501.BB Palestine/9–2048: Telegram

The Special Representative of the United States in Israel (McDonald) to the Secretary of State

secret   urgent

128. Foreign Minister informed me at 4 p. m. that at noon today PGI issued 24–hour ultimatum to IZL forces in Jerusalem to unconditionally surrender their arms and enlist unreservedly in Israeli Army, or be attacked by military force.1 Ultimatum expires 12 noon, [Page 1415] September 21. Foreign Minister states only factor which will affect government decision to force compliance ultimatum is if Arabs attack before noon tomorrow.

This most important decision revealed after I had expressed to Foreign Minister contents Depcirtel September 19, 4 p. m.2 concerning which Foreign Minister reiterated assurances that PGI would not take military action violation truce and would only defend itself if Arabs attack. As for prevention further violence, Foreign Minister recounted current strenuous actions being taken against Stern Gang and said operations proceeding successfully so far with government more hopeful of finding leading conspirators and assassins. Am promised English text already approved Cabinet decrees against terrorist organizations within few hours and will telegraph soonest.3

  1. Consul General Macdonald, on September 22, reported that Irgun Zvai Leumi forces in Jerusalem had agreed, the previous day, to disband and that its members had begun reporting to the Israeli army for duty. He noted also that in the State of Israel, i.e., outside of Jerusalem, the IZL had joined the Israeli army in July (telegram 1321 from Jerusalem, 867N.01/9–2248).
  2. Not printed; it requested diplomatic officers at Arab capitals, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem to inform appropriate officials “that we consider UN task which Count Bernadotte so effectively commenced should be vigorously pursued. We attach greatest importance to maintenance present truce and continuation of mediation. We are confident Arab and Jewish leaders will take every precaution to prevent further violence and will, particularly, refrain from any military step contrary to terms of SC truce.” (501.BB Palestine/9–1948)
  3. In a message sent via air pouch courier on September 24 to Mr. Clifford, who was aboard the President’s Special Train, Acting Secretary Lovett stated in part: “In general Israel appears to be making a determined effort to control terrorist organizations, Irgun and Stern gangs. Some success with former but Stern leaders not yet caught and important figures already gone underground. Safety of American personnel is doubtful. Israeli Government giving McDonald, Tel Aviv, strong police guard as protection against assassin groups. Consul Macdonald, Jerusalem, is reported to have received warnings and we are concerned his safety. He has requested (additional Marine guards for Consulate and military establishments are considering matter.” (Clifford Papers)