501.BB Palestine/4–648: Circular telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic and Consular Offices


You are hereby instructed immediately to see Prime Minister or Foreign Minister of countries to which you are accredited, or, in your discretion, chief of state and to discuss with him current developments with respect to Palestine. In your discussion you should present following line:

On Feb 25 American rep in SC introduced resolution providing for acceptance by SC of GA recommendation Nov 29 providing for Palestine partition. SC however refused accept these recommendations and [Page 801] decided call upon permanent members SC to consult as to means by which GA recommendations might be implemented.

On Mar 19 American rep stated consultations among members SC had revealed partition plan could not be implemented by peaceful means and that it was clear SC was not prepared to go ahead with efforts to implement plan in existing situation. Immediate truce, special session GA, and temporary trusteeship for Palestine were suggested by American rep at that time.

On April 1 SC by unanimous vote adopted American resolution calling upon Arab and Jewish armed groups in Palestine to cease acts of violence immediately and calling upon Jewish Agency and Arab Higher Committee to make representatives available to SC for purpose of arranging truce between Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine; and emphasizing heavy responsibility which would fall upon any party failing to observe such truce. SC also adopted by 9 affirmative votes and 2 abstensions American resolution requesting SYGUN to convoke special session GA to consider further question of future govt of Palestine.

Regarding truce, Ambassador Austin remarked in SC Mar 30 that statement made by President Mar 25 indicated urgent necessity exerting every effort in SC to arrange truce between Jews and Arabs of Palestine. Such truce should be based on two fundamental considerations: First it is urgently essential that violence and bloodshed in Palestine cease for humanitarian considerations. We must prevent anarchy and preserve international peace. Second both Jews and Arabs of Palestine must be prepared to accept truce arrangements which would not prejudice claims of either group. Truce should include cessation of political as well as military activities.

Regarding temporary trusteeship USGovt adheres to views stated in SC Mar 19, reaffirmed by Sec Mar 20 and again by President Mar 25 that temporary trusteeship should be established to maintain peace. Trusteeship would be without prejudice to character final political settlement in Palestine. Trusteeship is essential to establish order inaugurated by truce and provide interim governmental machinery after May 15 without which peaceful solution Palestine problem cannot be found or put into effect.

On April 5 members SC with exception USSR, Ukraine, informally met Ambassador Austin’s office NY to exchange views re trusteeship.1 At this time Ambassador Austin on behalf USGovt presented working paper entitled “General Principles which Might be Included in a [Page 802] Temporary UN Trusteeship Agreement for Palestine.”2 It was made clear these general principles do not commit USGovt at this stage and that suggestions of other members on similar tentative basis would be welcomed. General principles are as follows:

  • “1. A temporary trusteeship agreement for Palestine would be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned or to the character of the eventual political settlement.
  • 2. The agreement should be designed to be of indefinite duration, but subject to prompt termination whenever the Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine agree upon the future government of that country.
  • 3. The agreement might designate the United Nations itself as administering authority. This responsibility could best be discharged by the Trusteeship Council. It would be undesirable for the Trusteeship Council to undertake day-to-day governmental functions. Administrative, legislative and judicial powers should be exercised in Palestine through a separate body called the Government of Palestine, acting in accordance with (1) the principles of trusteeship contained in the Charter and (2) such instructions as the Trusteeship Council might find it necessary to give in accordance with the terms of the agreement.
  • 4. A temporary trusteeship agreement for Palestine could include many of the features developed by the Trusteeship Council for its draft statute for the proposed International Territory of Jerusalem.
  • 5. The Government of Palestine should be headed by a Governor-General appointed by and responsible to the Trusteeship Council.
  • 6. The Government of Palestine should include a Cabinet and a democratically elected Legislature, possibly in two chambers. In the event, however, that such a Legislature could not be assembled or if assembled could not function effectively, the Governor-General should have the authority to Legislate by order.
  • 7. The Trusteeship Agreement should provide for the maintenance of law and order within Palestine. In so far as possible, the Government of Palestine should be responsible for law and order through its locally recruited police and volunteer forces under Article 84 of the Charter. When the forces of the Government of Palestine are insufficient for this purpose, the Governor-General should be authorized to call upon such states as would be; specified in the Agreement to assist in the maintenance of security in Palestine. A separate protocol to this trust agreement would contain an undertaking by those named to accept such responsibility on specified conditions.3
  • 8. The agreement should make it possible for the Government of Palestine to take over on a temporary basis existing arrangements in Palestine pending the establishment of the organs specified in the agreement.
  • 9. The agreement should make specific provision for immigration and land purchase, on a basis to be negotiated in consultation with representatives of the Jewish and Arab communities of Palestine.
  • 10. The standard of living and public services in Palestine under the temporary trusteeship should, in general, be those which can be supported by the resources of Palestine; large subsidies by the United Nations should not be anticipated. The costs of the government, of Palestine under the trusteeship regime should, in general, be met from funds available to the Government of Palestine from Palestine revenues. This principle accords with the information which has been made available concerning the fiscal situation of Palestine under the mandate, which is to the effect that Palestine, except for extraordinary security expenditures, is budgetarily self-supporting.
  • 11. Under a United Nations trusteeship, expenditures arising in connection with the employment of forces of Members of the United Nations to assist in the defense of Palestine or in the maintenance of law and order should be defrayed by those Members.
  • 12. The United Nations would presumably wish to pay the salaries and emoluments of certain principal officers of the Government, such as the Governor-General and the Chief Justice, as an evidence of the responsibility of those officers to the United Nations.
  • 13. If the, General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Trusteeship Council, considers that funds which cannot be raised by the Government of Palestine are essential to accomplish the minimum purposes of the temporary trusteeship, those funds should be supplied, as subsidies or recoverable loans, by the United Nations as a whole on the regular scale of contributions to the budget of the United Nations. The Palestine budget should be handled by the United Nations as a separate budget, not as a part of the ordinary budget of the organization.
  • 14. The agreement should contain adequate guarantees for the protection and preservation of the Holy Places in Palestine, for the settling of disputes pertaining to them and for assuring, subject to necessary safeguards of public order and security, freedom of entry into Palestine for all foreign Pilgrims and persons who desire to visit the Holy Places.
  • 15. The trusteeship regime for Palestine should terminate as soon as a majority of the members of each of the two principal communities in Palestine—Arab, and Jewish—have agreed upon a plan of government for Palestine. It should be a responsibility of the Governor-General to take all possible steps to bring about such an agreement.”4

