...that forcibly establishing a Jewish state in Palestine against the wishes of its pre-existing non-Jewish majority - a state which would be surrounded by 200 million Arabs and one billion Muslims who are overwhelmingly sympathetic to the plight of the pre-existing population, and which would require for its continuing existence the repeated involvement of those Western powers who engineered its creation in the first place - would turn out to be a source of perpetual grievance and escalating instability that threatens regional war involving the countries of the entire Mid East and far beyond...
Address to the 126th Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly, by Sir Mohammed Zafrullah Khan (Pakistan's Representative to the UN), opposing the proposed partition of Palestine; 28 November 1947:
This is a solemn moment, solemn in the history of the world, in the history of this great — let us hope, at least — great Organization. The United Nations is today on trial. The world is watching and will see how it acquits itself— again, perhaps, not so much from the point of view of whether partition is approved or not approved, but from the point of view of whether any room is to be left for the exercise of honest judgment and conscience in decisions taken upon important questions.
...Thirty-two years ago—not to go too far back —the Western Allies were in the midst of a mortal struggle with the Central European Powers. Turkey had just entered the war on the side of Germany. The fate of the Allied cause trembled in the balance. The Arabs, who alone could help to redress the balance in the Middle East, the vital region, were invited to repudiate their allegiance to Turkey and to throw in their lot with the Allies. In return for what? In return for the pledged word of the United Kingdom, subsequently confirmed by France, that at the end of the struggle, the Arabs in their own lands would be free. They agreed and did their part.
How have the pledges given to them been fulfilled? We have often been reminded that these pledges have been fulfilled to the extent of nine-tenths, and that such fulfilment ought to be sufficient. Is that the standard we wish to see established and adhered to in international, national, and even private affairs? We have fulfilled these pledges to the extent of nine-tenths and, therefore, that ought to be sufficient. If that is so, pause and consider whether faith will ever again be placed in pledges, particularly in the pledges of the Western Powers. Remember, nations of the West, that you may need friends tomorrow, that you may need allies in the Middle East. I beg of you not to ruin and blast your credit in those lands.
...Much emphasis has also been placed on the humanitarian aspect of this question, an aspect which is not denied. But from the humanitarian point of view, it is not only a question of Jewish refugees and displaced persons. Any person who is persecuted or discriminated against or unjustly or unfairly used has the right to appropriate redress. That is not denied.
What has Palestine done? What is its contribution toward the solution of the humanitarian question as it affects Jewish refugees and displaced persons? Since the end of the First World War, Palestine has taken over four hundred thousand Jewish immigrants. Since the start of the Jewish persecution in nazi Germany, Palestine has taken almost three hundred thousand Jewish refugees. This does not include illegal immigrants who could not be counted.
One has observed that those who talk of humanitarian principles, and can afford to do most, have done the least at their own expense to alleviate this problem. But they are ready — indeed, they are anxious — to be most generous at the expense of the Arab.
There have been few periods in history when members of the Jewish race have not been persecuted in one part or another of Europe. When English kings and barons indulged in the pastime of extracting the teeth of Jewish merchants and bankers as a gentle means of persuading them to cooperate in bolstering their feudal economy - a sort of medieval one-way lead-lease — Arab Spain provided a shelter, a refuge and a haven for the Jews.
Today it is said: only the poor persecuted European Jew is without a home. True. And it is further said: why, then, let Arab Palestine provide him, as Arab Spain did, not only with a shelter, a refuge, but also with a State so that he shall rule over the Arab. How generous! How humanitarian!
The United Nations special Committee on Palestine... urged that the General Assembly take up this question of refugees and displaced persons immediately, apart from the problem of Palestine, in order to afford relief to the persecuted Jew so that there should be an alleviation of this humanitarian problem and an alleviation of the Palestinian problem.
What has this great and august body done in that respect? Sub-Committee 2 made a recommendation and drew up a draft resolution on that basis... First, let those Jewish refugees and displaced persons who can be repatriated to their own countries be repatriated; secondly, those who cannot be repatriated should be allotted to Member States in accordance with then-capacity to receive such refugees; and, thirdly, a committee should be set up to determine quotas for that purpose.
The resolution is put forward for consideration. Shall they be repatriated to their own countries? Australia says no; Canada says no; the United States says no. This was very encouraging from one point of view. Let these people, after their terrible experiences, even if they are willing to go back, not be asked to go back to their own countries. In this way, one would be sure that the second proposal would be adopted and that we should all give shelter to these people. Shall they be distributed among the Member States according to the capacity of the latter to receive them? Australia, an over-populated small country with congested areas, says no, no, no; Canada, equally congested and over-populated, says no; the United States, a great humanitarian country, a small area, with small resources, says no. That is their contribution to the humanitarian principle. But they state: let them go into Palestine, where there are vast areas, a large economy and no trouble; they can easily be taken in there.
