CIA Daily Summaries Regarding Partition and the 1948 War
(1947 - 1949)
Note these are only Middle East-related reports (excluding Iran and Turkey), primarily related to Palestine and Israel. Some reports and pages were missing. Very little of the information was produced by the CIA; most comes from the State Department.
January 13, 1947
US Embassy London has been informed by the Foreign Office that the British Government has invited the Arab Higher Committee of Palestine to send a delegation to the London Conference and join the Arab League delegates there. The UK and the Committee have tacitly agreed that the Grand Mufti will not be a delegate.
(ClA Comment: The Committee has heretofore refused to attend the Conference unless the Mufti headed its delegation. The UK rejected this demand on grounds that the Mufti collaborated with the Nazis.)
[Ed: The Mufti was a Nazi collaborator and instigator of violence for decades in Palestine. The British and, later, King Abdullah would object to his involvement in fighting or negotiations.]
March 5, 1947
US Consul General Jerusalem reports that, according to a well-informed Jewish Agency source, the present aim of the terrorists is to force the British to establish martial law throughout Palestine, thereby inciting the entire Jewish population to open combat with the military.
[Ed: This is a reference to the activities of the Jewish underground – the Irgun and Lehi (Stern Gang).]
March 20, 1947
The State Department has informed US Embassy London that the US would like to see UN give “fundamental reconsideration” to the Palestine problem “as soon as possible,” and to do so in such a way as to avoid any question of the legality of UN consideration of the problem. The Department at present favors calling a special, brief session of the General Assembly for the purpose of creating an ad hoc committee which would report to the General Assembly at its scheduled session in September 1947.
March 27, 1947
Secretary-General Lie has informed US Deputy Representative Johnson that the best method of procedure on the Palestine question is for the UK to request a special session of the General Assembly. Lie would then Immediately notify member nations.
March 29, 1947
US Consul General Jerusalem has been informed by high officials of the Jewish Agency that “measures already taken” by the Agency against the terrorists have brought it very close to armed conflict with the Stern Gang. The officials also state that conflict may develop between the Agency and Irgun, which is aided by funds from US sources, and they point to the difficulty the Agency faces in “educating Jews of the US as to the destructive and unproductive character of terrorism.”
April 1, 1947
GERMANY: 30,000 Jews reported in “Pipeline” – US Commanding General Europe reports that, according to a very relatable source, between 4,000 and 5,000 Jews will leave the US Zone in Germany each month for Palestine by way of Austria and Italy. The source further reveals that arrangements have been completed for these illegal transfers, and that 30,000 Jews are now in the “pipeline” in Czechoslovakia waiting their turn to enter the US Zone. The Theater considers that a mass movement to Palestine may be developing.
US Embassy London reports that Dr. Nahum Goldmann (Washington representative of the Jewish Agency) made the following points in a recent discussion of the Zionist case with Ambassador Douglas: (a) the US and the UK should work out joint policy recommendation on Palestine before the matter goes to the UN; (b) a violent Arab reaction to a modest increase In Jewish immigration is unlikely; and (c) the State Department will be under “strong pressure” from US Zionists and their friends until the Department takes 0a line favorable to Zionist aspirations.”
April 9, 1947
Increased tension between Jewish Agency and terrorists – US Consul General Macatee in Jerusalem reports a rising tension between the Jewish Agency and Irgun (see Dally Summary of 29 March, item 3). Although the Agency has achieved partial success in restricting terrorist activities, Macatee notes a prevailing nervousness in Agency circles over the possibility of violent Irgun and Stern Gang reaction. An Agency source, probably connected with Haganah (the Jewish Agency’s military arm), recently told Macatee: “We are in a hell of a fix. We must get terrorists under control while avoiding bloodshed and any appearance of cooperation with the British.”
April 25, 1947
A Jewish Agency official has informed US consul general Jerusalem that the High Commissioner has told the Agency that the British military “would very soon take over complete control of Palestine.”
May 2, 1947
UK denies military will assume control of Palestine – US Ambassador Douglas reports from London that the UK Colonial Office has categorically denied that the British military “would very soon take over complete control of Palestine” (as previously reported by a Jewish Agency official in Palestine; see Daily Summary of 25 April, item 1).
May 5, 1947
Jewish Agency official urges increase in illegal Palestine immigration – A UK Colonial Office official has informed US Embassy London of a British intelligence report that David Ben-Gurion (Chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive), in a recent speech to the JA Executive in Jerusalem, urged intensification of efforts to increase illegal immigration to Palestine. Ben-Gurion reportedly stated that: (a) if the JA cannot move “sizeable quantities” of immigrants to Palestine during the next few months, the “marked tendency” among DP’s in Europe to give up the idea of going to Palestine will be “accelerated”; (b) Zionism is appearing increasingly less attractive to Jewish DP’s; and (c) within a year “at least half” of these DP’s will no longer insist on going to Palestine unless the JA “produces results.”
May 12, 1947
Soviets expected to continue cautious support of Arabs – US Embassy Moscow considers that Soviet policy towards Palestine is based upon: (a) opposition to the formation of a Jewish state, which the USSR would regard as an anti-Soviet, Zionist tool of the West; and (b) support of an independent Palestine populated, as now, predominantly by Arabs. The Embassy believes, however, that the Kremlin will continue to avoid any overt championship of the Arab cause until the USSR is in a better position to expand its influence among the Moslems and can afford to alienate world Jewish opinion.
The Embassy feels that Gromyko’s support of the proposal to permit Jewish representation before the United Nations fits into this pattern and represents a minor concession to Jewish interests “which could only cause confusion and probable embarrassment’’ to the UK and the US. In the Embassy’s opinion, however, the Kremlin has been motivated primarily by a desire to establish a precedent for official recognition of such non-governmental organizations as the WFTU; a development which would contribute greatly to the use of the UN as a sounding board for Soviet propaganda.
May 13, 1947
Arabs fear US Palestine policy is pro-Zionist – US Ambassador Wadsworth reports from Baghdad that government officials in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are convinced that US policy concerning Palestine is proZionist. According to Wadsworth, Prime Minister Jabr of Iraq has stated that “his news from New York was not at all encouraging,” and that he believes the peace and security of the Arab world, as well as future relations with the UK and US, largely depend on the US taking a positive lead in the UN to assure recognition of the justice of the Arab cause.
May 15, 1947
TRANSJORDAN: White Book on Greater Syria – US Ambassador Tuck reports from Cairo that the recently published TransJordan White Book on the “Natural Unity of Syria” contains “documents from British as well as Arabic sources.” Tuck adds that the White Book, which has confidentially been made available to a member of the US Embassy, is King Abdullah’ s definitive documentation of the Greater Syria case.
(CIG Comment: If the British documents in the White Book implicates the UK too closely in Abdullah’s plans, the UK Foreign Office may be compelled to issue a statement, repeatedly urged by the US, defining its attitude toward Greater Syria. In the past the UK has been content to allow Abdullah’ s schemes to disturb Arab unity, but it is unlikely that the UK wishes these schemes to be implemented at this time.)
[Ed: King Abdullah’s desire to create “Greater Syria” encompassing Syria, Iraq, Transjordan, Palestine, and possibly Lebanon would be an ongoing issue for the next two years.]
June 18, 1947
Saudi Arabia suggests treaties between US, UK and the Arab states – The Saudi Arabian Deputy Foreign Minister has informally suggested to US Minister Childs that the US consider multilateral treaties between the US, the UK, and the Arab States. The Deputy Foreign Minister explained that: (a) the US had sought to create a first line of defense by aiding Greece, Turkey, and Iran; and (b) a second line of defense of great importance to the US consists of Saudi Arabia, Yemen. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt. The suggested. treaties, he said, would remove such problems as the Greater Syria plan and the Anglo-Egyptian dispute. Despite the Deputy Foreign Minister’s statement that his remarks were unofficial, Childs believes they reflect recent discussions among members of the Arab League in Cairo and possibly ideas of King Farouk of Egypt, with whom the Deputy Foreign Minister is very close.
June 19, 1947
Arab states warn of popular reaction against US and UK – The Iraqi Government has presented to US Ambassador Wadsworth a detailed statement of the Arab case on Palestine. The Ambassador was informed that similar notes had been given to US and British Missions in all Arab capitals. The note “demands” that the US: (a) immediately stop any action which might encourage or continue Jewish immigration into Palestine; and (b) support before the UN the Arab demand for the termination of the Palestine Mandate and the proclamation of Palestine’s independence as a sovereign Arab state.
The Iraqi Prime Minister commented to Wadsworth, apropos of the note, that, while Iraq’s foreign policy was oriented toward the fullest collaboration with the US and UK and diametrically opposed to the USSR, he feared that the Iraqi and other Arab governments might not be able to control the internal situations in their countries if the US and UK continued to support the Zionist cause.
June 24, 1947
lbn Saud emphasizes concern over Middle East situation – US Minister Childs reports that in a series of audiences with Ibn Saud, the King expressed stress the gravity of the situation in the Middle East. The King expressed particular concern over the activities of Iraq and Transjordan in connection with “Greater Syria,” which he considers, are directed entirely against himself and the result of British jealousy over the favorable economic position of the US in Saudi Arabia. Ibn Saud urged that the US approach the UK for an agreement, to which the Arab States could adhere, on the key issues in the problems Middle of East, including not only the Greater Syria question but also the problems of Palestine and Anglo-Egyptian the relations (see question Daily but Summary also the of 18 June, item 3).
July 29, 1947
UK “advises” Abdullah against Greater Syria – US Legation Damascus reports that the UK has “advised” King Abdullah of Transjordan to cease agitating for a Greater Syria. (CIG Comment: This action should block for the time being the scheme to federate the northern Arab states; see Weekly Summary of February 14, 1947, pg. 7)
July 31, 1947
PALESTINE: UNSCOP reportedly unimpressed by Zionist claims – US Embassy London reports the opinion of the UK Foreign Office that the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) has not been impressed by “extravagant Jewish claims and oratory.” The Foreign Office believes that UNSCOP is now fully aware of the Arab view that:
- Palestine Arabs are entitled to self-determination; and (b) Arab states would regard a Jewish state in Palestine as a threat to peace in the Middle East.
August 16, 1947
UNSCOP reportedly favors an independent Palestine – The British Foreign office has informed US Embassy London that: (a) the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) apparently favors the establishment of an independent Palestine, although there is no indication whether the delegates are considering one or two Palestine states; and (b) it is increasingly apparent that the Grand Mufti is determined to test his strength by promoting a campaign of violence by the Arabs in Palestine, possibly before the end of the year.
August 18, 1947
PALESTINE: Anti-Jewish riots cause alarm – US Consul General Jerusalem reports as “highly disturbing” the continuance for six successive days of Arab anti-Jewish riots in Palestine. He adds that the riots are similar in pattern to events which in the past have led to widespread trouble in Palestine.
[Ed: Violence against Jews began before the UN voted to partition Palestine.]
August 20, 1947
UNSCOP reported to favor partition for Palestine – US Embassy London has been informed by a high Jewish Agency official closely associated with the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) that a majority of UNSCOP now favor the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. The official added that UNSCOP would expect the states to have a customs union and a confederation to handle railways and communications.
(CIG Comment: Because partition has been the minimum demand of the Zionists, such a solution would probably be acceptable to them; however, it may be expected to provoke a strong Arab reaction.)
September 16, 1947
PALESTINE: Arab uprising expected – A Jewish Agency official has informed US Consulate General Jerusalem that, according to information recently received by the Agency, the Grand Mufti intends to begin disturbances in Palestine without waiting for the outcome of the UN General Assembly’s deliberations on the Palestine question.
The Secretary General of the Arab League has informed US Embassy London that in his view an Arab-Jewish war will result from the General Assembly’s acceptance of either the majority or minority report of the UN Special Committee on Palestine.
(CIG Comment: Although an Arab uprising inspired by the Mufti is probable in Palestine, it is unlikely that the Arab Governments will officially support the Mufti until some decision has been reached by the UN.)
[Ed: The Arabs left no doubt long before the UN partition decision that they would go to war to prevent the creation of a Jewish state.]
September 22, 1947
Arabs attack US and UK on Palestine issue – The Syrian Prime Minister has informed US Charge Memminger that the Political Committee of the Arab League has decided to submit a note to the US and UK Governments reiterating the Arab view that “responsibility for future events in Palestine rests entirely on the US and UK.”
September 23, 1947
Arab League preparing for war in Palestine – According to US Minister Pinkerton in Beirut, the Arab League Political Committee (in secret session at Sofar, Lebanon) has issued a communique stating that: (a) the Committee will oppose application of the UNSCOP majority report by “all practical and workable means”; (b) the Palestine Arabs will resort to war to oppose aggression, knowing that the Arab States will supply men, money, and material; and (c) the Committee will point out to all Arab peoples the danger of the Palestine affair so that every Arab “may give aid to Palestine according to his means.”
[Ed: The United States was well aware the Arab states were prepared for war to oppose partition.]
