CFM Files: M–88: May FM Meeting, C & D Series, Box 149
Report Prepared in the Department of State1
Subject: Near Eastern Security
To obtain British and French agreement to a course of action designed to promote stability in the Near East.
Although armistice agreements are now in effect between Israel and some of the Arab states, the return of peace and stability in the Near East is impeded by the fact that the Arabs and Israelis are deeply [Page 139] suspicious of one another. The Arabs fear that the continued Jewish immigration into Israel and the aggressiveness of the Israelis will inevitably result in an expansionist move to incorporate within Israel part or all of the Arab Palestine, and perhaps even parts of the neighboring Arab states themselves. The Israelis on the other hand are afraid that the Arab states, smarting under their defeat in the Palestine war, are planning a “second round” against Israel. The Israelis have particularly developed this thesis in connection with the British shipment of arms to the Arab states. Even though peace treaties might eventually be concluded between Israel and its Arab neighbors, uncertainty regarding the motives of the Israelis on one hand and the Arabs on the other would undoubtedly persist.
In these circumstances, the Department has for some time been considering the possibility that the United States might make some kind of reassuring declaration concerning the Israeli-Arab relationship which might discourage aggressive moves and contribute to the security and stability of the Near Eastern area. British Embassy representatives have recently informally raised with Departmental representatives the possibility that the United States might make a declaration of the sort mentioned above, and it is possible that Mr. Bevin will raise this question at the Foreign Ministers’ meeting. British Embassy representatives have also specifically mentioned a joint US–UK guarantee of frontiers in the Palestine area. The British Government believes that it is already exerting a stabilizing influence in the Near East through its treaties with Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
On March 30 a group of American citizens disturbed by the shipment of arms to the Arab states, including representatives of the American Federation of Labor, the Quakers, and several American Jewish organizations, informally suggested to the Department that the American representatives in the United Nations should make a statement to the effect that the United States would not countenance aggression in the Near East. In a recent meeting with the Secretary, Representative Roosevelt asked that the Department consider the possibility that at their forthcoming meeting the US, UK, and French Foreign Ministers might make some sort of a reassuring declaration concerning the relations between Israel and the Arab states.
On April 6 the British Embassy informally suggested the possibility that a US–UK statement designed to discourage aggression in the Near East might be made at the time King Abdullah of Jordan proclaimed the constitutional union of Jordan and Arab Palestine. The King is expected to do this some time after the Jordanian elections on April 11. The British also suggested that the US might wish [Page 140] publicly to declare its approval of the union. Departmental representatives reacted unfavorably to these suggestions, believing that the occasion in question would not be a suitable one for a US–UK declaration on Near Eastern security. The Departmental officers considered that the union of Arab Palestine and Jordan would raise several problems, such as the effect upon the negotiations being conducted by the Palestine Conciliation Commission and the Jordan-Israeli relationship expressed in the Jordan-Israeli armistice agreement. Although the Department believes the eventual incorporation of Arab Palestine in Jordan to be desirable and has so informed the British, the Departmental representatives were doubtful that the US would wish to make a public declaration of approval of the union at the present time.
It is believed that it might be helpful in promoting peace and stability in the Near East if the US, UK and France were able to make reassuring declarations upon the occasion of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting. Such declarations might reduce the suspicions and uneasiness prevailing in the Near East, both as regards the relationship between the Israelis and the Arabs and that between the Arabs themselves. They might also facilitate the realization by the countries of the Near East that their real security problem lies in the Soviet threat.
The British reception of the above idea would probably be favorable, and it is believed that the French reception might be the same.
Accordingly, it is recommended that the Secretary suggest the following procedure to Mr. Bevin, and that after Mr. Bevin and the Secretary have reached agreement, they together seek to obtain the agreement of Mr. Schuman.
- Upon the termination of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting the US, UK, and French Foreign Ministers would, on behalf of their Governments, separately make statements conforming, insofar as the policies of the three countries may permit, to the following suggested declaration.
The Government of _____________________________, deeply interested in the establishment and maintenance of peace and stability in the Near East, reaffirms its policy of constant support of the political independence and territorial integrity of the states in that area. It continues unalterably opposed to the violation of the frontiers of states through external force. The Government of ________________________, should it receive reliable information that any Near Eastern state was preparing to violate existing frontiers or armistice lines, would immediately take action consistent with its obligations as a [Page 141] member of the United Nations, both within and without the United Nations, to prevent such violation.2
- This report, FM D D–3a, was drafted by the Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs and fully cleared within the Department as a possible course of action for the Secretary of State to follow during the May Foreign Ministers meeting in London. It is a slightly revised version of an earlier draft dated April 24 which is in CFM Files, Lot M–88, May FM Meeting, C & D Series, Box 149.↩
In anticipation of tripartite discussions at the London Foreign Ministers meeting on limitation of arms shipments to the Arab states and Israel, Ambassador at Large Philip Jessup suggested in telegram Secto 70 from London, May 1, that the Report on Near Eastern Security be circulated to the Near Eastern, Missions on a strictly confidential basis in order to obtain “view our chiefs on anticipated reaction their countries. Such information would be useful in continuing discuss matter here.” (396.1 LO/5–150)
The Joint Chiefs of Staff did not concur with the recommendation contained in this report. In a memorandum of May 4 to the Secretary of Defense they reviewed certain implications from the military point of view and recommended that “the United States neither suggest nor approve a declaration regarding the security of the Near East which implies employment, either within or without the United Nations, of military enforcement measures.” (780.5/5–450)↩