501.BB Palestine/5–348: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom

top secret   us urgent

1586. For Douglas from Lovett, The President has approved following emergency action with respect to Palestine, to be proposed by US Delegation at Lake Success:

  • “1. An immediate and unconditional cease-fire for ten days beginning May 5.
  • 2. An extension of the mandate for ten days.
  • 3. A recess of the Special Session of GA for 10 days.
  • 4. Immediate movement by air of following party from NY to Middle East to expedite truce negotiations between authorities on both sides who have full authority of decisions:
    Designated reps. of Arab Higher Committee and Arab States.
    Designated reps. of Jewish Agency for Palestine.
    Designated reps. of those countries holding membership on SC Truce Commission (US, France, Belgium).
    (Note—Airplane to be furnished by President of US).

    If Jerusalem cannot be agreed upon as common ground by both slides, each to select its own location, Truce Commission should undertake go-between functions. These truce negotiations to be brought to conclusion within a ten-day period.”1

[Page 892]

We are cognizant of fact that an act of Parliament has been passed requiring termination of mandate for Palestine by May 15 and that in consequence British acquiescence to Point 2 above would require legislative action.

Please call on Bevin (and Attlee at your discretion) and explain that this provision is designed to provide some continuing framework of government in Palestine for a minimum period after truce deliberations have—as we hope—assured a cessation of hostilities. This brief respite would enable GA to recommend some more enduring, even though temporary, form of government for Palestine which would act as a caretaker until permanent solution can be found.

You may add to Bevin, however, that we attach principal importance to necessity of negotiating a cease-fire and an effective truce. The recent decisive military action taken by British authorities in Palestine is encouraging and gives us earnest to believe that British sense of responsibility will continue irrespective of formal dates.

If proposal for sending special truce party by air to Middle East materializes, President has indicated personal interest in doing all possible to further success of this venture. We are confident that British authorities in Palestine and elsewhere will likewise lend their utmost cooperation.

Repeated for info only to USUN as 280, Jerusalem as 348, Cairo as 508, Baghdad as 139, Damascus as 154, Beirut as 206, Jidda as 162, Brussels as 651, Paris as 1500.

  1. The quoted portion of this telegram was telephoned by Mr. Rusk, at New York, to Mr. McClintock at 10 a. m., May 3. Mr. Lovett communicated the gist of Mr. Rusk’s telephone message to President Truman at 10:40 the same morning. Mr. Lovett’s memorandum of conversation states that “The President said he approved the tentative program outlined by Mr. Rusk and was willing to make an airplane available. I said that this did not mean that we had to send the Independence but that any good C–54 would do.” Later the same day, the Rusk proposals were incorporated in New York’s telegram 557, with a request that the message be relayed to Consul Wasson at Jerusalem for transmittal to the Jewish Agency. The Department relayed the message at 6:30 p. m., eight minutes after its receipt.

    Mr. Rusk, at 4:25 p. m., the same day, dictated by telephone a “Re-write” of a possible White House statement on the Rusk proposals, which was read by Mr. Lovett to Mr. Clifford at 6:05 p. m. President Truman discussed the matter at his press conference of May 6 (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry 8. Truman, 1948, pp. 248–249), but did not use the proposed statement. The Department papers cited in this footnote are all filed under 501.BB Palestine/5–348.