34. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts 0

384. Arab refugees. FYI: On August 31 Palestine Conciliation Commission Special Representative Johnson presented to PCC his Plan for [Page 81] solution Arab refugee problem. By prearrangement PCC deferred final approval of Plan but authorized Johnson present it to host governments and Israel without publicity or negotiation on details. He will explain how Plan meets particular concerns of each state in hope that their reactions will not be such as preclude (a) Plan’s formal adoption by PCC at further early meeting and (b) subsequent initiation of first steps in Plan implementation in order that these may be well under way by time UNGA debates PalRef item (probably in November).

Addressees (except Jerusalem to which copy pouched) have received drafts of Johnson’s Letter of Transmittal, “The Plan”, “Explanation”, “Notice”, “Questionnaires”, “Considerations for US” and “Action Sequence”. After August 31 meeting, Johnson will give parties only “The Plan”. Details of Plan premises and operation as contained in other related documents will be subject of oral discussion by Johnson with parties, and existence of other documents should not be revealed.

In “The Plan” there have been following significant changes. In Section 2 delete “Initially the senior official should be called Acting Administrator. In due course an Administrator would be designated”. In Section 5 para 2 first sentence delete “The Acting Administrator would be authorized” and substitute “Appropriate authority would be given”. In same para delete sentence beginning “Governments would retain the ultimate …”. In following sentence same para delete “Administrator” and substitute “administering officials”.

In Letter of Transmittal there has been inter alia incorporation of para stating importance of refugees being allowed “indicate preferences freely, uninfluenced by external processes”. End FYI.

For Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Cairo: On or about September 7 Ambassadors should seek high level meetings. Approaches should ensure realization that USG attaches greatest importance to this UN endeavor, and that reactions to it will be significant factor in conditioning US position toward future of UN refugee relief effort. This guidance may also be used with other senior government officials. However, extent of official conversations held should be determined in light our strong wish that these approaches not be publicized. Following talking points should be used, stressing USG belief Plan good for countries directly affected:

USG full support for an equitable, realistic effort implement Para 11 Resolution 194(III), long pressed by Arab states, clearly established by President Kennedy’s May 11, 1961 letters to Arab leaders (Damascus exclude) and by USG’s impartial course pursued in 16th UNGA. Latter resulted in expression of overwhelming world approval of mission entrusted to Special Representative Johnson by PCC.
One year of highly skillful quiet diplomacy carried out by Johnson has resulted in formulation of proposals for solution this tragic human problem that prevents refugees from taking useful place in society, [Page 82] has corroded lives of an entire generation of young refugees, and drains productive resources of Near East and world communities. These proposals carefully considered by PCC which authorized Johnson present them to host governments and Israel, without publicity, for careful study and judgment in light of true Arab interest rather than public passion.
Johnson in coming days will explain to Arab reps in New York detailed operation of his proposals prior to their further consideration by PCC at an early date. Our own careful review leads us conclude Plan meets vital interests of Arab states and refugees and is both eminently fair and realistic. We confident world community will see it in same light. Recognizing that negotiated solution of problem would be distasteful to Arabs, Plan initially requires no act of acceptance but only acquiescence in letting it proceed. Its essence is free voluntary expression of refugee preference for repatriation or for compensation and resettlement in strict accordance with Para 11 (a process objectionable to Israel). Its operations do not and cannot depend on coercion on either side, but states are called upon examine applications of refugees expeditiously and in good faith; there will be Arabs advising the administering officials; and there will be periodic reports on degree of cooperation received from governments in implementing preferences. Plan recognizes sovereign right and interest of nations receiving refugees establish regulations safeguard their economies. In addition, it advocates payment of compensation for communal properties to states in which resettlement takes place in proportion to volume of such resettlement. Also per capita “re-integration” allowance paid irrespective of compensation will facilitate refugee’s resuming a normal life. Such resettlement as may take place as result of refugee free expression of preference, in short, will benefit not handicap economies of receiving states. For those choosing repatriation, there is recognition that in equity there should be compensation by Israel if there has been loss of or damage to property and clear affirmation that such claims should be acted on expeditiously and with sympathy. It also recognized that Israel should make a substantial contribution to costs of Plan execution.
Finally, we convinced implementation of Plan will provide more repatriation and more compensation than refugees would obtain under any other circumstances. We will be willing support generously if Plan can proceed. Another real chance implement Para 11 unlikely soon again. Believing that it is in Arab interests that they not be cause for failure of Plan, and that if Plan is rejected rest of world will be inclined look for new methods of approach, we urge most strongly and seriously that in statesmanship and consideration for plight of refugees themselves the host governments allow it proceed without hindrance.

