Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State 21

Palestine: Form of Government

(A Summary)

The long-standing conflict between Arabs and Jews, resulting from the irreconcilable nature of the obligations inherent in the Palestine mandate and various unilateral commitments stemming from the last war and from the opposing demands of Arabs and Jews, creates a situation which requires a new approach to the settlement of the Palestine problem.
A Palestine settlement, which would ameliorate the basic conditions that have given rise to the Arab-Jewish conflict, and which would foster cooperation between the two peoples, is immediate concern to the United States Government. The interest of this Government in such a settlement is based on a real concern for general security in the Near East area, on the fact that political forces now [Page 684]aroused in the Near East and in the United States affect American interests, and, also, because of recent American commitments.
It is recommended: that Palestine be declared to be an International Territory under Trusteeship with a Charter, granted by the International Organization; that the Charter should supersede all previous commitments with respect to Palestine, setting forth the form of government and laying down principles for immigration, land transfers, and economic development; that Great Britain be appointed as the Trustee; that a Board of Overseers, composed of representatives of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities of the world, appointed by the International Organization, be created to function in an advisory capacity; and that the Arabs and Jews in Palestine be recognized as national communities and be granted self-government in all areas where they are, respectively, predominant.
This recommendation is made because: (a) it eliminates the conflicting commitments of the past; (b) it places Palestine outside the bounds of nationalist and imperialist ambitions; (c) it provides the means to solve basic economic problems; and (d) it would create conditions favorable to that cooperation between Arabs and Jews essential to the ultimate independence of Palestine.
  1. This document, and each of the three documents which follow, were based on a series of studies made in exploration of the bases for a postwar settlement in Palestine. These studies were conducted during 1943 and 1944 at the technical level of the Department by an Interdivisional Area Committee on Arab Countries composed of Messrs. Gordon P. Merriam, Foy D. Kohler, and Evan M. Wilson of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, and Dr. Philip W. Ireland and Prof. William Yale of the Division of Territorial Studies; a revision of these papers was made on January 30, 1945, of which this and the following summaries constitute a part.

    Though never considered up to this date at the policy level, the two studies relating to Palestine government and Palestine immigration were taken to London as background material for the informal discussions held at the British Foreign Office in April 1944 by the then Under Secretary of State, Mr. Stettinius; see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. v, pp. 592 and 600.