501.BB Palestine/8–448: Telegram

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


1157. Consul General most desirous information on current thinking in Department re future Jerusalem. It has worked on assumption Department envisages eventual internationalization Jerusalem as provided [Page 1278] for in November 29 resolution both to facilitate over-all permanent solution Palestine problem and to preserve city sacred to Christians, Jews and Moslems. Consul General feels even at this late stage acquiescence both sides in internationalization can be obtained provided definite policy announced by United Nations (strongly Tracked by United States) and concrete energetic action taken.

Provided internationalization remains objective, first step (see Contel 1156, August 4) should be demilitarization Jerusalem. Demilitarization is also best insurance against renewal fighting here. As reported Contels 1132 July 28 and 1146, August 1, forcible action in this direction and visible evidence such action imperative immediately, Essential requisite is force of such strength and with such equipment as to command respect both parties. Mutual distrust preclude use Arab and Jewish police which would have further disadvantage demarcating city into two sealed camps. Time not available to permit recruitment international force and efficiency such force open to question. Possibility conflict with IZL and Stern groups during initial stage demilitarization must be anticipated. Prestige United Nations will have deteriorated and Jewish determination annex Jerusalem will have crystalized to such extent by time international force recruited that demilitarization would be virtually impossible. Single alternative is use regular troops three countries members Truce Commission—US, France, Belgium—immediately and in strong force. Of course, impossible say from Jerusalem whether over-all political considerations permit this. Such action would prove determination United Nations, make it easier for both sides to agree against contrary public demands and tend eliminate fear treachery on part other. Tension would relax and details international status Jerusalem with international force could be worked out.

If essential force is unavailable immediately Consul General feels demilitarization project should be abandoned. Attempt to obtain demilitarization without force would probably be rejected outright by both sides and almost certainly would not work in practice. Efforts then should be directed towards maintaining status quo pending final political settlement. To prevent resumption fighting reliance would have to be placed on employment sufficient number observers together with threat Security Council action versus violators truce. Whether such measures would suffice definitely questionable. However, danger period is now and by time international force recruited it will have passed its peak. Resultant political settlement might be expected to provide for division city along present lines with Jewish corridor to Coast. Arabs would deeply resent such outcome and would probably seize first favorable opportunity in future to resume hostilities. [Page 1279] Prestige United Nations would fall in eyes both Arabs and Jews. Nevertheless Consul General feels this more realistic and preferable approach than attempt at demilitarization without adequate force.

Department’s comments on above would be appreciated.

Pouched to Tel Aviv as Unnumbered. Department please pass London as 25.