Records of the USUN
Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State1
A Plan for the Future Government of Palestine
i. basic principles
- It is imperative that the General Assembly of the United Nations, at its second regular session, should recommend a definitive solution of the Palestine problem, in order that the current strife and [Page 1097] uncertainties may be ended and that the people of that historic land may face the future with confidence.
- Palestine should become neither an Arab State nor a Jewish State but a single independent Palestine State in which all its people, of whatever religion or blood, may dwell together in concord. In particular, Palestine should continue to provide a Jewish National Home in its spiritual and cultural aspects, as well as a home for the Arabs and all others who live there.
- All the inhabitants of Palestine should accept the responsibilities and share the rights and privileges of a common Palestinian citizenship.
- The Government of Palestine should represent all Palestinian citizens and should protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Conversely, every effort should be made to foster the active collaboration of all Palestinian citizens in the government of their country.
- The various Holy Places of Palestine, which are sacred, to Christians, Jews and Moslems throughout the world, should be forever safeguarded.
- Until Palestine is able to take its rightful place as a Member of the United Nations, its people should be assisted by the United Nations to create a democratic government and to prepare for their forthcoming independence.
ii. preparation for independence
- The General Assembly at its second regular session should approve a trusteeship agreement for Palestine to enter into force on January 1, 1948.
- The administering authority for Palestine under trusteeship should be either the United Nations itself or one or more of its Members. If the United Nations were to undertake direct administration of Palestine, its responsibilities should be exercised through the Trusteeship Council; if one or more Members of the United Nations [Page 1098] were to be the administering authority, their administration should be supervised by the Council.
- The terms of the trusteeship agreement should:
- Prepare Palestine for its ultimate establishment as a single, independent state in accordance with the basic principles set forth in Section I above;
- Provide immediately for the maximum degree of urban and rural self-government;
- Provide for the early inauguration of full self-government during the trusteeship period; and
- In other ways carry out the basic objectives of the
trusteeship system as specified in Article 76 of the Charter
of the United Nations, namely:
[Here follow sections a through d of Article 76.]
- The independence of Palestine should be achieved in the following
- Not later than three years after the trusteeship agreement comes into force, the administering authority should convoke a Constituent Assembly of Palestine, elected on the basis of proportional representation, for the purpose of formulating a constitution.
- The Constitution of Palestine should come into effect upon adoption by the Constituent Assembly and approval by the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations. The proposed Constitution should in the first instance be drafted by the administering authority and submitted for the approval of the Trusteeship Council. After approval by the Trusteeship Council the Constitution should be submitted to the Constituent Assembly. If changes or additions are made by the Constituent Assembly these should be ratified by the Trusteeship Council. If substantial numbers of the population of Palestine refrain from participation in the Constituent Assembly, the administering authority should resubmit the Constitution, with recommendations, to the Trusteeship Council. Upon further approval by the Trusteeship Council with such changes, if any, which it may adopt, the Constitution should be resubmitted to the Constituent Assembly. Should substantial numbers of the population of Palestine again refrain from participation in the Constituent Assembly, it would be for the Trusteeship Council to decide whether (a) the Constitution as amended should have force and effect, or (b) the trusteeship should continue.
- With the coming into effect of this Constitution a period of self-government should follow under the general supervision of the Trusteeship Council or an agency of the Trusteeship Council. The administering authority should take immediate steps for the establishment of the legislative bodies provided for in the Constitution in order that the administration and the judiciary may be created on the basis of powers derived from the legislative branch. The administering authority should transfer the administrative and judicial functions of government to the Palestinian authority so constituted, progressively and as rapidly as circumstances permit. This period of the transfer of governmental powers should, if possible, be completed within eight [Page 1099] years after the adoption of the Constitution so that, by the end of that period, there would be full self-government in Palestine.
- At the expiration of this eight-year period, Palestine should be declared an independent state by the General Assembly of the United Nations and should thereupon take its place as a Member of the United Nations, unless the General Assembly should determine that a further period of self-government under trusteeship is necessary.
- At the time it becomes a Member of the United Nations, the independent State of Palestine should be required to give adequate international guarantees for the protection of the rights of all its inhabitants and for the safeguarding in perpetuity of all the Holy Places.
- The Constitution of Palestine should include provisions relating to form of government, immigration, economic development and land policy, education, and the safeguarding of the Holy Places. These constitutional provisions should be consistent with the proposals set forth in Sections III to VII below, all of which are predicated upon the basic principles stated at the beginning of this memorandum. Detailed recommendations for the implementation of these proposals have been avoided as premature. The administering authority, the Constituent Assembly, and the Trusteeship Council should be free to work out a Constitution for Palestine in consonance with principles accepted by the General Assembly.
iii. form of government
- The form of government of the proposed independent State of Palestine must be based upon broad democratic principles and must preclude any discrimination on grounds of religion or blood.
