501.BB Palestine/2–1048: Telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin) to the Secretary of State


155. The Palestine Commission’s special report to the SC will not be ready until the end of the week because of a disagreement in the Commission as to whether it should state that there already exists in Palestine a threat to, or breach of the peace within the meaning of paragraph (c) of the GA Palestine resolution, or whether it should merely record the facts. Led by Medina, Lorgan and Francisco wish to pass judgment on the situation in the report, while Federspiel and Lisicky contend only the SC should make such a determination, Bunche informed USUN on February 9. He personally feels very strongly that the Commission should not officially make such a judgment, and believes that the views of Lisicky and Federspiel, with the aid of the secretariat, will prevail.

The special report draft states that some sort of international force (the exact terminology not having been agreed upon) will be necessary in Palestine as soon as the British leave in order to preserve law and order and defend Jewish state.

The Commission will make no recommendations as to the type or size of force, its method of recruitment or similar questions. The Commission has a further reason for insisting on some type of international force, Bunche pointed out, because, if it must entirely depend on Haganah for its strength, the Commission would lose its freedom of action.

In discussing the size of the international force, Bunche was of the personal opinion that not more than one highly mechanized division, [Page 615] with the aid of Haganah, would be necessary to protect the Jewish state from Arab guerrillas. He pointed out that the British needed 80,000 troops in Palestine because they had to guard every post office and other civil installation as well as communications and the military installations. He pointed out that a large part of the British force was engaged in fighting Irgun and the Stern Gang, which would no longer be necessary. He believed there would be small need for force in the Arab state because either the Trans Jordan army will have occupied it or the Arab leaders will be keeping order.

The Commission, on February 9 received a letter from Cadogan stating that it would be welcome to visit London at any time, and informing them confidentially that in London they might discuss the question of arrival in Palestine earlier than May 1. The letter added that various political questions might be discussed with Creech Jones1 who is arriving in New York February 15 to head the UK delegation for the SC Palestine discussion.

In discussing [Discussions?] with the UK are going forward actively regarding the advance secretariat party which will go to Palestine. The British, who originally suggested one or two staff members should go, now suggest four officers and two secretaries. Bunche said that the British are now pressing him daily to send some staff to Palestine at the earliest possible date. Bunche terms this a British maneuver to enable them to say to the SC that, although the Commission itself has not gone to Palestine, as a substitute there is a secretariat advance party. Bunche is derisive as to how much four men could do in the present situation. He is drafting a letter from the Commission which will specify the tasks which the secretariat party would undertake and demand from the British prior guarantees that the party could operate effectively, have access to officials, files, and to Jewish and Arab leaders. He also is going to demand that a substantial secretariat staff be allowed to enter. Lisicky has flatly refused to permit Bunche to head this advance party. Probably Renborg, a Swedish national, will head it.

Bunche states that SYG Lie feels strongly that the Palestine issue is a basic one for UN. On Lie’s first day back from Europe, he sent for Bunche to give him a status report at Lie’s home. He indicated that he probably would make a strong statement on the need for effectively carrying out the GA Palestine resolution when the SC takes up the matter. Lie reported that he had been unsuccessful in his attempts to secure UK promises of greater cooperation with the Commission while in London. However, he found Eden and other Conservative leaders critical of the Bevin policy of leaving Palestine precipitously.

[Page 616]

Bunche expressed grave fears that if a special GA session were called regarding the Korean or Greek situation, that the Palestine question might be reopened. He believes this would inevitably result in revoking the partition plan because dt is his opinion, generally shared by the top secretariat officers, that the US has substantially weakened in its stand in favor of partition. Without US support, Bunche believes that partition would be abandoned. Thus UN would have surrendered to the Arab threats of force. Bunche points out that the Arab threats go far beyond the lack of cooperation with UN displayed by the USSR and its satellites in Korea and Greece. He believes that abandonment of the Palestine plan under these conditions would be a death blow to UN prestige. Bunche says that he and Sobolev2 have discussed the situation in these terms and Sobolev stated that if partition were reconsidered and abandoned, he would feel that the UN was such a failure that he would quit. Sobolev has not given Bunche any indication of what the USSR position on Palestine might be when it comes to the SC.

The Commission headquarters must be in Jerusalem, in Bundle’s opinion, both for psychological and practical reasons. He does not believe that the Commission should locate in a Jewish State city because that would make cooperation with the Arabs impossible from the beginning.

Aquir airport should not be Commission headquarters although the UK has been informed that the Commission might like to have the use of the installations there. Bunche thinks that the Commission should fly to Lydda airport and move into Jerusalem, ignoring the Arab threats.

A second special report to the SC on the problems of Palestine civil administration will be submitted in about two weeks.

  1. Arthur Creech Jones, British Colonial Secretary.
  2. Arkady Alexandrovitch Sobolev, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.