16 JANUARY 1948, Page 1

Palestine Perils

The United Nations Palestine Commission, still at Lake Success, has heard Sir Alexander Cadogan in secret session explain Britain's plans for co-operating with, and presumably handing over to, the Commission when it reaches Palestine. Details of the operation need to be kept secret, and it is to be hoped they will be, but present plans may have to be modified radically by the development of events. Palestine is moving towards civil war, not away from it, and only the presence of British troops prevents it from flaming up immediately. The irruptions of Arabs from Syria in the past week have not been on a formidable scale, but they give sinister warning of what may come. So on the other side do the seizures in the United States of large quantities of explosives destined for the Jewish Agency in Palestine. The Jews apparently propose to ask the United Nations to organise a force to defend partition in Palestine and to re-organise Jewish action for the same purpose. The Military Correspondent of The Times on Wednesday analysed the military prospect in Palestine in the event of open war between Jews and Arabs, concluding that in the absence of outside intervention—a proviso the importance of which he under- lined—Arab partisans would put the Jews in a very difficult position. This, of course, is and always has been a case for the use of an international United Nations force, and M. Trygve Lie has actually talked of such a thing ; but the Charter provisions for such action have remained a dead-letter from the first, and now that the need has arisen in an urgent form the Organisation will to all appearance remain stultified—as its own Commission seems pessimistically to realise. But if fighting in Palestine cannot be prevented it is impera- tive that it be isolated.