- The Constitution of Palestine, which should include a bill of rights, and a new legal system—equally applicable to Jew, Christian, and Moslem alike—should be in harmony with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the practices of advanced democratic countries. They should encourage the continued existence and development of the Jewish National Home in its spiritual and cultural aspects. The term “Jewish National Home”, as used herein, means Jewish religious and cultural institutions established and supported by Jewish groups throughout the world which should be operated in accordance with the laws of Palestine and to which the Jews of the world should have free access in accordance with Palestine law. In view of the importance of Palestine to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Constitution and the legal system of Palestine should also similarly permit and encourage the establishment and maintenance of religious or cultural homes for any Moslem or Christian groups which desire to establish spiritual and cultural international centers in Palestine.
- The Palestine State should have a federal form of Government. An appropriate number of federal divisions should be created upon the basis of economic and social considerations rather than upon considerations of religion or blood. Each federal division should enjoy considerable home rule within the framework of the Constitution.
- The chief legislative organ of the Palestine State should be a national parliament. Whether the parliament should consist of one or two houses should be for the Constituent Assembly to decide.
- The title and powers of the head of the State and the method of his selection, the relationship between the executive and the parliament, and the organization of the administrative departments are all matters which should be determined with the approval of the Constituent Assembly.
- A comprehensive system of Palestinian courts, independent of the legislative and executive branches of the Government, should be established in accordance with the Constitution. The new legal codes—civil, criminal, and family status—should be of such a character that they could be applied to Moslem, Jew, and Christian alike. There should not be set up one system of law for the adherents of one religion and a different system for the adherents of another religion. Nevertheless, the laws should be so devised that they would not force a Christian, Jew, or Moslem to commit acts which would be contrary to the fundamental tenets of his religion. The modernized laws and codes of certain Near Eastern states should be examined in connection with this problem.
- Prior to the attainment of independence by Palestine, there should be no amendment of the Constitution except with the approval of the Palestine parliament, by a two-thirds vote, and with the approval of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations.
- The immigration laws of Palestine should not discriminate against prospective immigrants on grounds of religion or blood.
- For the two years beginning January 1, 1948, an immigration quota for Palestine should be established not to exceed two and one-half percent a year of the estimated population of Palestine as of January 1, 1947.
- Beginning January 1, 1950, and until the termination of the trusteeship, the annual immigration quota shall not be in excess of one-half of one percent of the estimated population of Palestine as of January 1, 1947, unless after the inauguration of full self-government under trusteeship, the Palestine parliament should decide to increase that quota.
- During the period of trusteeship, persons admitted to Palestine
should be of two categories:
- persons entering on a temporary basis; and
- persons entering as immigrants.
[Here follow paragraphs E and F expanding on D (1) and (2) and paragraph G concerning appeals from decisions of the Palestine immigration authorities.]
v. economic development and land policy
- Since the creation of a sound economy is prerequisite to the effective independence of Palestine, a program should be initiated for the over-all economic development of the country. Such a program should include plans for the fuller utilization of Jordan water power, for more extensive irrigation of the land of Palestine, for the wider use of scientific methods of agriculture, and for the progressive improvement of public health and rural welfare services.
- In order to insure the implementation of a comprehensive welfare program, the Government of Palestine should be empowered to establish and maintain a land system appropriate to the needs of the State. The Government should accordingly be responsible for enacting equitable legislation governing the sale, purchase, lease, or use of land. Furthermore, there should be adequate legal protection for the rights of tenant cultivators in cases of land transfers.
[Here follow Sections VI and VII dealing with education and the Holy Places, respectively.]
viii. conditions for success
Any plan for the future government of Palestine should be designed to provide a definitive and early solution of the problem. Neither this plan nor any alternative proposal will satisfy all of the people of Palestine and all of the governments, private organizations, and individuals who have taken a position with respect to the problem. Yet, if any solution of the Palestine problem recommended by the General Assembly is to succeed, it must be accepted in good faith by all governments and all peoples. Once a final solution is agreed upon by the General Assembly, it must be put into effect immediately by the collaborative effort of the world community.
In a memorandum of June 5 to Ambassador Austin, John C. Ross, Deputy to the Ambassador, stated: “Attached is copy of the draft Working Paper on Palestine which we discussed with Loy Henderson and Dean Rusk in the Department on Tuesday. I am sending a copy to Herschel Johnson and I have a third for myself. Loy Henderson is anxious, for apparent reasons, that there be no further distribution or discussion of this plan at this time within the Mission. I assured him that we would respect this wish.
“It is also understood that this is a working paper which is not yet cleared, even within the State Department.”
The origins of the memorandum of June 4 may be traced back to a preliminary draft prepared by Mr. Henderson as an initial United States position on a solution of the Palestine problem. The draft has not been found in Department of State files. According to a memorandum of May 21 by Robert R. McClintock, Special Assistant to Mr. Rusk, Mr. Merriam read the paper, however, at a meeting on May 20 attended by Mr. McClintock and three other officers of SPA (501.BB Palestine/5–2147). A subsequent undated draft, prepared by officers of NEA and SPA, was transmitted to Mr. Rusk on May 26 by James F. Green, Associate Chief of the Division of Dependent Area Affairs (501.BB Palestine/5–2647).↩