Britain Seeks Special U.N. Panel on Palestine

April 2, 1947

The British government notifies the United Nations of its intent to bring the question of Palestine’s future before the next U.N. General Assembly. The United Kingdom also requests a special General Assembly session to create a special commission that can study and make recommendations on Palestine before the next regular General Assembly session.

The message from the British ambassador to the United Nations, Alexander Cadogan, follows the announcement Feb. 18 by the foreign minister, Ernest Blevin, that the United Kingdom needs help to resolve the increasingly violent situation in Palestine. The resulting U.N. Special Commission on Palestine crafts the partition plan that is incorporated into U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, which wins approval Nov. 29, 1947.

The request acknowledges the failure of a series of British commissions and white papers to calm ethnic tensions. As Jews have found ways around immigration restrictions, Arab violence has increased, and Jewish paramilitary organizations have become more aggressive. Still exhausted from World War II, the British have decided to pass the Palestine problem on to the United Nations.

The U.N. Special Commission on Palestine, with delegates from 11 nations, comes to the same conclusion as the British Peel Commission of 1937: The only peaceful resolution for Palestine is a division into a Jewish state and an Arab state.

The UNSCOP recommendations, which include how to divide the area, are met with vastly different reactions. While Jews are unhappy about their allotment of land and Jerusalem’s separation from the Jewish state, they agree to the partition compromise. The Arabs reject the proposal.