501.BB Palestine/4–2949: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic and Consular Offices 1


Unrealistic and intransigent attitude of both Israel and Arab states re agreement to repatriation and resettlement, respectively, of Arab refugees has created problem of serious concern to USG and major obstacle to PCC’s task of implementing Dec 11 res with respect to refugees. Coincidental with PCC meetings Lausanne, Dept considers it essential that strongest diplomatic approach be made to both sides in endeavor to soften their respective attitudes this question and to support PCC in its task. We are suggesting similar approach to Arabs by UK Govt.

Pls make earliest approach to PrimMin and FonMin of Govt to which you are accredited along fol lines:

USG continues support principle of repatriation of refugees so desiring in accordance GA res of Dec 11. On Apr 5 Secy made strong representations to Israeli FonMin re Pres’ conviction of necessity for early Israeli agreement to repatriation; Pres on Apr 25 took occasion Weizmann’s visit to press him rerepatriation; Secy made similar approach to Israeli Amb Apr 26. USG will continue use best efforts vis-à-vis Israel this regard. However, USG is in full agreement with PCC’s second progress report to UN, which emphasizes likelihood that not all refugees will decide return to their homes and consequent necessity obtaining agreement in principle by Arab states to resettlement those not desiring repatriation.

Earliest beginning to liquidation this question essential in view rapid depletion UNRPR funds. Since establishment UNRPR, UN members [Page 960]have contributed generously to alleviation plight of refugees, and have relieved Arab states of large measure enormous burden of relief. However, unless evidence is forthcoming that both sides are cooperating with PCC in endeavoring liquidate problem, and that concrete progress is being made therein, there is likelihood further aid would not be forthcoming from international sources, and that legislatures UN member states would be unwilling agree to further extension assistance.

Ref is made to recommendation of PCC in its progress report that Israel and Arab states might undertake program of public works which would make possible return of refugees and early absorption those not desiring return to their homes. USG notes with interest PCC’s expressed willingness recommend favorable action on such a request by UN organs if Israel and Arab states should apply for technical and financial aid in preparing and executing such a program.

USG deeply hopeful Arab states will give early indication their willingness to contribute to resettlement of those not desiring return Israel. This would immeasurably facilitate ability PCC to formulate effective plans for disposition refugee question as whole, and would be important element in influencing attitude of UN member states towards possibility further assistance.

At meetings with PCC in Lausanne, USG considers both Israel and Arab states have significant responsibility for cooperating with PCC in obtaining agreed settlement to permit earliest feasible liquidation this problem, and avoid its perpetuation as threat to peace, stability and development of all Near Eastern states.2

  1. At Jidda, Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Amman, presumably for action; and to London and Jerusalem and to Bern for Mr. Ethridge, for information.
  2. The Department additionally informed London, on April 29, that “McGhee’s survey of Arab refugee situation, and reports of our diplomatic missions and PCC emphasize fact that no progress possible re liquidation problem until political atmosphere improved by Israeli agreement to principle repatriation and Arab agreement to principle resettlement. USG therefore proposes employ coordinate and continuing diplomatic pressure both sides, in order provide maximum support PCC discussions Lausanne. It would be of considerable value if FonOff would instruct diplomatic missions approach Arab Govts soonest in endeavor obtain their agreement to principle accepting for resettlement those refugees who do not desire return to Israel.” (Telegram 1473, 501.BB Palestine/4–2949)