September 27, 1947
PALESTINE: Arab assistance for uprising in Palestine – According to the US Consul General in Jerusalem, the Transjordan Prime Minister has declared that: (a) at the Sofar meeting of the Political Committee of the Arab League it was felt that in the event of an Arab uprising in Palestine, assistance from the neighboring states is inevitable; and (b) Arab leaders believe that it would be wiser to give official sanction to armed assistance instead of striving to prevent such intervention by the neighboring states.
November 1, 1947
Charge Bailey at Jidda has forwarded a message addressed by King Ibn Saud to President Truman containing an appeal for reversal of the US decision to support the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. King Ibn Saud calls this US decision unfriendly to the Arabs and adds that, if it is maintained, it will bring about a “death-blow,” to US interests in the Arab countries.
[Ed: An early warning, one of many to follow, that U.S. support for a Jewish state would jeopardize relations with the Arabs. As would become clear, the Saudis were bluffing because their needed American protection was a higher priority than Palestine.]
November 4, 1947
PALESTINE: Arabs would not accept office in a partitioned Palestine – US Consul general Jerusalem reports that (a) He knows of no Arab who would accept office in a partitioned Palestine and thus risk assassination; and (b) the British are not likely to accept the request that they maintain order in Palestine during the trying period between now and July 1948. The Consul General believes that UN Trusteeship for the Arab area should not be envisaged as a short-term arrangement and that careful consideration should be given to the policing of such a turbulent area.
November 6, 1947
Arabs accuse US of proselytizing for partition – According to US Embassy Baghdad, Azzam Pasha (director general of the Arab League) has been informed by the Saudi Arabian UN delegation that El Salvador, Chile, and “a third South American state had deserted the Arabs under US pressure.” Azzam Pasha commented that while the Arabs understand the internal political considerations which determine US pro-Zionist policy, they believe that the US should “at least leave the small states alone to form their own opinions.”
Azzam Pasha also has expressed his fear to US Embassy Baghdad that the Arab states may not have sufficient votes to defeat the partition scheme in the UN. Azzam Pasha added that world Jewry is “successfully propagandizing the US people into thinking that the Arabs are bluffing about waging war against those powers desiring to implement the partition scheme.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Saleh Jabr has expressed the opinion to us Embassy Baghdad that the Arabs will fight against implementation of partition although it is certain that, in the event of a conflict, an “international police force would easily win.”
[Ed: The Arabs believed American Jews had a great deal of influence over U.S. policy and were upset that the administration was lobbying other countries to support partition.]
November 12, 1947
US denies proselytizing for partition – The Department of State has informed US Legation Damascus that while the Latin American delegations at the UN are not under US pressure to support partition (see Daily Summary of 6 November, item 5), they are subject “to considerable persuasion by national chapters of the highly-organized and well-financed Jewish Agency.” The Department adds, however, that US representatives have not hesitated to explain and defend to representatives of foreign powers at the UN the official US position on partition.
[Ed: The State Department denied pressuring other UN delegations and blamed the Jews. The U.S. did, however, lobby several countries to support partition.]
November 15, 1947
Embassy Moscow’s views on Soviet aims in Palestine – US Embassy Moscow reports its conviction that Soviet policy on the Palestine question is “deliberately calculated to insure unsettlement, rather than settlement, and to create maximum difficulties for the British and Americans in the Near. East.” The Embassy believes that Soviet support of partition reflects the Kremlin’s decision that: (a) both Europe and the Asiatic colonial areas are “softer” for Soviet exploitation than the Near East; and (b) Jews and other minority groups provide the “only immediately useful tool” for softening up the Near East for “eventual straight Communist cultivation,” in view of the weakness of indigenous Communist movements in the area.
UK reiterates stand on British troops in Palestine – The UK has delivered a note to The Department of State emphasizing its decision not to allow either “the British administration or British troops in Palestine” to be used for imposing a settlement unacceptable to both Jews and Arabs, The UK considers that: (a) it would be “playing the Soviet Union’s game” to allow British troops to be embroiled in repressive action in Palestine against either Jews or Arabs; and (b) the hostility aroused by the use of British troops would be directed solely against the UK even though the troops would be acting as agents of the UN.
According to US Embassy London; Bevin has expressed to visiting US Senators the following views: (a) a solution acceptable to both Arabs and Jews could probably have been worked out in Palestine last year if it were not for the activities of US Jewish organizations….The Embassy adds that Bevin made a “very favorable impression on the Senators.”
[Ed: Though he knew the Arabs and Jews would not agree to any peace proposal, British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin blamed American Jews.]
November 17, 1947
According to US Legation Damascus Azzam Pasha (Arab League Secretary General) has informed the British Charge that: (a) the armies of the Arab League states are now in fact under unified command; (b) the Arab League will subsidize the Transjordan Arab Legion if the UK drops its subsidy; (c) a token Iraqi force will soon move to Transjordan; and (d) King Ibn Saud insists that Saudi Arabian troops be included in the Palestine border watch.
November 19, 1947
The Syrian Defense Minister has outlined to [redacted] “the real Arab conception” of the military situation in Palestine. The Minister stated that: (a) the nucleus of the Arab People’s Army – which is already partially organized and new undergoing training – consists of 40,000 Palestine Arabs with foreign army or gendarmerie experience; (b) Arab Palestine can logistically support the present force, will obtain additional supplies from neighboring Arab states as the army grows, and anticipates no armament or personnel replacement problem; and (c) Hagana (military arm of the Jewish Agency) has no more than 50,000 trained men available. The Minister foresees a long-term, harassing guerrilla campaign against Jewish communications, utilities, and other facilities, eventually weakening the Jews “to the point where they can be overrun.” The MA, in commending the Minister’s “realistic approach,” notes that he made no suggestion that Arab national armies will be employed.
[Ed: It was not until Israeli forces began to dominate the fighting in the spring and summer of 1948 that the British and Americans recognized it was the Arabs and not the Jews who were weak. Based on information from Arab sources such as the Syrian, there was also a misjudgment of how many Arabs would fight.]
November 21, 1947
USSR allegedly sponsoring Balkan-Jewish emigration – US Minister Schoenfeld in Bucharest has been told by the British consul there that: (a) two ships of Panamanian registry, carrying an estimated 11,000 Jewish emigrants, are scheduled to leave Constanza sometime after 21 November; (b) there is a “high probability that Soviet agents will embark; (c) preference is being given to young Jews who have received military training at camps in Rumania; and (d) the British anticipate difficulty in intercepting these ships since they have no warships in the Mediterranean from which these large transports can be boarded. Schoenfeld considers it a “safe inference” that Zionists in Rumania are working in close liaison with Soviet officials (see Daily Summary of 18 October, item 2).
December 4, 1947
Arabs planning military action in Palestine – King Farouk informed US Ambassador Tuck in Cairo that: (a) Egypt in full accord with the other Arab countries, intends to resist the partition of Palestine by force of arms, but will make to no military move until the British withdraw from Palestine; (b) instructions have gone out to the other Arab capitals regarding the coordination of military and economic plans for the conflict; (c) there might exist “the tragic spectacle” of Arabs fighting Americans if the UN should send an international force to Palestine to maintain order; and (d) a number of Soviet Jewish saboteurs have been apprehended in Egyptian territory. Tuck concludes from the King’s remarks that “there is no doubt” of Egypt’s intention to play its part in militarily opposing the Jews in Palestine and that the King intends, if possible, to play a leading role in coordinating and organizing Arab resistance.
(CIA Comment: The acts of violence, sporadic rioting, and anti-US demonstrations reported by US representatives in various parts of the Arab world can be regarded merely as a prelude to the concerted Arab action which, as King Farouk indicates, will take place after the UK withdraws its forces and administration from Palestine.)
December 5, 1947
PALESTINE: Mufti tells Arab Higher Executive to curb disorders – US Consul General Macatee reports from Jerusalem that the Arab Higher Executive has been instructed by the Grand Mufti to do everything possible to curb the present disorders in Palestine. (The governments of all of the Arab states are similarly attempting to discourage “unauthorized” anti-partition disturbances.)
December 6, 1947
British plans for Palestine withdrawal – Foreign Minister Bevin has informed Secretary Marshall of the British plans for withdrawal from Palestine and of the difficulties expected by the UK if the UN Commission should arrive in Palestine more than two weeks before the British are ready to hand over authority to the Commission which, according to plan, will be about 15 May ). Bevin states that the British object during the interim period will be to maintain the status quo in all respects, particularly regarding immigration. Bevin added that his government had recommended forbearance and moderation to Arab representatives and had received assurances from various spokesmen that they will not try to make trouble while the British are still in Palestine. Bevin expressed the hope that the US: (a) would make similar recommendations to Jewish representatives; and (b) would “continue and intensify the measures recently initiated to restrain those involved in organizing immigration.
December 8, 1947
Reported pressure on Ibn Saud to break with US – US Minister Childs in Jidda has been informed by King Ibn Saud, in an extraordinary two-day audience at Riyadh, that while the King must make common cause with the other Arab states on the Palestine issue, he does not anticipate, being drawn into conflict with friendly western power over this question. The King added that the Arab League (particularly Iraq and Transjordan) would attempt to draw him into “direct conflict politically or economically with the US,” and that pressure would be exerted on him to cancel the oil concessions. The King informed Childs that it is of the highest importance for him to know as soon as possible to what extent Saudi Arabia could count on US aid in resisting any incursion from Iraq or Transjordan which might result from his refusal to give in to this pressure.
[Ed: While the Saudi King repeatedly warned relations with the U.S. would suffer if Truman supported partition, this is an example of his real concern, and the reason his threats were idle. He feared for his life and regime and needed U.S. protection.]
December 9, 1947
Ibn Saud hopes to obtain motorized equipment and planes from US – US Minister Childs has been informed by a representative of King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia that the kind of aid which the King hopes to obtain from the US includes equipment for two motorized divisions and some fifty military aircraft (see Daily Summary of 8 December, item l). The representative added that the Saudi Arabian delegation to the Arab League meetings in Cairo has been instructed: (a) to avoid being drawn into any plan which might bring the Arab world into conflict with the US and UK; but (b) to support all others measures against the partition of Palestine.
[Ed: Another indication King Saud was concerned about his survival rather than Palestine. He desperately wanted U.S. arms.]
Palestine police fear safety of UN Commission – US Consul General Macatee reports from Jerusalem that the Palestine police have stated that protection of the UN Commission would be beyond police resources if the Commission establishes headquarters anywhere other than at Tel Aviv. Macatee believes that the British will do everything they can to protect the Commission, but that after the British withdrawal the “security of the Commission will present an acute problem.”
US anticipates requests to ship military supplies to Palestine – The Department of State has informed Secretary Marshall in London that it proposes to answer anticipated requests from the Zionist Organization of America for permission to export military supplies to Palestine by pointing out that: (a) in the period preceding termination of the mandate, requests for military supplies should be made to British authorities in Palestine; and (b) following termination of the mandate, requests should be made to the UN five-power commission on Palestine.
[Ed: It was absurd to suggest that the Jews seek military supplies from the British who had spent the mandate period confiscating their weapons.]
December 11, 1947
Jewish Agency seeks US aid – Jewish Agency leaders have told Department of State officials that the Jews in Palestine need all types of weapons, including small arms, planes, tanks, and anti-aircraft artillery, as well as military advisors to direct operations. The Jewish officials said that if they could not get such assistance from the US, they would be forced to turn “elsewhere” for it. The leaders added that they would be unable to stop illegal immigration unless a Palestine seaport were made available for increased legal immigration at an early date. The Jewish leaders also asked that the US delegation to the UN be instructed to make a statement which would impress upon the Arab world that the US is still behind the UN partition plan.
December 15, 1947
US considers it inadvisable to ship arms to Saudi Arabia – The Department of State has instructed US Minister Childs in Jidda to inform the Saudi Arabian Government that while the US maintains the strongest friendship for Saudi Arabia, the interests of peace can best be served if “the US should for the time being refrain from exporting arms and munitions to Palestine and neighboring countries,: (The Saudi Arabian Government has been exploring the possibility of obtaining military supplies from the US; see Daily Summaries of 8 and 9 December, item 1.)
Saudi Arabia recruiting for Palestine armies – US Consul Henderson reports from Dhahran that King Ibn Saud has given orders for the organization of four armies to aid the Arabs in Palestine, and that recruiting of volunteers is being carried out in the Dhahran area.
December 16, 1947
Saudi Arabia rejects direct requests to break with US – Crown Prince Saud has informed US Minister Childs at Jidda that, in the current Arab League meeting at Cairo, Saudi Arabia has rejected requests by Iraq and Transjordan that it sever relations with the US and cancel the oil concessions, although it has backed other Arab plans to oppose Zionism. Prince Saud said his Government fully appreciates the US reasons for refusing to ship arms to the Near East but hopes that this policy will not continue indefinitely (see Daily Summary of 15 December, item 1).
[Ed: Further evidence the Saudis needed relations with the United States more than unity with other Arab states in their fight against Zionism.]
December 18, 1947
Saudi Arabia asks reconsideration of arms request – In a note transmitted to US Minister Childs at Jidda, King lbn Saud has requested the US to reconsider its refusal to send arms to Saudi Arabia, on the ground that special US-Saudi Arabian relationships (based on mutual economic and strategic interests) should exclude his country from the US embargo on arms shipments to the Near East. The King states emphatically that the arms were requested only to protect oil installations and pipelines and would never be used in Palestine. The King adds that the establishment of the modern defense force he contemplates cannot take place immediately, and he suggests that a program of military assistance to his country be handled by a US military training mission.
