The Ambassador in Great Britain (Harvey) to the Secretary of State

No. 596

Sir: Referring to my telegram No. 862, of October 27, 2 [5] p.m.,42 in reference to the representatives of the Standard Oil Company in Jerusalem, and their desire to continue geological examinations, I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of the full text of the Note referred to, together with a copy of my Note to the Foreign Office, No. 189 of September 15.

I have [etc.]

For the Ambassador:
Post Wheeler

Counselor of Embassy
[Page 98]
[Enclosure 1]

The American Ambassador (Harvey) to the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Curzon)

No. 189

The American Ambassador presents his compliments to His Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and has the honour to refer to conversations held in March and April, 1920, between Sir John Tilley, of the Foreign Office, and Mr. Wright, Counselor of this Embassy; to a conversation between Sir John Tilley, Mr. L. I. Thomas, of the Standard Oil Company of New York, and Mr. Wright on March 29, 1920; and to a conference at the Colonial Office on the 9th instant, kindly arranged by Mr. Lindsay of the Foreign Office, at which were present Mr. Shuckburgh and Major Young of that office,44 Mr. Thomas and Mr. Wright; all relative to the desire of the Standard Oil Company of New York that representatives of that Company now in Jerusalem be permitted to continue geological examinations of the areas covered by their rights or concessions, in Palestine, which examinations were commenced by the Company prior to the outbreak of the war in 1914.

In accordance with telegraphic instructions just received from his Government, Mr. Harvey now has the honour to reiterate this request, and in so doing desires to state that it is the opinion of his Government that the granting at this time of such permission could not be construed as inconsistent with the principles which have been accepted by the British Government regarding the development of the economic resources of mandated regions. Furthermore, the exploration and examination desired could apparently in no way compromise the future authorities of the countries concerned, since it is to be clearly understood that the investigations which it is desired to undertake would not be conducted with a view to acquiring new claims or to strengthening old ones.

In this connection Mr. Harvey is happy to improve this opportunity to confirm the statement made by Mr. Thomas and Mr. Wright during the aforementioned conversation, to the effect that there would be no objection on the part of the Government of the United States if privileges with respect to travel or to such geological examination in Palestine, similar to those accorded to nationals of the United States, should also be accorded to nationals of other countries.

Accordingly, Mr. Thomas, who is in London for a short time only but who will be compelled to leave within a few days on account of urgent business, holds himself in entire readiness to cooperate with the authorities of His Majesty’s Government and with the Embassy to such ends, and adds to the request of the Department of State his earnest hope that an early decision may be reached by His Majesty’s [Page 99] Government, in view of the fact that the rainy season in Palestine commences about December 1st, and that delay which might compel postponement of operations until next spring would increase the inconvenience and expense already incurred by the Company.

[Enclosure 2]

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Curzon) to the American Ambassador (Harvey)

No. E. 11576/264/88

Your Excellency: In your note No. 189 of the 15th. ultimo, you enquired whether the representatives of the Standard Oil Company in Jerusalem might be permitted to continue the geological examination, already begun before the war, of certain areas covered by rights or concessions in Palestine acquired by that Company.

In reply I have the honour to state that informal permission will be accorded to the representatives of the Standard Oil Company by the Palestine Government, to conduct researches within the limits of the areas over which the Company is known to claim concessionary rights with the object of discovering whether oil in payable quantities exists in these areas, on the strict understanding that such permission is granted without prejudice to the question of the validity of the Standard Oil Company’s claims, that no permission can be granted for the exploitation of these areas until the Treaty of Peace with Turkey enters into force and until the terms of the Mandate for Palestine are finally settled, and on the condition that the Company will undertake, to furnish a full and complete report of the result of their investigations as required by the Palestine Government and that they will comply with any instructions which may be given by the Palestine Government.
I would wish to make it quite clear to Your Excellency, that while the question of the validity of the Standard Oil Company’s claims to the areas in Palestine remains unaffected, the fact of their existence has been a determining factor with His Majesty’s Government and the Palestine Government in acceding to the request of the Company, and that no precedent is thereby established for the treatment of any future applications of a like nature.
I shall be glad to learn from you whether the Standard Oil Company agree to undertake operations in the Palestine areas on the terms set forth above, as well as the names of the persons to whom the work of investigation is to be entrusted by the Company, in order that the Palestine Government may be informed.

I have [etc.]

(For Secretary of State)
Lancelot Oliphant
  1. Not printed.
  2. The Colonial Office.