The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created on 15 May 1947in response to a United Kingdom government request that the General Assembly "make recommendations under article 10 of the Charter, concerning the future government of Palestine". The British government had also recommended the establishment of a special committee to prepare a report for the General Assembly. The General Assembly adopted the recommendation to set up the UNSCOP to investigate the cause of the conflict in Palestine, and, if possible, devise a solution. UNSCOP was made up of representatives of 11 countries. UNSCOP visited Palestine and gathered testimony from Zionist organisations in Palestine and in the US. The Arab Higher Committee boycotted the Commission, explaining that the Palestinian Arabs' natural rights were self-evident and could not continue to be subject to investigation, but rather deserved to be recognized on the basis of the principles of the United Nations Charter.
The Report of the Committee dated 3 September 1947supported the termination of the British Mandate in Palestine. It contained a majority proposal for a Plan of Partition into two independent states with Economic Union (CHAPTER VI) and a minority proposal for a Plan for one Federal union with Jerusalem as its capital (CHAPTER VII). The majority plan was supported by 8 of the 11 members, with Iran, India and Yugoslavia voting against. The Zionist side accepted the Plan of Partition while the Arab side rejected both proposals.
Following release of the report, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question was appointed by the General Assembly.
On 29 November 1947 the General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, based on the UNSCOP majority plan (with only slight modifications to the proposed recommendations).
On 15 May 1947, the General Assembly established the "United Nations Special Committee on Palestine" (UNSCOP). The Special Committee was given wide powers to ascertain and record facts, to investigate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of Palestine, and to make recommendations. It was authorized to conduct investigations in Palestine and wherever it might deem useful.
It was decided that the committee should be composed of "neutral" countries, excluding the five permanent members of the Security Council, including the Mandatory power.The Committee's final composition was: Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay and Yugoslavia.
UNSCOP arrived in Palestine on 16 June 1947. While the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Council cooperated with UNSCOP in its deliberations, the Arab Higher Committee charged UNSCOP with being pro-Zionist, and decided to boycott it. It announced a one-day general strike to protest its arrival, and Arab opposition figures were threatened with death if they spoke to UNSCOP. The Arab public was warned against making any contact whatsoever with UNSCOP and Arab journalists were prohibited from covering their visit. UNSCOP first heard evidence from two British representatives and the head of the Jewish Agency's Political Department, Moshe Shertok, who submitted documents and were questioned by the committee's members.
From 18 June to 3 July, the committee visited Jerusalem, Haifa, the Dead Sea, Hebron, Beersheba, Gaza, Jaffa, the Galilee, Tel Aviv, Acre, Nablus, Bayt Dajan, Tulkarm, Rehovot, Arab and Jewish settlements in the Negev, and several Jewish agricultural settlements. When visiting Jewish areas, committee members were warmly welcomed, often with flowers and cheering crowds. When the committee visited Tel Aviv, a public holiday was declared.The streets were decorated with flags and posters and crowds surrounded the delegates during their tour of the city. They met Tel Aviv mayor Israel Rokach, dining with him at a cafe and visiting city hall. During their visit to city hall, they were invited to step on to the balcony, at which point the crowd below sang Hatikvah. Jewish Agency officials also ensured that they met with Jews who spoke the native languages of committee members such as Swedish, Dutch, Spanish, and Persian. Committee members were given presentations arguing the Jewish case translated into their native languages. They were shown Jewish industry and commerce, agricultural innovations to allow farming in Jewish agricultural settlements in arid regions, and various institutions including Hadassah Medical Center, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the laboratories of the Daniel Sieff Institute. During the committee's visit, it was accompanied by Jewish Agency officials acting as liaisons: Abba Eban, David Horowitz, and Moshe Tov.
By contrast, committee members were ignored and faced hostility in Arab areas. During UNSCOP visits to Arab areas, they were often met with empty streets, as well as locals who refused to answer their questions and even fled restaurants when they arrived. In one instance, when committee members visited a school in Beersheba, the pupils were instructed not to look at the visitors. During a visit to an Arab village in the Galilee, the entire population was evacuated except for children who remained behind and cursed at the visitors. UNSCOP members were deeply impressed by the cleanliness and modernity of Jewish areas, in comparison to the dirtiness and what they viewed as the backwardness of Arab areas. They were particularly horrified by the common sight of child labor and exploitation in Arab factories and workshops.