December 22, 1947
Arab volunteers enter Palestine – US Charge Memminger reports from Damascus that a sizeable band of Arab volunteers has entered Palestine from Syria. Memminger predicts that “Serious hostilities will occur before 24 December.”
December 24, 1947
Arabs buying arms for possible fighting in Palestine – US Charge Memminger in Damascus reports that Syria has made arrangements with Czechoslovakia to buy arms and ammunition to the value of $2,085,00. US Military Attache Baghdad reports that Iraq has concluded an agreement with the UK for the purchase of arms and equipment to be delivered by 30 April 1948. The MA adds that the new equipment (already arriving) is designed to strengthen Iraqi units for possible fighting in Palestine.
EGYPT: Tuck suggests US take steps to regain prestige – US Ambassador Tuck reports that US prestige in Egypt is at an all-time low. Tuck states that Egyptian feeling will continue to be governed by the US attitude, official and otherwise, toward the implementation of the partition of Palestine. He considers that Egyptian resentment may develop into an attitude of active hostility toward the US. Tuck expresses the opinion that the US should carefully consider every possible step which could restore its lost prestige. He suggests that some concrete gesture should be made, such as an offer of direct assistance in Egypt’s present financial and economic difficulties.
[Ed: As in the case with the Saudis, the State Department believed its influence in Egypt would be jeopardized by support for partition. Unlike the Saudis, however, the U.S. did not see Egypt as vital to its interest – it had no oil – and the Egyptians did not feel a need to be allied with the United States. Successive administrations would try to build ties to Egypt but were not successful until after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.]
December 31, 1947
Arabs turn to UK at expense of US – US Charge Dorsz reports from Baghdad that, in view of US and Soviet support for the partition of Palestine, the Arabs feel that the UK is the only big power to whom they can turn for assistance. He adds that the USSR has never inspired friendship and that the US now “has let the Arab world down” to such an extent that the Iraqis consider the US unfriendly.
PALESTINE: British to intercept PAN YORK and PAN CRESCENT – US Consul Macy reports from Istanbul that the British have stationed a frigate and two destroyers at the exit of the Dardanelles (with a cruiser available for boarding operations) to intercept the Zionist immigrant ships PAN YORK and PAN CRESCENT. (According to a CIA source, the two ships are due off the Palestine coast on 1 or 2 January.)
January 2, 1947
PALESTINE: Reasons for Sneh’s resignation from JA·executive – According to US Consul General Macatee in Jerusalem, Jewish sources agree that the resignation of Moshe Sneh from the Jewish Agency executive resulted principally from dissatisfaction among conservative elements of the executive with Sneh’s extremism (see Weekly Summary of 30 December, page iii). Conservative leaders objected particularly: (a) to Sneh’s close connections with various Communist groups in Eastern Europe and his demands for immediate large-scale immigration from Rumanian and Bulgarian seaports; (b) to Sneh’s reported plan for merging Irgun Zvai Leumi (Jewish terrorist organization) with Hagana (military arm of the J.A), while permitting Irgun cells to continue intact within Hagana; and (c) to Sneh’s objection to the JA’s policy of imposing restraint on Hagana.
Macatee adds that, according to an unconfirmed report, Sneh ordered the PAN CRESCENT and PAN YORK to sail for Palestine, and then resigned. Meanwhile, a high official of the Palestinian Government has informed Macatee that Arab anger over the inclusion of several thousand Communists among the immigrants headed for Palestine has overshadowed the issue of illegal immigration.
January 3, 1948
PALESTINE: Arabs claim control of situation – US Consul General Macatee in Jerusalem has been informed by Emile Ghoury, member of the Arab Higher Executive and close friend of the Mufti, that: (a) the Arab Higher Executive now has complete control of all Arab bands operating throughout Palestine; (b) Palestine is now organized into three Arab military zones with a commander for each zone, and the present plan is to arm and supply Arabs in those areas intended for inclusion in the proposed Jewish state before organizing the predominantly Arab areas; (c) incidents are expected to grow in intensity but no major action is proposed until after departure of the British; (d) the Arabs now believe Hagana a “myth” and no longer fear its power; and (e) the Arab Legion may occupy all of Palestine. In conclusion, Ghoury emphasized the determination of Palestine Arabs and the Arab world to “fight to a finish the creation of a Jewish state and UN control.”
(CIA Comment: While Ghoury is obviously underestimating the strength of Hagana for propaganda purposes, CIA believes his other statements to be substantially correct.)
January 5, 1948
SYRIA: USSR asserts it is “really” pro-Arab – According to US Legation Damascus, a Soviet Legation officer has informed a Syrian Foreign Ministry official that the USSR “really would help” the Arabs and that the Soviet pro-partition vote in the UN was merely an “anti-imperialist” measure. The Syrian official does not believe the statements of the Soviet representative.
SAUDI ARABIA: British worried about oil fields for the present - US Embassy London reports the opinion of Foreign office and oil company officials in London that the Dhahran-Bahrain oil field area will probably remain relatively quiet unless the US takes a stronger position in Palestine by supplying the Zionists with arms or by landing US forces.
January 6, 1948
IRAQ: Military preparations for Palestine operations – An Iraqi official assigned to Iraq’s Palestine defense organization has informed US Charge Dorsz in Baghdad that: (a) Iraq has sent 290 “commandos” to Syria as a training cadre for non-Iraqi Arab volunteers and has 2,500 more trained men and 80 trucks ready for departure; (b) Iraqi applications for Palestine service total more than 27,000; (c) the fundraising campaign has received strong private support and substantial assistance from the Government; and (d) all volunteers are being paid.
January 7, 1948
PALESTINE: Arabs plan political administration for country – US Ambassador Tuck reports from Cairo that the Arab Higher Committee for Palestine stated in a communique following a recent meeting that the Committee has approved a detailed political system for all of Palestine “aimed at satisfying the public wish for real representation.”
January 8, 1948
PALESTINE-Jewish economy severely disrupted by Arab activities – US Consul General Macatee reports from Jerusalem that the Jewish economy has been severely disrupted by the disorders in Palestine. Macatee indicates that: (a) Jewish transport is handicapped to such an extent that settlements in the Negeb are practically isolated and important Jerusalem roads leading to Jewish suburbs are closed to Jewish traffic; (b) night fighting with automatic weapons and mortars is now common; (c) Arab raids on trains continue, with food and mail stolen; (d) the Jerusalem post office is inoperative because of fear among Jewish employees; and (e) Arab police have continued to abscond with arms despite preventive efforts by the British. Macatee adds that, according to the British, the oil supply in Palestine is sufficient for only ten days.
[Ed: Already in January the Jews are under attack with serious consequences for the economy.]
January 10, 1948
PALESTINE: Jewish emigrants reportedly Communist terrorists – US Military Attache Ankara transmits a report that 80% of the Jewish emigrants currently being shipped to Palestine from Soviet-controlled Black Sea Ports are Communist Jews trained as terrorists and guerrillas.
Jerusalem Arabs fear initial defeats – US Consul General Macatee in Jerusalem reports that Arabs in the Jerusalem area are greatly worried by Jewish seizure of the offensive. Macatee indicates that although they are optimistic over final victory, the Arabs believe that present lack of organization will result in their suffering heavy casualties before a successful counterattack can be made.
January 12, 1948
PALESTINE: Arab states seen as fearing foreign domination – US Ambassador Wilson reports the conclusion of former Premier Rauf Orbay (Turkey’s leading elder statesman and a close friend of Arab state leaders) that the Arabs will never accept the partition of Palestine because they believe that a Zionist state, unable to survive without outside support, would ultimately involve the destruction of Arab independence through foreign domination. According to Orbay, the Arabs do not consider current US support for Zionism imperialistic, but they fear that the Zionists may eventually turn to “some other major power,” which would exploit the situation against the Arabs. Orbay added his personal belief that the only peaceful solution is for the UN to declare partition unworkable and to create a single federated state; he believes that the Arabs would accept numerical parity with the Jews in such a state, provided Jewish acquisition of land was restricted.
January 13, 1948
SAUDIA ARABIA: ARAMCO official discouraged about pipeline – US Minister Childs transmits the opinion of Vice President Duce of the Arabian-American Oil Company that, so long as the Palestine situation remains unstabilized, it is doubtful whether the Arab governments would be able to protect the proposed Saudi Arabian-Lebanon pipeline, even if Syria finally authorized the passage of the line through its territory. As a solution to the Palestine situation Duce proposes that the US urge the Zionists to come to terms with the Arabs on the grounds that the alternative would be armed intervention and the US has no intention of so intervening.
January 14, 1948
UK considered to be capitalizing on Palestine stand – US Minister Childs in Jidda considers it very evident that the UK is improving its position with the Arab states by taking advantage of (a) the favorable atmosphere created in the Arab world by the refusal of the UK to become involved in the imposed partition of Palestine; and (b) the “extremely unfavorable position” in which all-out support of partition has placed the US.
January 15, 1948
SAUDI ARABIA: Critical stage of relations with US– US Minister Childs transmits from Jidda his opinion that the US is approaching, if it has not already passed, a decisive stage in its relations with Saudi Arabia. Childs believes that King Ibn Saud may abandon hopes of maintaining close political relations with the US and may return to his previous policy of relying more upon his political relations with the UK.
January 20, 1948
UN Commission to charge UK with failure to cooperate – The secretary of the UN Palestine Commission has informed the US delegation that the Commission’s 1 February report to the SC will probably charge the UK with failure to observe the provisions of the GA resolution for progressive withdrawal from Palestine. According to the Secretary, the UK delegate recently informed the Commission that it could not arrive in Palestine until two weeks prior to the British departure with all civil service personnel and that the UK would consider the employment of British nationals by the new Palestinian states to be a violation of neutrality. The Secretary considers that, under these conditions, the Commission cannot go to Palestine.
(CIA Comment: The UK will undoubtedly continue to maintain the position it took repeatedly during the last GA session: that the UK will not assist in the implementation of any plan not acceptable both to Arabs and Jews, and that it will insist on the exercise of undivided control until the termination of its mandate.)
January 21, 1948
British plans for Saudi Arabian defense treaty – The UK Foreign Office has informed US Embassy London of. the general terms of a proposed Saudi Arabian treaty which would provide Saudi Arabia with British assistance in case of attack. The Foreign Office told the Embassy that the UK hopes to obtain rights to the use of Saudi Arabian facilities in time of war or threat of war, and the use of communications and other facilities in peacetime.
The British Ambassador in Jidda has informed US Minister Childs that King Ibn Saud has favorably received proposals for a UK-Saudi Arabian treaty. Childs comments that the British Government “has virtually overnight replaced the US in the confidence of the King” and adds that “US stock has never been lower with the Saudi Arabian Government than it is today.”
January 27, 1948
US urges UK to suspend arms shipments to Arab states – Under Secretary Lovett has informed the British Ambassador in the most urgent terms that continued British arms shipments to the Arab states will make it almost impossible to withstand organized US public pressure for lifting of the US embargo on shipment of arms to Palestine. Lovett asked the Ambassador to suggest to his Government that the UK: (a) make a flat statement that it will continue its embargo on shipment of arms to Palestine except for maintenance of internal security; and (b) suspend all shipment of arms to Arab states pending a clarification in the UN of the “present confused situation.”
January 28, 1948
Palestine report to omit criticism of British – The US delegation to the UN has learned that the 1 February report of the UN Palestine Commission will not be severely critical of the UK but will point out that the British stipulations concerning the arrival of the Commission in Palestine will make it impossible to establish provisional governments by l April (see Daily Summary of 20 January, item l). The Commission feels that the British should have a chance to answer certain questions, following which the Commission will make a special report on the Palestine security problem.
January 31, 1948
TRANSJORDAN: UK to continue Arab Legion subsidy – US Embassy London has learned that the UK Foreign Office has recommended the continued subsidy of the Transjordan Arab Legion because the UK “cannot afford to see any stabilizing force in the Middle East disintegrate at this time.”
February 5, 1948
SAUDI ARABIA: US policy on Palestine explained – US Legation Jidda has been instructed to explain US policy regarding Palestine to the Saudi Arabian Government along the following lines: (a) US support of the partition of Palestine was motivated by US public opinion, the majority report of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine; and the urgency of the problem; (b) no US officials responsible to the Executive Branch exerted any pressure on other countries for partition; and (c) the US is prepared to firmly oppose any expansionist designs by the Jewish state in Palestine. The Legation is to express the hope that Saudi Arabia will use its influence to dissuade the other Arab states from resorting to armed opposition to the UN decision or to actions which “May undermine the present order of the whole Middle East.”
Renews plea for US military assistance – US Minister Childs in Jidda has transmitted two memoranda from King Ibn Saud asking for prompt consideration of Saudi Arabia’s request for military supplies and equipment and for a military training mission from the US (see Daily Summary of 19 December 1947, item 1). Prince Feisal, who delivered the memoranda, told Childs that recent developments made it imperative that Saudi Arabia strengthen itself against possible aggressors. Prince Feisal declared that further treaty negotiations with the British would be delayed until the US position had been made clear.
