Scope of Coverage

Part 2 of this volume presents documentation on the interest and policies of the United States with respect to the Palestine question and the creation of the state of Israel during the year 1948. It begins in the aftermath of the resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 29, 1947, on the future government of Palestine, which provided for the partition of the area into separate Arab and Jewish states bound together by a system of economic union, with an international area for Jerusalem. Major subjects in the early months of 1948 which are documented in part 2 are United States exchanges with Arab and Jewish leaders and other interested powers at the United Nations and at world capitals, consideration of the problem of enforcing the partition resolution, the reports of the United Nations Palestine Commission, the United States proposal in the Security Council in March for the establishment of a temporary trusteeship for Palestine, and the convening of the Second Special Session of the General Assembly in April. Also presented in the early portion of this part are documents regarding the attitude of the United States toward the continuation of fighting in Palestine, the interest of the United States in the achievement of a cessation of hostilities, and support for the Security Council Truce Commission and for the appointment of a United Nations Mediator in Palestine.

Part 2 continues with papers concerning the events of May 14 and after: The expiration of the British mandate for Palestine, the proclamation of the independence of the state of Israel, the extension by the United States of de facto recognition to the Provisional Government of Israel, and the entry of Arab forces into Palestine. Documentation is included on United States bilateral relations with Israel, including the exchange of special representatives and Israel’s request for military and financial aid. Documentation is also included on the United States position with respect to the various truce resolutions adopted by the Security Council; the recommendations of the United Nations Mediator and, following his assassination, the work of the Acting Mediator; and the question of arrangements for the city of Jerusalem. Papers are also presented on the consideration of the Palestine question at the Third Regular Session of the General Assembly which opened at Paris on September 21, 1948, and lasted until December 12. [Page VIII] These considerations included the Mediator’s report, assistance to Palestine refugees, and the establishment of the Palestine Conciliation Commission. The volume and the year 1948 conclude with the entry of Israeli forces into Egyptian territory and the Security Council’s resolution of December 29 calling for a permanent armistice in all sectors of Palestine.

The editors have attempted to account for all major United States policy decisions with respect to Palestine and Israel in the year 1948 and to include as many examples as possible within the limits of space of political reporting by United States missions on which these decisions were based. The texts of various categories of papers dealing with overlapping aspects of the Palestine situation are printed in one chronological sequence, and include telegrams, airgrams, instructions, and despatches to and from United States missions; notes exchanged with foreign heads of government and diplomatic representatives; correspondence of the President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense; memoranda, position papers, and analytical papers prepared by the President’s immediate advisers and by the National Security Council, Department of State, and Central Intelligence Agency; and memoranda of conversations with Arab and Jewish leaders and representatives of interested states. Where documents concerning significant situations, events, meetings, or exchanges of correspondence were not available, editorial notes have been provided to-set forth what is known from available official or unofficial sources. The texts of a number of documents which are relevant but of secondary importance have been summarized in footnotes and editorial notes.


In view of the strong interest in the Palestine question and the creation of the state of Israel on the part of President Truman and his advisers, as well as the involvement of executive agencies other than the Department of State, the editors have made extensive use of appropriate files outside the Department of State in order to make the record herein presented as complete as possible. The papers printed in part 2 of this volume, except for a few items reprinted from published sources, were drawn from the following files and collections of official and private papers:

a. inside the department of state

Indexed Central Files. Papers in the indexed Central Files of the Department for the year 1948, now located in the National Archives Building in the custody of the National Archives and Records Service, are indicated by a decimal file number in the headnote. A few documents [Page IX] or copies of documents originally in the unindexed files of offices of the Department or in retired “lot files” (numbers 2 through 7, infra) have been indexed and deposited in the Central Files.
S/SNSC Files, Lot 63 D 351. Serial master file of National Security Council documents and correspondence and related Department of State memoranda, as maintained by the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State.
PPS Files, Lot 64 D 563. Master file of documents, drafts, records of meetings, memoranda, and related correspondence for the years 1947–1953 of the Policy Planning Staff.
IO Files. Master files of the Reference and Documents Section of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State.
USUN Files. Files of the United States Mission to the United Nations.
L Files. Files of the Office of the Legal Adviser.
News Division Files. Files of the former News Division, including memoranda of the press conferences of the Secretary of State, 1935–1955.
London Embassy Files. The files for the year 1948 of the American Embassy at London, now located at the Federal Records Center, Suitland, Maryland.
Paris Embassy Files. The files for the year 1948 of the American Embassy at Paris, now located at the Federal Records Center, Suitland, Maryland.

b. outside the department of state

Truman Papers. The papers of President Harry S. Truman in the Harry S. Truman Library at Independence, Missouri. Although the “Truman Papers were not entirely processed and open for research at the time this volume was prepared, the editors have included the most important and relevant papers concerning Palestine and Israel in 1948 from those that were available.
Clifford Papers. The papers of Clark M. Clifford, Special Counsel to President Truman, in the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri.
Elsey Papers. The papers of George M. Elsey, Assistant to Clark M. Clifford, in the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri.
Forrestal Papers. The papers of Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, in the Princeton University Library, Princeton, New Jersey.
Murphy Files. The files of Charles S. Murphy, Administrative Assistant to President Truman, in the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri.
CIA Files. Files of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Department of Defense Files. Files of the Office of the Secretary of Defense for the year 1948, now in the National Archives.

In addition the editors consulted but did not include material from the papers of Philip C. Jessup and Francis B. Sayre in the Library of Congress, and the papers of Warren R. Austin in the Library of the University of Vermont.

The editors also interviewed or corresponded with Clark M. Clifford, George M. Elsey, Loy W. Henderson, Robert M. McClintock and Dean Rusk.

Published Works

Much authoritative information is to be found in unofficial accounts by those who participated in the events covered by part 2 of this volume, or by authors who later interviewed those participants. In view of the occasional incompleteness of the official record on some aspects of the events of 1948 in the Near East, the editors have made use of such unofficial publications and have cited them for factual information which was noted as being specifically supplementary to, or at variance with, the official record. The Department of State assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of fact or interpretation in these unofficial publications.

In addition to the Foreign Relations of the United States volumes, the Department of State Bulletin, and published documents of the United Nations, the official and unofficial publications listed below were found to be of particular value in the preparation of part 2. Other publications consulted by the editors are identified in editorial notes and footnotes.

Ian J. Bickerton, “President Truman’s Recognition of Israel”, American Jewish Historical Quarterly, December 1968

Jonathan Daniels, The Man of Independence (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1950)

John Foster Dulles, War or Peace (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1950)

Dan Kurzman, Genesis 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War (New York: World Publishing Company, 1970)

Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1954) James G. McDonald, My Mission to Israel, 1948–1951 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1951)

Walter Millis (ed.), The Forrestal Diaries (New York: The Viking Press, 1951)

Bernard Postal and Henry W. Levy, And the Hills Shouted for Joy: The Day Israel Was Born (New York: David McKay Company, 1973)

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1948 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1964)

Moshe Sharett, Be-Sha’ar ha Umot [At the Threshold of Statehood] (Tel Aviv: Am Ovid, 1958)

John Snetsinger, Truman, the Jewish Vote, and the Creation of Israel (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1974)

Harry S. Truman, Memoirs, vol. 2: Years of Trial and Hope (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. 1956)

[Page XI]

Margaret Truman, Harry S. Truman (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1973)

United States Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, A Decade of American Foreign Policy: Basic Documents, 1941–49, Senate Doe. 123, 81st Cong., 1st Sess. (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950)

Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1949)