UNSCOP officials clandestinely met with members of the high command of the Haganah, the main Jewish underground militia. The Haganah officials who attended the meeting, Yisrael Galili, Yigael Yadin, Yosef Avidar, and Ehud Avriel, insisted that the Haganah could repel any Arab attack, including by the surrounding Arab states.
UNSCOP also met twice with commanders from the right-wing Zionist guerrilla group Irgun after arranging contact with the Irgun through an Associated Press correspondent. In the first meeting, UNSCOP members met Irgun commander Menachem Begin along with Irgun high command members Haim Landau and Shmuel Katz, while in the second meeting they met with Begin and Irgun official Meir Cahan.
It then held 12 public hearings from 4 to 17 July, during which 31 representatives from 12 Jewish organizations gave testimony and submitted written depositions, totaling thirty-two tons of material. Jewish Agency representatives such as David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, and Abba Eban testified, along with Chaim Weizmann, a former senior Zionist official who held no office at the particular time and testified as a private citizen. Zionist leaders argued for a Jewish state in Palestine and accepted the principle of partition. Anti-Zionist Jewish representatives from the Palestine Communist Party and Ichud party were included.British officials also testified before the committee.
During the hearings, the Haganah's intelligence branch SHAI conducted an extensive operation to eavesdrop on committee members so as to ensure that Zionist leaders would be better prepared for the hearings. Microphones were placed in their hotels and conference rooms, their telephone conversations were tapped, and the cleaning staff of the building that the hearings took place was replaced with female SHAI agents who monitored them while posing as cleaning ladies. The intelligence gathered was then distributed among Jewish leaders, who were instructed to destroy the documents after reading them. This did not go unnoticed: a member of the Swedish delegation remarked that the cleaning staff of the building was "too pretty and educated. They are the eyes and ears of the Zionist leaders, who come to hearings with replies prepared in advance."
Despite the official Arab boycott, several Arab officials and intellectuals privately met committee members to argue for a unitary Arab-majority state, among them AHC member and former Jerusalem mayor Husayn al-Khalidi.The committee also received written arguments from Arab advocates.
The committee also met British officials. Some argued that the ideal solution would be to set up two autonomous Jewish and Arab states with Britain managing the finances of the two states due to the economic difficulties of partition and allowing Britain to retain a military presence in Palestine due to the growing threat from the Soviet Union. British military officials in particular emphasized the need for a continued British military presence in light of worsening relations between Britain and Egypt, arguing that bases in Palestine and continued control over Haifa harbor were essential for the defense of the Middle East. UNSCOP members were shown new British Army barracks being constructed in the Negev (which would never be completed), and were told that this would be the future basing area for British troops in the Suez Canal zone.
The Committee also noted the intense security and draconian laws in Palestine as a result of the ongoing Jewish insurgency conducted mainly by the Irgun and Lehi and to a lesser extent the Haganah. UNSCOP members noticed the constant presence of armed British security forces and armored cars in the streets, barbed wire around entire blocks of buildings, abundant pillboxes and roadblocks, and constant security checks in the streets. In addition, the Emergency Regulations imposed by the British, which allowed for detentions, confiscations, deportations, and trials before military rather than civil courts with no right to counsel, the admission of Henry Gurney, the Chief Secretary of Palestine, that the Palestine administration was spending nearly $30 million a year for police purposes, as well as the British insistence that their officials appear before UNSCOP hearings in private and a demand that they be informed in advance about who would be giving testimony, also left a negative impression.
Guatemalan delegate Jorge García Granados referred to the Palestine Mandate as a "police state." On June 16, the day of UNSCOP's first formal hearing, a British military court sentenced three Irgun fighters, Avshalom Haviv, Meir Nakar, and Yaakov Weiss, to death for their role in the Acre Prison break. UNSCOP appealed to the British government through UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie to spare their lives. The British refused, and were outraged at what they viewed as the committee's interference in the internal judicial affairs of the Mandate. Later, the Irgun captured two British sergeants and held them as hostages, threatening to kill them if the death sentences were carried out. Committee members discussed the sergeants when meeting with Begin, and refused an Irgun request to call Haviv, Nakar, and Weiss to testify before them over allegations of torture.
