UN General Assembly
217th Plenary Meeting
at Flushing Meadow, New York, on Wednesday, 11 May 1949, at 3 pm:
President: Mr. H. V. Evatt
Application of Israel for admission to
membership in the United Nations
In favor: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela,
Yugoslavia, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist
Republic, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic,
Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Liberia, Luxembourg,
Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru,
Philippines, Poland, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of South
Against: Yemen, Afghanistan, Burma,
Egypt, Ethiopia, India,
Iran, Iraq, Lebanon,
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. Syria.
Abstaining: United Kingdom, Belgium, Brazil,
Denmark, El Salvador, Greece,
Siam, Sweden, Turkey.
The President stated that since every Member of the United Nations was
present and voting, the requirement of the Charter for a two-thirds majority
was satisfied. He therefore formally declared Israel admitted to membership in
the United Nations.
At the invitation of the President, Mr. Sharett,
representative of Israel, took his seat on the platform.
On behalf of the
United Nations and the General Assembly, the President welcomed the new
Member of the United Nations. He considered that the very important debate had
been well conducted and that the matter had been democratically considered and
democratically put to the vote.
The United Nations would give Israel friendship and cooperation in the
achievement of the common purposes set forth in the Charter. In return, the
Organization knew that it would obtain loyalty and cooperation from Israel in
achieving the common objectives of all Members.
He would go even further and state that he was sure all the Members of the
Organization would agree — that he looked forward to the time when the wounds
of the peoples of the Middle East would be healed and when cooperation,
friendship and comradeship would prevail between all peoples of the Middle East
in accordance with the best interests of that region and the great principles
of the Charter.
He therefore took great pleasure in welcoming Israel, through its Foreign
Minister, to membership in the United Nations.
Mr. Sharett (Israel)
thanked the President for his generous words of welcome, which were
particularly appreciated in view of the President’s distinguished position in
international councils and in the national life of Australia, and his
outstanding role in the decisive stages of the treatment of the problem of
Israel by the United Nations. Mr. Sharett also thanked the representative of
the Dominican Republic most warmly for his welcome.
The admission of
Israel was a great moment for the new State and for the Jewish people
throughout the world. The responsibility entailed was awesome; the vision for
the future was uplifting.
The admission of Israel was the consummation of a people’s
transition from political anonymity to clear identity, from inferiority to
equal status, from mere passive protest to active responsibility, from
exclusion to membership in the family of nations.
At the historic juncture of its admission, the first thoughts
of Israel were for the Jews of all countries. The State of Israel claimed no
allegiance from Jews in other lands. As a sovereign entity it rested on the
loyalty of its own citizens and was alone responsible for its actions and
policies. Yet Israel expressed fervent wishes for the security, dignified
existence and equality of rights of Jews everywhere. Deeply and reverently
conscious of its mission in Jewish life, Israel would strive to keep the Jewish
name high and to live up to the noble record of Jewish tradition. Israel would
regard it as a most sacred trust to keep its doors open to all Jews in need of
expressed deep gratitude to those nations which, at a time when the Jews had
had no voice in world councils, had championed from the international platform,
whether in the League of Nations or in the organs of the United Nations, the
rights and aspirations of the Jewish people and their claim to nationhood in
Palestine. In particular, he expressed the profound and everlasting thankfulness
of the Jewish people to all nations whose delegations on 29 November 1947 had
supported the historic resolution providing for the establishment of the Jewish
State and to those whose delegations had voted for Israel’s admission to the
of Israel reported that fifty-four Governments, including forty-five Members of
the United Nations, had recognized Israel.
The Jewish State had
arisen because, in the words of Theodor Herzl, who had envisaged its creation
fifty years ago, it had become a world necessity. Two historic trends had
converged to bring it about: catastrophe in Europe and achievement in Zion.
