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April 15, 1948 Security Council Fails to Act on Palestine Truce

Moshe ShertokSpecial General Assembly Meets Today; Gromyko Asks Moscow for Policy

By John G. Rogers

LAKE SUCCESS, April 15.-The United Nations Security Council failed today to reach a decision on the terms of a demand for a Palestine truce but, for today at least, the failure was academic because it was evident that the formula before the Council could not possibly promote truce between the Holy Land’s embattled Jews and Arabs.

Moshe Shertok, political chief of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, told the Council with clear implication that the agency could not accept the present truce formula because it was a “loaded dice” proposal that scrapped partition and generally discriminated against Jewish interests on a number of crucial points.

He indicated the possibility, however, that on the assumption that a truce would run only to May 15 when the British mandate ends, the Jews could try to observe military truce if the Arabs agreed. But, on May 16, Mr. Shertok reasserted, a Jewish state is going to begin operation and no truce plan can prevent that.

Faris El Khouri, of Syria, speaking on behalf of the Arabs, accepted the truce measure conditionally, provided that it would be interpreted to mean complete stoppage of Jewish immigration, and political and military measures. But these are items which the Jews refuse to accept under present conditions in Palestine.

In support of his criticisms of the truce resolution-a joint effort to which the United States contributed heavily-Mr. Shertok suggested about a dozen amendments, but since he was not a member of the Council he could not propose them formally.

Then, late in the meeting, when the Council appeared to be nearing the time for a vote, Russia and the Ukraine requested a delay of at least twenty-four hours to study the Shertok amendments, the resolution as a whole, and to receive instructions from home.

As a result, the Council set its next meeting for 9 o’clock tomorrow night, and was unable to achieve today the goal of several of its members-the approval of a Palestine truce resolution in advance of the opening at 11 a. m. tomorrow at Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, of the special Palestine session of the U. N. General Assembly.

However, tomorrow’s initial session of the General Assembly will be devoted to organization and, for whatever good it will do, the Security Council still has the chance of approving a Palestine truce resolution before the special Assembly gets down to the hard business of further considering the political future of the Holy Land.

Tomorrow’s special session was called by the Security Council, at the request of the United States, after the United States had abandoned support of partition-the original U. N. Palestine solution to which the Russian bloc still adheres, Now, instead of partition, the United States is proposing a U. N. trusteeship.

Austin’s Appeal

Canada and the United States opened today’s meeting by supporting the truce resolution. American delegate Warren R. Austin stressed that a truce resolution is of vital importance considering the increase of violence and death in Palestine.

Next, Mr. Shertok spoke for the agency. He regarded Mr. Austin’s “noble sentiments” on Palestine peace and tranquility as “rather abstract,” when compared with what he called the reality of Palestine today.

In effect, he said, how can the Jews agree to a truce which asks them to renounce partition and which is requested at a time when thousands of armed foreign Arab invaders are in Palestine taking arms against the Jews and against partition.

Then, he began to criticize the truce resolution. He attacked it and suggested amendments for the following reasons-

Because it implied that the British are doing all in their power to keep Palestine law and order. Because it would ask the Jews to cease taking military steps even for normal defense arrangements. Because it would call for suspension of Jewish immigration through a clause suspending entry into Palestine of “individuals… capable of bearing arms.”

Also, because it too broadly asked for suspension of all “political activity.” Because it discriminated against the Jews in the matter of arms acquisition. Because it asked the agency to co-operate with the British Palestine government “which has so manifestly disregarded and acted contrary to its most basic responsibilities.”

Also, because while it asked for safety of the holy places, it did not ask for free access to them. Because it charges the British with supervising the truce-a “highly responsible task which requires complete objectivity.” And, because it did not ask the neighboring Arab states to stop training armed bands and sending them into Palestine.
The Arab Reply

Subsequently, Mr. El Khouri, of Syria, said that only a few Syrians had entered Palestine to fight, and that none had yet been engaged. But, he asked, what if Arabs were trained in neighboring countries for Palestine service? Jews, he said, train fighters all over the world for the purpose of “capturing” Palestine.

He likened foreign Arabs in Palestine to Jewish illegal immigrants who, he said, constituted perhaps 60 per cent of the Jewish fighters.

Late in the meeting, when it was evident no decision could be reached, Dr. Alfonso Lopez, of Colombia, Council president, suggested taking up the question of a commission to check compliance on a Palestine truce.

Because of disagreement yesterday, that item did not appear in today’s proposed resolution. The United States had proposed a commission made up of the British, and those Council members having consular representation in Jerusalem-United States, France, Belgium and Syria.

Russia had objected to that formula and the Jewish Agency had been aghast at the idea of Syria being on a commission to observe a Palestine truce. Today, Dr. Lopez suggested a commission of three U. N. officials appointed by Secretary General Trygve Lie.

Source:  New York Herald Tribune, “Security Council Fails To Act on Palestine Truce, Special Assembly Meets Today; Gromyko Asks Moscow for Policy.”  By John G. Rogers, April 16, 1948, p. 2.

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