passage of the Arab resolution would “inflame passions” and add to the confusion. The purpose of this session, he reiterated, is to establish a committee to work in “quiet objectivity” and then to report to the next session of the Assembly in September.


“Every member of the U.N. looks forward to the day when Palestine will be a free and independent state,” said Johnson, but declared that opinions vitally differ “as to the form of independence.” He added that the Assembly would give “very careful terms of reference” to the committee and would not exclude ultimate independence.

Earlier, Mr. Johnson said that the U.S. realized the full importance of Palestine to the whole world as well as to the interested parties and stated his belief that “this may be the last chance for a peaceful and fair solution.” If this chance is missed, he added, serious disorders may result, leading to economic and moral ruin.

Johnson declared that the United States has from the beginning made known its view that only the British proposal for creation of a committee to study Palestine and report to the next General Assembly should be considered at this session. He contended that the proper approach to the Palestine issue by the Assembly requires preliminary work by the proposed committee and formulation of alternative recommendations so that the Assembly will have “clearcut proposals before it in September.”

He called for an ultimate Assembly decision that would be not only fair but supported by world opinion. It will be “extremely difficult, if not impossible, he said “to enforce any decision which does not rally the support of most of the people of the world.” He declared further that the decision “must clearly have been reached in an atmosphere free from pressure by the big powers and behind-the-scenes intrigue.”

Johnson said the Egyptian and Arab proposals attempt to prejudice the issue. Pointing out that they may not be “the best immediate solution,” he suggested they may be an alternative solution for recommendation by the committee of inquiry. “An untrammeled discussion of the substance now” would not serve a fair solution in the regular session next September, Johnson continued. He urged formation of a committee with terms of reference giving “the widest possible scope” to all interested parties, and said that the next Assembly would remedy any deficiencies in the work of the committee.

Johnson called for “careful and impartial study on the highest level.” He said he would be unhappy if his remarks were interpreted “as a desire to prevent the Arab states or any other interested parties from presenting their views at the proper time.”


A spokesman for the Jewish Agency, commenting on the session this afternoon, said that “the proceedings before the General Committee today emphasized the urgency and justice of the plea of the Jewish Agency for Palestine for the opportunity to participate fully in the deliberations of the General Assembly. Although the question before the General Committee was solely a procedural one,” he continued, “the delegates of the five Arab states, four of whom are not members of the committee, were in a position to go into the substance of the question and to present one side of the picture.

“The case of the Jewish people was not heard by the committee for they had no representative at the table to refute the Arab presentation. Accordingly the Arab states are permitted to use the highest forum in the world for the unchallenged dissanination of their propaganda. We trust that the U.N. will not permit a continuation of a proceeding so palpably unjust.”

In a letter to Secretary of State Marshall, the American Council for Judaism today declared that it was opposed to the request of the Jewish Agency for recognition as a non-voting representative at the U.N., and to the formation of a Jewish state. The letter asked that the State Department notify the delegations at the United Nations of the Council’s views.

The State Department announced tonight that Secretary Marshall would confer tomorrow morning with Warren Austin, chief U.S. delegate to the U.N. Austin came to Washington from Flushing Meadows to discuss the Palestine question with the Secretary.

The first Arab challenge to the British came this morning after the Indian delegate Asaf Ali demanded that Britain commit itself to accepting the U.N. recommendations on Palestine. He was joined by Hassan Pasha who asked “what is the use of our considering the Palestine issue at present, if Britain will feel free not to accept our decisions?”

Dr. Oswaldo Aramha, president of the Assembly, who is chairman of the General Committee, attempted to rule the Indian question out of order, but was opposed by Eassan Pasha and Gromyko. Sir Alexander Cadogan, the British delegate, then said that he would make a formal statement before the Assembly in a few days, but meanwhile he could state that the British Government would accept the Assembly decision, but would have to make a reservation about enforcing the recommendations without help.

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