NEW YORK--(AP) --
The United Nations devoted some of its best brains and many hours of its busy time to looking for a solution of the years-old Palestine problem. And the U.N. is certain it has not seen the last of this controversy.
Palestine has been a top-ranking world problem since World War I days. But it did not hit the United Nations until last April. Since then it has eclipsed many of the other fights in the U.N. and it is the only issue that has made the U.N. put out the "SRO" [Standing Room Only] signs on its section reserved for the public.
ALTHOUGH the Jews had looked toward Palestine before World War I, they did not become too active until the Balfour declaration in 1917 in which the British government came out for a Jewish national home in the Holy Land.
The Arabs protested. But in 1922 the League of Nations council approved a mandate placing Palestine under British administration and that mandate became effective in 1923.
The British turned the whole affair over to the U.N. last April when they requested that the U.N. consider at the second regular assembly, scheduled for September, the future government of Palestine.
Confronted with this British request, the U.N. paved the way for discussion at the fall assembly by holding a three-weeks special assembly last spring
The special assembly created an 11-nation special investigating commission which went to Palestine for an on-the-spot inquiry and wrote its report in Geneva.
A MAJORITY of seven nations of this commission recommended the partition of Palestine into Jewish ad Arabic countries, with an economic union between them and with Jerusalem as an international city.
A minority of three proposed a federalized nation with Jerusalem as the capital
Australia, the 11th nation, did not come out for either report.
Thus the assembly meeting in September had the spade-work completed on this problem. Accordingly, it set up a special 57-nation Palestine committee and got down to business.
Britain made her position clear without delay but it was several days before the United States and Russia stated their plans regarding the problem.
The British said they desired to terminate the mandate and withdraw completely from Palestine as quickly as possible. They said also they would not assume the major role in enforcing any U.N. decision on which the Arabs and Jews did not agree.
The U.S. came out for partition first and then Russian endorsed the U.S. position. This agreement between the two big powers which have fought bitterly over many U.N. issues surprised numerous delegates but encouraged them in their task.
THE SPECIAL Palestine committee, under the chairmanship of Dr. Herbert V. Evatt, Australian foreign minister, next set up two subcommittees. One was told to whip up a partition plan from several proposals before the group. The other, known as the "Arab" subcommittee, was told to turn in a report on the Arab views for a single, unified Arab state in Palestine.
Lester B. Pearson, Canadian undersecretary of state for external affairs, was on e of the prime workers i the "partition" subcommittee. He devoted many hours to finding agreements for the knotty problems that bobbed up constantly and often came forward with a solution to minor disagreements between Russia and the U.S. on the partition scheme.
Pearson was assisted mainly by Jorge Garcia Grandados of Guatemala.
Herschel V. Johnson, U.S. delegate, and Semen K. Tsarapkin of Soviet Russia, represented the two big powers on the subcommittee and played leading roles in its work.
THE REPORT of the "Arab" subcommittee followed generally the Arab views on Palestine, with an added recommendation for the assembly to refer to the International Court of Justice the question whether the U.N. had a legal right to deal with the Palestinian problem. The 57-member special Palestine committee quickly voted down the Arab views and took up the "partition" subcommittee report.
The British, meanwhile, made two more statements in the committee and one in the assembly emphasizing their intention to withdraw from Palestine as speedily as possible. They declared that apparently some delegations had not thought the British meant what they had said.
The Jewish Agency for Palestine appeared before the assembly committees as spokesman for the Jews of Palestine. It endorsed partition.
The Arab higher committee, fighting partition all the way, refused to appear before the special investigating committee in Palestine and confined its protests to long statements before the assembly's political committee last spring and the Palestine committee this fall.
THE PARTITION plan recommended the creation of separate Jewish and Arab countries, under the watchful eye of the security council. The plan proposed that the British withdraw from Palestine by next Aug.1 and that the two countries come into being by next Oct. 1.
It also called for an economic union between the two new nations and for the city of Jerusalem to be an international city under the care of the U.N. trusteeship council. The plan left it up to the new nations to issue regulations on immigration, leaving the Jews a free hand on admitting fellow Jews into their new country.
The Jewish Agency estimated that under the plan the Jewish country would have a Jewish population of 533,000 and an Arab population, plus others, of 397,000, for a total of 935,000. To this the agency added 10,000 Jews living in Jerusalem which it said would choose citizenship in the Jewish nation and form an integral part of it as far as citizenship was concerned.
THE AGENCY also estimated that the Arab country would have 804,000 Arabs and others and 10,000 Jews for a total of 814,000. It noted that the Arab and other population of Jerusalem was 105,500.
The agency noted that the total area of Palestine is approximately 10,000 square miles, of which the proposed Jewish state would have 5,500 square miles and the Arab nation 4,500.
The Arab League, now made up of Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Trans-Jordan and Saudi Arabia, was organized in 1943. One of its principal objectives was the establishment of Palestine as an independent country with the present 2 to 1 Arab population ratio.
In 1946, the Anglo-American committee of inquiry recommended partition of Palestine and the admission of 100,000 Jewish immigrants. The British rejected this and came back with a plan for provincial autonomy.