501.BB Palestine/12–947: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Pakistan


31. In response to Mr. Jinnah’s1 message to President Truman of Dec. 8 (re Embtel no. 198 of Dec. 9)2 you may deliver the following written reply to Mr. Jinnah.

“I appreciated greatly your message of Dec. 8, 1947, and welcome the spirit in which it was sent. Such exchanges of views are always helpful in the development of mutual understanding. I am sure that we have a common purpose in the maintenance of world peace on the basis of the principles incorporated in the Charter-of the United Nations.

“Even with these common objectives it is only natural that differences in views will from time to time arise and it is only by frank and open discussion that these differences may be resolved. I have therefore instructed our Charge to discuss with you at some length the bases of United States policy on Palestine. I hope that this discussion will help to make the United States position clear and will serve to promote better understanding between our two countries.”

During your oral discussion with Mr. Jinnah you should adopt following lines:

US Govt decided after anxious and sober consideration to support partition in the UNGA despite realization of how strongly opposed Arab States were to establishment of Jewish state in Palestine. In its support of partition the US Govt was motivated by the following considerations:
After reviewing statements and expressions of policy by responsible American officials, resolutions of Congress, and Party platforms of last thirty years it came to conclusion that unless there was some unanticipated factor in situation the trend of public opinion and policy based thereon practically forced it to support partition.
Majority Report of UNSCOP recommending partition did represent new factor but one supporting Jewish state.
Public opinion in US stirred by mistreatment of Jews in Europe and by intense desire of surviving Jews to go to Palestine strongly supported establishment of Jewish state.
Troubled situation in Palestine accompanied by British decision to withdraw made it evident that solution of this difficult problem could not be postponed.
US Govt concerned re Palestine problem and sincerely desired fair solution. It therefore welcomed presentation to UN and earnestly and sincerely worked for impartial UNGA Committee with broad terms of reference to examine problem. At no time did Amer Govt directly or indirectly endeavor to influence recommendations of UNSCOP. It desired UNSCOP to approach matter in impartial way and work out solution of Palestine problem which would have overwhelming support of world opinion as one which was fair and workable.
US Govt in deciding to support Majority Report of UNSCOP at UNGA took position that it should not use United States power and influence in prevailing upon other countries against their will to support Majority Report. US delegation was instructed that it should explain US reasons for supporting Majority Report but should not exert pressure on other delegations. So far as US Govt can determine no undue pressure was brought upon other countries by US governmental officials responsible to Executive. Statements have been made that pressure was brought by Amer private citizens and by Americans holding official positions over whom Exec Branch of Govt had no control. It is impossible to determine definitely whether such pressure if it was applied changed any appreciable number of votes. In any event it is considered that the vote of the UNGA reflected the belief that partition was best of the solutions of the Palestine problem which were advanced.
It is understood that one of the reasons for Arab resentment at the UNGA decision is concern lest the Zionist intend eventually to use their state as a base for territorial expansion in the Middle East at the expense of the Arabs. It is the conviction of the United States Government, based on conversations with responsible Zionist leaders, that they have no expansionist designs and that they are most anxious to live with the Arabs in the future on cordial terms and to establish with them relations of a mutually advantageous character. If at a later time persons or groups should obtain control of the Jewish State who have aggressive designs against their neighbors, the United States would be prepared firmly to oppose such aggressiveness in the United Nations and before world opinion.
The United States Government, prompted by the friendliest feelings for the Moslem peoples, expresses the most sincere hope that in their disappointment and resentment at the decision of UNGA, the Governments of the Arab countries will not attempt by armed force, or [Page 571]will not encourage the use of armed force, to prevent the carrying out of that decision. It is hoped that Pakistan, as a newly admitted member of the United Nations, will use its great influence with the Arab States to assist in persuading them not to resort to actions of a character which may undermine the present order of the whole Middle East and eventually lead to a world conflict in which the peoples of the Middle East may be the most tragic sufferers.
It seems hardly necessary to point out that there are in the world today powerful aggressive forces which create hatreds, promote violence, and result in chaos. It would be tragic if the forces striving for an orderly, peaceful and prosperous world should at this juncture allow themselves to be disrupted over the question of Palestine.
There is a mutual need for friendly political and economic cooperation between the United States and the countries of the Middle East. If there is to be a real sense of security as well as a developing prosperity in that area, the countries of the Middle East and those non-Middle Eastern powers who sincerely desire the principles of the Charter of the United Nations to be applied to that area in the interest both of the Middle Eastern people and of world security must work with cordiality and mutual trust. It is the conviction of the United States Government that if the problem of Palestine, which has long been a source of suspicion and uneasiness, could once and for all be eliminated by acquiescence on the part of the Arab States in the UNGA decision on Palestine, difficult though such acquiescence might be, a disturbing influence in international affairs would be removed, and the security of the Middle East measurably strengthened.

