867N.01/2–1147: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom ( Gallman ) to the Secretary of State


939. Beeley, Foreign Office, and Mathieson, Colonial Office, collaborated on following replies to questions Department’s 680, Feb 10:

Question 1. Great difficulty is that there is no area of substantial size in Palestine, apart from Tel-Aviv and its neighborhood, in which there [Page 1043] is a numerical majority of Jews. On other hand, it is British desire to give Jews as nearly as possible the room for development which was accorded them in Brook–Grady plan.1 British think at present that only way this can be done is to place all “Jewish” areas under a single administration, so that population of Tel-Aviv would outweigh local Arab majorities in rest of Jewish territory. Thus British are taking potential economic development and settlement factors into account in determining size of Jewish areas.

Question 2. It follows from (1) above there would be a considerable area in which Jews would remain free to purchase land. This would not include northern part of what Jews call the Negeb, but British attach great importance to reserving some part of Palestine which is capable of development to absorb surplus Arab population from the hills, and British see no possibility of doing this except in southern coastal plain.

Question 3. Under British proposal, central government would be responsible for economic development involving country as a whole. Immigration would, so far as it could be determined without reference to arbitration, be fitted into this general economic plan, thus taking into account absorptive capacity of country as whole.

It should be noted that Jewish immigration into Arab areas, as distinct from purchase of land there, would not be prohibited.

Question 4. See answer to 3 above.

Question 5. British do not contemplate that any area should be left under direct control of central govt. In present discussions, Negeb has been divided into two parts. Northern or cultivable part carries already a substantial Arab population, and British hope to develop it further in Arab interest (see 2 above). Jews have themselves stated that uninhabited southern part of Negeb is useless to them. Consequently, Negeb will be left in Arab area.

Question 6. During period of trusteeship, High Commission will continue to be responsible for holy places. At end of that period, it will be for UN to make sure that holy places are adequately safeguarded under the independent state. Palestine Government is at present considering proposals for administration of Jerusalem, which would provide for a Jewish and an Arab council in the Jewish and Arab areas respectively, and for a mixed administration for remainder of Jerusalem. If adopted, this proposal would fit easily into present scheme. Beyond safeguards for minorities generally, no special provision has been made for interests of non-Arab and non-Jewish groups which in any case are numerically insignificant in Palestine.

  1. Better known as the “Grady–Morrison Plan”.