27. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) to the Under Secretary of State (Herter)1


  • U.S. Policy on Status of Jerusalem


During the Secretary’s conversation with Ambassador Eban on June 30, 1958,2 he said that the Department might look again into its policy of setting forth to nations considering establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel the U.S. position on the status of Jerusalem, with specific regard to the implications of setting up diplomatic missions in that city (Tab A). The Israel Embassy has since inquired as to our intentions in this matter. The Embassy indicated that the question might become active within the next two or three months, and we have separate information that the Argentines may be considering moving their diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Our position in the past has been that the status of Jerusalem is a matter of United Nations concern and that no member of the United Nations should take any action to prejudice the United Nations interest in this question. Our objective has been to keep the Jerusalem question an open one and to prevent its being settled solely through the processes of attrition and fait accompli to the exclusion of international interest and an eventual final expression thereof presumably through the United Nations.

The above position has also been taken by the United Kingdom Government which has cooperated with us in approaches to other United Nations members. The French and a large number of other governments, including those of Catholic countries, have likewise pursued this policy.

The matter of U.S. policy toward Jerusalem was most recently raised with the Secretary in my memorandum of June 19, 1957 (Tab [Page 66] B).3 At that time, the Secretary approved the policy recommendations set forth below. I believe that nothing has occurred since that time to warrant a change in our position.


That we be authorized to state to the Israelis that the Department has reexamined this matter and continues to believe that the future of Jerusalem is a matter of United Nations concern. The Department accordingly intends to maintain its policy of seeking support for its position from other United Nations members.
That if the question of moves of diplomatic missions to Jerusalem should come to our notice, we should continue to endeavor to discourage such moves.4
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.84/7–1158. Confidential. Drafted by Wahl on July 9, initialed by Rountree, concurred in by Walmsley, and sent through S/S. On July 11, Rountree also sent Herter a memorandum on the Israeli arms request. Herter approved granting an export license for 50 half-tracks, deferred action on the recoilless rifles, and approved asking the Israelis to try other sources on the .50-caliber machineguns. (Ibid., NEA/NE Files: Lot 65 D 5, Defense Files)
  2. See supra .
  3. Not attached to the source text.
  4. Herter initialed his approval of both recommendations on July 17.