At no stage in the
tribulations of the Jewish people had its basic insecurity been more tragically
laid bare than in the Second World War, when three out of every four Jews in
Europe, one out of every three Jews in the world, had been put to death. It should
not be forgotten that the United Nations in its origin represented an anti-nazi coalition born in common
battle against the darkest
forces of evil that had ever menaced
the destiny of civilized mankind. It should also be remembered that
in that titanic and victorious struggle the Jews of all the Allied nations had
taken a full part and the Jews of Palestine had borne their share as a nation
in arms. Allied victory would have missed one of its essential objectives
although perhaps unperceived at that time, and the triumph of the United
Nations over the scourge of humanity would have remained incomplete if
the Jewish people, as a people, had still remained homeless without a country
of their own.
In their ancestral
home, the Jews had labored Iong and hard to achieve that goal. By the time the
Mandate had terminated they had achieved statehood in everything but name. They
the right of self-determination. In the framework of an emancipated Middle
East, where one country after another had achieved sovereign status, the denial
of independence to the Jewish people would have been a flagrant anomaly and a
grievous wrong. When the hour had come, the Jews had known that their own
survival and freedom in their own country, as well as the fulfillment of the
hopes of countless generations, were at stake. In that conviction had lain
their ability, outnumbered and with inferior arms, to defend themselves and to
uphold their independence.
against the European tragedy and a deep insight into the realities of Palestine
had found joint expression in the historic resolution of 29 November 1947. It
had been an act of faith, of international justice and of creative
statesmanship. Having once set that course, the Assembly had never swerved. On
two notable occasions it had refused to endorse retreats from that policy which
would either have annulled the independence of Israel or crippled its territory.
By admitting Israel into its fold it did no more than sanction the final
application of its own decree.
The fact that
Israel’s rapid integration in the international structure was due to a
deliberate decision of the United Nations had far-reaching implications.
Israel’s organic connexion with the United Nations had combined with its own
compelling interest in dictating its course of action, in international affairs
— a course of undivided loyalty to the Charter of the United Nations and of
consecration to the cause of peace.
The pursuit of peace was a treasured part of the Jewish
heritage. The ideal of peace would guide Israel in shaping the relations
between State and citizen, between man and his neighbor, between the State and
other countries. Israel yearned for peace both in its own vital interest and
out of its concern for the survival of the Jewish people. Scattered as they
were in all lands, the Jews had suffered incomparably more than any other
people from the last war. None therefore dreaded another war more than Israel.
Moreover, peace was the very breath of Israel’s existence and an indispensable
condition for its growth and development.
Israel entered an international arena beclouded by grave
conflict, though happily its entry came at a moment when it might be hoped that
the agreement on Berlin, which was about to enter into force, would lead to a
significant diminution of tension in great Power relationships. The acceptance
of Israel into the family of nations was of itself a not unhopeful omen. Both
the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were among those
Powers which had joined hands in welcoming Israel into the world. Among the
States which had recognized Israel, all the five permanent members of the
Security Council were included. For its own part, and in its modest capacity,
Israel extended a hand of true friendship to all peace-loving nations, pledging
its cooperation, under the auspices of the United Nations, in the preservation
and defense of universal peace and progress.
That pledge became an earnest and urgent appeal when
addressed to Israel’s closest neighbors, the Arab States, and other nations of
the Middle East. Israel was deeply aware of the common destiny uniting it with
them forever. Once its own place and status had been secured, Israel had no
higher ambition or more urgent task than to attain a relationship of good neighborliness and
friendly collaboration with the peoples of that vital area. The Middle East had
played an outstanding role in man’s progress in ancient and medieval times. Its
contribution to culture and civilization had been of eternal effect. In the
current age it was well capable of taking its place in the great march of modem
progress. The task called for a pooling of efforts and experience on the
part of all and for the mutual emulation of constructive examples. Israel was
eager to contribute to that common endeavor.
Israel was not aware of any serious conflict between
itself and its neighbors which could not be resolved by peaceful negotiations.
