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20 Department of External Affairs to Embassy in Washington

Cablegram unnumbered (extracts), CANBERRA, 23 March 1948

Following is text of statement released at 11 pm Monday by Dr. Evatt. Begins.

Palestine crisis 'Trusteeship'. Suggesti[on].[1] Comment by Australian Minister for External Affairs (Dr. H.V. Evatt).

Decisions of a competent international conference should be accepted after there has been full enquiry and fair debate and a just settlement has been reached. Accordingly any setting aside of the United Nations Assembly decision on Palestine must be closely scrutinized. It is impossible to examine the new plan in detail because nothing definite is known about it ...[2] If, however, what is now proposed is a temporary United Nations trusteeship merely for the purpose of carrying out the Assembly's decision it would be a very different matter. But is that intended? ... To throw the solution into the melting pot again may be very damaging to the authority of the United Nations. It has been contended that the 'enforcement' of the Assembly's decision is not possible. Had the Great Powers who supported the proposal at Lake Success, New York, adhered firmly to it there probably would have been little difficulty. In any event under the Assembly's decision the new Jewish state and the new Arab state was each to be entitled to establish its own military forces for the defence of the new territory and this decision clearly carried with it the right of Jews as well as Arabs to import arms and equipment for the purposes of defence ... In my opinion the United Nations decision has been gradually undermined by intrigues directed against the Jewish people. It would be little short of a tragedy if the fundamental rights of self-government were to be denied to both the Jews and the Arabs as it is guaranteed to them under the Assembly decision just as religious freedom is also guaranteed to the Christian churches throughout Palestine. The only considerations that influenced the United Nations Assembly were those of justice and fair dealing to all concerned. It would be most disturbing if mere considerations of power politics or expediency were allowed to destroy the decision. However, if a special United Nations Assembly is called it is hardly likely to accept any plan which involves the annihilation of the previous decision unless new facts of overwhelming cogency are proved to exist. I need hardly add that under the United Nations Charter the Security Council has no power whatever to overrule the recommendation of the Assembly. Ends.

[1] Corrected from the telegram which conveyed the statement after it was released by Evatt in Melbourne.

[2] Omitted material, as denoted by ellipses, refers generally to the process whereby the United Nations reached its decision to partition Palestine.

[AA : A3300, 729]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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