Commissions and Problems

  January 08, 2022   Read time 2 min
Commissions and Problems
The UN Palestine Commission became increasingly concerned about the worsening situation. In the middle of February it therefore addressed a special report to the Security Council.

It recognised that it was only the security forces of the mandatory power which at that time prevented the situation from deteriorating into 'open warfare on an organized basis'. It therefore proposed that these should be replaced by a new international force which could 'assist law-abiding elements in both the Arab and Jewish communities, organised under the general direction of the Commission', in maintaining order and security in Palestine. The Commission therefore called on the Council to consider making available 'military forces in adequate strength to ensure that the Assembly's decision on Palestine could be carried out'.

The Security Council met on 24 February to consider this proposal. The chairman of the Commission, appearing before it, declared that the only way of implementing the Assembly's plan for Palestine would be through the creation of an effective non-Palestinian military force, which could maintain law and order during the transition. Creech Jones, the British Colonial Secretary, said that, while Britain deplored the present situation, she had always warned that the adoption of a plan that was acceptable to one side only was almost certain to lead to widespread violence and so prove almost impossible to implement. Britain must persist in her own decision to withdraw, since British public opinion would no longer tolerate the continued loss of life involved in enforcing a policy which Britain herself had not chosen.
If the plan was to be enforced, therefore, it could not be by British forces. The US representative pointed out that the Security Council could use force under the resolution only if it found that there was a threat to international peace and security, not simply to enforce the partition plan. At present there was not sufficient evidence to suggest this. He therefore proposed that the Council should set up a committee of the five permanent members, to consider whether the situation in Palestine represented such a threat to the peace and report back to the Council. There was prolonged discussion of this proposal. Many detailed amendments were suggested.
The Soviet Union, while welcoming consultation among the permanent members, felt that this could take place directly, without setting up a special committee for the purpose. Colombia and Belgium proposed amendments which would have avoided any specific endorsement by the Council of the partition plan, and would have made possible a further attem pt at conciliation among the parties. Eventually the United States herself amended her proposal, so that it did not specifically commit the Council to accepting responsibility for enforcing the partition plan. The final resolution, endorsed by the Council on 5 March with only three abstentions, thus called on the permanent members to consult and to make recommendations 'regarding the guidance and instructions which the Council might usefully give to the Palestine Commission with a view to implementing the resolution of the General Assembly'. In other words, the Council made no commitment even to implement the partition plan, let alone to undertake enforcement measures for this purpose.

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