19 Evatt to Attlee

Cablegram 347 CANBERRA, 16 December 1947, 6.25 p.m.



The following observations are submitted to you personally as the matter is of special importance and as I was Chairman of the Palestine Committee.

1. The suggestion that United Nations Commission should delay arrival in Palestine should be looked at in the light of the decision of the United Nations Assembly and also of statement made by U.K. representatives Cadogan and Martin [1] to Sub-Committee 1 on the Ad Hoc Committee of Palestine. So far as the latter Committee is concerned Cadogan and Martin expressed themselves as favouring a gradual assumption of functions in Palestine by the United Nations Commission as opposed to the transfer of all functions at one time.

2. Consequently amendment of the partition plan of government was made for the very purpose of satisfying Cadogan and Martin as to the method of transferring all functions from the U.K. to the United Nations Commission and they intimated that they were satisfied on the point involved. Accordingly the plan was amended.

3. With regard to the U.N. Commission it will be pointed out that that body has definite duties assigned to it by the United Nations Assembly resolution and it seems to be the essence of the Assembly decision that the Commission should establish in Palestine as soon as possible so that it can prepare itself to carry out its duties in accordance with the recommendation of the Assembly.

4. The Australian delegation at New York like those of Canada South Africa and New Zealand did their utmost to obtain approval of every U.K. request dealing with protection of U.K. troops and U.K. authority.

5. Most important there is suggestion in the present cable of arrangements with Arab governments (see para 6) as a result of which Arabs are almost given intimation to prepare now for commencement of hostilities and threats to the peace as soon as the United Nations Commission takes over. An almost inevitable result of this would be to bring into contempt the authority of the United Nations and its Commission, to imperil their preparatory work and to depart from the arrangements made in the Sub-Committee and Assembly as to gradual transfer of authority.

6. Another real difficulty is that the countries represented on the United Nations Commission are not intended to act in their separate capacities but merely as a collective agency of the Assembly. If approach is made individually to each of these countries to support delay this may possibly intensify confusion and set the stage for the opening of full scale hostilities at a time that is most convenient to the Arabs who have already been guilty of openly threatening attitude to the United Nations.

7. in the circumstances we suggest the utmost care and discretion should be exercised to see that subject to the essential duty of safeguarding British troops the working of the U.N. Commission should be accelerated rather than delayed.

1 J. M. Martin, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Colonial Office.

[AA : A1068, M47/17/1/2]