In view of the circumstances and method of delivery of this reply, please inform Mr. Jinnah that it is our belief that the common purposes of our governments would best be served if these messages were not made public.3

[Page 572]

First Monthly Progress Report of the United Nations Palestine Commission to the Security Council 1

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14. Conclusion

This first monthly report to the Security Council covers what is in effect the preliminary and exploratory stage of the Commission’s work. In this stage the Commission has gained a working knowledge of the problem and a clear conception of the nature of the difficult tasks confronting it. The second stage of the Commission’s work will be devoted to negotiations with the Mandatory Power, and with representatives of the Jewish, and if at all possible, the Arab communities in Palestine over the detailed matters involved in the implementation of the Assembly’s recommendations.
In view of the time-limits fixed in the resolution, and the nature of the tasks to be performed, the time available to the Commission, even under the most favourable circumstances, is extremely short. There is much preparatory work which the Commission may undertake at the headquarters, but the full implementation of the Assembly’s recommendations requires the presence of the Commission in Palestine considerably in advance of the transfer of authority from the Mandatory Power to the Commission. The delimitation of boundaries, to undertake which the Commission envisages the establishment of an expert boundaries commission; preparations to ensure continuity in the maintenance of essential public services; the selection of Provisional Councils of Government and their activation; the creation of armed militia; and negotiations with regard to Economic Union, can be effectively undertaken only when the Commission is present in Palestine. In view of the complicated and often highly technical nature of the problems incident to the implementation of the resolution, and the limited time at the disposal of the Commission before the termination of the mandate, the Commission attaches the greatest importance to the progress of its negotiations with the Mandatory Power.2
  1. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Governor General of Pakistan.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, p. 1305 and footnote 1 to Mr. Jinnah’s message.
  3. In telegram 29, February 3, 4. p. m., to Jidda, the Department referred to Jidda’s telegram 14, January 13 (see footnote 4, p. 540), and directed Minister Childs to seek immediate audience with the King or other official of the Saudi Arabian Government. The Minister was to make known President Truman’s instruction to discuss the Palestine question informally. Telegram 29 then repeated verbatim the seven numbered paragraphs in telegram 31 to Karachi, except that the first 14 words in the second sentence of paragraph numbered five were replaced by “It is my own hope that Saudi Arabia” (501. BB Palestine/1–1348) Telegram 29 bears the President’s “OK” in a marginal notation.

    President Truman, on February 3, made a reply of general character to the telegram sent to him by the Iman of Yeman on December 2, 1947, regarding the partition of Palestine. The reply is not printed (890J.001/2–348); regarding the telegram of December 2, see footnote 1, Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, p. 1291.

  4. Reprinted from SC, 3rd yr., Special Suppl. No. 2, pp. 1, 9. The report, dated January 29, 1948, was transmitted by Chairman Lisicky to Secretary-General Lie on January 31.
  5. Gen. Andrew G. L. McNaughton of Canada, President of the Security Council, noted receipt of the first report of the Palestine Commission at the Council’s meeting of February 10. He announced his assumption that the Council would wish to await receipt of the Commission’s special report before entering into discussion of the Palestine question. The Representative of Syria, Faris el-Khouri, however, questioned the legality of the procedure used in creating the Commission. He stated also that the resolution of November 29, 1947, had been a recommendation and he now questioned whether the Member Nations had adopted the partition plan. For these reasons, he concluded, the proceedings were premature (United Nations, Official Records of the Security Council, Third Year, Nos. 16–35, pp. 56–58).