867N.01/2–948: Airgram

The Consul General at Jerusalem (Macatee) to the Secretary of State


A–34. In continuation of our A–274 of December 31, 1947,1 which summarized developments in Palestine since the United Nations voted to recommend the partitioning of this country into Jewish and Arab states, we believe it appropriate to present in this and four following airgrams (Nos. A–35, A–36, A–37 and A–382) further facts and estimates concerning the situation in this country.

[Page 606]

I. General.

Any hopes we may have held that the disturbances Immediately following the UN decision represented a passing phase, and that more tranquil times would soon return, have now been dispelled. Violence waxes and wanes from one day to another, but an analysis of the frequency of incidents, and of other factors, will show it to be definitely on the increase.

The salient fact of life here is that in two brief months since the decision, more than one thousand persons are reported to have lost their lives, and more than two thousand have been wounded. This is a large number, but in considering it one should remember that these casualties have occurred with the British still doing a considerable amount of interfering in Arab-Jewish melees. Whatever the Jews and Arabs may believe or say regarding British favoritism toward each other, practically all independent observers in the country will agree that if the British had not been here the casualty roll would have been much longer.

The Government of Palestine is admittedly in a state of disintegration. Vital government services have been interrupted for long periods of time due to disturbances in the neighborhoods of government offices, and due to the unwillingness of local Jews and Arabs to work together. A day without shooting or an incident or two in Jerusalem, for example, is now unknown. Rifle and machine gun fire and heavy explosions in the center of Jerusalem are commonplace, even in the daytime.

Yet, neither the Jewish nor Arab community shows any desire whatever to compromise. The Jews say they are upholding a United Nations decision. The Arabs scorn that decision, which their press insists was arrived at by the use of shady methods, principally by the United States.

The Arabs have publicly threatened that UN Commission members who venture out of Jewish areas will be shot. The Jews, on the other hand, are reported to be urging the Commission to come to Palestine as quickly as possible in the hope that it will prove their contention that the mandatory is showing partiality to the Arabs; the Jews also say the presence of the Commission would have a good effect on the Arabs by showing them the UN means business. We do not agree that it would have that kind of effect.

Talks with the authorities indicate a possible switch of opinion as regards the advisability of the Commission coming to Jerusalem. Formerly, Palestine Government officials insisted that it must come to Jerusalem, even if it had to remain locked up in a building here. Now, the same officials doubt whether it should come at all, though they believe it might possibly set up in the Jewish area, near an army camp, and not far from the proposed Jewish-Arab frontier.

[Page 607]

In private talks, Jewish officials say they have no doubts about their ability to set up their state and to give adequate defense to the Haifa–Tel Aviv coastal strip; they also say that defense arrangements in Eastern Galilee and the Negeb will be difficult; and they claim to be extremely anxious about the future of the 100,000 Jews in Jerusalem whose fate they see as dependent upon the efficacy of the International Police Force envisaged for the Jerusalem Zone by the United Nations.

(Section II, “The Jewish Situation”, contained in A–35.3)

  1. Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, p. 1322.
  2. No. A–38, February 9, not printed; for the remainder, see infra and pp. 609 and 611.
  3. Infra.