Views Govt to which you are accredited would be appreciated.

For your background info only, Dept proposes to consult certain other govts shortly re armed forces indicated under point 7 above. Pending such consultations US Govt will not make any commitment or answer questions on this point. Fundamental consideration is that US does not propose to substitute itself for Brit in Palestine and will act only as member of UN.

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Sent for action to London, Paris, Ottawa, Brussels, The Hague, Canberra, Wellington, Cairo and Nanking. Sent for information and appropriate use to Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, Jidda, Jerusalem, New Delhi, Karachi, Ankara, Tehran, Kabul, Buenos Aires, Moscow, Bogota, New York, Stockholm, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro.5

  1. New York transmitted an account of this meeting in telegram 382, April 5, 11:45 p. m., not printed.
  2. A copy of this paper, dated April 3 and comprised of the 15 numbered principles quoted in the circular telegram of April 6, is in the Truman Papers, President’s Secretary’s File.
  3. The Department, on April 5, had informed New York that “If question arises in connection with para. 7 as to what part the U.S. is willing to play in maintaining security, it should be indicated that the U.S. should not be expected to answer that question alone and that this matter must be the” subject of further discussions among member governments at an early date. We must not be drawn in at this stage on an American commitment. Further instructions on this point will be provided.” (Telegram 188, 501.BB Palestine/4–548)
  4. The members of the Security Council, except for the Soviet Union, held a second informal private meeting on April 7 concerning Palestine. During the two-hour meeting, they discussed various aspects of trusteeship and the truce. A detailed summary was provided the same day by New York in telegram 395 (501.BB Palestine/4–748).
  5. The Department sent this circular telegram to Manila on April 9 for information and appropriate use (telegram 447, 501.BB Palestine/4–948). It also authorized the Embassy in Egypt, on April 12, to supply Azzam Pasha with the purport of the circular telegram, from the second paragraph through the fifteen general principles. (Telegram 404, 501.BB Palestine/4–1048)

    Ambassador Tuck, on April 15, reported the reactions of Egyptian Prime Minister Nokrashy. The latter considered American advocacy of trusteeship as a step towards elimination of partition. “However, a grave doubt continued to exist in Arab minds that this proposed step of temporary trusteeship might not prove to be the ‘burial’ of partition. Therefore … means should be found for dissipating this doubt which could be done by statement specifying duration of trusteeship accompanied by an assurance that trusteeship would not jeopardize national aspirations of Arabs towards final complete independence of Palestine ‘united Arab nation.’” The Prime Minister also noted that the trusteeship should be presented in a way to eliminate Arab fears of favors to the Jews, in connection with an increase in their armaments and numbers in Palestine and in purchasing land from the Arabs. (Telegram 373, from Cairo, 501.BB Palestine/4–1548)

    Ambassador Tuck, on April 18, reported concerning the reaction of Azzam Pasha that “The Arab League does not favor American plan of temporary trusteeship which in League’s opinion would serve only to create a new regime and bring about another phase of trouble between Arabs and Jews.” The League was said to favor, as a practical matter, continuance of the British mandate, since the “use of existing British forces with moral and material backing of UN could contribute to final disarmament and in establishment of a new Palestine state to which present mandate could hand over.” (Telegram 385 from Cairo, 501.BB Palestine/4–1848)