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U.S. Seeking Means of Giving Jews a Voice at U.N. While Denying Them a Seat

May 2, 1947
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The U.S. delegation to the U.N. General Assembly had apparently decided tonight to find a means of giving Jewish representation at the special session. Although still standing by its position that there is no legal basis for granting the Jewish Agency a non-voting seat, an American spokesman indicated that the U.S. was studying plans to give the Jews a voice.

At the same time, the U.S. delegation was considering the possibility of also enabling the Palestine Arabs to secure a hearing. A demand that the Palestine Arabs be heard has been made on several occasions by Asaf Ali, the delegate from India, who has stated that the Palestine issue is a matter in which only the Jews and the Arabs living in that country are concerned. The five Arab states have also been pressing for a hearing for their Palestinian confreres.

The U.S. delegation, conscious that the delegates of the Arab countries during the last three days have exploited the platform of the U.N. to propagandize for their case, feel that it would, therefore, only be fair to enable the Jews to state their case. Members of the U.S. delegation — without conferring as yet with any other delegations — were today studying the following three possibilities:

1 – to give the Jewish representation and the recognized spokesmen of the Palestine Arabs a hearing before the U.N. Political Committee.

2 – to have the representatives of the Jews and the non-Jewish community of Palestine appear for a hearing before a sub-committee of the Political Committee.

3 – to arrange for such a hearing by an “ad hoc” committee, specially created for this purpose.


A hearing by the Political Committee would amount to a hearing by the full General Assembly, since the Assembly converts itself into the Political Committee when necessary. Such a procedure would mean, however, that the Jewish representatives could not participate in the Assembly discussions as they have requested.

With regard to the formal requests of the Jewish groups, which were referred to the General Committee, the U.S. delegation is of the opinion that the Committee should merely list the communications and the U.N. Secretariat make copies available to anyone wanting them.

Representatives of Jewish groups today refused to comment on the U.S. approach to the question of Jewish representation. However, it was understood that Jewish leaders do not see any reason why the Jewish spokesmen should not be heard from the same platform from which delegations of the five Arab countries have been speaking for the last three days.

The delegates of the Arab countries renewed their fight for termination of the Mandate this morning at the General Assembly, after their request for inclusion of their proposal in the agenda of the Assembly was voted down last night by the General Committee by 8 to 1, with five abstaining.

Most of the morning session today was taken up by speeches by the delegates of Egypt, Syria and Iraq, who opposed the creation of a fact-finding committee, and insisted on action on Palestine by the Assembly now. The representatives of Syria and Iraq ranged so far afield that the Assembly President, Dr. Oswaldo Aranka of Brazil, was compelled to interrupt them and order them to discuss only the Agenda procedure and to refrain from lengthy political orations.


Despite the renewed Arab efforts, the Assembly this morning adopted the British proposal for creation of a fact-finding committee. The Egyptian delegate then proposed that the Assembly refer the Palestine issue, not to the Political Committee, but to the Legal Committee, since the Arabs question the legality of the Mandate. The Argentine delegate urged that the matter be considered by no Committee but only by the Assembly.

It became obvious about midnight yesterday that the Jewish Agency would be barred from the General Assembly. Dr. Aranha told members of the General Committee that “we will not admit into the General Assembly any representatives other than those of countries who are members of the United Nations, as all our rules exclude this possibility,” U.S. delegate Herschel Johnson said: “We can not admit a non-governmental body before the General Assembly.”

These statements were made while the committee was discussing the question of when to take up the Jewish request for participation. Polish delegate Josef Winiewicz strongly advocated an immediate decision by the committee on this request, while Dr. Aranha, supported by the United States and Canada, urged that the committee not act on the Jewish plea until after the Assembly met today and adopted its agenda.

The Polish delegate then insisted that today’s meeting of the Assembly take place in the afternoon and that the General Committee meet in the morning to decide on the Jewish Agency request, but he lost his point although his stand was supported by Soviet delegate Andrei Gromyko.


In expressing preference for a discussion of the Jewish request previous to the assembly meeting, Gromyko announced that he intends to make a basic statement on the question of the admission of a Jewish representative when the General Committee takes up the question.

Canadian delegate Lester Pearson reminded the committee that the type of agenda adopted by the Assembly might well influence the decision on the manner in which Jewish representatives should be heard, implying that if the Assembly decided to create a fact-finding committee, the Jews could secure a hearing before this committee. Pearson’s arguments were strongly supported by Johnson.

(Representative Charles A. Buckley, Democrat of New York, today introduced in the House a joint resolution calling upon the President to instruct our delegation at the U.N. “to advocate the program for Palestine which our country has reaffirmed time and time again” including “free Jewish immigration into Palestine” and the building of the Jewish National Homeland.)

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