That is the contribution made by this august body to the settlement of the humanitarian principle involved.
What is the position today, apart from these other considerations? ... I invite attention to paragraph 4 of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, under which the Mandate was granted. I quote: "Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone." That is the paragraph that refers to Palestine.
The mandatory Power says that it will lay down the Mandate. The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine says that the Mandate should be laid down. Everybody is agreed that in some shape or other Palestine should be independent.
That stage of rendering administrative advice and assistance having been concluded, the legal position is that Palestine, whose provisional independence has been recognized juridically, will be from that date independent. That is the problem with which the United Nations has to deal.
How is Palestine to be independent? What sort of independence? What is the solution that we are invited to endorse and to attempt to carry through? In effect, the proposal before the United Nations General Assembly says that we shall decide — not the people of Palestine, with no provision for self-determination, no provision for the consent of the governed — what type of independence Palestine shall have. We shall call Palestine independent and sovereign, but Palestine shall belong to us and shall be, not the apple of our many and in different-direction-looking eyes, but shall become the apple of discord between East and West, lest, perchance, the unity which our name so wistfully proclaims may have a chance to establish itself.
We shall first cut the body of Palestine into three parts of a Jewish State and three parts of an Arab State. We shall then have the Jaffa enclave; and Palestine's heart, Jerusalem, shall forever be an international city. That is the beginning of the shape Palestine shall have.
Having cut Palestine up in that manner, we shall then put its bleeding body upon a cross forever. This is not going to be temporary; this is permanent. Palestine shall never belong to its people; it shall always be stretched upon the cross.
...Let us come to the question of the fairness of the solution, since everybody has professed the belief that this is a fair solution which will work if the Arab States cooperate and if the people of Palestine, Jews as well as Arabs, also cooperate. Let us examine the three considerations on the basis of which it is urged that the solution is fair.
The first contention is this. There are 1,300,000 Arabs in Palestine and 650,000 Jews — with room wanted for more — and the problem has become insoluble. It is said: therefore, let us divide because it would be unjust and unfair that thirty-three per cent of the population— which is the Jewish population of Palestine to-day—should occupy a minority status in a unitary State. Let us have a fair solution, the Arabs to have their State and the Jews to have theirs.
The boundaries were drawn accordingly. The Arab State will be an Arab State in the sense that there will be only 10,000 Jews in it and almost 1,000,000 Arabs. Very well, but what of the Jewish State? In the Jewish State there will be 498,000 Jews and 435,000 Arabs. Have you solved the problem? Jews are not to live as a minority under the Arabs, but the Arabs are to live as a minority under the Jews. If one of these is not fair then neither is the other; and if one is not a solution, the other is not.
Let us now consider the boundaries for a moment. How about the area? Jews constitute 33 per cent of the population and Arabs 67 per cent, but 60 per cent of the area of Palestine is to go to the Jewish State. Moreover, what is the character of the area, excluding for the moment the desert waste to which I shall refer later? Of the cultivable area of Palestine the plains, by and large, go to the Jewish State, the hills to the Arabs. There was a document circulated to members of the Committees by the United Kingdom representative showing that, of the irrigated, cultivable areas, 84 per cent would be in the Jewish State and 16 per cent in the Arab State. A very fair division for one-third of the population to receive 84 per cent while two-thirds receive 16 per cent.
The United Nations Special Committee itself has observed that the largest export from Palestine is citrus produce, and that it is owned almost half and half by Arab and Jew, and that the citrus area will be almost entirely in the Jewish State. How fair is that? Palestine produces only 50 per cent of the cereals it requires, and the rest has to be imported. Eighty per cent of the cereal-producing area is in the Jewish State, and only 20 per cent in the Arab State.
Moreover, there is the question of scope for development. Look at the map. Where is there scope for development in the Arab State? We were told by one representative: Oh, in the hills you can grow a lot of olives. Admittedly, you can increase the production of olives in the hills; but on the average olives take twenty-five years to come to full yield.
