Moshe Sharett at the UN
We are in the process of obtaining from the UN Archives protocols of meetings in which Moshe Sharett appeared.
UN General Assembly
TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTH PLENARY MEETING
Held at Flushing Meadow, New York, on Wednesday, 11 May 1949, at 3 pm
President: Mr. H. V. Evatt (Australia).
161: 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 Africa.
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 a home.
Mr. Sharett 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 United Nations.
The representative 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 had claimed 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.
Mankind’s revulsion 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.
The specific 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 following principles:
“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.
At the invitation of the President, the delegation of Israel took its place in the General Assembly.