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For Beirut: In your presentation you should note that Johnson and USG recognize Lebanon’s special problem re effects on confessional balance were substantial number of those Moslem refugees now in Lebanon to be permanently resettled there. Lebanon has our firm assurance that we would not support any such uncontrolled implementation of Plan as to endanger this balance and that we willing consult further with highest levels GOL in this regard. You should also at this stage talk to Davis, who has been informed of Plan by Johnson, re its general aspects and prospects.

For Amman: Foregoing numbered paragraphs should be used in your approach to PriMin Tell. Special guidance re demarche to King follows.

For Jidda: We hesitant bring SAG too far into this issue now, and yet would not wish leave King and Faysal in any doubt as to seriousness our support for this initiative lest SAG conclude attacks on Plan easy new theme in current propaganda campaign demonstrate “Arabism”. Accordingly, you should find opportunity week to ten days from now or when it appears Saudis have the details from other sources, whichever earlier, for background discussion with Faysal designed persuade SAG keeps hands off this vital matter.

For Tel Aviv: From our background discussions with Israelis here, we convinced GOI fully aware our seriousness of purpose re Johnson Plan. Also, we would plan speak further to Mrs. Meir when she arrives for UNGA. Therefore, no approaches by Embassy to FonOff need be undertaken at this time, although there no objection to your indicating in official conversations a full familiarity with Plan, fact that it has been given to Israelis by Johnson in New York, and that Israel’s acquiescence is a matter of deep concern to USG.

For Baghdad and North Africa addressees: We see no need for approaches now. These may become desirable in North African capitals however if Arab League consideration Johnson Plan appears imminent, in which case Department will instruct. In interim if this raised with you, you can draw on guidance this tel to (a) indicate familiarity with Plan outlines and fact that it has been passed to host governments and Israel, (b) emphasize its equity and reasonableness, and (c) stress full USG support this initiative.

For all addressees: UK, French and Turkish Governments fully informed re Johnson Plan and our attitude in its regard. There no objection therefore to your discussing it with diplomatic representatives of these countries at discretion. FYI. Firm USG commitment to support [Page 84] implementation of Plan dependent on reactions countries affected and other members PCC. End FYI.1

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-562. Confidential; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Crawford on September 1; cleared by Grant, Stokes, Wallner, Sisco, Blake (in substance), Feldman (in substance), and Little; and approved by Rusk. Sent to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, and Tel Aviv and repeated to London, Paris, Ankara, Baghdad, Khartoum, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, Rabat, Jerusalem, and USUN.
  2. In circular telegram 413, September 8, the Department of State reported that at Johnson’s strong insistence the PCC had agreed that he could provide the parties, on a confidential basis, with the “Explanation” when he presented the plan to them. The telegram noted that the “Explanation” had been “politically sanitized” and described the changes as follows: “While no major changes made, several portions to which one or other side most likely object have been omitted or changed. (For instance, last two sentences of paragraph 11 and last sentence of paragraph 14 have been cut out. Paragraph 12 is reduced to: ‘Establishing ceiling figures on number of refugees who might be admitted to Israel would appear to be contrary to both letter and spirit of paragraph 11 (Res 194).’” (Ibid., 325.84/9-862)