UNSCOP also followed the events surrounding the SS Exodus, an illegal immigration ship carrying 4,554 Jewish Holocaust survivors which was intercepted by the Royal Navy. Some Committee members were present at the port of Haifa and witnessed British soldiers violently removing resisting passengers from the ship so they could be deported back to Europe. The committee completed its work in Palestine by hearing the eyewitness testimony of the Reverend John Stanley Grauel, [ which? ]. The Committee decided to hear the testimony of the Jewish refugees in British detention camps in Palestine and in European Displaced Persons camps trying to gain admittance to Palestine.who was on the Exodus, convinced UNSCOP to reverse an earlier decision
Golda Meir, later Prime Minister of Israel, observed that Reverend Grauel's testimony and advocacy for the creation of the Jewish state fundamentally and positively changed the United Nations to support the creation of Israel.
On July 21, the committee traveled to Lebanon, where they met with Lebanese Prime Minister Riad al-Solh and Foreign Minister Hamid Frangieh, who demanded an end to further Jewish immigration and the establishment of an Arab government in Palestine and claimed that the Zionists had territorial ambitions in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. On July 23, the representatives of Arab League states testified before the committee in Sofar. Frangieh told the committee that Jews "illegally" in Palestine would be expelled while the situation of those "legally" in Palestine but without Palestinian citizenship would be resolved by a future Arab government. Efforts by UNSCOP members to get other Arab diplomats to soften their stance failed, with one committee member noting that "there is nothing more extreme than meeting all the representatives of the Arab world in one group... when each one tries to show that he is more extreme than the other." Privately, the committee met with pro-Zionist Maronite Christian leaders, who told them that Lebanese Christians supported partition. Half of the committee's members then flew to Amman to meet with King Abdullah of Transjordan, who claimed that the Arabs would have "difficulty" accepting partition but refused to completely rule it out, hinting that in such an event, the Arab parts of Palestine should go to Transjordan.
UNSCOP then flew to Geneva, and on August 8, a subcommittee began a week-long tour of displaced persons camps in American and British occupation zones in Germany and Austria, and interviewed Jewish refugees and local military officials. They found that there was a strong desire to immigrate to Palestine among the Jewish DPs.
In Geneva, while writing the report, the committee was subject to Jewish, Arab, and British pressure. Zionist representatives vigorously lobbied the committee. They repeatedly submitted memoranda and recruited a Palestinian Arab representative whose father had been murdered by the Husseini clan that dominated the Palestinian Arab community to argue in favor of a Jewish-Transjordanian partition of the country before the committee. The Arab League liaison submitted a memorandum demanding a solution satisfactory to the Palestinian Arabs, threatening catastrophe would result otherwise. The British submitted a memorandum arguing partition was a feasible option.
The unanimous decision of the UNSCOP was for the termination of the mandate.
The Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question was appointed by the General Assembly, and two plans were drawn up for the Governance of Palestine on the termination of the Mandate. Seven members of the UNSCOP endorsed a partition plan (the Majority report) favoured by the Zionist leadership on 2 October 1947.
The Irgun was a Zionist paramilitary organization that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. The organization is also referred to as Etzel, an acronym of the Hebrew initials, or by the abbreviation IZL. It was an offshoot of the older and larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. When the group broke from the Haganah it became known as the Haganah Bet, or alternatively as haHaganah haLeumit or Hama'amad. Irgun members were absorbed into the Israel Defense Forces at the start of the 1948 Arab–Israeli war.
Zionist political violence refers to acts of violence or terror committed by Zionists. The most active period of most notable Zionist political violence began on June 30, 1924, through the 1940s, and continues to present day, usually for the purpose of expanding Zionist settlements in Palestine.
Haganah was the main Zionist paramilitary organization of the Jewish population ("Yishuv") in Mandatory Palestine between 1920 and its disestablishment in 1948, when it became the core of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a proposal by the United Nations, which recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine at the end of the British Mandate. On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the Plan as Resolution 181 (II).
Killings and massacres during the 1948 Palestine war resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and unarmed soldiers.
Yishuv, Ha-Yishuv, or Ha-Yishuv Ha-Ivri is the body of Jewish residents in the Land of Israel prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The term came into use in the 1880s, when there were about 25,000 Jews living across the Land of Israel and continued to be used until 1948, by which time there were some 630,000 Jews there. The term is still in use to denote the pre-1948 Jewish residents in the Land of Israel.
