867N.01/5–1148: Telegram

The Consul at Jerusalem (Wasson) to the Secretary of State

secret   urgent

591. Contel 582, May 10. During meeting with Truce Commission morning May 11, High Commissioner said that Jews were shortsighted not to accept his proposed terms of truce for Jerusalem. He went on to say that flushed with victory Jews did not realize that Arabs could keep Tel-Aviv–Jerusalem road closed, thus starving population of Jerusalem.

During interview High Commissioner said that he perceived no objection to Truce Commission’s issuing an appeal to people of Jerusalem to continue to observe the “cease-fire” in order that the Truce Commission might pursue its work, although he said that his responsibility for truce negotiations had not ended. High Commissioner observed that he would invite Truce Commission to be present at meeting with Jews, should they appear, at which time he would turn over to Truce Commission entire responsibility for conducting future negotiations.

During afternoon meeting of Truce Commission, at which Azcarate of UN was present, Berman of JA informed us that Jews were prepared [Page 972] to continue observing “cease-fire” provided Arabs did likewise. Truce Commission is having difficulty finding any representative Arabs. They have apparently fled or gone underground.

Berman said that there had been more fighting on the Tel-Aviv road and that the situation was confused. The impression which Berman left us was that Jews will be most difficult to deal with in truce talks, since they appear to feel that they have nothing to gain by a truce unless it gives them everything that they wish in Palestine. It appears to us that they are delaying discussions for the purpose of setting up their government and improving their position.

There are unconfirmed reports that Jews will receive large quantities of military equipment, now in various Mediterranean ports, after May 15. From our very limited vantage point in Jerusalem, it appears that Jews are now prepared to gamble everything for unlimited immigration and the formation of their state.

It is my opinion that truce talks for all of Palestine have very slight chance of success. Our efforts to maintain a “cease-fire” in Jerusalem may succeed for a time. Each side is already accusing the other of breaking the “cease-fire”. The Arabs say that by sending Jewish troops to clear the Tel-Aviv road, the Jews did so. The Jews accuse the Arabs of sniping. The Truce Commission will do its best to maintain the uneasy “cease-fire” while discussing terms for a truce in Jerusalem.1

  1. The High Commissioner, in the afternoon of May 12, informed the Truce Commission that neither side had replied to the terms of truce proposed for Jerusalem by the Palestine Government and requested the Truce Commission to assume responsibility for further truce talks (telegram 595, May 12, 8 p. m., from Jerusalem, 867N.01/5–1248).