Memorandum by Mr. William L. Parker of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs28

Palestine Question

The question of Palestine has been causing the Department increasing concern because of growing resentment toward Zionism on the part of the Arab populations in strategically located Near Eastern countries and in North Africa where American and British troops are stationed. In as much as this growing resentment may be attributed [Page 764] in large measure to agitation on the part of Zionist organizations and sympathizers, it is believed that consideration should be given to means of placing Zionist activities upon a more realistic basis.

Near Eastern countries, particularly Iran and Iraq, now serve as supply routes for the shipment of vitally needed war materials for Russia. The predominately Arab-populated countries of French North Africa and Egypt, of course, are being used by United Nations troops as bases for military operations. In order to safeguard vital supply lines and to protect United Nations troops it is necessary to maintain the friendship of the peoples of the Near East and North Africa.

This friendship, however, is being undermined by a growing belief among the Arab peoples, fostered by the Axis propaganda machine, that a United Nations victory would entail “turning Palestine over to the Jews” to the detriment of Arab interests and aspirations. It is becoming increasingly apparent, therefore, that steps should be taken to allay Arab fears on that score.

In approaching this problem, it is suggested that Mr. Eden be asked whether the British Government has considered the issuance of a statement which would go beyond Mr. Eden’s own statement of May 31, 1941,29 to the effect that the British Government would view with favor any plan for an Arab federation upon which the Arab peoples themselves could agree. Such a statement might be issued by the British Government itself or by it jointly with this Government. A statement of this kind would refer specifically to Palestine and would be based squarely on principles enunciated in the Atlantic Charter.30

[In a meeting on March 29 with Mr. William Strang, British Deputy Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who accompanied Mr. Eden to Washington, the Adviser on Political Relations (Murray) asked Mr. Strang “whether the British Government had considered the issuance of a statement, either by itself or jointly with the American Government, for the purpose of putting an end to the current agitation for a Jewish state in Palestine. Mr. Murray pointed out that the agitation referred to was having dangerous repercussions in the Arab [Page 765] world and that the declaration, which would be based squarely on the principles of the Atlantic Charter, might go beyond Mr. Eden’s statement of May 31 [29?], 1941, by referring specifically to Palestine. Mr. Strang said that he was not familiar with the question of Palestine and could only make a note of Mr. Murray’s suggestion, for reference to his Government.” (711.90/69)]

  1. This document was prepared for consultations with the British on the occasion of the visit by British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden to Washington, March 12–30; for correspondence relating to the Eden visit, see vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.
  2. Apparently a reference to Mr. Eden’s speech, May 29, 1941, on British war aims. Referring to Arab aspirations for unity, he said, “It seems to me both natural and right that the cultural and economic ties between the Arab countries and the political ties too, should be strengthened. H. M. Government will give their full support to any scheme that commends general approval.…” See British Cmd. 6289, Miscellaneous No. 2 (1941): Speech by the Rt. Hon. Anthony Eden … delivered at the Mansion House on May 29, 1941. For correspondence regarding the interest of the United States in the Eden statement, see Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. iii, pp. 612620, passim, and p. 721.
  3. Joint statement by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, August 14, 1941; for text, see ibid., vol. i, p. 367.