The recent direct armistice agreements between Israel on the one hand and
Egypt, Lebanon and TransJordan, respectively, on the other hand -— agreements
in which the sponsorship and mediation of the United Nations had proved so
effective — strengthened that belief.
Israel’s membership in the United Nations, bringing it
within a common forum with six Arab States, might facilitate progress towards
understanding. The war against Israel and the aftermath of that war had changed
some elements of the pattern envisaged in the resolution of 29 November 1947.
The changes must perforce find their expression in the future peace settlement.
There was no intrinsic reason why those modifications, based on new realities,
should not become the subject of general consent.
The Israeli Government had taken careful note of
the discussions in the Ad
Hoc Political Committee on certain
problems still outstanding between Israel and its
neighbors on the one hand and between Israel and the United Nations on the other.
It would pursue its steadfast efforts to assist in the earliest possible
settlement of those issues by discussions between Israel and the neighboring
States and through the good offices of the United Nations. It would certainly
strive to take a constructive and responsible part in whatever discussions
might take place on those Subjects at the following session of the General Assembly.
problems created by the emergence of Israel would not alone engage the attention of the government of Israel. Its efforts would be directed to the
absorption of the large scale immigration currently in progress, a veritable
gathering of the exiles, and to the development of the country's resources for
the benefit of all its inhabitants.
Israel was fully
conscious of the fact that poverty and ignorance were hereditary enemies of
lasting peace. The Government of Israel was determined to do all it could to
root out those twin evils, to raise the standard of living of the common man, without
distinction of race or creed, to ensure equal rights
to all, to safeguard the equality of status of men and women, to raise the
dignity of labor, to guarantee freedom of enterprise, individual and
collective, within the framework of a progressive State, to ensure full
religious freedom and to add its proof that true democracy could be as fully
operative for the commonweal in Asia as in any other part of the world.
Those were in the main objects to which the Government and
people of Israel were pledged. Mr. Sharett quoted from a statement of policy made by the
Prime Minister of Israel
on the basis of which the Government in
office had secured a vote of confidence from the legislature.
“The foreign policy of Israel shall be based on the
“1 Loyalty to the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and friendship with all
peace-loving States, especially with the United States of America and the Union
of Soviet Social Republics;
“2. Efforts to achieve an Arab-Jewish
alliance based on economic, social, cultural and political co-operation with
the neighboring countries. This alliance must be within the framework
of the United Nations and cannot be directed against any of the Members;
“3. Support for all measures which strengthen peace,
guarantee the rights of men and the equality of nations, and enhance the authority
and effectiveness of the United Nations;
“4. The right of all Jews who wish to resettle in their
historic homeland to leave the countries of their present abode;
“5. The effective preservation of the complete
independence and sovereignty of Israel.”
Whatever share Israel might have in the counsels of the
United Nations would be devoted wholly to strengthening peace in the world, to
furthering the brotherhood of peoples, and safeguarding the equality and
dignity of men.
Israel was a young nation, but an ancient people. Though beginners in the
art of statecraft, the Israelis had the privilege and responsibility of being
able to draw upon a rich and varied stock of universal experience, Israel entered the General Assembly, which
represented the collective statesmanship of the world, m a spirit of humility,
anxious for guidance and enlightenment. It hoped that its ability to learn
might be enhanced by the ancient
teachings and the age-old aspirations of the Jewish people.
Mr. Sharett recalled that on the most solemn day in the
Jewish calendar his people prayed for the day when all the peoples of the earth
would unite in one fraternity to seek the salvation of mankind, and that it was
the prophets of Israel who had bequeathed to the world the vision of a time
when “nation shall not lift up a sword against nation; neither shall they learn
war any more”. Sharett spoke in Hebrew: Lo yisa goy el goy
herev velo yilmedu od milhama.
the invitation of the President, the delegation of Israel took its place in the