501.BB Palestine/3–848

Memorandum by Mr. Robert M. McClintock to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett)1

top secret

Subject: Check list on future Palestine developments.

If the trend in the Security Council continues to the point envisaged in the Department’s telegram to Ambassador Austin, No. 107 of March 5 (which position has been approved by the President), we shall presently find ourselves involved in a special session of the General Assembly, whose probable outcome will be the establishment of a United Nations trusteeship for Palestine. In such event the emphasis will be shifted, so far as the maintenance of international peace and security is concerned, from the threat of Arab aggression to a new threat of Jewish attempts by violence to establish a de facto State in Palestine. The following check list is submitted as a matter of urgency to highlight certain of the problems for which this Government must find answers in the very near future.

1. Trusteeship.

Detailed draft trusteeship agreements2 have been worked out by DA rand NE calling for either a direct United Nations trusteeship over Palestine or a trusteeship of the three residuary legatees of World War I—United States, United Kingdom, and France. These draft agreements both stress the paramount powers of a strong governor.

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2. United States control over efforts of American Jews to send arms or emigrants to Palestine.

The present arms embargo should suffice as a legal barrier to the efforts of American Jews to run guns and other implements of war into Palestine. However, our legal machinery seems somewhat defective in preventing Jewish corporations from purchasing American vessels for foreign registry with the eventual aim of using these ships for bringing clandestine emigrants to Palestine. The withdrawal of the British from Palestine and their replacement by a United Nations administration would presumably not alter our responsibilities to prevent the United States being used as a base for illegal immigration activity.

3. Immigration.

If the trusteeship were established the United States should strongly support measures for an orderly and increased immigration of Jews to Palestine. We should advocate that this migration should be controlled from the source by the IBO and at the destination by the new United Nations government of Palestine.

4. Security Forces.

If a United Nations trusteeship is established some form of force must be provided to maintain the integrity of the trusteeship. Such a force would include naval patrol vessels to prevent gun-running and illegal immigration, and land and air security forces to maintain the integrity of the land frontiers of Palestine, as well as internal order and security pending the development by the governor of Palestine of local security forces. Under either of the types of trusteeship envisaged by the Department, the United States would be a participant, and prompt study should be made on the basis of the experience of the British Government in Palestine of minimum security needs, with a view to supplying the United States portion of those requirements by a May 15 deadline.

5. Representations to the United Kingdom.

The problems raised in this check list would be brought measurably closer to satisfactory solution if the United Kingdom could be prevailed upon to carry the major immediate burden for possibly six or eight months longer than the British Government now intends. If the United Kingdom could find it possible to maintain its existing naval patrol and to second officers and local security forces of the present government of Palestine to the trusteeship administration, the task of transition from one regime to the other would be greatly simplified. It would be politically impossible, no doubt, for the British Government to agree to shoulder the whole burden of the security problem, but the members of the United Nations have reasonable warrant to [Page 699] look to the United Kingdom to cease its precipitate withdrawal from Palestine and to assume responsibility, even on a diminishing scale, until the new trusteeship government is squarely on its feet. Once the Security Council has reached a decision to call a special session of the General Assembly immediate representations would be in order to the British Government suggesting that the period of transition be extended beyond May 15 to the end of this year, with assurances that the United States will be willing to do its part in the joint UN effort.3

  1. Addressed also to Mr. Henderson and John D. Hickerson, Director of the Office of European Affairs. Mr. McClintock transmitted a copy to Charles E. Bohlen, Counselor of the Department, with his memorandum of March 18.
  2. The first draft of a trusteeship agreement for Palestine found in the Department files by the editors was prepared on February 11, 1948, by officers of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs and of the Office of United Nations Affairs. The draft called for a Three-Power trusteeship by France, the United Kingdom and the United States as the remaining Principal Allied and Associated Powers. A second draft prepared by the same group and dated the following day, designated the United Nations as the Administering Authority. The drafts are presumably the documents referred to here; they are filed under 501.BB Palestine/2–1148.
  3. Marginal notation by Mr. Lovett: “We should attempt, I think, to supply naval & air support as our contribution at the outset.”