Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Palestine, Israel, and Jordan Affairs (Rockwell)1


Subject: Future Action of the Palestine Conciliation Committee

Participants: Mr. Benard, French Embassy
ANE—Mr. Rockwell
Mr. Waldo
Mr. Day
UNP—Mr. Barco

Problem: To receive views of French Government on future action of PCC.

Action Required: To determine Department’s position on above.

Action Assigned to: UN/P [ UNA/P?] ANE


Mr. Benard called under instructions to inform the Department of the contents of a note from the Foreign Office conveying Mr. de Boisanger’s ideas as regards future action of the Palestine Conciliation Commission. Mr. de Boisanger reviewed the present situation, pointing out the stalemate in which the Commission is at present because of the rigid positions taken by the two sides. He was of the opinion that the Commission could not very well continue in this unsatisfactory state of affairs, since there was nothing for it to do.

Mr. de Boisanger suggested that the Commission should make a report to the 5th General Assembly, which would be in two parts. The first part would review the Commission’s activities for the past six months or so. In the second part the Commission would make to the Assembly some suggestions for a new course of action in an effort to bring about peace between the Arab states and Israel. Mr. de Boisanger did not explain exactly what the suggestions would be, but thought that they might involve the passage of a new resolution by the General Assembly to adjust the terms of reference of the PCC to the present situation in the Near East. Mr. de Boisanger felt that the Commission’s terms of reference as regards the refugee question were not applicable in the present circumstances, and that a new appeal should be made to the parties in a resolution calling upon the Arab states and Israel to negotiate “under UN auspices”. It was Mr. de Boisanger’s view that any suggestions made to the General Assembly by the PCC would first be agreed upon by the Governments of Turkey, France, the U.S. and the U.K., and supported by those nations in the General Assembly.

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I said that the Department was at the moment discussing the future of the PCC and that we were glad to have Mr. de Boisanger’s ideas to consider. I noted that Mr. de Boisanger had not said what specific suggestions he thought the PCC should make to the General Assembly. I added that the general Palestine question was not on the agenda of the General Assembly, and that we thought that it would be undesirable to place it there unless by so doing we would accomplish something which would facilitate a peace settlement in the Near East. Unless there were prior general acceptance by the parties of whatever new suggestions the PCC might make, I foresaw that the debate would degenerate into another of the all too familiar emotional Palestine conflicts in the General Assembly. In this connection, I thought that the PCC, while in the Near East, would have an opportunity for informal contacts with the parties which would give it an opportunity for appraisal of the possibilities for success of any new approach. The situation in this sense frankly did not seem encouraging to us at the present time, but we were always willing to consider any plan which seemed to have a reasonable chance of success. Accordingly, we looked forward with interest to the PCC’s evaluation of the possibilities of peace after its new Near Eastern trip.2 Meanwhile, we would consider Mr. de Boisanger’s ideas here and would be interested to receive any specific suggestions the French Government might have for a new approach.3

Mr. Benard said that he would convey the sense of the above to his Government, stressing the idea that the informal reaction of the Department was that it would not be desirable to place the general Palestine question on the agenda of the General Assembly unless something beneficial could thereby be accomplished. He would also report our interest in the PCC’s evaluation of peace possibilities.

In response to a query from Mr. Benard, I said that I believed that the Department thought that the PCC should not be abolished but permitted to continue in order to be available should circumstances affecting the possibilities of peace talks change for the better.

  1. Mr. Rockwell was appointed to this position on May 14, 1950.
  2. The Department, on August 4, informed Ambassador Blandford that “While US does not at this time favor raising genl Palestine question in UNGA this fall, this will depend in final analysis on results PCC stay in NE and its final recommendations to GA.” (Telegram 88, identified also as Unrap 44, to Beirut, 320.2AA/8–450)
  3. Mr. Benard, on August 2, called on Arthur R, Day of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs to present the further views of Mr. de Boisanger. These envisaged a new appeal by the General Assembly to the Arab States and Israel to negotiate under UN auspices. Previously, the Arabs had insisted on discussing a peace settlement with the PCC, rather than directly with the Israelis, a procedure made possible by the Commission’s terms of reference. Steps should be taken by the Assembly to make it clear that peace talks should be held directly between Arab and Israeli representatives, under the guidance of the PCC, and that they should begin at a set date (Mr. Day’s memorandum of conversation, 357.AC/8–250).