867N.01/1–2648: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom

top secret
us urgent

256. For your info UndSecy sent for Brit Amb this morning to discuss US arms embargo for Middle East. He informed Inverchapel informally and confidentially of conversations he had had yesterday with two key Senators asking whether it were true that Brit continue supply arms to Arab states. They indicated that unless some statement could be made to effect such arms were not in fact being supplied Arabs by Brit it would be difficult withstand great pressure campaign being brought on Congress by organized groups in US to force lifting of embargo.

UndSecy read Amb portions urtel 271 Jan 231 and of Brit Emb memo of about Nov 15 19472 setting forth Brit policy on matter of supplying military equipment to Arab states and referred last two sentences urtel 6523 Dec. 17. He also showed Amb samples of full-page ads being published in various newspapers throughout US advocating among other things repeal of arms embargo.

Lovett also referred to President’s statement of June 5 last3 appealing to Americans to do nothing to make more difficult UN handling of Palestine problem. Mentioning emotional aspects of case in US [Page 563]he said it would be almost impossible to withstand pressure to retain arms embargo if groups advocating supplying of arms to Jews had any vestige of justice in their demands. This he felt they would have as long as Brit continued to supply any arms to Arab states.

UndSecy requested Amb to present in most urgent terms seriousness with which Dept views this situation and to suggest to his Govt how helpful it would be if it could take following two steps:

Make flat statement that Brit as mandatory power will continue embargo shipment of arms to Palestine except for maintenance of internal security.
Suspend all shipments of arms to Arab states pending clarification in UN of present confused situation.

UndSecy also requested him inform his Govt that unless some way could be found of taking this latter measure there was at least fifty-fifty chance Congress would move in and force us to remove arms embargo.

Amb said he understood importance and urgency of matter and would immediately transmit this request to his Govt. It would be helpful if you would also inform FonOff of great importance we attach to this request.4

  1. Not printed; it reported information from Harold Beeley, the official in the Eastern Department of the British Foreign Office immediately responsible for Palestine affairs, that “British arms embargo regarding Palestine is still operating under principles Foreign Office memo transmitted Embtel 6523, December 17. HMG is ‘stalling’ regarding all new arms orders for area. Regarding old contracts with Arab states … HMG is bound to assume these deliveries will not be used contrary UN charter. Evidence misuse will result reconsideration entire question.” (501.BB Palestine/1–2348) For telegram 6523, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, p. 1315.
  2. The editors were unable to identify this paper.
  3. See bracketed note, Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, p. 1101.
  4. Chargé Gallman discussed the contents of telegram 256 on January 27 with Sir Orme G. Sargent, British Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The latter stated that while consideration had to be given to existing arms contracts with Arab states, the “policy of stalling on deliveries would for present be continued but at same time Foreign Office would thoroughly review situation in hope of finding some formula to meet our suggestions.” (Telegram 315, January 27, 6 p. m., from London, 867N.01/1–2748)