[Ed. Fear of its neighbors and the desire to obtain weapons was the King’s primary concern and he was willing to play the U.S. and British off against each other]
February 6, 1948
Palestine Commission members consider revising partition – The US delegation at the UN has learned that two members of the UN Commission on Palestine (Chairman Lisicky of Czechoslovakia and Federspiel of Denmark) are presently considering the possible revision of the partition recommendations. Federspiel reportedly favors the calling of a special session of the General Assembly in order to decide whether to create a Palestinian federal state with considerable local autonomy for the Jews or to place all Palestine under international jurisdiction until some new solution can be found. Lisicky reportedly considers it may be advisable to send to Palestine a force of French troops, supplemented by troops of “certain middle powers,” to maintain the international status of Jerusalem. He also is considering the possibility of a US-UK arrangement with King Abdullah for sending troops to Palestine, and for agreeing to the establishment of a Jewish state with modified frontiers, in return for a plebiscite to determine the possible annexation of an Arab Palestine by Transjordan.
[Ed: Even after partition was adopted, there were efforts to subvert the decision and eliminate the Jewish state. The French, who had little influence on the Palestine issue were looking to insert themselves. Note also the idea that Transjordan would be the Arab state.]
February 11, 1948
SAUDI ARABIA: Agreement to partition thought impossible – After presenting the recapitulation of US Palestine policy (see Daily Summary of 5 February, item 4) to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister, US Minister Childs in Jidda reports his own conviction that no assurances by the US can alter King Ibn Saud’s implacable opposition to the partition of Palestine. Childs believes that even if the King were convinced that acceptance of the UN partition decision was statesmanlike, he would be restrained by the internal and external repercussions which would follow any attempt on his part to modify the Arab attitude. Childs comments that the King’s refusal to take steps against US economic interests has already brought him under attack in the Arab League.
[Ed: One of America’s main concerns was ensuring access to Saudi oil and, hence, the focus on the King’s attitude toward partition and fear that U.S.-Saudi relations would be harmed by U.S. support.]
February 12, 1948
SAUDI ARABIA: King comments on US policy – US Minister Childs transmits an aide memoire from King Ibn Saud in reply to the recent note from the Department of State explaining US policy regarding Palestine. Ibn Saud reiterates his implacable opposition to partition. He appreciates that US support of partition was motivated by US public opinion and emphasizes that Arab leaders also must follow a policy which coincides with the prevailing public opinion in their countries. He adds that friendship links his country with the US in the economic field and in “the mutual firm stand against the mutual threat” and expresses the hope that the US will find a way out of the “critical and dangerous” position in which it has been placed through its support of the Zionists. The King reiterates that he cannot accept the “aggressive decision of the UN” and censures the US for suggesting that he use his influence with the Arab states in persuading them to accept partition.
February 13, 1948
PALESTINE: Full-scale Arab effort reported for end of March – The Counselor of the Lebanese Legation has conveyed to US Embassy London his belief that full-scale Arab operations in Palestine will start at the end of March instead of early in May as previously planned.
(CIA Comment: CIA believes that Arab military activities will increase in intensity in the near future but that “full-scale” operations are not likely to get under way until the UK relinquishes the mandate on 15 May – and even then only in those areas which UK troops have already evacuated; see Weekly Summary of 13 February, page 1.)
[Ed: The CIA had clear warning of impending Arab invasion and was correct about the timing as the operations began on May 14 after the British withdrawal.]
February 17, 1948
Canadian attitude on policing of Palestine – The US Military Attaché in Ottawa has been “reliably” informed that Prime Minister Mackenzie King has declared that “Canada will not send Canadian troops to Palestine.” The MA also reports that the Canadian Chief of Staff has ridiculed the effectiveness of a joint force composed of troops from Canada, Brazil, and similar states.
(CIA Comment: Canadian refusal to endorse the partition of Palestine by force might become a determining factor in the Security Council’s position regarding such enforcement. Five other members of the Security Council – Argentina, China, Colombia, Syria, and the UK – have already indicated their reluctance to endorse the partition plan.)
[Ed: The partition plan had little chance of success given Arab hostility unless the UN could mobilize a force to enforce it, which engendered opposition from countries expected to participate. No force was ever organized leaving the Arabs and Jews to fight to determine the fate of partition.]
February 19, 1948
SAUDI ARABIA: Announcement of President’s request protested – US Minister Childs reports that the Saudi Arabian Government has reacted very unfavorably to the public announcement of the fact that President Truman had requested several Arab states to exercise restraint on the Palestine issue. Childs adds that for this reason he does not consider the moment opportune to request an extension of US rights to the Dhahran air base.
[Ed: One of the reasons the U.S. was so concerned with the Saudi position was the desire to maintain rights to the air base].
February 20, 1948
PALESTINE: Arabs to send troops if UN forces used – US Embassy Cairo has been informed by Secretary General Azzam Pasha of the Arab League that the Arab states will not send regular troops to Palestine unless other countries or the UN sends military forces. Azzam said that in such an event the Arab states would be obliged to send in armies in full force. Azzam Pasha added that the Arab League regards the Palestine situation as a civil war involving a minority attempt to set up a separate state.
[Ed: The Arab League was trying to prevent any international effort to implement partition. They did this and still went ahead with an invasion by their regular forces.]
Reported Arab chain of command and D-Day plan – British Middle East Land Forces have informed the US Military Attaché in Cairo that Arab leaders have agreed upon an Arab League military command for Palestine. and a specific D-Day plan of attack, including the destruction of the Reutenberg hydroelectric plant and the Jerusalem water reservoir and pumping stations.
(CIA Comment: Although the strong Arab desire for a victory may lead to the specific destructive acts of the D-Day plan at almost any time, the commitment of full Arab strength is unlikely before British withdrawal is well-advanced unless an international force is sent to Palestine.)
February 24, 1948
Estimated Soviet course of action in Near East – US Ambassador Smith in Moscow transmits his opinion that the Soviet course of action vis-a-vis the Near East will probably include: (a) strong support of the recommendation of the UN Special Committee on Palestine for an international force for Palestine; (b) insistence on the inclusion of a Soviet contingent in such a force; and (c) general acceleration of Soviet propaganda and subversive activities throughout the Near East. Smith believes that in formulating its policy the Kremlin has been greatly encouraged by the current chaos in Palestine and by Iraq’s rejection of the UK treaty.
[Ed: A major concern of the United States was that the Soviets would use participation in an international force to gain a foothold in the region. Fear of that possibility contributed to the failure to mobilize a force to implement partition.]
March 5, 1948
PALESTINE: Arab suggestions for obtaining peace – US Minister Childs in Jidda reports a recent conversation with Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, on possible steps to insure peace in Palestine pending a settlement of the issue. Azzam Pasha declared that: (a) if the Jews would also agree, the Arabs would submit to total disarmament, including the elimination of both Arab and Jewish terrorists; and (b) Jewish immigration, in his opinion, should be suspended for at least one year until the situation in Palestine has eased.
(CIA Comment: While Azzam Pasha’s statements reflect the moderate attitude of responsible Arab leaders, it is doubtful whether all the Arabs in Palestine could be effectively disarmed.)
March 23, 1948
Preliminary Arab reaction to US stand on Palestine favorable – Arab satisfaction with the new US proposals regarding UN trusteeship for Palestine has been expressed to US representatives by King Ibn Saud, the President of Syria, the Iraq Government, and a member of the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee. A Saudi Arabian Foreign Office spokesman has assured US Minister Childs in Jidda that Saudi Arabia is prepared to use its influence to end violence in Palestine; Musa Al Alami of the Arab Higher Committee has indicated to US Embassy Baghdad that Arab moderates favor immediate discussions with the Jews regarding a Palestine settlement. An official of the British Foreign Office has expressed to US Embassy London his belief that the idea of a truce in Palestine and the possibility of reassembling the UN General Assembly have great merit and will “‘broaden the field. of maneuver.” However, the official considers it likely that the Palestine Jews will attempt to set up a Jewish state in the near future.
[Ed: The State Department pressed the idea of a trusteeship for Palestine to scuttle partition. The Arab states did not support the idea when it was raised at the UN. President Truman said he did not support trusteeship and remained committed to partition. The issue became moot when Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, and Truman recognized the new Jewish state.]
March 24, 1948
UK plans to remain neutral on Palestine problem – According to US Embassy London, the British Foreign Office has instructed Sir Alexander Cadogan to inform the US delegation to the UN that while the UK sympathizes with the motives of the US in attempting to avert civil war in Palestine, the UK cannot depart from its present neutral attitude in the Security Council. The Embassy believes that: (a) British officials dealing with the Palestine problem personally approve of the new US attitude; but (b) the British Cabinet and politicians are afraid that the British public would react strongly if an attempt were made to keep UK troops in Palestine, even for a short while beyond the announced period.
Arabs may set up a provisional Palestine government at once – Secretary-General Azzam Pasha of the Arab League informed US Charge Memminger in Damascus that the Arabs are “seriously considering” immediate establishment of a provisional government for Palestine, in order to offset the projected establishment of a Zionist state as announced by the Jewish Agency.
(CIA Comment: An Arab provisional government if established, would undoubtedly contemplate a unitary state embracing all of Palestine.)
Arab Higher Committee believed willing to accept truce – A high official of the (British) Palestine government has expressed to US Consul Macatee in Jerusalem his belief that although the Arab Higher Committee for Palestine would probably express public opposition to a truce with the Jews, it would privately be “open to reason.” The UK official thus believes that the Arabs may be persuaded to accept a truce. The official added that the UN must immediately send representatives to arrange a truce if bloodshed is not to continue on a greater scale.
[Ed: As Arab officials had warned, violence broke out immediately after the partition decision and was escalating. A truce was unlikely given the Arab determination to prevent the implementation of partition.]
March 29, 1948
UK official believes Arabs may distrust trusteeship proposal – An official of the British Foreign Office has informed US Embassy London that he fears those Arabs “who have shown themselves in principle ready to talk trusteeship” will interpret the expression of President Truman’s personal faith in the partition of Palestine as an indication that the US is maneuvering via trusteeship to obtain partition as a settlement of the Palestine issue.
March 30, 1948
UN members skeptical of trusteeship without US enforcement – An Italian observer at the UN has informed the US delegation to the UN that delegations of the middle and smaller powers have unanimously expressed to him their skepticism about the advisability of going along with the new US position on Palestine without previous assurance of US willingness to participate in enforcing a trusteeship.
March 31, 1948
PALESTINE: Communications breakdown reported serious – US Consul Lippencott in Haifa reports that the deterioration of transportation and communications has cut the Consulate off from immediate contact with Jerusalem or the outside. Lippencott says that: (a) telecommunications throughout Palestine have been seriously interrupted; (b) road travel is almost impossible and convoys are subject to frequent attack; (c) the police and the army admit their inability to deal with the situation and are concerned only with their own problems; and (d) it may soon become impossible to obtain food.
April 8, 1948
Czechoslovakia may replace Palestine commission chairman – The US delegation at the UN has learned that Chairman Lisicky (Czechoslovakia) of the five-nation Palestine Commission is under increasing pressure from the Czechoslovak Government to support Bolivia, Panama, and the Philippines in their desire to go ahead with the implementation of partition. The delegation indicates that Lisicky is resisting pressure and therefore will probably be promptly replaced by the Czechoslovak Government, thus increasing the number of votes favoring the establishment of a Jewish Provisional Council of Government.
(CIA Comment: Lisicky and Federspiel (Denmark) have so far successfully blocked further action by the Palestine Commission to carry out the political recommendations of the General Assembly (GA), pending new GA instruction. If the supporters of partition are successful in obtaining the Commission’s authorization of a provisional government in Palestine, the Jewish Agency would be bolstered in its contention that such a government had been legally established.)
[Ed: Even after the partition vote, opponents were doing everything possible to block its implementation.]
April 16, 1948
British and French views on Palestinian trusteeship – US Ambassador Caffery in Paris has learned that UK Foreign Minister Bevin has informed the French that the UK will neither follow the US on its 15 point proposal for a Palestinian trusteeship nor support the US suggestion that the US, the UK, and France jointly sponsor trusteeship and guarantee Palestinian security. The French, however, will support the US in any proposals in the UN General Assembly but will take no initiative in the matter.
[Ed: One way the U.S. State Department sought to scuttle partition was to propose a trusteeship rather than implementing the UN resolution.]
Reported Soviet position on Palestine – The US delegation to the UN has learned that Soviet Delegate Gromyko informally told a US newspaper correspondent that: (a) the USSR will offer no proposals at the special General Assembly session; (b) if any security force in which the US and UK are·to participate is established, the USSR will insist on inclusion; and (c) if the security force does not include US-UK forces, the Soviet Union will not seek participation.
[Ed: An international force was considered to enforce partition; however, the U.S. was opposed to creating one that would include the Soviets and give them a foothold in the region.]
