Intervention of the Arab States in Palestine

This is an extract from the Year Book of the United Nations, 1947-48. It describes the Meeting of the United Nations Security Council on 15 May 1948 which discussed the situation in Palestine after the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, and the military intervention of the Arab states that commenced on that day.


On April 30 the Palestine Truce Commission informed the Security Council by cablegram (S/732) that the situation in Palestine was deteriorating rapidly, that government departments were closing daily and normal activities coming to a standstill and that the intensity of fighting was increasing steadily.

By a telegram addressed to the President of the Security Council dated May 1, 1948 (S/730), the Jewish Agency for Palestine drew the attention of the Security Council to reports of the invasion of Palestine by regular forces of Syria and Lebanon in the north and by Egyptian forces in the south. It was also reliably informed, the Agency stated, that a strong column of Iraqi troops was en route towards Palestine.

By a telegram of May 15 (S/743) the Government of Egypt informed the Security Council that Egyptian armed forces had started to enter Palestine “to establish security and order in place of chaos and disorder which prevailed and which rendered the country at the mercy of the Zionist terrorist gangs who persisted in attacking peaceful Arab inhabitants”.

By a telegram dated May 16 (S/748) the King of Transjordan likewise informed the United Nations that Transjordanian forces had been “compelled to enter Palestine to protect unarmed Arabs against massacres”.

The Secretary-General of the Arab League, in a cablegram dated May 15 (S/745), set forth at length the reasons which had prompted the Arab States to intervene in Palestine and expressed confidence that their action would receive the support of the United Nations.

At the 292nd meeting of the Security Council on May 15, the representative of the Jewish Agency drew the Council’s attention to the Agency’s telegram of May 1 (S/730), cited above, and to other warnings of Arab preparations for aggression presented to the Council (S/736, S/738).

As to the Egyptian telegram of May 15 (S/743), he stated that the very idea that the armed intervention of Egyptian forces in Palestine would lead to restoration of order was grotesque. The State of Israel, which had now been established within Palestine,22/ would defend itself against this wanton and unprovoked aggression but at the same time it had a right to expect immediate action by the organs of the United Nations. He urged that the Council determine the situation in Palestine to be a threat to international peace, a breach of the peace and an act of aggression and call upon the Arab States to refrain from aggression on penalty of action under Chapter VII.

The representative of the Arab Higher Committee questioned the right of the Jewish Agency to term as aggression the entry of Arab forces which had been invited by the Arab Higher Committee to maintain law and order. With the termination of the Mandate, he asserted, Palestine had become an independent nation and the Jews constituted a rebellious minority.

The representative of Syria asked that the Council examine the international status of Palestine. He considered that in the absence of a Trusteeship Agreement, Palestine had achieved its independence upon the termination of the Mandate.

The representative of Egypt reiterated that his country was intervening in Palestine solely to preserve law and order. With the termination of the Mandate, Palestine had regained complete independence and sovereignty.

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About David Gerald Fincham

Retired academic scientist.
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