344. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to All Posts1

1508. Subj: Jerusalem Resolution in UNGA.

In view of sensitivity of question of Jerusalem throughout the world, explanation of US abstention on Pakistan resolution in UNGA (which passed GA on July 4 by vote of 99 for, none against, 20 abstaining)2 may be helpful. You should seek to have our position on this issue thoroughly understood, and you may draw on this cable to extent it is useful in discussion with host government officials and other interested persons.
During last three weeks US Government has issued series of statements expressing our views on Jerusalem. On June 19, President said: “There must be adequate recognition of the special interest of the three great religions in the Holy Places of Jerusalem”. A White House statement on June 28 said that the President “assumes that before any unilateral action is taken on the status of Jerusalem there will be appropriate consultation with religious leaders and others who are deeply concerned … The world must find an answer that is fair and recognized to be fair. That could not be achieved by hasty unilateral action and the President is confident that the wisdom and good judgment of those in control of Jerusalem will prevent any such action.” Later on the same day, after an announcement of Israeli action to place Jerusalem under a unitary administration, the Department of State issued a further statement reading as follows:

“The hasty administrative action taken today cannot be regarded as determining the future of the Holy Places or the status of Jerusalem in relation to them.

The United States has never recognized such unilateral actions by any of the States in the area as governing the international status of Jerusalem.

The policy of the United States will be governed by the President’s statement of June 19 and the White House statement this morning.

The views of the United States have been made clear repeatedly to representatives of all governments concerned.”3

In line with USG views on Jerusalem, we voted in favor of the Latin American resolution in UNGA on July 4, which would have reaffirmed “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)”. Unfortunately, this resolution did not receive a two-third majority and failed of adoption.
At this point, GA took up Pakistani resolution on Jerusalem which declared (1) that measures taken by Israel in Jerusalem are invalid; (2) called upon Israel to rescind these measures and desist from action that would alter the status of Jerusalem; and (3) asked Secretary-General to report to GA and SC on implementation of resolution within one week. US sought amendment to Pakistani resolution to bring it into line with USG position on Jerusalem as indicated earlier. Regrettably, our suggested changes were not accepted. Since Pakistani resolution as voted contained elements that were unrealistic and appeared unlikely to produce any constructive results (such as provision for SYG report within seven days), we abstained in voting on this resolution.
Although we did not feel we could vote for Pakistani resolution, we also did not oppose and vote against it. We agreed with Pakistani resolution in sense of its expressing Assembly concern over situation that would arise if unilateral measures were taken permanently to alter status of Jerusalem. US abstention on this resolution should be interpreted as indicative of our own concern.
US views on question of Jerusalem remain as stated by USG on June 19 and June 28 and again by Ambassador Goldberg in UNGA (wireless file carries text of statement released to press by USUN on July 4).4 We will continue to stress our opposition to any unilateral efforts to change the permanent position in Jerusalem or elsewhere, and to insist that any such change be accomplished only by internationally effective action, taking full account of international interests. We do not recognize Israeli measures as having effected changes in formal status of Jerusalem.
Israelis are in that city, as they are in other recently occupied territory, as a result of hostilities last month.
Israel may thus be said to be an occupying power with duty under international law to conform its administration as closely as possible to existing local law.
Israeli action to establish a unified municipal administration of Jerusalem cannot be regarded and will not be recognized as a valid annexation, or a permanent change in legal status of Jerusalem in any sense.
It should be considered an interim administrative measure to provide a more convenient and efficient occupation regime for area formerly under Jordanian control, using Jordanian police and other officials wherever possible.
Government of Israel has made it clear that it does not claim that its unified administration of Jerusalem is an annexation.
In spirit of statements already made by US defining our public position, we intend to work toward equitable settlement of Jerusalem problem developed through consultation among all concerned.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN. Confidential. Drafted by Popper and Eugene Rostow, cleared by Meeker and in substance by Davies, and approved by Rostow. Also sent to the U.S. Missions at Geneva and USUN and repeated to Jerusalem.
  2. General Assembly Resolution 2253 (ES–V), adopted July 4, 1967. Concerning the Pakistani draft resolution, see footnote 2, Document 340.
  3. Concerning the June 28 statements, see footnote 3, Document 333.
  4. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, July 24, 1967, p. 112.