The Haifa Oil Refinery massacre took place on 30 December 1947 in Mandatory Palestine. It began when six Arabs were killed and 42 wounded after members of the Zionist paramilitary organisation, the Irgun, threw a number of grenades at a crowd of about 100 Arab day-labourers. These Arab day-labourers had gathered outside the main gate of the then British-owned Haifa Oil Refinery to look for work.
The 1947–1948 civil war in Mandatory Palestine was the first phase of the 1947–1949 Palestine war. It broke out after the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution on 29 November 1947 recommending the adoption of the Partition Plan for Palestine.
The Jewish Resistance Movement, also called the United Resistance Movement (URM), was an alliance of the Zionist paramilitary organizations Haganah, Irgun and Lehi in the British Mandate of Palestine. It was established in October 1945 by the Jewish Agency and operated for some ten months, until August 1946. The alliance coordinated acts of sabotage to undermine the British authority in Mandatory Palestine.
The Jewish insurgency in Mandatory Palestine, known in the United Kingdom as the Palestine Emergency, was a paramilitary campaign carried out by Zionist underground groups against British rule in Mandatory Palestine. The tensions between the Zionist underground and the British mandatory authorities rose from 1938 and intensified with the publication of the White Paper of 1939. The Paper outlined new government policies to place further restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases, and declared the intention of giving independence to Palestine, with an Arab majority, within ten years. Though World War II brought relative calm, tensions again escalated into an armed struggle towards the end of the war, when it became clear that the Axis powers were close to defeat.
Operation Hametz was a Jewish operation towards the end of the British Mandate of Palestine, as part of the 1948 Palestine war. It was launched at the end of April 1948 with the objective of capturing villages inland from Jaffa and establishing a blockade around the town. The operation, which led to the first direct battle between the British and the Irgun, was seen as a great victory for the latter, and enabled the Irgun to take credit for the complete conquest of Jaffa that happened on May 13.
John Stanley Grauel was a Methodist minister and American Christian Zionist leader. He was a crew member of the famed refugee ship the SS Exodus-1947 and a secret "Haganah" operative. Grauel is credited with being the key individual who persuaded the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine to recommend for the Partition Resolution of November 1947, creating the State of Israel. In a speech to the Jewish Agency, Golda Meir, referred to his testimony as the first appeal by a “priest, a perfectly worthy gentile, a priori, no Jewish witness was to be believed.”
The 1948 Palestinian exodus occurred when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs – about half of prewar Palestine's Arab population – fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Palestine war. The exodus was a central component of the fracturing, dispossession and displacement of Palestinian society, known as the Nakba, in which between 400 and 600 Palestinian villages were destroyed and others subject to Hebraization of Palestinian place names, and also refers to the wider period of war itself and the subsequent oppression up to the present day.
Events in the year 1947 in the British Mandate of Palestine.
Mandatory Palestine was a geopolitical entity established between 1920 and 1948 in the region of Palestine under the terms of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.
The Arab Higher Committee or the Higher National Committee was the central political organ of the Arab Palestinians in Mandatory Palestine. It was established on 25 April 1936, on the initiative of Haj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and comprised the leaders of Palestinian Arab clans and political parties under the mufti's chairmanship. The Committee was outlawed by the British Mandatory administration in September 1937 after the assassination of a British official.
This is a timeline of intercommunal conflict in Mandatory Palestine.
Black Sunday, 1937 refers to a series of acts undertaken by Jewish militants of the Irgun faction against Arab civilians on 14 November 1937. It was among the first challenges to the Havlagah policy not to retaliate against Arab attacks on Jewish civilians.
The London Conference of 1946–1947, which took place between September 1946 and February 1947, was called by the British Government of Clement Attlee to resolve the future governance of Palestine and negotiate an end of the Mandate. It was scheduled following an Arab request after the April 1946 Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry report.
The Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, also known as the Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine or just the Ad Hoc Committee was a committee formed by a vote of the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 1947, following the publication of the report of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) on 3 September 1947, which contained majority and minority proposals.
Ben-Dror, Elad (2015). Ralph Bunche and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Mediation and the UN 1947–1949,Routledge. ISBN 978-1138789883.
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