What about ordinary agriculture? In the Negeb, as was pointed out in the Committee, there are two million dunams of land cultivated by Arab Bedouins whenever the scanty rainfall there permits. Ninety-nine per cent of that area is being allotted to the Jewish State. In that area, 15 per cent of the land is owned by private owners. Of the 15 per cent, 14 per cent is owned by Arabs and one per cent is owned by Jews. The whole of it is to go into the Jewish State. There is an Arab population of one hundred and some odd thousand, and a Jewish population of only two thousand. The whole of it is to go into the Jewish State.
...Consider the situation in regard to industry. Practically the whole of Jewish industry is within the Jewish State. After I had pointed this out in the Committee, one representative said: "Oh, objection is being taken to having Jewish industry within the Jewish State! But that is where it ought to be." Of course, that is where it ought to be. I have not said that it should not be there. I said that it was perfectly correct perfectly just, perfectly fair. As against that, however, what about Arab industry? Forty per cent of Arab industry is in the Jewish State. Is that fair?
It will be said, and it has been said, that a great concession has been made to the Arabs in regard to Jaffa. What is the concession? The predominantly Arab city of Jaffa has been cut out as an enclave to be included in the Arab State. Why as an enclave? The map included in the minority report of the Special Committee shows that, through Arab areas, it could be connected with the southern portion of the Arab State. The map included in the majority report shows that, through predominantly Arab areas, it could be part of the Arab State toward the cast. Why is it to be an enclave? The lands between Jaffa and the Arab State to the east and to the south are predominantly Arab. Why should Jaffa be an enclave?
An amendment was proposed in regard to the boundaries. It was suggested that, if there must be partition, at least fair boundaries should be drawn. The amendment proposed that proper boundaries should be recommended by a commission composed of three boundary experts to be appointed by the Security Council; and that they should ensure that inside the Arab State there should not be more Jewish-owned land than would constitute ten per cent of the privately-owned land in that State, and that in the Jewish State there should not be a greater area of Arab-owned land than would constitute ten per cent of the privately-owned land in that State. That would have been quite fair, but the proposal obtained almost no support outside the Arab States.
...[T]his plan is proposed as a permanent solution. If it fails, the United Nations has failed. It is a permanent system, and it pledges the credit, the honour, and indeed the very existence of the United Nations. Therefore, we had better give heed at this stage to what we are going to lend ourselves to. Is the General Assembly prepared to make the gamble?
Let us pause and consider before we launch the United Nations upon a course which commits it to carrying through a scheme which lacks moral justification, is beyond the legal and juridical authority of the United Nations, and is impossible of achievement. In making this futile, this fatal attempt, you set at nought the wishes of sixty-six per cent of the people of Palestine. You destroy the faith and trust of all the surrounding and neighbouring States in the fairness and impartiality of the United Nations, particularly having regard to what has been happening during the last three or four days — all the manoeuvres, even with regard to the meetings of the General Assembly, that great and honourable nations are descending to.
In the hearts of the populations of all the countries from the North African Atlantic Coast to the steppes of Central Asia, you sow doubt and mistrust of the designs and motives of the Western Powers. You take the gravest risk of impairing, beyond the possibility of repair, any chance of real cooperation between East and West, by thus forcibly driving what in effect amounts to a Western wedge into the heart of the Middle East...
Now we are told: you must accept either partition or nothing. But is that so? Is that the only choice? How much genuine support has the scheme of partition received? In the Ad Hoc Committee, it received the support of twenty-five delegations. Some of these twenty-five delegations said they supported the partition plan with a heavy heart; others said they supported it with reluctance. Why? Because there is nothing else. This shows that the General Assembly as a whole is, at least, not happy to commit itself to this so-called solution.
It is said that if partition is not accepted, there will be no room left for a solution. On the contrary, if partition is accepted the fatal step will have been taken. The Arabs and the Jews will have been set by the ears and never again will there be a chance of bringing them together. Far too many unfinished vendettas will then bar the way. If you delay and do not take the fatal step, you still leave open to the Arabs and the Jews the chance of a conciliatory solution through which they combine and work. It is not that if you do not take a final decision today, your jurisdiction to decide anything is barred. It means that neither of these two solutions is acceptable and that something else must be found. The responsibility remains with you. Do not throw away that chance. Do not close a door that may not be opened again. The United Nations must find a solution which is not only just and fair, but which has the best chance for success as regards the largest number of Jews and Arabs in Palestine.
Our vote today, if it does not endorse partition, does not rule out other solutions. Our vote, if it endorses partition, bars all peaceful solution. Let him who will shoulder that responsibility. My appeal to you is: do not shut out that possibility. The United Nations should seek and strive to unite and bring together rather than to divide and put asunder...
(hat tip: LarryT)