Learn about the beta

65. Instruction From the Department of State to All Diplomatic Posts1



  • Location of Diplomatic Missions in Israel

In view of the increasing number of countries establishing diplomatic missions in Israel, it is pertinent to note that there has been no change in the United States view that out of deference to United Nations resolutions concerning Jerusalem foreign diplomatic missions in Israel should be located at Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem. In accordance with this view, the Department as occasion permits continues to advise friendly governments which for the first time are contemplating establishment of diplomatic missions in Israel, of the importance of respecting UN resolutions concerning the status of Jerusalem. As the addressee posts know, even though the seat of the Israel Government has moved to Jerusalem, the United States Embassy and most other diplomatic missions in Israel remain located at Tel Aviv.

The following background has been prepared particularly for the future reference of U.S. missions which may be instructed by the Department to discuss this issue with the governments to which they are accredited if the latter are considering or reconsidering the location [Page 148]of diplomatic missions in Israel. Although this guidance has appeared in previous instructions, it is brought again to the attention of addressee posts.

Briefly stated, the U.S. believes that the Jerusalem question should be settled with due regard for the international interest in the City, not solely through the processes of attrition and fait accompli to the conclusion of that international interest and of the eventual final expression thereof presumably through the UN. The statement made by the Secretary in a major address on August 26, 1955, remains valid: “It should also be possible to reach agreement on the status of Jerusalem. The US would give its support to a UN review of the problem.”2

A resolution of the United Nations General Assembly adopted November 29, 1947,3 provided for the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state and the creation of a corpus separatum, under direct international administration, of the City of Jerusalem and its environs. This resolution could not be carried out since hostilities broke out in May 1948 between Arab states and Israel. The hostilities were terminated by a series of armistice agreements in 1949. The armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan established armistice demarcation lines which divided Jerusalem into sectors under Israel and Jordan control with a no-man’s-land between the two sectors. The United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1949,4 reaffirmed its recommendation that a corpus separatum be established, and requested the Trusteeship Council to proceed with formulating a Statute for a Corpus Separatum for Jerusalem. The United States and certain other interested powers did not support this resolution, which was, nevertheless, passed by the Assembly. It was the belief of this Government that events had made efforts at carrying out the terms of such a resolution unrealistic, inasmuch as the two countries in actual occupation of Jerusalem were strongly opposed to the creation of a corpus separatum. The Trusteeship Council failed to produce an acceptable draft statute as did the UNGA that same year (1950). The United States undertook, however, to give due recognition to these formal acts of the General Assembly and the Trusteeship Council and has since maintained its position that the Holy Places in the Jerusalem area are of international interest to a degree which transcends ordinary considerations of sovereignty.

After the passage of the 1949 UNGA resolution, the Israel Government, in defiance of the resolution, officially transferred the Israel capital to Jerusalem. Israel Ministers began moving to the city, but the [Page 149]Foreign Ministry remained behind in Tel Aviv for a period. On May 4, 1952, the Israel Government announced that it was transferring the Foreign Office to Jerusalem. The actual transfer took place as of July 12, 1953. On July 9, 1952, the Embassy at Tel Aviv handed an aide-mémoire to the Israel Government stating that the U.S. Government did not view favorably the transfer of the Israel Foreign Office to Jerusalem, and that there was no intention of transferring the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.5

In a speech made on June 1, 1953, the Secretary stated ”. . . the world religious community has claims in Jerusalem which take precedence over the political claims of any particular nation.”6

Of the fifty nations which have diplomatic relations with Israel, about forty have established diplomatic offices in Israel. All but four or five of these are located at Tel Aviv.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 601.0084A/2–2059. Confidential. Drafted by Meyer and Hamilton, cleared by Ludlow, and approved by Rockwell.
  2. For text of this statement, see Department of State Bulletin, September 5, 1955, pp. 378–380.
  3. For text of this resolution, see Official Records of the General Assembly, Second Session, Resolutions, pp. 131 ff.
  4. For text of this resolution, see ibid., Fourth Session, Resolutions, p. 25.
  5. Regarding this aide-mémoire, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. IX, pp. 960 962.
  6. For text of this speech, see Department of State Bulletin, June 15, 1953, pp. 831–835. Ellipsis in the source text.