The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State

No. 2155

Sir: Referring to my despatch No. 2138 of February 22, 1939 and previous despatches on the London discussions on Palestine, I have the honor to report that an informal meeting took place yesterday between representatives of the Jewish Agency, the British Government and three of the neighboring Arab States. It was the first time that all three groups, i. e., Arab, Jew and British, had come into direct contact since the opening of the Conference.

The meeting, which was entirely informal, was arranged on condition that the presence of representatives of the Arab States should not imply any recognition of the Jewish Agency. None of the Palestine Arab delegates was present. They had not been invited as their refusal was known to be certain.

Those present were Ali Pasha Maher (Egypt), General Nuri es-Said, and Seyyid Taufiq es-Suwaidi (Iraq) and Fuad Bey Hamza (Saudi Arabia). The Jewish representatives included Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Mr. D. Ben-Gurion, Professor S. Brodetzky, and Mr. M. Shertok (Jewish Agency), Lord Bearsted and Lord Reading (Great Britain), and Rabbi Dr. Stephen Wise (U. S. A.). Mr. Malcolm MacDonald presided and Lord Halifax and Mr. Butler were the other British delegates.

The discussions are reported to have lasted two hours, to have been general in nature, and not to have narrowed the gap separating the Arabs and the Jews with respect to Palestine. The conversations, however, are to be continued to-day.

This development is regarded as representing a slight advance. In a personal conversation, Dr. Wise referred to it as a “psychic gain.” [Page 717] A section of the press notes that hitherto the Jews and Arabs have arrived at St. James’s Palace for separate meetings with the British representatives, using not only different entrances but different conference rooms, and suggests that the fact that on this occasion they arrived at the same entrance and sat at the same table may foreshadow progress, notwithstanding the fact that the absence of the Palestine Arabs was a serious flaw in the proceedings.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Herschel V. Johnson

Counselor of Embassy