501.BB Palestine/5–348: Telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin) to the Secretary of State

top secret

554. For Lovett from Rusk. Following is summary of major points covered in conversations which I had with Fawzi Bey (Egypt) and Prince Faisal (Saudi Arabia) yesterday morning. I was accompanied by Kopper during each conversation. During conversation with Faisal, Hafiz Wahba and Ali Reza were present.

[Page 887]
In both conversations I reviewed in brief my conversations with the President.1 I emphasized that there was no change in US policy in spite rumors to contrary. Securing of truce is still our main objective.
It was also pointed out that President and Secretary were keenly interested in obtaining a truce and are ready at any time to do what they could to achieve this goal.
Both Fawzi Bey and Faisal were told that US would direct its policy to support a truce and against either party which opposed or obstructed truce or violated it once it had been arranged and agreed upon.
Question of immigration dominated both conversations. Underlying theme of both Fawzi Bey and Faisal was that Arab states could not acquiesce in any arrangement which permitted over 1,500 displaced persons to enter Palestine per month. Fawzi Bey was slightly more flexible on this question when he again suggested possibility of Arab acquiescence to entry of 20,000 per year for a period of three years. This is at rate of slightly less than 1,700 per month. As a result I have distinct impression that it will be most difficult to gain Arab acquiescence to anything like rate of 4,000 during period of truce. I told Fawzi Bey and Faisal that we were concerned about establishing control over the character of immigration into Palestine. SC Truce Commission had been suggested as possible machinery for controlling immigration in view of apparent hopelessness of agreement by Arabs and Jews on this point.
Both Fawzi and Faisal seemed rather skeptical over any advantage being derived from immediate SC cease-fire order. However, they did not discuss [dismiss?] it offhand.
Fawzi Bey wondered whether something drastic might be done at this time such as the suspension of GA for 10 days and establishment of “tight body” to study truce. During this period no military advantages would be sustained. Further it would be necessary to return to the statics quo ante-bellum. The immigration quota of 1,500 per month could be continued. I pointed out that such a step would raise the question of the suspension of the November 29 resolution by the GA. Fawzi Bey said that if May 16 came without anything constructive having been done, spiraling difficulties would ensue. It might then become necessary for Arab states to assist Arabs in Palestine. This would not, however, be for purpose of annexing any part of Palestine or simply to fight Zionism, but to establish law and order as depositories of a trust until UN or some other constituted authority could take over. I told him any such situation would raise grave questions [Page 888] for all of us and that our present efforts should be directed to the prevention of the situation.
In conversation with Faisal I emphasized our concern over security position in Near East and long-standing cooperation and close ties between Saudi Arabia and US. Faisal stated Arabs were more anxious than anyone for peace in Near East. Arabs would have been more than glad to continue cooperation with US if they were sure US was really interested in Middle East as a whole. Arabs, however, had lost faith in America after American action in support of partition and Zionists. Hope rose somewhat when US appeared to recognize moral obligation to friendly governments in Middle East and to peace. However, during recent weeks the Arabs had not been impressed with our presentation of trusteeship proposals or of content of proposals. Faisal stated draft trusteeship terms worse in some respects than partition. Cited provisions on (a) powers Governor General, (b) immigration, (c) land policy, and (d) citizenship.
Reference truce proposals, Arabs are skeptical that truce might be used to calm situation down until time when gates can be opened to Zionists.
Faisal categorically asked what final position US was re partition of Palestine. I replied that on February 24 US had under difficult political circumstances declared it had reached conclusion that as a matter of principle the UN could not impose by force a political recommendation of the GA such as the November 29 resolution. I said further that the US will act with respect to Palestine only through the UN and will not act unilaterally. I would not be frank, however, if I did not say that the President considers partition a fair and equitable solution for Palestine, subject to the conditions for UN action contained in the charter and subject to our determination not to take unilateral action. US, however, would be happy to support any arrangement which was acceptable to the two communities of Palestine.
Faisal asked whether US believed that it was to its own interests to see Jewish state established in Palestine. I replied this would depend on character of political situation and characteristics of state. If it were clear that such a state would be at war permanently with Arab world or would serve as base for hostile elements, US Obviously would not consider it to her own interests to see such state established. Faisal said that Arab states could not ever accept Jewish state. It would be an abcess to the political body of the Arabs. I added that we did not believe a Jewish state would necessarily have the characteristics mentioned and that US interests might be prejudiced in the sense indicated.
Faisal strongly advised us not to ask Arab states or representatives to be more lenient lest we provoke suspicions of true US intentions. Some had recently received indications from their governments [Page 889] that they had gone too far on the truce proposals. Fawzi had remarked earlier that reaction of Arab governments to truce proposals was not too imaginative.

Detailed memoranda of conversations follow. [Rusk.]

  1. For the conversation of April 30, see p. 877. The editors have been unable to find a record of any other conversation between the President and Mr. Rusk on the Palestine question at this time.