867N.48/8–1649: Telegram

The Consul at Jerusalem (Burdett) to the Secretary of State


522. Comments follow on Tel Aviv’s 607, ninth received thirteenth.

Obliged reiterate opinion expressed Contel 500, August 2 and 505, August 31 that Israel offer repatriate 100,000 refugees amounts mainly [Page 1320] to “gesture”. Israel figures on Arabs in Israel areas quoted Contel 504, third,2 call for reduction of 100,000 by 25,000 “infiltrees” and families of breadwinners estimated by Arabs at 30,000, leaving total of 45,000 eligible for admittance under new offer. Conditions of return described by Comay (paragraphs 11 and 12 of Contel 500) and confirmed by Department’s infotel August 10.3 Apart from propaganda aspect (which might assist in breaking Lausanne deadlock) believe offer fails conform even to substantial part to December 11 GA resolution and US policy with respect either to numbers or conditions of repatriation of refugees.
Judging on basis press articles and public comments Jerusalem, reaction to refugee proposal not comparable to intense controversy generated by such questions as arms embargo and absorption of immigrants. ConGen surprised by lack of stronger outburst. Hard to conceive transparent ruse employed by Ben-Gurion (Tel Aviv’s A–211)4 would succeed more than momentarily in throwing well-informed and intelligent Israel public off scent. Consider more plausible explanation advanced by Jerusalem editor who asserted public realizes no real prospect exists of return 100,000 in immediate future.
Agree fully with Tel Aviv as stated Congram A–94, July 63 that Israel will resist effort change present temporary armistice lines. However, in addition to reaction in Israel to such change, attention should be given to effect on Arab states of acquiescence in Israel’s retention of territory seized by force mainly during periods of SC imposed truce. SC resolution of August 19, 1948 states “no party is entitled to gain military or political advantage through violation of truce”. Furthermore, all armistice agreements signed by Arab states on understanding demarcation lines were temporary and pacts include written provisions recognizing principle of no political gains during truce and stating agreements are without prejudice to final political settlement. ConGen believes on over-all basis more stable peace will result if territorial adjustments insisted upon.
Past experience of Arabs in Israel territory, regardless of statements of good faith of Israel Government instills little confidence that they will receive just treatment in future. (Contels 305, April 19, 330 April 26, 519 August 15).5 Little real possibility is seen that UN can guarantee to Arabs human rights and fundamental freedom set forth in UN universal declaration on human rights of 1948. This reality together with conditions Israel imposing for return, led ConGen to suggest shift in emphasis to territorial changes provided in treaty.
Tel Aviv’s 6076 in effect recommends abandonment or emasculation of US policy on boundaries and refugees as enunciated by Jessup November 20, constantly repeated and reaffirmed in Deptel 331, August 97 with approval of President. ConGen submits that in lieu of [Page 1321] special pleading of inability and unwillingness of Israel to conform, attention might be directed to settlement within broad framework US policy. Solution imposed by Israel with force or threats of force on UN, US and Arab states will hardly contribute to lasting peace, or fail to strike at vitals of moral authority upon which UN and US world leadership hinges.

Department pass Lausanne.

Repeated Baghdad 52, Beirut 102, Damascus 60, London 45, Cairo 25, Jidda 10. Pouched Amman.

  1. The latter not printed, but see paragraph one of telegram 607, p. 1292.
  2. Not printed; it reported that during a foreign policy debate on June 16, Mr. Sharett placed the total number of Arabs in Israeli-held territory at 155,000 (867N.5011/8–349).
  3. Not printed.
  4. Dated August 5, not printed, but see footnote 2, p. 1292.
  5. Not printed.
  6. None printed.
  7. Dated August 9, p. 1292.
  8. This was a repeat of Unpal 223, p. 1291.