Palestine and the U.N. in Retrospect: The Fifties

(Part 2 of 6)

This is the second in a series of six retrospects, listed chronologically by decades, looking back at the most important events related to the question of Palestine that have taken place at the United Nations (U.N.) since the inception of the organization in 1945. Those events have greatly influenced both the history and the present of the Palestinian people and will affect their future also, as the permanent responsibility of the U.N. towards the question of Palestine must be upheld until it is solved in all its aspects.

The Trusteeship Council approves the Statute for the City of Jerusalem on 4 April 1950, and adopts resolution 232 (VI) on the same day, requesting the governments of Israel and Jordan to cooperate in the implementation of the Statute.

Egypt complains to the Security Council of Israel's violation of the Armistice Agreements including the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians. The Security Council adopts resolution 89 (1950) of 17 November 1950, which calls for the handling of complaints according to the procedures of the Armistice Agreements, calls upon the governments concerned to take no action involving the transfer of persons across international borders or armistice lines, and calls for the repatriation of any such Palestinian Arabs who are entitled to return.

On 2 December 1950, the U.N. General Assembly recognizes that direct relief to refugees cannot be terminated and authorizes the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to continue direct relief to refugees. At that time, the number of refugees registered with the Agency total 960,021.

The General Assembly, recognizing the urgency of the refugee question, adopts resolution 394 (V) of 14 December 1950, directing the United Nations Conciliation Commission to make arrangements for the implementation of paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (III), including the repatriation assessment and payment of compensation.

On 1 September 1951, in resolution 95 (1951), the Security Council calls on Egypt to terminate the restrictions on international commercial shipping through the Suez Canal.

On 26 January 1952, in resolution 512 (VI), the General Assembly once again requests the Conciliation Commission to continue its efforts to secure the implementation of the General Assembly resolutions on Palestine.

Israeli army forces attack Qibya (Jordan) on 14 and 15 October 1953. The Security Council adopts resolution 101 (1953) of 24 November 1953, finding that the retaliatory action by the armed forces of Israel constitute a violation of the cease-fire and expressing the strongest censure of that action.

The mandate of UNRWA is extended on 27 November 1953 until the end of June 1955. Later, on 4 December 1954, the mandate is again extended until the end of June 1960. On 9 December 1959, the mandate is extended for another three years.

On 28 February 1955, Israeli army forces attack the Egyptian army in the Gaza Strip. The Security Council adopts resolution 106 (1955) of 29 March 1955, condemning the Israeli attack on Gaza, as a violation of the cease-fire and as inconsistent with the Armistice Agreements and considers that the Agreements have been deliberately threatened.

On 30 March 1955, and later on 8 September 1955, the Security Council calls on Egypt and Israel to cooperate with the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in preserving security on the Armistice Demarcation line in the Gaza Strip.

On 11 December 1955, Israeli forces launch an attack against Syrian territory in the Lake Tiberias area. The Security Council adopts resolution 111 (1956) of 19 January 1956, condemning the Israeli attack as a flagrant violation of the cease-fire provisions, the Armistice Agreement and of Israel's obligation under the Charter of the U.N. and expressing grave concern at Israel's failure to comply with its obligations in this regard.

The Security Council, on 4 April 1956, adopts resolution 113 (1956), in which it considers that the situation concerning the enforcement of the four Armistice Agreements is such that its continuance is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. On 4 June 1956, the Council adopts resolution 114 (1956), which declares that the parties to the Armistice Agreements should speedily carry out the measures already agreed upon with the U.N. Secretary-General.

On 13 October 1956, the Security Council describes the requirements for a settlement of the Suez question, respecting the sovereignty of Egypt.

On 31 October 1956, the Security Council calls for an emergency special session of the General Assembly to consider the grave situation created by the actions undertaken against Egypt since the Security Council could not exercise its responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security due to the lack of unanimity among the Council's permanent members (France and the U.K. exercised their vetoes).

The General Assembly convenes its first emergency special session on 1 November 1956, under the "uniting for peace procedure", to consider the situation resulting from the conduct of military operations by France, the U.K. and Israel against Egypt. The Assembly adopts a series of resolutions, inter alia, calling for the withdrawal of France and the U.K. from the Egyptian territory and of Israel behind the armistice lines as well as setting up United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF). The Assembly decides to place the crisis on the agenda of its 11th regular session.

On 19 January 1957, the General Assembly notes with regret and concern the failure of Israel to withdraw from Egyptian territory. Later, on 2 February 1957, the Council deplores the non-compliance of Israel with regard to completion of its withdrawal and calls upon Israel to complete withdrawal without delay.

On 27 February 1957, the General Assembly decides to convene an Ad Hoc Committee of the Assembly for pledges to the refugee program the following year. This practice is repeated annually.

Jordan complains with regard to the activities conducted by Israel in the zone between the armistice demarcation lines in the area of Government House in Jerusalem. In response, the Security Council adopts resolution 127 (1958) on 22 January 1958, noting that the status of the zone is affected by the provisions of the Israel-Jordan General Armistice Agreements and that neither Israel nor Jordan enjoys sovereignty over any part of the zone and directing the Chief of Staff of UNTSO in Palestine to regulate activities in the zone.