241. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1

191. With reference Embtel 1652 my British colleague informs me that he has requested reconsideration by Foreign Office tripartite formula on Jerusalem question.3 His arguments were as follows:

  • First, he believes agreed line of approach would precipitate a bitter and sterile quarrel in new government and would react adversely upon prospects successful followup Secretary Dulles statement August 26.
  • Secondly, he quoted Sharett as having told him Ben-Gurion would not make it easy for us to avoid dealing with Foreign Minister and that given state of his own relations with Ben-Gurion it would be impossible for Sharett to help us out of difficulty by meeting elsewhere than in Jerusalem. Nicholls concluded that present instructions would make our dealings with Israel Government infinitely more difficult and weaken Sharett and moderate elements at a critical period.

He proposed therefore following variations present instructions,

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“If normal dealings with Foreign Ministry are out of question, even with assurances that no political capital would be made of them.”

No indication to be made to new Prime Minister of our line.
A courtesy call would be paid on new Foreign Minister.
Sharett would be informed that question whether Heads of Missions can call on him at Foreign Ministry would not be decided for a month or two because possibility prejudicing Israel-Arab negotiations and that, in meantime, he should agree to meet us either elsewhere in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

Embassy Comment: I agree with British Ambassador’s analysis of underlying situation. Important point seems to be to keep operations working on practical basis but in no way prejudicing Israel-Arab negotiations or in fact contravening UN resolution on Jerusalem. In any event the temporary character of these operations and avoidance publicity should be insisted upon whatever arrangements are made.

Therefore if arrangement under point 3 can be made and publicity controlled and practical working conditions as now exist can continue we would avoid for moment (a) adverse reactions on prospects of following up Secretary’s statement (b) bitter and sterile dispute with new government (c) prejudicing Sharett’s position vis-à-vis Ben-Gurion and Cabinet.

Alternative would be for an effort to be made to force Sharett to agree to meet us alternatively at Foreign Office and Tel Aviv an agreement which I rather doubt he would make except under compelling conditions. Even if arranged, it would place us in position of recognizing Foreign Office in Jerusalem in operational sense, something we would avoid under British Ambassador’s proposal point 3.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 784A.00/8–3055. Confidential. Received at 9:06 a.m., August 31. Repeated to London, Paris, and Rome.
  2. Document 224.
  3. The Embassy in London reported on September 12 that the French Embassy had informed the British Foreign Office that the French Government had reconsidered the tripartite formula on Jerusalem and had concluded that in order to strengthen Sharett and the moderates, the diplomatic representatives in Israel should be authorized to conduct business with Sharett in Jerusalem. (Telegram 995; Department of State, Central Files, 784A.00/9–1255)