LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., Oct. 11, 1947 (UP) -- The United States announced qualified support of Palestine partition in the United Nations General Assembly today and drew an immediate Arab threat that this means war in the Middle East.
The United States told the UN in an historic statement of policy that it favored partition of the Holy Land, in principle, and would help the UN maintain internal law and order there during the transition to independence.
Faris el Khouri of Syria, spokesman for the Arab League, angrily denounced the American stand as a challenge to the Arab countries of the Middle East and served notice that the Arabs "cannot but accept this challenge."
Arab armies already have been mobilized for possible action to prevent formation of a Jewish state in the heart of the Middle East.
Herschel V. Johnson of the United States delegation made known the long-awaited American position to the 57 nations in the General Assembly's Palestine committee.
He did not make promise that America could send fighting forces or material to protect partitioned Palestine from threats by her neighbors. He proposed formation of a volunteer army to maintain internal order.
Pleased by the American stand, spokesmen for the Jewish Agency, the official representative of Palestine's 650,000 Jews, said the U.S. declaration apparently means there will be an independent Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The six Arab delegations to the UN issued a joint statement denouncing the American position and warning that partition embraces "the possibility of conflict and permanent discord" in the Holy Land.
The end of the American delegation's long silence on the question prompted the Soviet Union to ask for permission to speak at next week's sessions of the Palestine group. It also was reported that Great Britain, the target of part of the American statement, also would ask permission to speak for a second time on the matter.
Britain already has served notice it will not help carry out any UN proposal not acceptable both to Arabs and Jews.
The statement by Johnson implicitly warned the Arab nations against carrying out their threat to block partition with armed force.
It also told Great Britain, in a thinly-veiled sentence, that it cannot expect to pull out of Palestine and unload the explosive problem on the UN without helping to keep peace in the Middle East until the UN can take over.
Johnson declared that:
The U.S. supports "the basic principles" of the UN Palestine commission's majority plan for partition.
It supports also the majority proposal for admission of some 150,000 Jews to the Holy Land by Sept. 1, 1949.
The U.S. guarantees to participate in a program to meet the problems of economics, finance and of the maintenance of "internal law and order" during the transition from a British dependency to twin, independent Middle Eastern states.
The UN must modify and strengthen its Palestine commission's proposals delineating Arab and Jewish states.
The U.S. position does not necessarily apply in the event that Arab states, already mobilizing their armies along Palestine's frontier, or other forces threaten Palestine on an "international" basis.
The holy city of Jerusalem must be placed under direct trusteeship of the UN.
Johnson's statement made no mention of the three-nation minority proposal for a federated Palestine state which would turn the land into a single independent nation with safeguards for both Arabs and Jews.
"The United States," he said, "supports the basic principles of the unanimous recommendations (of the UN Palestine commission) and the majority plan which provides for partition and immigration."
Johnson said, however, that certain geographical alterations would have to be made in the Palestine commission's recommendations to make them fair and worthy of American support.
He proposed specifically that the all-Arab port of Jaffa, designated as part of the Jewish state under the UN majority plan, be given instead to the Arabs. This would guarantee the Arab state a serviceable seaport, and thus keep it from isolation.