December 11, 1947
After the failure of 1937’s Peel Commission report for partition and the impossibility of a unitary state, the British, powerless under the terms of the Mandate to impose a solution to the situation in Palestine, turned to the United Nations in early 1947. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted for the partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. A December 5th meeting of the British Cabinet established the termination of the Mandate for May 15, 1948 and recommended to the United Nations that the two new countries be established two weeks after that date.
On December 11, a two-day debate on the termination of the Mandate began in the British House of Commons. Arthur Creech Jones, the British Colonial Secretary, opened the debate with remarks that outlined why the British had turned the issue of Palestine over to the United Nations. He referenced the violence that continued between Arabs and Jews and its increasing cost to Great Britain, the Arab refusal to accept partition and the fact that the United Nations partition plan made little provision for enforcement. Creech Jones was adamant that British troops should not be used as instruments of implementing UN policy but that they would only maintain law and order, “in the area of which they were still in occupation.” Creech Jones reiterated that the British would withdraw their troops by August 1, 1948 and that the British would notify the UN of their intention for the Mandate to end on May 15.
Creech Jones concluded his remarks by expressing worry about growing communal disturbances and hoping for an end to the violence and mutual recognition; “Palestine and the Arab world, we hope, can now proceed to play a larger part in the general pattern of mankind’s march. Under international inspiration, from now on, it is our prayer that the peoples in the Holy Land will co-operate, and find that, while retaining their separate independence, they can join together to mutual advantage in making their country prosperous and happy.”
The photo shows Creech Jones (left) talking with Moshe Sharett, then the Jewish Agency representative to the United Nations, in March 1948.
To read the complete remarks: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1947/dec/11/palestine
Photo Credit: Arthur Creech Jones (left) talking with Moshe Sharett, then the Jewish Agency representative to the United Nations, in March 1948.