67. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Battle) to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • Policy on Jerusalem


We have been giving careful study for some months past to the question of Jerusalem, a “crunch” issue in any prospective settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute. Various Israeli statements and actions indicate a closed mind on Jerusalem, although we cannot be sure how much Israel’s position may be tactical and how far it might be willing to recede as part of a settlement package. But in any event we cannot passively accept Israel’s unilateral dominion over Old Jerusalem (actually the Old City plus adjacent areas). To do so would ignore the interests [Page 139] of Jordan and of the traditional Arab residents of Old Jerusalem, as well as the interests of the major religions.

Our IRG has considered a plan for the partial internationalization of Old Jerusalem, and has agreed that if offers a possible solution. This plan is described in the attached paper.2 I believe the specifics of the plan are not as vital as the principles behind it, and that various details—such as the nature of the administration for the city or its precise boundaries—will have to be kept under review as time and negotiations progress.

Whereas we need not tie ourselves to any specific formula for the City’s future administration, we believe we should be guided by the following principles for a Jerusalem solution:

A plan for Jerusalem and the timing of its employment should contribute to, rather than impede, progress toward an overall settlement.
Greater Jerusalem should remain a city without barriers.
International interests in Old Jerusalem should be recognized, and specific provision made for protecting those interests.
There should be freedom of access from both Israel and Jordan.
The economic well-being of the residents of Old Jerusalem should be assured without prejudice and its economy closely linked to the economies of Jordan and Israel.


The following steps seem appropriate:

Continue to keep pressure on the Government of Israel to avoid policy pronouncements and actions that tend to rigidify the present de facto situation in Jerusalem. Draw as desirable on the above points in explaining the principles which guide our approach to the question.
If Ambassador Jarring indicates a desire to discuss the question with us, inform him of the principles governing our approach; if he seeks specifics, tell him of the nature of our internationalization proposal, making it clear that we are not tied to any given plan.
At least so long as the Jarring mission remains active, hold back on surfacing the plan with the various interested governments. We should consider the utility, however, of some public statement of our principles on Jerusalem if it would be helpful in terms both of our relations with the Arabs and of the peace-making effort.
Continue to sharpen up our views on various alternatives for the Jerusalem regime, with an eye to eventual private discussions with the governments concerned, and perhaps public discussion (possibly in the UN), when and as appropriate.

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I should like to have your approval for our proceeding along the lines of the above scenario. Joe Sisco, whose staff has worked closely with us in formulating this position, concurs. We should like also to have an early occasion to discuss these questions with you, particularly in regard to your views on internationalization and some of the alternative methods of dealing with an open Jerusalem.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, NEA Files: Lot 72 D 39, Jerusalem. Secret. Drafted by Sidney Sober on January 31, and cleared in draft by Sisco (IO), Deputy Legal Adviser Carl F. Salans, and member of the Policy Planning Council John C. Campbell.
  2. Not printed. The attachment is a paper marked IRG/NEA 68-4, January 23, entitled “Jerusalem—A Proposal for Partial Internationalization.” The Interdepartmental Regional Group (IRG) had a subgroup that dealt the Middle East.
  3. Rusk wrote “OK DR” in the margin opposite this paragraph. On a handwritten option line of “See me,” February 8, 11 a.m., is written in an unknown hand.