April 19, 1948
UK may be more cooperative on Palestine – In a recent discussion with the US delegation to the UN, UK representative Creech-Jones, while stressing overwhelming British public opinion against further UK participation in Palestinian affairs, indicated that the UK Government does not want to continue indefinitely in a negative position on Palestine but wants to follow a positive and constructive policy. Creech-Jones expressed a desire to cooperate with the US in working out terms of a possible trusteeship agreement.
April 22, 1948
Soviet troops alleged to be fighting in Palestine – According to Soviet US Charge Memminger in Damascus, the Syrian Government has received military reports from Palestine to the effect that “Russian troops, not Jews” were advancing against Arab forces in Palestine. The “Russian troops” were reportedly supported by ten 2-engine US-type bombers.
(CIA Comment: Although CIA does not believe that actual Soviet military units are engaged in Palestine, many Russian-speaking Communists have infiltrated the Jewish forces. It is very likely that Arab military leaders are exploiting the rumored presence of Soviet troops in order to excuse the recent poor showing of the Arab forces and to alienate US opinion from the Zionist cause.)
[Ed: Soviet troops did not participate in any aspect of the conflict in Palestine. The rumor did, as the CIA commented, give Arab leaders an excuse for their failures. The CIA and State Department were, however, concerned about the influence of the Soviet Union on the Zionists and repeatedly intimated that many of them were Communists. They, like the Arabs, hoped to alienate U.S. opinion.]
Bevin opposes forcible imposition of Palestine trusteeship – US Ambassador Douglas in London reports that Foreign Minister Bevin, after discussing the US Palestine proposals with Prime Minister Attlee and his colleagues, expressed the following views: (a) an agreed Arab-Jewish truce is most unlikely; (b) trusteeship will call for substantial force; (c) the UK will not participate in the use of force to impose any regime unacceptable to the Jews and the Arabs. Douglas comments that Bevin is deeply concerned with the dangerous possibilities of the situation for both the UK and the US, and that Bevin’s present attitude is not inspired by an unwillingness to cooperate.
PALESTINE: Increasing Arab pressure for intervention – US Charge Memminger in Damascus reports that pressure from the Arab press and public for the active intervention of the Arab state armies in the Palestine is growing stronger daily.
(CIA Comment: Jewish military success, particularly the recent victory at Haifa, will hasten the direct intervention in Palestine of the Arab states. Without active aid from outside, the Jewish forces will be unable to defend themselves indefinitely against the Arab armies.)
[Ed: The CIA consistently underestimated the Jewish forces, but it was not unreasonable to make this forecast given the potential number of Arab troops and their access to weapons.]
April 24, 1948
Iraq and Transjordan troops reportedly will be sent to Palestine – [redacted] it was decided that Iraq would despatch regular troops, artillery, and planes to assist the Arabs in Palestine. [redacted] similar action would be taken by Transjordan.
(ClA Comment: The Arab debacle at Haifa increases the probability that the Arab governments will be forced by public pressure to commit their regular armies in Palestine. Although organizational, transport, and supply problems would probably prevent the arrival of Iraqi forces in effective numbers for several weeks, Transjordan and Syrian troops are available immediately.)
April 26, 1948
IRAQ: Report of troop movements to Palestine denied – The US military Attaché in Baghdad has been informed by the Director of Operations of the Iraqi General Staff that there is no intention “at present” of sending Iraqi troops to Palestine.
(CIA Comment: Despite such official dentals, CIA considers it distinctly possible that troops of the Arab national armies will enter Palestine not later than 15 May. Such troops, however, are more likely to come initially from Transjordan and Syria than from Iraq.)
[Ed: The CIA forecast of the Arab invasion by May 15 was correct. It began on May 14.]
April 27, 1948
PALESTINE: Arab plans for intervention developing slowly – Reports from US and UK diplomatic representatives in Arab capitals indicate that despite tremendous public pressure for intervention, responsible Arab leaders are apprehensive of committing their regular armies in Palestine. The King of Transjordan and the Regent of Iraq are said to have insisted that before they move their troops assurances must be given by all Arab states of full support with men, money, and materials. The Egyptian Government is reluctant to participate in such a campaign because of probable international repercussions and the need of retaining all its forces in Egypt for reasons of internal security.
(CIA Comment: Arab leaders, distrustful of one another’s motives, are reluctant to commit their armies to an all-out effort in Palestine. It is increasingly probable, however, that they will be forced into direct military intervention by public opinion, which has been further aroused by the arrival of Arab refugees from Palestine. Except for the Transjordan Arab Legion and some Syrian units, no effective forces are immediately available for such an operation.)
[Ed: The CIA overemphasized the influence of Arab public opinion and underestimated the desire of Arab leaders to carve up Palestine for themselves. Egypt was a full participant in the war, which ended with it occupying the Gaza Strip. The CIA also estimated the Jewish and Arab armies would be roughly the same size.]
April 28, 1948
UK informed of US concern over possible Arab invasion – The Department of State has instructed US Ambassador Douglas in London to inform Bevin and Attlee of the concern of the US over reports that King Abdullah of Transjordan is planning to invade Palestine in the near future. The Department states that if the armed forces of any Arab country should invade Palestine, the US would be forced to: (a) take a strong position in the UN; (b) point out that such invasion was in violation of the UN Charter; and (c) insist that appropriate steps be taken to eject the invaders, including if necessary the despatch of forces under UN auspices. The Department adds that if Abdullah invades Palestine, it would be difficult to dispel the impression, not only in the US but throughout the world, of British complicity in the matter in view of the close military and economic relations between the UK and Transjordan.
[Ed: The UK ultimately was complicit in turning over some of its facilities in Palestine to the Arabs and arming the Transjordian Legion which was led by a British officer.]
SAUDI ARABIA: King repeats request for US military aid – US Minister Childs reports that King Ibn Saud has earnestly reiterated his request for US military assistance. Ibn Saud said that, in return for this aid, he would grant the US any Saudi Arabian facilities it desired to defend US strategic interests against the USSR. The King further requested that the US either make him a specific offer of assistance or inform him now that it will not provide the aid he desires.
[Ed: The king was much more concerned with his personal security than the Palestinian issue and hoped to exploit U.S. concern with Soviets to extract aid. This would be a Saudi ploy throughout the Cold War.]
April 29, 1948
Arab plans for invasion of Palestine – US Ambassador Tuck in Cairo believes, on the basis of information from the Secretary General of the Arab League and other informed sources, that the Arab states will probably not implement a reported “overall agreement” regarding the dispatch of their armies to Palestine until: (a) the detailed plan of action has been approved by Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Lebanon; (b) a further effort has been made by the Arab volunteers in Palestine, who are to be supplied with all arms available; and (c) essential steps have been taken to mobilize the official Arab armies and coordinate their efforts. Tuck adds that Transjordan, Iraq, and Syria are expected to provide the major forces, and Lebanon the minor units. Tuck believes that the initial contribution from Egypt will consist principally of funds. Meanwhile, the British commander in Palestine has expressed to US Consul General Wasson in Jerusalem the belief that King Abdullah of Transjordan will not send any troops to Palestine before 15 May.
(CIA Comment: Unless further full-scale Jewish attacks develop in the near future, it appears unlikely that the Arab armies will invade Palestine in force before British withdrawal, scheduled for 15 May.)
April 30, 1948
Developments in Palestine situation – Foreign Secretary Bevin has assured US Ambassador Douglas in London that the UK is using “‘all influence possible” to deter King Abdullah of Transjordan from invading Palestine. The UK has also sent messages to Syria, Egypt, and Iraq urging that no aggressive acts be undertaken. Douglas says that the replies of the Arab governments indicate that if the Jewish forces desist from provocative attacks and aggressive action against Arab areas in Palestine, the Arab states will not engage in offensive military operations. Several of the governments point out, however, that because the Jews are on the offensive everywhere, it will be difficult for the Arab forces to refrain from engaging in “retaliatory action.”
[Ed: The Arabs had begun fighting almost immediately after partition and the Arab states had said they would invade before any Jewish offensive.]
Douglas also transmits the estimate of the British High Commissioner in Palestine that the Jewish Agency is fearful lest the US should attempt to impose trusteeship and therefore believes the Agency’s only course is to establish a Jewish state and launch an all-out offensive against the Arabs, thereby demonstrating Jewish military strength. Douglas says that the UK delegation at the UN believes that the prospects of a truce in Palestine are generally negligible. US Ambassador Wadsworth in Baghdad reports that “elements of the Iraqi Army” have left for Transjordan. [redacted] the force is composed of approximately 1500 men and contains armored cars and light field artillery. (The US Military Attaché in Baghdad had previously reported that two mixed brigades – of which this this apparently one – were available for immediate employment.)
Wadsworth also expresses the fear ·that “fanaticism is in the saddle” throughout the Arab world and that Arab leaders who are personally open to persuasion must conform to the “surging popular demand for direct military action or be forced out of office.
May 1, 1948
PALESTINE: Arab states D-Day reported to be 5 May – According to US Ambassador Wadsworth in Baghdad, the Transjordan Minister to Iraq has informed his Lebanese colleague that, under an agreement reached at Amman (Transjordan), 5 May has been set as the date for Arab invasion of Palestine.
(CIA Comment: invasion of Palestine by the Arab states in the near future appears to be virtually assured. This report is one of several indications that the Arab governments, under pressure of aroused public opinion, may be acting precipitantly [sic], disregarding the fact that they would avoid clashes with the UK forces by waiting until 15 May.)
May 3, 1948
Arab invasion of Palestine unlikely before 15 May – US Ambassador Wadsworth in Baghdad has been informed by the Transjordan Minister to Iraq that at the recent conference at Amman, 5 May was not set as D-day for the Arab invasion of Palestine. (This statement corrects information previously reported in Daily Summary of 1 May, item 6.) According to the Transjordan Minister, it was agreed at Amman that: (a) the Transjordan Arab Legion would not invade Palestine “in force” until after 15 May; and (b) other Arab states would maintain contingents along the frontiers but would not invade Palestine unless the Arab Legion failed or unless “there should be intervention by a foreign power.”
(CIA Comment: CIA believes, on the basis of the latest reports from US and British representatives in the Arab capitals, that no Arab army will invade Palestine in force before 15 May.)
May 4, 1948
US urges British to extend Palestine mandate 10 days – The Department of State has informed US Ambassador Douglas in London that the US delegation to the UN will propose the following plan for Palestine: (a) unconditional cessation of hostilities for 10 days begriming 5 May; (b) recess of the General Assembly for a 10-day period; (c) immediate air movement to Jerusalem of a commission (composed of representatives of the Arab Higher Committee and the Arab states; the Jewish Agency; and the US, France, and Belgium) to negotiate a truce; and (d) extension of the British mandate for 10 days beyond 15 May. Douglas is instructed to request of Bevin that the British agree to extend the mandate, in order to permit the General Assembly to recommend some “more enduring, even though temporary, form of government for Palestine.
PALESTINE: Hagana offensive after May 15 predicted – US Consul General Wasson m Jerusalem reports that Hagana operations will probably remain “defensively offensive” until 15 May, after which Hagana will launch an all-out offensive to secure the frontiers of the new Jewish state and to improve the Jewish lines of communications. Wasson adds that Arab resistance so far has been ineffective and transmits the opinion of the British commander in Palestine that the Jews will be able “to sweep all before them” unless regular Arab armies intervene.
May 5, 1948
Possible extension UK mandate in Palestine – The US delegation to the UN has learned from UK representative Beeley that the UK Foreign Office views unfavorably US proposal for a ten-day extension of the Palestine mandate. Beeley indicated that, aside from the difficulties in amending existing legislation and dealing with British public opinion, the UK contends that: (a) only the 15 May deadline has brought the parties to the “point of considering a truce”; and (b) an extension of the mandate might be misinterpreted in the light of recent British troop reinforcements in Palestine. According to Beeley the Foreign Office believes that the Jews are now more intransigent on the subject of a possible truce than the Arabs and there is greater need for pressure on the Jews.
US Ambassador Douglas in London interprets Foreign Minister Bevin’s 4 May statement to the House of Commons as indicative of the UK Government’s unwillingness to consider a short term continuation of its responsibilities in Palestine provided that: (a) the UN General Assembly approves the US proposal; (b) an unconditional cease-fire is effected; and (c) a truce is accepted. Douglas is convinced that the UK will not assume a position which would involve the continuation of undivided responsibility.
PALESTINE: Difficulties faced by Arabs and Jews – US Consul General Wasson in Jerusalem transmits the opinion of General McMillan (the British commander in Palestine) that the Palestinian Arab forces “are in bad. shape and need a breathing space.” McMillan believes that the Arabs would accept a truce if they are “handled firmly” and given terms for acceptance without an opportunity for endless discussions. McMillan considers it “not unlikely” that Transjordan troops will move into the Arab areas of Palestine after the mandate ends but believes that King Abdullah will avoid risking his army in battle with the Jews.
[Ed: This assessment was wrong and odd. The king had been threatening war and Transjordan did send troops to fight. Since the Legion’s commander was British, it is strange that the British commander would not think it would engage in the battle, especially since it was by far the best organized Arab army. In addition, the British knew the king had designs on Palestine as part of his Greater Syria scheme.]
