The Egyptian Minister (Hassan) to the Secretary of State

Sir: At the direction of my Government, I have the honour to hand over to your Excellency the enclosed aide-mémoire in connection with the question of Palestine.

Please accept [etc.]


The Egyptian Legation to the Department of State


The realization of the aspirations of Palestine has always been one of the objectives of Egyptian Policy. The Government of His Majesty [Page 752] the King of Egypt have not failed to give evidence to the interest they attach to this problem. Thus, as soon as she joined the League of Nations, Egypt has precisely formulated her point of view on the question of Palestine in a speech delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Assembly of the League held on the 18th of September, 1937.

The speech emphasized the interest of the Egyptian people and their Government in Palestine, on account of close historical and religious affinity existing between the two sister and neighbouring countries as well as the relations of amity and alliance existing between Egypt and Great Britain and the necessity of finding a solution of the various interests involved based on the principles of equity and justice. Guided by these principles, practical suggestions were made on behalf of the Egyptian Government to the effect that Palestine remain in the hands of Palestinians of origin: Mohammedans, Christians and Jews. Moreover, the speech uttered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs recalled the promise made by the British Government to the Arab world in 1917 [1918?]13 namely the contemplation of the eventual recognition of the independence of all Arab countries including Palestine; it pointed out that, after all, “the Balfour Declaration”14 itself only envisaged favorably the establishment of a National home for the Jews in Palestine and its endeavours to facilitate the realization of this aim, with the clear understanding, however, that nothing should be done that would prejudice the civilization, the religion and the rights of other communities in Palestine. This could [Page 753] only mean that any solution to be adopted, should receive the consent of the Arabs as well as the other communities.

It is of no little interest to mention, in this connection, that the painful events which followed in Palestine have deeply moved the Egyptian people, and the Egyptian Parliament echoed their voice by demanding that the Government intercede and use all its influence with a view of finding a speedy solution to this problem. Consequently, the Egyptian Government approached the other Arab countries and invited them to a convention which took place in Cairo in 1939. The delegates to this convention emphasized the unanimous interest of the Arab countries in the question of Palestine and thus led to the convening of the “London Congress”15 in the same year.

As a result of elaborate negotiations the British Government published a “White Book”,16 which consecrated, to a large extent, the Arab revendications and proposed the creation of a Palestinian State, which would attain its independence in a period of twenty years. The same Book also proposed that the continuation of Jewish emigration into Palestine should take into consideration the capacity of absorption by that country as well as the economic conditions, and that, at all events, such emigration should cease as soon as the number of the Jews would attain one-third of the total population and that no further Jewish emigration could take place without the consent of the Arabs. The British Government, in turn, undertook to carry out the conclusions adopted by the “White Book”. A law was to be promulgated to regulate the repartition of the land in Palestine. From that time on, Egypt has followed with great interest the evolution of events in Palestine and, in complete agreement with other Arab countries, watched anxiously the realization of the aspirations in that country, taking also into account the implications of the treaty of amity and friendship between Egypt and Great Britain.17

However, the Zionist leaders made no secret of their ambitions to transform Palestine into a powerful Jewish nation and, to attain this end, they have displayed considerable activities in the democratic nations. These activities which are reflected in the Press, have found their echo amongst some of the responsible circles as well as those possessing great political and social influence. These maneuvers have had a deplorable effect on the Arab and Mohammedan world, and it is feared that the success of the Zionist propaganda in the U. S. A. may lead to the erroneous impression that the U. S. Government favor [Page 754] the Jews at the expense of the Arabs. In fact, the experience of the past and the success of the Zionist activities during the last war have affected the attitude of the Arabs and have resulted in the difficulties, past and present, encountered by the British policy.

It has been gratifying to witness that during the present world conflict the U. S. A. has intensified her friendly relations with the Arabic and Mohammedan nations. Egypt, which attaches a special price to her friendship with the U. S. A., is very desirous that nothing should ever obscure their relations and she feels it is her duty to convey to the U. S. Government the painful reaction in public opinion, as a result of the Zionist activities in America; in fact, this reaction may not prove helpful to the task of the Government whose profound sympathies have always gone to the democracies and whose attitude has been most favorable to the Allies. It is the hope of the Egyptian Government, therefore, that the responsible circles of the U. S. A. should not lose sight of these considerations and it is important to emphasize, in this respect, that any promises or declarations made by them to the Zionist cause will only create immeasurable difficulties. Is it necessary to recall, in this connection, how harmful the promises made by Great Britain to the Jews have proved and how far they have contributed to complicate the situation in Palestine?

Needless to add that Egypt will only be too glad to collaborate, in due time, in the solution of this thorny problem.

  1. This is apparently a reference to the Joint Declaration by the British and French Governments, November 8, 1918; for text, see telegram No. 226, November 25, 1918, from Cairo, Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. ii, p. 274.
  2. In November 1917 the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Arthur James Balfour, wrote the following letter to Lord Walter Rothschild regarding a Jewish national home in Palestine (facsimile copy in Book of Documents submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations Relating to the Establishment of the National Home for the Jewish People … 1917–1947, published by The Jewish Agency for Palestine, New York, May 1947):

    “Foreign Office, November 2nd, 1917.

    “Dear Lord Rothschild, I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

    “‘His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country’

    “I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

    “[Complimentary ending illegible] Arthur James Balfour”.

    Regarding the interest of the United States in the issuance of this statement of policy by the British Government, see Foreign Relations, 1917, supp. 2, vol. i, pp. 317, 473, and 483.

  3. For correspondence concerning the British discussions at London with Arab and Jewish representatives, February and March 1939, see Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. iv, pp. 694823, passim.
  4. The White Paper was dated May 17, 1939; for text, see British Cmd. 6019: Palestine, Statement of Policy.
  5. Signed at London August 26, 1936, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxxiii, p. 401.