Skip to main content

Historical documents

25 Throssell to Shann

Minute, CANBERRA, 6 April 1948

It is suggested that in considering the United States trusteeship proposal we should proceed on the assumption that the objective is to arrive at a just and workable settlement. Consideration of possible strategic interests either in terms of future allies, military bases, or oil, is likely to distort the picture. Stability in Palestine is most likely to ensure the maintenance of peace and security.

2. The partition plan was an attempt to reach a just settlement based upon the spot investigations and exhaustive discussions of all points of view. The final plan was agreed to by 2/3 of the members of the United Nations. Any alternative solution should be based upon a not less thorough examination of the facts.

3. The preliminary work of the Palestine Commission has revealed one weakness in the arrangements for the implementation of partition. In the absence of agreement between Arabs and Jews there were no effective means of preventing disruption of the plan.

4. In assessing the trusteeship plan we must first ask what are the objectives of the proposals. United States should be requested to answer the following questions immediately:-

(a) Does the trusteeship plan envisage the ultimate implementation of partition?
(b) If not, does it envisage an alternative political settlement?
(c) If so, in what way is the alternative preferable to partition, or is it more likely of acceptance by both parties?
(d) If the trusteeship proposal is designed purely to meet an existing situation, what guarantees are there that it is more likely to achieve success than the original proposals of the General Assembly?
5. On present information it is already known that the trusteeship proposal will be resisted by the Jewish community in Palestine. It is also clear that if trusteeship envisages partition as an ultimate solution it will also be resisted by the Arabs.

6. The only information so far available concerning details of implementation of the trusteeship proposal are:-

(a) Trusteeship is to be one of all members of the United Nations.

(b) A Governor-General will be named in the Trusteeship Agreement.

(c) An international constabulary will be recruited.

7. It is suggested that only on examination of the full details of the proposal and its terms of application can any decision be made whether trusteeship is likely to meet even the immediate objective of preventing widespread bloodshed on the termination of the mandate.[1]

8. On the face of it its only advantage is the provision for an international constabulary, which to be effective would require to be both large in numbers and well armed. The same proposal applied to partition might overcome the immediate difficulty of enforcement.

[1] The Department of External Affairs received a summary of the plan on 7 April in cablegram 306 from New York, dispatched 6 April 1948.

[AA : A1838, 852/20/2, V]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top