The British Colonial Office has informed US Embassy London that, although the Jews have had successes in Palestine, the Jewish Agency is concerned over its limited supply of gasoline and the terrific economic burden which the fighting is imposing on the Jewish state. The Colonial Office also reports that the “Nazi-like controls” over all phases of Jewish life are causing resentment among the Jews.
[Ed: The British generally saw their occupation forces as behaving justly so it is shocking to hear the Colonial Office compare their behavior to the Nazis.]
May 6, 1948
Yugoslav ships reportedly alerted for movement to Palestine – The US Naval Attaché in Cairo has been informed by a reliable source that all Yugoslav merchant ships have been ordered to return to Yugoslav ports by 15 May, [unreadable] to transport personnel and material to Palestine. (The Yugoslav merchant marine is estimated to consist of 5 passenger ships of 5000 tons or more and 26 smaller ocean going vessels, mostly freighters.)
(CIA Comment: CIA has received no other information concerning plans for such a movement by Yugoslav or other Satellite ships.)
PALESTINE: Arab League views on truce possibilities – The Secretary General of the Arab League has informed US officials in Damascus and Cairo that the Arabs cannot accept any truce terms for Palestine which provide for continued Jewish immigration. The Secretary General indicated, however, that in practice the Arabs might tacitly agree to continuation of the present arrangement (under which 1,500 immigrants a month are permitted) provided that: (a) the immigrants represent a cross-section of displaced persons and not only fighting men; and (b) the US and the UK accept responsibility for supervising the immigration.
(CIA Comment: There is still such wide disagreement between Arabs and Jews on the major issue of immigration that the possibility of a truce appears remote.)
[Ed: Freedom of immigration was one of the principal demands of the Jews and the ability to control the flow was one reason for their demand for independence.]
May 7, 1948
USSR and Poland may recognize Jewish state – US Ambassador Douglas in London transmits the opinion of the British Foreign Office that the USSR and Poland “will lose no time” in recognizing the Jewish state (to be proclaimed in Palestine on 16 May ) and that Soviet and Polish consulates will be established in Tel Aviv shortly after 16 May.
(CIA Comment: Such recognition appears probable unless the General Assembly takes positive action before 16 May to abrogate its partition recommendation of 29 November 1941.)
[Ed: A reiteration of the oft-expressed fear of Soviet influence over the Jewish state and infiltration of the region. It may have been a motivating factor in President Truman’s decision to recognize Israel just 11 minutes after the declaration of independence and beating the Soviets to the punch.]
PALESTINE: Jewish US citizens reportedly forbidden to leave – [redacted] Jewish US citizens of military age living in Palestine are being prevented from leaving the country, on the ground that their first loyalty is to the Jewish state.
CIA Comment: [redacted] US citizens are known to have experienced great difficulties attempting to leave Palestine. Such difficulties, including the use of physical restraint, may be expected to increase.)
[Ed: According to historian Yoav Gelber, “This was independent and spontaneous act, probably by some underground thugs, in the framework of a campaign against “shirkers.”]
May 10, 1948
PALESTINE: Abdullah expected to occupy Arab sections – The US Military Attache in Damascus transmits the opinion of the ex-Prime Minister of Transjordan that: (a) King Abdullah’s Arab Legion will invade Palestine after 15 May, “practically alone” and without any substantial help from Syria, Lebanon, or Egypt; and (b) owing to difficulties of supply, the Arab Legion is capable of no more than a 30-day campaign. The MA adds that the general impression of informed observers is that Abdullah will in effect implement partition by occupying only the Arab sections of Palestine and restoring order.
[Ed: Interestingly, the CIA had earlier predicted it was the Jews who could not sustain a long war.]
May 11, 1948
Bevin foresees natural “sorting out” in Palestine – US Embassy London reports that Foreign Minister Bevin endorses efforts to secure a Palestine truce and believes the truce proposals to be generally sound. Bevin adds his belief that although King Abdullah’s exact intentions are not known, if the Transjordan Legion should move into Palestine at all, it would only occupy legitimate and clearly recognized Arab positions. Bevin expresses the hope that both Arabs and Jews will keep out of each other’s areas and thereby prepare for a natural “sorting out of Palestine” and an effective truce, under which the Arabs and Jews might provide separate militias for the maintenance of order and administration.
[Ed: This makes little sense given that the Arabs had made clear their intent to invade to prevent partition.]
UK instructs UN delegation on Palestine – The US delegation to the UN has learned the UK delegation has received the following instructions: (a) the legal basis for the proclamation of a Jewish state should be removed; (b) entry into Palestine of additional war materiel and personnel should be stopped or restricted, particularly from Soviet sources; (c) a legal basis should be provided to permit the establishment of a small group of states, excluding the USSR, to ensure observance of the foregoing. The UK favors implementation of these objectives through a simple mediator agency created by a General Assembly resolution, although it does not reject the alternative of trusteeship.
[Ed: Just days from the scheduled end of the mandate, the British were still trying to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state.]
May 13, 1948
PALESTINE: British hopeful that “blood bath” will be averted – US Ambassador Douglas in London reports “an atmosphere of relief” in the UK Foreign Office over Palestine and a feeling that the situation is less dire on the eve of 15 May than was once feared. According to Douglas, the Foreign Office feels that King Abdullah of Transjordan will halt his advance into Palestine substantially at the frontiers of the Jewish state and that if Abdullah attacks the Jews he will confine himself to token forays. Douglas indicates that Foreign Office officials appear to be in agreement that even though the long-range repercussions of the Palestine situation are incalculable, there is at last hope for a Palestine settlement “without a blood bath involving the entire Middle East.”
[Ed: This is at odds with earlier reports anticipating that other Arab states besides Transjordan would participate in a war to prevent partition. Abdullah did not confine his incursion to the Arab state, attacking for instance, Jerusalem, the eastern half of which Transjordan subsequently occupied.]
May 14, 1948
Possibility of Arab-Jewish truce in Palestine – US Ambassador Douglas has been informed by the Jewish Agency (JA) representative in London that in a recent conversation, Hector McNeil of the UK Foreign Office expressed the view that King Abdullah will occupy only the Arab areas of Palestine and a truce between the Jews and Abdullah is therefore a possibility. The JA representative said that the Jews would welcome Abdullah as a neighbor but the JA would have to “protest loudly” if he invaded Palestine. The representative expressed the opinion that if Abdullah halts his invasion at the Jewish frontier, the Jews ought to begin immediate negotiations with him for a truce.
US Ambassador. Tuck reports from Cairo that it is “gradually becoming apparent” that the Arabs world now welcome “almost any face-saving device” which would prevent open war. Tuck expects that, as a result of British pressure, Abdullah’s forces will move only as far as the Jewish frontier. Tuck adds that British Minister Clayton is continuing to urge the Arabs to accept partition and to confine their future action to economic and guerrilla warfare.
(CIA Comment: Although CIA agrees that Arab leaders themselves would welcome a “face-saving” device which would avoid the necessity of full-scale warfare against Haganah, ArabJewish hostilities will almost certainly increase and continue for some time when the Arab governments – compelled by public opinion – send their armies into Palestine.)
[Ed: The CIA continues to deny that Arab leaders were motivated by anything beyond public opinion. It is also notable that the British were willing to let Transjordan invade and seize the area allocated for a separate Arab state and gave their tacit approval for the Arabs to engage in economic and guerrilla warfare against the Jewish state.]
May 15, 1948
[Ed: Oddly, the May 15 report makes no mention of events in the Middle East, notably Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14 and the subsequent invasion by Arab armies, and not just the Transjordan Legion.]
May 17, 1948
Arab reaction to US recognition of Jewish state – US Minister Childs in Jidda reports that the Saudi Arabians are “‘profoundly shocked” by the announcement of US recognition of the new Jewish state. Childs considers it possible that Saudi Arabia may sever relations with the US and that it may be necessary to evacuate the several thousand Americans living in Saudi Arabia. (Reports from other Arab countries indicate apprehension on the part of US representatives over the possibility of anti-US demonstrations and pogroms against the Jews.)
[Arabists repeatedly warned the Saudis would turn on the U.S. because of support of Israel but never did because they needed American protection to survive.]
May 18, 1948
British policy toward Jewish state – US Embassy London has learned informally from a high official of the British Foreign Office that the UK bas no intention of according recognition at this time to the Jewish state. The Embassy infers that the British position is based principally on the idea that recognition now of any particular frontier for the Jewish state will decrease the chances of an Arab-Jewish compromise at some future date. The Foreign Office apparently believes that when both sides tire of the “profitless conflict,” the Arabs and Jews may reach an agreement on a frontier somewhat different from one which had been drawn up artificially. Concerning the shipments of arms to the Middle East, the official expressed the view that if the US lifts its embargo the UK will be subjected to “intolerable” Arab pressure to modify the present limitations on British arms shipments.
[Ed: While the State Department Arabists failed to stop partition and Israel’s declaration of independence, they did convince Truman to impose an arms embargo on the region, which primarily hindered Israel as the Arabs had access to weapons from other sources.]
May 19, 1948
Arab League reportedly considering oil sanctions against US – US Embassy Cairo has been informed by an attache of the Arab League that the matter of applying sanctions against US oil interests in the Middle East is now a major item on the Arab League agenda. The attached expressed the opinion that sanctions will not be applied unless the US takes further steps to assist the Jews and serious reversals are suffered by the armies. In such an eventuality the attache anticipates that Arab leaders will have no choice but “to use oil as a weapon to assist the Arab cause.”
[Ed: The fear of losing access to oil was a major concern of the Arabists, which they used for decades to discourage the strengthening of U.S.-Israel ties. In 1948, however, the Arabs were not yet the dominant oil producers they would later become, and the US did not need their oil.]
US cease-fire proposal for Palestine lacks support – The US delegation to the UN has learned that the US cease-fire proposal for Palestine would not have obtained the seven Security Council votes necessary for its approval if it had been brought to a vote on 18 May. The delegation gathers that Belgium, Canada, China, Syria, the UK and possibly Argentina would have either voted against the US resolution or abstained.
May 20, 1948
Israel considered to need outside support – US Consul General Wasson in Jerusalem expresses the opinion that although the Jews have a better than even chance of maintaining military control over a large portion of the area allotted to the Jews by the UN partition plan, the Jewish state will be unable to survive long in the midst of hostile Arab states without “generous and immediate” support from abroad. Wasson adds that a favorable atmosphere for the growth of Israel may be created by the continuance of moral and material support from the outside and the adoption of a “reasonable” Zionist policy toward the Arabs (particularly Abdullah).
May 21, 1948
UK opposes outside aid to Palestine belligerents – According to US Ambassador Douglas, the UK Foreign Office believes that Arab and Jewish forces are so evenly matched in Palestine that a stalemate is in prospect. The British therefore feel that the “surest way” to prolong the Palestine fighting is for an outside power to disturb the balance by supplying arms and equipment to one side. Douglas adds that British officials hold these views so strongly that the Government is likely to counterbalance the dispatch of material aid to one side with comparable aid to the other side.
[Earlier the forecast was that the Jews could not sustain a fight against the Arab forces.]
May 22, 1948
US protests Egyptian action on shipping – The Department of State has instructed US Embassy Cairo to deliver a note to the Egyptian Government protesting Egypt’s proposed action with respect to shipping approaching the Palestine coast, as outlined in a 17 May memorandum. The memorandum stated that merchantmen or transports “would be exposed to the measures” that the Egyptian Government is “obliged to take in order to insure the security of its troops in Palestine.” The US note declares that the Egyptian Government is attempting to prohibit the freedom of navigation in the Mediterranean and to extend its control to waters beyond the jurisdiction of Egypt.
May 24, 1948
US-UK relations believed deteriorating over Palestine – US Ambassador Douglas in London believes that “the worst shock” to US-UK collaboration during the past year was the sudden US recognition of Israel without previous notice to the UK. Douglas adds that if the US raises the arms embargo to favor the Jews “it wll1 be only a short step” until the UK may lift its restrictions on arms to the Arabs, thus placing the two great democratic partners” indirectly on opposite sides of a battle line. Douglas is convinced that the US-UK rift over Palestine can not be confined to Palestine and the Middle East.
In an Interview on 22 May Foreign Secretary Bevin told Douglas that: (a) if the US lifts the arms embargo, it will be impossible for the UK to resist Arab pressure for arms; (b) if the UN declares the Palestine situation to be “a breach d. the peace,” Bevin believes it probable that the USSR will ultimately interfere in Palestine and the Middle East; and (c) Bevin is personally prepared to examine the position from a “fresh vantage point.” Douglas feels that the US should by to relax the pressure on the UK Government by meeting Bevin’s suggestions that the US support the substance of the British resolution on Palestine in the UN, retain the arms embargo, and refrain from taking other action until there has been opportunity to make a joint appraisal of the respective US and UK positions.
[Ed: The UK and State Department knew how to push all the right buttons to influence Truman, warning of losing access to oil, Soviet infiltration and a rift with the British.]
May 25, 1948
LEBANON: conditional release of US internees offered – US Minister Pinkerton has been informed by the Lebanese Foreign Minister that the Lebanese Government is prepared to release the forty US citizens interned from the MARINE CARP provided arrangements can be made for their direct repatriation to the US. The Foreign Minister told Pinkerton that the internees could not be released if they intend to go to Palestine to join the Jewish forces, “which are making constant commando raids into Lebanon.” Pinkerton reports that the internees will be asked whether they are prepared to accept this arrangement.
