Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Battle) to
the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/
Washington, May 31, 1962.
United States Position on Jerusalem
By telephone call to Assistant Secretary Talbot May
21, Mr. Feldman asked why, when other Governments contemplate the establishment
of a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, we review with them the United
States position on non-recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
A resolution of the United Nations General Assembly
adopted November 29, 1947, 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 of April 3, 1949, 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, 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 United
Nations General Assembly that same year (1950). The United States undertook,
however, to give due recognition to the formal acts of the General Assembly
and the Trusteeship Council relating to Jerusalem 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.
Despite the passage of the 1949 United Nations General
Assembly resolution, the Israel Government officially transferred the
Israel capital to Jerusalem. Israel Ministers began moving to the city,
but the Foreign Ministry remained 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 (enclosed)/2/ stating that the United States
Government did not view favorably the transfer of the Israel Foreign
Office to Jerusalem, and that there was no intention of transferring
the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Our position, as frequently stated, is: "the status
of Jerusalem is a matter of United Nations concern and no member of
the United Nations should take any action to prejudice the United Nations
interest in this question. Our objective has been to keep the Jerusalem
question an open one and to prevent its being settled solely through
the processes of attrition and fait accompli to the exclusion of international
interest and an eventual final expression thereof presumably through
the United Nations."
As a consequence of this policy, when the Department
learns that a government for the first time is contemplating the establishment
of a diplomatic mission in Israel, we inform that government of the
historical background of United Nations attitudes toward Jerusalem and
express the hope that, in deference to United Nations attitudes, its
mission will be established in Tel Aviv, where most other missions are
located. (This approach is almost invariable, although we would not
undertake it in the case of a government hostile to the United States
because our effort might be self-defeating.) We are at pains to inform
the government that the decision is one for it to make. If, despite
our friendly counsels, the government desires to establish its mission
in Jerusalem the United States Government makes no further effort to
dissuade it. The view of our major allies on the Jerusalem problem is
generally similar to our own. They also have on occasion made representations
to other states regarding the establishment of diplomatic missions in
The Department's files show that since Israel's transfer
of its capital to Jerusalem we have made approaches along the foregoing
lines to the following countries:
Country Year Present Location of Mission
Japan 1955 mission in Tel Aviv
Guatemala 1955 mission in Jerusalem
Cuba 1957 mission in Tel Aviv
Liberia 1958 mission in Tel Aviv
Haiti 1958 no resident diplomatic representation
Venezuela 1959 mission in Jerusalem
Ecuador 1960 mission not yet established
Ivory Coast 1961 mission in Jerusalem
Ethiopia 1961 mission not yet established
Philippines 1962 mission not yet established
Costa Rica 1962 mission not yet established (but announced as Jerusalem)
Gabon 1962 mission in Jerusalem
As of March 1962, of the 41 nations maintaining diplomatic
missions in Israel, eleven were located in Jerusalem, four of these,
however, sharing one resident Ambassador./3/ This group includes six
African and three Latin American states. The two others are Greece and
the Netherlands, both of which are regarded as respecting the status
of Jerusalem since these governments designated their consular representatives
to mandated Jerusalem as diplomatic representatives to the newly created
State of Israel, leaving their consular residences in the original location.
The United States practice (of informing states which
may be considering the establishment of a diplomatic mission in Israel
of the background of United Nations interest) is known to Israel. The
latter has occasionally taken issue with the practice, most recently
in January of this year./4/ We have invariably replied that the United
States feels it has a moral obligation in this issue; that the United
Nations interest is a legitimate one; on this premise we make our views
known to interested governments; however, each government must decide
its position for itself.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/5-3162.
Confidential. Drafted by Crawford on May 25 and cleared by Talbot, Wallner
(IO), and Palmer (IO/UNP).
/2/For text, see Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, vol.
IX, Part 1, p. 961.
/3/A footnote in the source text lists Central Africa,
Gabon, Greece, Netherlands, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Uruguay. Dahomey,
Ivory Coast, Niger, and Upper Volta were listed as four "Conseil
d'Entente" nations represented by a single Ambassador.
/4/See Document 167. Harman also raised the matter
with Rusk during their meeting on May 28. The memorandum of conversation
is in Department of State, Central Files, 684A.00/5-2862.
/5/Johnson signed for Brubeck above Brubeck's typed