340. Action Memorandum From the Control Group to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • UNGA Voting on Jerusalem

It is possible that we will be confronted July 4 or July 5 with the need to take a quick decision on a General Assembly resolution on Jerusalem. The elements of the problem are as follows.

The Pakistan delegation has introduced a resolution declaring that measures taken by the Israelis on Jerusalem are invalid and calling upon Israel to rescind these measures and desist from action which would alter the status of Jerusalem—the Secretary General to report to the General Assembly and the Security Council on implementation of the resolution within a week (text at Tab A).2 This resolution was submitted after the Yugoslav/Indian resolution3 and the Latin American resolution,4 and would not come up for consideration until action on these two resolutions had been completed.
The Yugoslav/Indian resolution does not mention Jerusalem, but it calls upon Israel immediately to withdraw all its forces to the pre-June 5 positions, and it requests the Security Council to examine all aspects of the Middle Eastern situation. Presumably the passage of the Yugoslav/Indian resolution would denote withdrawal from Jerusalem as well as other conquered territory. However, since the Jerusalem problem is in a sense separable from the Middle Eastern problem as a whole, we should have to expect that a separate resolution on Jerusalem would be pressed.
The final paragraph of the Latin American resolution reaffirms “the desirability of establishing an international regime for the city of Jerusalem, to be considered by the General Assembly at its 22nd Session” (fall 1967). If the Latin American resolution were to receive a two-thirds majority, the Assembly would probably not adopt any other language on Jerusalem.

As of the evening of July 3, our best estimate is that neither the Yugoslav nor the Latin American resolution will be adopted. In this event, we will have to vote on a Jerusalem text. Looking ahead to this eventuality, our delegation has re-phrased the Pakistan proposal in terms falling squarely within the guidelines of the Presidential and Department statements of June 28 (proposed USUN revision, Tab B).5 The Turks, who are planning to co-sponsor a resolution on Jerusalem with the Pakistanis, have undertaken to discuss our language with the Jordanian Foreign Minister, and there is reason to believe that some of it might be adopted. Obviously, if an altered text could be presented which stressed non-recognition of unilateral action to change the status of Jerusalem, we should vote for it.

We are also preparing to have language on Jerusalem we could support introduced as amendments if we fail to get a satisfactory compromise text from the consultative process.

But if—as is more likely—we ultimately have to vote on the original Pakistan text, or something close to it, we shall need a high level decision.
Our position on Jerusalem is that we have never recognized unilateral action by any of the States in the area as governing the international status of Jerusalem.

The background for this conclusion is (a) that the Israelis are in Jerusalem, as they are in other territory taken during the recent hostilities, as the occupying power under the cease-fire resolutions of the Security Council; (b) that the occupying power has the duty under international law to conform its administration as closely as possible to existing local law; (c) that Israeli action to establish a unified municipal administration for the city of Jerusalem cannot be regarded and will not be recognized as a valid annexation, or a permanent change in the legal status of Jerusalem in any other sense; at most, it can be considered an [Page 607] interim administrative measure to provide a more convenient and efficient occupation regime for the areas formerly under Jordanian control, using Jordanian police and other officials where possible.

The Government of Israel has now publicly and officially retreated from its original position, and has endorsed our view that their unified administration of Jerusalem is not an annexation.

We have continued to stress our opposition to any unilateral efforts to change the permanent position in Jerusalem or elsewhere, and to insist that such change be accomplished only by internationally effective action, taking full account of international interests.

There are positive aspects of the administrative change in Jerusalem, from our point of view. The position of Jerusalem as an open city is having an influence on the attitudes of thousands of Arab visitors and tourists who are dealing with Israel and the Israelis for the first time. And we have received an important comment from Ambassador Barbour (Tab C)6 which is being studied in connection with the preparation of a policy recommendation for the functional internationalization of the city.

Against this background, we believe it would not be possible for us, consistently with the position we have already taken, to support a resolution along the lines of the Pakistan text. At most, we should recommend abstention if we fail in our efforts to obtain a Jerusalem text we could support. The language of the Pakistani Resolution not only declares that what the Israelis have done is invalid (whereas we would be inclined to recognize the validity of Israeli action if viewed as no more than administrative action of the occupying power), but also calls on Israel to rescind all the measures taken. Construed literally, this would require sealing up the wall, turning off the water, disconnecting the electricity, and reversing all other steps taken to unify Jerusalem.

Moreover, it is unrealistic to expect any useful report on implementation within one week.

USUN agrees with this recommendation.

[Page 608]


That we urge USUN to continue its efforts to alter the Pakistan resolution or, in the alternative, to have comparable amendments proposed.
That if these efforts fail and it is necessary to vote on the original Pakistan text, the U.S. abstain with an explanation of vote based on the June 28 statements and the considerations noted above.7

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Committee, Minutes of the Control Group Meetings. Confidential. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Eugene V. Rostow initialed the memorandum, which he sent to Bundy with a handwritten note of July 4 stating that Rusk and Katzenbach had not yet cleared the idea or the text. Bundy’s handwritten note on the memorandum states that he had cleared it.
  2. The tabs are attached but not printed, The Pakistani draft resolution was introduced initially in the General Assembly on July 1. A revised version with six sponsors was introduced on July 3; for text, see UN document A/L.527/Rev.1.
  3. The Yugoslav/Indian resolution was initially submitted on June 28; see footnote 2, Document 332. Revised versions, with 17 sponsors, were introduced on June 30 and July 3. For text of the July 3 version, see UN document A/L.522/Rev.2.
  4. The Latin American resolution was initially submitted on June 30 by the representative of Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of a Latin American group; it was subsequently revised and sponsored by 20 countries. As revised, it requested Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied as a result of the recent conflict and requested the parties in conflict to end the state of belligerency, to endeavor to establish conditions of coexistence based on good neighborliness, and to have recourse in all cases to the procedure for peaceful settlement indicated in the Charter. For text, see UN document A/L.523/Rev.1.
  5. The proposed revision stated that the General Assembly declared it could not recognize any unilateral action as determining the status of Jerusalem, called on the Israeli Government to desist from any formal action purporting to define permanently the status of Jerusalem, and requested the Secretary-General to report on the situation and implementation of the resolution, with no deadline. (Telegram 40 from USUN, July 4; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN)
  6. Barbour commented in telegram 4 from Tel Aviv, July 1, that the “overriding consideration would seem to be free access to and protection of religious sites,” and that a secondary factor involved the “legitimacy of Israeli territorial acquisition.” Concerning the latter, he thought the crucial point was “whether we have any real alternatives to making the best of a potentially good situation.” He argued that the Israeli occupation followed Jordan’s attack on Israel, that there was every reason to believe the Israelis would safeguard legitimate international interests, and that the Arab inhabitants would benefit materially. He recommended that “we should contemplate eventual US acquiescence in Israeli exercise of sovereignty over united Jerusalem, with maximum negotiable safeguards for the Holy Places.” (Ibid. POL 27 ARAB–ISR)
  7. Neither the approve nor disapprove option is checked.