501.BB Palestine/5–448: Telegram

Mr. Moshe Shertok to the Director of the Office of United Nations Affairs (Rusk), at Washington

I have now had an opportunity of consulting my colleagues with reference to the suggestion that Arab and Jewish representatives as well as representatives of the United States and possibly France and Belgium be flown to Palestine immediately in an airplane to be furnished by the President of the United States, We understand that the purpose of this mission is to achieve a truce in Palestine. I do not need to repeat that the Jews were not the aggressors; that we are keenly anxious for the restoration [of] peace. But we do not consider that the somewhat spectacular proceeding now suggested is warranted. Peace can in present circumstances best be achieved by an unconditional agreement for an immediate “cease fire”. The Jewish authorities in Palestine have previously indicated their readiness for such an arrangement and we desire now in the most formal way to state that we are ready forthwith to agree to a “cease fire” order provided the Arabs do likewise. The procedure now indicated, apparently ignores the action already taken by the Security Council in regard to the appointment of a truce commission and bases itself on the proposals privately advanced by the American delegation. It would involve us in a moral responsibility in respect of those proposals which we cannot possibly accept. Nor could we lend ourselves to the suggestion that the British Mandate should be prolonged, whether de jure or de facto, beyond the appointed date. Permit me to add that insofar as consideration on the spot in Palestine is called for, the truce commission appointed by the Security Council could no doubt be relied upon to undertake any consultations with Jewish representatives there. Indeed our fully authorized representatives in Palestine are in close contact with this commission. With regard to the Arabs, it must be observed that not a single member of the Arab Higher Committee remains in Palestine, whereas Mr. Jamal Husseini, Vice-Chairman of the Arab Higher Committee and its accredited representative, is of course available in New York, as well as representatives of the other [Page 894]Arab states. Permit me again to emphasize our sincere desire to do all that we properly can to restore peace and order in Palestine.1

Moshe Shertok
  1. New York reported, on May 5, a telephone conversation by Mr. Ross with Mr. Shertok on the question of the articles of truce. The latter expressed readiness “to agree to a cease-fire throughout the country immediately the other side does. Meanwhile, there is a duly established truce commission in Jerusalem and our people there are fully competent to deal with them.” Mr. Ross interpreted this view as an “indication that Jewish Agency representatives here are trying to move out from under US pressure by substituting the formality of the truce commission for informality of our conversations, and by transferring the scene of discussions from New York to Jerusalem. Also reflected, I think, is diffusionary effort … after turning down our ten-day unconditional cease-fire.” (Telegram 576 from New York, 501.BB Palestine/5–548)