May 26, 1948
SAUDI ARABIA: Ibn Saud firm against partition – US Minister Childs believes that Ibn Saud will now throw the full weight of his influence and strength against the partition of Palestine, despite the great moderation he has exhibited in the past. Childs thinks that the King is prepared to commit Saudi Arabia to any measure which the Arab league agrees will best further the Arab cause.
May 27, 1948
US representatives in Middle East oppose raising embargo – US representatives in Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, and Jerusalem unanimously agree that lifting of the US arms embargo would irreparably damage US interests in the Middle East and would also endanger the lives of US citizens and Jewish nationals in the Arab countries. Memminger in Damascus and Burdett in Jerusalem feel that the Arabs would consider the US action tantamount to a declaration of war. Tuck in Cairo expresses the opinion that lifting of the embargo would prolong the hostilities in Palestine and increase the possibilities of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish violence throughout Islam. Pinkerton in Beirut believes that the Lebanese would regard raising the embargo as deliberate encouragement to both Jews and Arabs to do everything possible to increase their destructive powers.
[Ed: Another recurring themes in Arabist opposition to supporting Israel is that American lives would be endangered.]
UK view of the strategic position of the Middle East – Top British Cabinet officials have outlined to US Ambassador Douglas present British thinking concerning strategic questions in the Middle East. The British consider that Palestine is strategically not a problem of Arab-Jewish opposition but one of geography, “since Palestine is part of the Middle East bridge between not only the east and west but also between Asia and Africa.” The British leaders maintain that the Middle East is vital to the defense of the US, the UK, and western Europe against the USSR. According to Douglas, the British believe that the Moslem ideology is capable of being “worked up along anti-western lines” because of Palestine and that such a development would bring about an “almost insuperable” military problem. The British consider the military criteria for a Palestine solution to be that Palestine must not be opened to Soviet influence and Moslem good will toward the US and the UK must not be alienated.
[Ed: This reflects either a fundamental misunderstanding of the conflict or willful neglect, falsely reducing the problem to one of geography and ignoring the historical, economic, religious, psychological and other elements that were factors prior to partition and continue to the present day.]
UK estimate of Arab political stability – The Permanent Under Secretary of the UK Foreign Office has informed Ambassador Douglas of the British estimate, in connection with the Palestine question, of the stability of Middle East Governments. The British view is that with the exception of Saudi Arabia, the “chances are” that all the governments would very easily collapse if discredited and humiliated in the eyes of their people and of Moslem public opinion generally. These governmental collapses, in the judgment of the British, would be followed by the emergence of the Communist Party as the one “strong and coherent” force, or more probably by a series of local dictators carried to power on a wave of anti-British and anti-US fanaticism. In the latter event it is thought that the final result would be a series of “Czechoslovakia” coups carried out by the Communists.
(CIA Comment: CIA concurs in this British estimate.)
May 28, 1948
US policy on Palestine – The Department of State, with the approval of President Truman, has instructed, the US delegation to the UN that: (a) the US will continue to urge the Security Council to issue a cease-fire order under the UN Charter; (b) if such an order is not complied with, following its issuance, the US will adjust its embargo policy to support any action by the SC; (c) the US will support SC action banning all shipments of arms and military assistance to any party to hostilities so long as all participants comply with the cease-fire order; (d) the US will retain its present arms embargo and if the SC succeeds in effecting a cease-fire and places an embargo upon all parties to the hostilities; and (e) if the UN is unable to accomplish either of these two moves, the US will resume its freedom of action respecting arms shipments.
USSR: Kremlin reported making overtures to Arab governments – The US Military Attache in Cairo conveys a report from a fairly reliable source to the effect that the USSR has offered to supply Egypt with military assistance and to use the 30 million Soviet Moslems to promote King Farouk’s candidacy for the Caliphate of Islam. The report suggests that in return, Farouk is to persuade Ibn Saud to accept Soviet technical and military aid so that the Saudi Arabian oil fields can be operated independently of the US. The source indicated that the USSR had also made an offer to Iraq.
(CIA Comment: It is probable that the USSR will exploit Arab antagonism toward the US by seeking deals with the Arab governments. CIA believes, however, that the USSR is more likely to increase its influence in the Near East through Communist exploitation of the social disorders throughout the Arab world, which would follow any significant Arab reverses in Palestine.)
May 29, 1948
US position regarding US-UK cooperation on Palestine – The Department of State has informed US ambassador Douglas, in response to his recent reports concerning Bevin’s hopes for increasing US-UK collaboration on the Palestine question, that the US is fully aware of the need to work with and not against the UK, although the mutual task would have been easier if the British had not been “extremely laggard in dealing with a crisis largely of their own making.” Douglas is authorized to tell Bevin that the US will not lift the arms embargo except in conjunction with Security Council “action or inaction.” The Department indicates that the US is prepared: (a) to support the UK cease-fire resolution with certain modifications, after having first voted affirmatively on the USSR resolution because of its close similarity to the US resolution of 17 May; and (b) to suggest officially to the Provisional Government of Israel the wisdom of accepting a new cease-fire resolution at this time.
June 1, 1948
Possible military observers in Palestine – The Department of State is informing UN Mediator Count Bernadotte that the US is actively considering his suggestion that military observers supervise the observance of the 29 May UN cease-fire resolution following its acceptance by the belligerents. Bernadotte is being advised that although no final decision has been reached, the Department believes that the UN Balkan Commission and the Indonesian Good Offices Committee furnish precedents for such an arrangement and that any military observers sent should be recruited from the three members of the Truce Commission (the US, Belgium, and France).
June 3, 1948
Douglas suggests US halt emigration of Jewish DP’s – US Ambassador Douglas in London calls attention to the British decision to retain Jewish refugees in Cyprus during the Palestine cease-fire period and suggests that parallel US action with respect to Jewish displaced persons in the US Zone in Germany might be desirable. Douglas points out that because the US has agreed to the British construction of the cease-fire resolution with respect to the immigration of military manpower, any other action would be inconsistent with this interpretation.
[Ed: This was a joint UK-U.S. State Department effort to cripple the Jewish defense by denying them possible fighters while placing no restrictions on the number of soldiers the Arabs could send into battle. This was particularly cruel as it prevented Jews, most Holocaust survivors, from reaching their homeland while keeping them incarcerated in camps in Cyprus. The opponents of the Jewish state persistently tried to use economic, political and military levers to prevent partition, an Israeli victory and later the development of U.S.-Israel relations.]
June 4, 1948
UN Palestine mediator requests Soviet observers – US Embassy London has learned from a UK Foreign Office official that UN Mediator Bernadotte requested the Soviet Embassy in Cairo to supply him with military observers. The UK official stated that the Foreign Office prefers to have observers drawn from small neutral states but is receptive to the US idea of drawing on member states of the truce Commission.
The Department of State has instructed US embassy Cairo to inform Bernadotte in strictest confidence that the US “would not be pleased” to furnish observers if the USSR or its satellites were invited to do so.
Arabs thought willing to end Palestine War – An officer of the US Consulate General in Jerusalem has gained the impression from conversations with King Abdullah of Transjordan and his Prime Minister that the Arabs would be glad to call off the war if they could do so without losing face in their own countries and abroad. The consulate officer feels that the Prime Minister did not appear particularly optimistic over future negotiations, but that the Prime Minister, the King, and other Transjordan officials strongly desire an end to hostilities. The consulate officer was told that in the recent Amman talks of the Arab states, the Prime Minister joined with the Egyptian Foreign Minister in urging acceptance of the UN cease-fire proposal despite vigorous opposition from Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, which evidently were suspicious of Transjordan’s intentions.
June 7, 1948
UK willing to furnish naval vessels to Palestine Mediator – US Ambassador Douglas in London has been informed by Foreign Secretary Bevin that UN Mediator Bernadotte is agreeable to an Egyptian proposal to use the British Navy and Air Force in securing observance of the Palestine truce terms. Douglas learned from a high Foreign Office official that the Foreign Office intends, following the receipt of a formal request from Bernadotte, to recommend to the Cabinet that British aircraft and vessels be used solely for observation and not for enforcement.
PALESTINE: Jews in Cyprus camps likely to attempt breakout – US consu1 Porter in Nicosia (Cyprus) has been informed by the British military commander in Cyprus that 24,000 Jews in local detention camps are becoming “extremely agitated” and are likely to attempt a breakout. The British commander says that is troops will oppose such an attempted departure with force, pointing out that “the only British limitations on departure will be in accordance with UN decisions.”
[Ed: Even after the British mandate ended, the British were preventing Jews they incarcerated in Cyprus from going to Israel.]
June 9, 1948
Transjordan thought to want end of Palestine war – An officer of the US Consulate General Jerusalem gained the impression from recent conversations that many Transjordan Government officials and their British advisers desire an end to the Palestine war if an honorable [missing word] out, involving no loss of prestige can be found for Transjordan. These officials believe that (a) the reappearance of rivalries among the Arab states will weaken the Arab war effort; (b) time favors the Jews; (c) the war cannot possibly end in victory for the Arabs; and (d) King Abdullah does not wish to risk losing his army and thereby forfeit his present strong position vis-a-vis the other Arab states.
[Ed: after earlier predicting the Jews could not win the war, the expectation is that they will win over time and that Abdullah fears losing his army, which is why Britain wants to end the fighting.]
June 12, 1948
Jewish leaders reject responsibility for Stern and lrgun forces – A high official of the Jewish Agency has informed UN Mediator Bernadotte that Jewish leaders are unable to assume responsibility for “dissident” elements In Jerusalem. The official pointed out that Jewish authorities are unable to control the Stern and Irgun forces effectively [redacted].
June 20, 1948
Shifting British thinking on Palestine – US ambassador Douglas in London reports that the conviction is growing among all levels of the British Foreign Office (as well as among British Arab experts outside the government) that the early establishment of “a small, compact sovereign Jewish” in Palestine would be in the best interests of the Arabs. Douglas attributes the shift in British thinking to the contrast between Jewish efficiency in setting up and defending Israel and the Arab counter-performance. Douglas confirms it likely that this new attitude may become the British [unreadable] at some later stage in developments, possibly when the Arab governments seek British advice in the mediation talks under Count Bernadotte.
(CIA Comment: Even if the Arabs could be persuaded to accept the principle of a Jewish state in Palestine, it is doubtful whether agreement could be reached between them and the Jews on the area to be included in such a state.)
June 23, 1948
US inclined to favor compact Israeli state – The Department of State has informed US Ambassador Douglas in London of its preliminary and tentative inclination toward a solution of the Palestine problem through re-drawing the Israeli frontiers in order to form a compact and homogeneous state. The Department also envisages the possibilities of: (a) setting up Jerusalem as an international city; (b) transferring most of the remainder of Palestine to Transjordan with population exchanges where necessary; and (c) establishing a customs union between Israel and Transjordan with a mutual guarantee of frontiers underwritten by the UN. Meanwhile, the Department has instructed Douglas to inform the UK Foreign Office that the US welcomes the British desire to concert the views of both governments on Palestine and hopes that a common policy may be evolved. Douglas is to say that the US shares the reluctance of the UK to resort to sanctions in achieving a settlement and agrees to the necessity for extending the present four-week truce if a solution is not found before its expiration.
[Ed: The State Department now realizes the State of Israel is a reality and refocuses its pressure on minimizing its territory. Interestingly, there is no mention of a Palestinian state; rather, the department wants to give the territory to Transjordan.]
US favors re-opening Haifa oil refinery – The Department of State has also informed Douglas that it shares UK Foreign Minister Bevin’s concern over the closing of the important oil refinery at Haifa. The Department sees no impropriety in placing the matter before UN Mediator Bernadotte but feels that, in accord with the truce, the refinery output should not be used to increase the military potential of the belligerents.
[Ed: Once again the State Department wants to appear evenhanded by mentioning the “belligerents,” but since Haifa was in Israel, only the Israelis would benefit from re-opening the refinery and officials don’t want Israel to increase its military potential.]
June 24, 1948
Reported views and plans of mediator Bernadotte – The US delegation to the UN has been confidentially informed by Secretary General Lie that Palestine mediator Bernadotte views the situation as follows: (a) although the belligerents have unwillingly accepted the truce, they will be careful not to break it; and (b) because both parties remain hopeful concerning their prospects, it will be impossible to obtain an agreed solution before the expiration of the truce. Bernadotte indicates that he will therefore endeavor to gain time by making vague proposals calculated to prolong the truce rather than firm and precise proposals which, if rejected, would mean that the recalcitrant party would refuse to extend the truce. The UN Mediator will also strive to obtain agreement for the demilitarization of Jerusalem and the Holy Places; he regards a minimum of 1,000 UN armed guards to be essential for the protection of Jerusalem.
