6 FEBRUARY 1948, Page 2

The Palestine Commission

The difference that has arisen at Lake Suocess between The United Nations Palestine Commission and the British Government is not surprising. When the British finally move out of Palestine on May 15th the only international authority left will be the United Nations Commission. At some stage between now and May there has got to be a transference of responsibilities, and the Commission would like this to start straight away and in Palestine. The British authorities there, who are finding it hard enough to preserve the minimum of order and administration, refusing to weaken their powers by a piecemeal surrender, are so far not prepared to accept the commission in Palestine until a fortnight before the mandate ends. That is an impossibly short period for taking over. Purely on security grounds there seems to be no adequate reason for not

admitting the Commission at once on condition, of course, that British executive control is fully maintained. The members presumably know the risks they would be running, and the Palestine authorities have had plenty of experience in guarding distinguished but un- popular visitors. The main point at issue is whether the United Nations Commission is to be written off as a failure or given a chance in the hope that it may turn into something effective. At the moment it is admittedly without authority, experience or prestige. Titular authority it will assume sooner or later from the British ; experience and prestige it can only gain in Palestine. Whether its authority is ever made effective is another matter, and Britain will not be chiefly to blame if it is not. But however pathetically inadequate for its task as successor to the mandate the Commission may be it must be treated as representing the United Nations and not just as five anonymous individuals. On this basis, the sooner it faces the realities of its task on the spot the better. It will not then at any rate be able to argue lack of time if its attempts to organise partition meet with the failure to which they seem doomed.