867N.01/818: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State

1046. In conversation with an official of the Levant section of the Foreign Office concerning the Royal Commission’s report on Palestine this official said that while the Foreign Office had not yet had an opportunity to examine carefully the voluminous report he was confident that the French Government would raise no objection to the principle of the partition scheme. The present mandate had proved unworkable he said and only time could tell if the partition scheme would be more workable. He was somewhat skeptical on this point but said that the French Government had had sufficient experience with problems in mandated territories to realize that full scope for working out solutions must be left to the Mandatory Power subject of course to adequate protection being afforded the legitimate interests of other states.

He remarked that France had important interests in Palestine in the way of schools and hospitals and would have to see that these were protected. He also said that the French Government was not informed as to the precise scope of the proposal for conceding on [to?] the British a permanent guardianship over the holy places. There are arrangements between the French Government and the Holy See regarding churches in this region and the French Government will desire further information on this aspect of the scheme.

This official said that in reading the report he had been struck by its tendency to encourage Arab unity. This was of course the British fashion of coating the pill for the Arabs. He remarked that during the war the British had done much the same thing in order to gain the assistance of the Arabs and that this had proved later on to be of doubtful wisdom. He felt that conditions in the Arab countries are such as to make it impossible, at least for the present, to realize Arab unity in any appreciable degree and he wondered if by encouraging hopes which would be disappointed the British might not be creating difficulties for the future.

It appears that considerable pressure is being brought on the French Government by Jewish organizations to object to the Palestine report. [Page 899] The Foreign Office however is taking the position that this is a matter to be dealt with primarily by the Mandatory Power subject to details of execution which will protect French interests.

The official with whom we spoke remarked that when the report comes before the Mandates Commission at Geneva at the end of this month he would not be surprised if action were limited to the appointment of a reporter to examine the question and report to the Commission at a later session.

Copy to Geneva, London.