United States Proposal for Temporary United Nations Trusteeship for Palestine(1)
Statement by President Truman
(March 25, 1948)
Press Conference Statement Concerning Trusteeship
It is vital that the American people have a clear understanding of the position of the United States in the United Nations regarding Palestine.
This country vigorously supported the plan for partition with economic union recommended by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine and by the General Assembly. We have explored every possibility consistent with the basic principles of the Charter for giving effect to that solution. Unfortunately, it has become clear that the partition plan cannot be carried out at this time by peaceful means. We could not undertake to impose this solution on the people of Palestine by the use of American troops, both on Charter grounds and as a matter of national policy.
The United Kingdom has announced its firm intention to abandon its mandate in Palestine on May 15. Unless emergency action is taken, there will be no public authority in Palestine on that date capable of preserving law and order. Violence and bloodshed will descend upon the Holy Land. Large-scale fighting among the people of that country will be the inevitable result. Such fighting would infect the entire Middle East and could lead to consequences of the gravest sort involving the peace of this Nation and of the world.
These dangers are imminent. Responsible governments in the United Nations cannot face this prospect without acting promptly to prevent it. The United States has proposed to the Security Council a temporary United Nations trusteeship for Palestine to provide a government to keep the peace. Such trusteeship was proposed only after we had exhausted every effort to find a way to carry out partition by peaceful means. Trusteeship is not proposed as a substitute for the partition plan but as an effort to fill the vacuum soon to be created by the termination of the mandate on May 15. The trusteeship does not prejudice the character of the final political settlement. It would establish the conditions of order which are essential to a peaceful solution.
If we are to avert tragedy in Palestine, an immediate truce must be reached between the Arabs and Jews of that country. I am instructing Ambassador Austin to urge upon the Security Council in the strongest terms that representatives of the Arabs and Jews be called at once to the council table to arrange such a truce.
The United States is prepared to lend every appropriate assistance to the United Nations in preventing bloodshed and in reaching a peaceful settlement. If the United Nations agrees to a temporary trusteeship, we must take our share of the necessary responsibility. Our regard for the United Nations, for the peace of the world, and for -our own self-interest does not permit us to do less.
With such a truce and such a trusteeship, a peaceful settlement is yet possible; without them, open warfare is just over the horizon. American policy in this emergency period is based squarely upon the recognition of this inescapable fact.
Source: Department of State Bulletin, vol. 18, No. 457, April 4, 1948, p. 451.
Photo of original document at http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/folder1/isa04-1.htm