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44 Department of External Affairs to Noel-Baker

Cablegram 145, CANBERRA, 21 May 1948, 5.30 p.m.


We have noted B.B.C. report attributed to a spokesman of the Foreign Office in which it was stated that the United Kingdom was under an obligation to help with training and equipment of armed forces of Transjordan, as well as providing equipment for other Arab states. The spokesman added 'we feel no reason to depart from our obligations to these states unless and until the United Nations say that the states have in any way acted illegally.'
In conjunction with United Kingdom opposition in the Security Council to a determination that a breach of the peace exists, the attitude above report would be open to the most unfortunate interpretation, particularly if the United Kingdom representative felt constrained to employ his veto power to prevent immediate action by the Security Council, as contemplated in your H195.

It is suggested that, irrespective of the status of the Jewish State, the Security Council has a clear mandate, in fact, a positive responsibility, under Article 39 in view of the fact that breach of the peace has occurred.

On the other hand, we find it difficult to understand your proposal to call upon the parties to abstain from acts of force if there is no intention of ensuring that violations of such an order by either of the parties are met with preventive action by the United Nations. It is pointed out that the Security Council has already called for a cease-fire and a further request of a similar nature, without the intention of seeing it respected, will succeed only in bringing the United Nations into disrepute. Action taken by the Security Council under Articles 39 and 40 would be without prejudice to the eventual rights and claims of the parties and would be directed solely to ensuring that a solution was reached by peaceful means in accordance with the principles of the Charter.[1] This was the procedure in relation to Indonesia.

[1] The UK Government suspended the supply of war materials to Arab states on 4 June 1948 following the acceptance by both Jews and Arabs of the Security Council's truce resolution of 29 May 1948.

[AA : A1838, 191/2/1A, II]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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