867N.00/615: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

269. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent me a copy of aide-mémoire regarding Palestine transmitted to Egyptian Minister in Washington for presentation to Secretary.

Raising of question at this time by Egyptian authorities is regarded as reflecting recently aroused apprehension in Moslem and Christian Arab circles because of apparent effort of Zionists to increase tempo of activity, particularly in United States, with view to obtaining commitments under stress of war which it might be more difficult or impossible to obtain in course of general postwar discussions (see my 61, January 11, 11 a.m.).

In this connection I have noted in discussions with Zionist spokesmen visiting Cairo recently a marked hardening in their attitude (possibly owing in part to increased confidence resulting from alleged large-scale clandestine arming by Jews in Palestine) which in several cases has taken the form of frankly admitting that it is idle to continue to talk of “negotiations” between Arabs and [apparent omission] in balance obvious that any solution satisfactory to Zionists would have to be “imposed” on Arabs by threat or use of force and this latter the only realistic line of action to adopt.

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With situation developing in this ominous manner, I submit that our policy should be directed toward damping down these threatening flames rather than throwing coals on the fire in the form of any official commitments regarding Palestine or of countenancing unbridled agitation of a semiofficial character which only serves to bring out the extreme views of one side without regard for the feelings or rights of Moslem and Christian Arabs and even many Jews. A contrary policy would contravene our established stand that our primary object is to exert every effort to defeat the Axis by military force and that regional political problems must be subordinated to that aim.

Therefore, viewing the matter from the more specific point of view of the prosecution of the war, there is no doubt that the raising of the Zionist issue now might serve to undo much of the laborious and constructive work done by Allied and Middle Eastern leaders alike in bringing about an improved situation in this area and, if the impetus appears to come from the United States, it would have the additional effect of vitiating much of the long standing heritage of good will toward the United States in this area as well as to detract from the wartime prestige which we have built up through propaganda and armed successes.