Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Acheson)1

Participants: Mr. Moshe Shertok, Member of the Jewish Agency.
Mr. Eliahu Epstein, Washington Representative of the Jewish Agency.
Mr. Acheson, Under Secretary.
Mr. Loy Henderson, Director, NEA.

Mr. Shertok, a member of the Executive of the Jewish Agency charged with conducting relations on behalf of that Agency with this Government, and Mr. Epstein, head of the office of the Jewish Agency in Washington, called upon me this morning. Mr. Henderson was present during the conversation.

Mr. Shertok informed me that he expected to leave for Palestine about June 6 in order to assist the Jewish Agency in presenting its case to the Special Committee of the United Nations. He said that before leaving for Palestine, he desired on behalf of the Agency, to discuss various matters with the Department of State. He said that he would appreciate it if arrangements could be made for him to have a talk with General Marshall and with Mr. Lovett2 before his departure.

[Page 1095]

Mr. Shertok referred to the recent Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations and said that the Jewish Agency in general was somewhat encouraged at what transpired during the course of that Session. In particular, the Jewish Agency was pleasantly surprised at the attitude displayed in the fine speech of Mr. Gromyko, the representative of the Soviet Union. It would appear from that speech that the Soviet Union, which heretofore had been considered as favorable to the Arab side of the case, had finally decided to support partition. It was, of course, impossible to judge the sincerity of the Soviet pronouncement. Nevertheless, the pronouncement was extremely helpful to the Zionists, particularly since it should assist in removing concern lest the Soviet Union would back the Arabs in case the United States and Great Britain should decide in favor of partition.

The negative feature of the Session was the fact that the United States failed to make any statement clarifying its present substantive policy with regard to Palestine. The United States, which in the past had displayed such active interest in Palestine, remained silent. On behalf of the Jewish Agency, he wished to ask whether the United States would not be willing to inform the Special Committee of the United Nations in the near future regarding its policy towards Palestine. Although it was possible to infer what the American policy was by an examination of statements made in the past, nevertheless, a complete statement regarding the American position would be helpful at this time.

The Jewish Agency in general was fairly satisfied regarding the composition of the Special Committee. It was true that Iran and India would probably support the Arab cause. On the other hand, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, in view of the Soviet attitude, as well as statements made by representatives of these countries during the Session of the United Nations, would probably favor the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine and the linking up of the displaced Jews in Europe with the problem of Palestine. The other members of the Committee could probably be considered as genuine neutrals.

It seemed clear that any solution which the Special Committee would recommend would provide for considerable Jewish immigration from Europe to Palestine. The Jewish Agency was concerned, however, at the possibilities of further delay in the inauguration of this immigration. It hoped, therefore, that the United States would find it possible to suggest to the Special Committee that in its report to the General Assembly it would recommend that steps be taken before the final solution of the Palestine problem had been decided upon for the immediate inauguration of large-scale immigration from Europe to Palestine.

[Page 1096]

Mr. Shertok said that before departing for Palestine he would like to have the answers of the American Government to the two suggestions just made by him on behalf of the Jewish Agency. An affirmative response by the American Government to these suggestions would be of material assistance to the Agency in its efforts to obtain a fair solution of the Palestinian problem which would bring prompt relief to the persecuted Jews in Europe.

I informed Mr. Shertok that it would be impossible for me to let him know what the reaction of the American Government was to the suggestions advanced by him until after they had been carefully considered and discussed. There were a number of considerations involved, and I, myself, was puzzled as to what our answer should be. I could see the force of the suggestions; on the other hand, the American Government was extremely anxious not to take any steps which might be considered as applying pressure to the Special Committee; it was important that the impression should not be created that the United States or any of the other Great Powers was endeavoring to influence the work of a Committee which had been established on the theory that it could approach the problem in a spirit of complete neutrality.

Mr. Shertok said that perhaps when he saw General Marshall and Mr. Lovett in the course of the next week, a reply might be given to him. I repeated that it would be necessary for these suggestions to be carefully considered before a reply could be made to them.

I also informed Mr. Shertok that we would let him know early next week whether it would be possible for the Secretary and Mr. Lovett to receive him before his departure.

D[ean] A[cheson]
  1. Drafted by Mr. Henderson.
  2. Robert A. Lovett, who was appointed Special Assistant to the Secretary of State on May 29. He succeeded Mr. Acheson as Under Secretary of State on July 1, 1947.