June 25, 1948
PALESTINE: Jewish extremists increasingly active – US Consulate General Jerusalem reports that during the past few days Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Gang (Jewish extremist groups) have become increasingly active in Jerusalem. Both groups have, in contravention of the UN truce terms, brought reinforcements, arms, and supplies into the city and have taken over strategic areas which they are converting into fortified enclaves. The Consulate General has learned from various sources that the USSR is providing the Stern Gang with arms and money through the Satellites, particularly Poland. These sources also believe that the USSR will make every effort to increase its support as an effective means of gaining a foothold for subversive activities in Israel. The Consulate General feels that the Jewish extremists may become increasingly embarrassing to the Israeli authorities and may attempt to thwart any effort to settle in a reasonable way the present JewishArab impasse.
[Ed: There is no mention of it, but the Altalena Affair occurred five days earlier when the Irgun attempted to bring arms into Israel by ship and were met with a military response from the Israeli forces. The government opposed both the Irgun and Stern Gang, which ultimately were absorbed into the Israel Defense Forces. Note the continuing concern about the Soviets gaining a foothold in Israel, something they never did. The Soviets allowed Czechoslovakia to provide some arms to the Jews after February 1948, but they provided no assistance to the “Jewish extremist groups.”]
June 30, 1948
US UN delegation estimate of Palestine situation – The US delegation to the UN, in an extended comment on the Palestine situation, reports that key UN delegates are agreed that sooner or later UN mediator Bernadotte will be confronted with basically extreme and irreconcilable Jewish and Arab positions and that at this point US-UK influence will be essential to bring the Jews and Arabs together. The delegation feels that: (a) prolongation of the truce – preferably a six-month extension – is essential to working out a settlement; (b) full sovereignty for Israel is a minimum requirement for peaceful adjustment; (c) Abdullah is the chief bargaining factor on the Arab side and consequently Transjordan should receive US recognition; and (d) the boundaries of Israel recommended in the UN partition resolution should be revised and guaranteed internationally
Prolongation of truce considered unlikely – The Saudi Arabian deputy foreign minister has told US Minister Childs in Jidda that he is “under the impression” that the Arab states will not accept the prolongation of the UN Palestine truce. Meanwhile, US Charge Patterson in Cairo reports that Arab League officials, including Secretary General Azam Pasha, are pessimistic over the prospects of the acceptance by either Arabs or Jews of the “peace proposals” drawn up by UN mediator Bernadotte.
July 3, 1948
SAUDI ARABIA: Pan-Islamic war against Israel foreseen – US Minister Childs in Jidda has been told by the Saudi Arabian Deputy Foreign Minister that no Arab government will accept a Jewish state in Palestine. The Deputy Foreign Minister added that: (a) Pakistan had recently sent word it was prepared to furnish forces for the Palestine war; and (b) if the struggle continued, “it would develop from a Pan-Arab to a Pan-Islamic one, the consequences of which would be hard to foresee. (Preliminary steps have already been taken in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan to send volunteers, supplies, and financial aid; respectively, to support the Arab cause in Palestine.)
[Ed: For decades and, even today, officials have dismissed or downplayed the role of religion in the conflict, neglecting the view of many Muslims that it is unacceptable to have a Jewish state on “Muslim land” or for Jews to rule over Muslims. In the 1950’s pan-Arabism became dominant in the region and Israel actually built alliances with two non-Arab Islamic states – Turkey and Iran.]
July 6, 1948
PALESTINE: Prospects for Arab acceptance of truce extension – The US Military Attache in Beirut expresses the opinion that the attitude of King Abdullah of Transjordan will ultimately determine whether the Arabs will resume fighting in Palestine, although the expressed position of all of the Arab states is that they will renew hostilities unless Israel accepts their demands. The MA bases this opinion on the belief that the Arabs would be “practically impotent” without the Transjordan Arab Legion.
(CIA Comment: Although great pressure is being placed on Abdullah by the UK to accept an extension of the truce, it is unlikely that the Arabs will agree to such an extension because: (a) public pressure for a resumption of the war exists in all the Arab states; (b) the Arabs are convinced the truce is working in favor of the Jews; and (c) violations of the truce during the past few days have increased substantially. CIA considers it unlikely that the Arabs will agree to an extension of the truce except in the improbable event that Bernadotte accepts the Arab “counter-proposals” – a unified Arab Palestine – as a basis for further negotiations with the Jews.)
[Ed: Here is an acknowledgement that the only effective Arab force was the British armed and led Transjordanian army. Despite repeated military setbacks and the realization, the Jews could not be pushed into the sea, the Arabs still hoped international diplomacy would force the Jews to accept their original position of an Arab state and no Jewish state.]
July 7, 1948
Arabs reserving decision on Palestine truce – US Embassy Cairo bas learned from an Arab League official that the Arabs are reserving their decision on prolongation of the Palestine truce while awaiting UN Mediator Bernadotte’s reply to the Arab counter-proposals for a permanent settlement. The Embassy reports the British Ambassador’s belief that the bellicose Arab assertions should not be taken fully at face value and that the Arabs may prolong the truce despite statements to the contrary.
UK advises Arabs to accept truce extension – Foreign Secretary Bevin has told US Ambassador Douglas that he wishes to leave no stone unturned in British efforts to extend the Palestine truce. Douglas reports that the UK is advising the Arab governments of its views that: (a) the truce must be extended; (b) if the Arabs are responsible for the resumption of hostilities, Security Council condemnation is inevitable and future UK arms deliveries will be impossible; (c) a Jewish state is an established fact; and (d) the UN Mediator s proposals are more favorable to the Arabs than any suggested before and should be used as a basis for negotiations.
July 8, 1948
Palestine truce not to be extended – UN Mediator Bernadotte reports through US Navy channels that the Palestine truce will not be extended. Bernadotte has requested water lift from the US Navy to evacuate UN equipment and personnel at Haifa. Bernadotte indicates that he will endeavor to obtain assurances from the belligerents that the UN evacuation will not be interrupted by either party.
UK proposes extension of UN Palestine arms embargo – US Embassy London reports that a high UK Foreign Office official has expressed informally the view that the US, the UK, and other “right thinking” Security Council members should be prepared to offer a·new resolution extending the Palestine arms embargo and retaining UN observers in the war theater. The UK official suggested that because of British treaty obligations, the UK might be subjected to Arab pressure for the resumption of arms deliveries on the grounds that the Jews were the aggressors. The official believes, therefore, that maintenance of the UN arms embargo, thus relieving the UK of its treaty obligations, would be desirable.
July 9, 1948
UK pressing Abdullah to block resumption of fighting – US Ambassador Douglas reports from London that the UK is putting strong pressure on King Abdullah of Transjordan, whom the British regard as the “only Arab leader capable of retrieving the situation” in Palestine. Abdullah is being drawn to: (a) avoid being drawn into renewed war against Israel; and (b) seek a new meeting of the Arab League Political Committee to consider compliance with the Security Council’s appeal for extension of the Palestine truce. Foreign Office spokesmen told Douglas that British representations regarding Transjordan’s weak supply position had already “seriously frightened” Abdullah but stated that Abdallah had been unable to act in time to prevent Arab League rejection of Count Bernadotte’s truce extension appeal. Douglas adds that the British stress the point that although the Arab League has rejected Count Bernadotte’s proposal, the League has not yet considered the Security Council’s resolution urging extension of the truce.
July 10, 1948
UK continues pressure on Arab governments – US Ambassador Douglas in London reports that Foreign Secretary Bevin has personally instructed British missions to impress upon all Arab governments the “grave danger” which the Arabs will face if they persist in refusing to extend the Palestine truce. According to Douglas, the British representatives are to express the view that because the Arab League decision to end the truce was taken before it knew of the 7 July Security Council resolution requesting a truce extension, the Arab leaders should be able to retreat without loss of prestige. The British maintain that by agreeing to a brief truce extension the Arabs would be given an opportunity for explaining to the Security Council their grounds for believing the truce one-sided for and for proposing a modification of the truce terms.
July 12, 1948
US objectives in Palestine situation – The Department of State has informed the US delegation to the UN that the basic US objectives in the Palestine situation are: (a) an extension of the truce; (b) a negotiated final settlement; and (c) continuance of concerted action with the UK to the maximum extent consistent with US policy. Concerning possible Security Council action, the Department prefers an SC resolution ordering the parties to accept a truce under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, because of present indications that some action of this kind will be required to force Arab reconsideration.
British views on Palestine settlement – US Ambassador Douglas in London reports that the present British objectives in Palestine are: (a) to end the hostilities on conditions which will ensure as far as possible that the fighting will not be resumed; and (b) to work out by peaceful means a settlement approximating that proposed by Count Bernadotte but avoiding the idea of political union between Jewish and Arab states, which would be fatal to Arab acceptance. According to Douglas, UK Foreign Secretary Bevin regards as most crucial the fact that both King Abdullah and an intermediary of the King of Egypt have expressed fear lest the Security Council threaten the Arabs with sanctions. The UK Foreign Office consequently favors adoption of an SC resolution threatening sanctions but considers it essential that the resolution be so phrased as to diminish British influence over the Arab governments as little as possible.
Douglas also transmits a Foreign Office report that an intermediary for King Farouk of Egypt has declared that all the Arab states desire some means of stopping hostilities which would at the same time permit them to save face.
[Ed: With the Arab forces losing, the British were eager to stop the fighting to allow Arab leaders to “save face” without sacrificing British influence in the region.]
July 15, 1948
PALESTINE: Arab League seen forcing Abdullah into line – US Representative Stabler in Amman expresses the opinion that Transjordan’s continued desire for an “honorable way” out of the war in Palestine will not prevail at the Arab League politica1 committee meeting which is considering the Security Council’s truce order. Stabler believes that strong opposition by other Arab states will force King Abdullah to vote with the majority (presumably for rejection of the truce order).
July 17, 1948
PALESTINE: Arabs facing dilemma – Glubb Pasha (British Commander of the Arab Legion has informed US Representative Stabler in Amman of his belief that the Arab states will obey the Security Council’s order as a face-saving way of ending the war in Palestine. Glubb added, however, that although Abdullah and the Transjordan Government strongly desire to end hostilities, they are afraid of the other Arab states and of public feeling in the Arab world. He said that all the Arab governments, in attempting to make decisions with respect to Palestine, are more concerned with popular reaction and internal security than with the military situation and the warnings of the Arab chiefs-of-staff that the war cannot be carried on.
July 23, 1948
IRAQ: Continuing opposition to cease-fire threatened – According to US Embassy Cairo, Iraqi spokesmen in Cairo have protested to the Egyptian Foreign Minister concerning statements that Arab League acceptance of the UN ceasefire order in Palestine had been unanimous. Iraqi representatives declared that they had not voted for acceptance and that they would continue to oppose the cease-fire even if such a course meant expulsion from the UN.
SAUDI ARABIA: Anti-US tension thought relieved – US Legation Jidda expresses the view that the tense situation over Palestine which caused grave apprehension that Saudi Arabia might break relations with the US has apparently passed. The Legation believes that unless the US takes unilateral action which is favorable to Israel and adverse to the Arab states, the possibility either of a break with the US or of cancellation of ·US oil concessions appears remote.
[Ed: For most of the history of U.S.-Saudi relations Arabists were always warning of losing oil access if U.S.-Israel relations improved despite the fact the Saudis needed the U.S. more than the U.S. needed the Saudis, particularly before the U.S. became dependent on Saudi oil decades later.]
July 26, 1948
US recognition of Transjordan urged – US Consul General Macdonald in Jerusalem strongly recommends that the Department of State consider extending recognition to Transjordan. Macdonald believes that such recognition would be timely in view of the fact that Transjordan accepted both Security Council truces, was mainly responsible (together with Egypt) for acceptance of the truces by the other Arab states and continues to be the leading advocate of peace and moderation within the Arab League.
US Representative Stabler in Amman has been informed by King Abdullah of Transjordan that he believes any final settlement of the Palestine problem will have to be imposed on both Jews and Arabs by the Security Council. Abdallah stated emphatically that he thought the Arabs would accept such a settlement. Abdullah also said that: (a) it would be necessary to have separate Jewish and Arab areas in Palestine; (b) the Arab areas should be attached to Transjordan; and (c) population shifts should be made to take care of minority problems.
[Ed: As would soon become apparent, the other Arab states were not interested in peace and Abdullah was primarily interested in a land grab. He has lost interest in the idea of an Arab state and wants the territory for himself. Indeed, he subsequently annexed the territory he controlled; an action rejected by all but two countries.]
PALESTINE: Arab refugees seen as potential source of trouble – A British Foreign Office official has informed US Embassy London that there are now some 250,000 Arab refugees from the Jewish part of Palestine. The Foreign Office believes that the concentration of these refugees in countries neighboring Palestine is beginning to have serious economic and social repercussions and that the refugees are likely to cause trouble for the local governments. The Foreign Office, which estimates that the number of Arab refugees in the Middle East is now greater than the number of Jewish refugees in Europe, is looking into the possibility that the International Refugee Organization can take some action in the matter.
[Ed: The estimated number of refugees is below the UN estimate of more than 300,000 and considerably lower than the 800,000-1,000,000 the Palestinians would later claim left their homes.]
July 29, 1948
PALESTINE: Jews reluctant to demilitarize Jerusalem – US Consul General Macdonald reports that delay in demilitarizing Jerusalem is leading to a critical situation and that unless positive action is taken within a few days, demilitarization of the city may be impossible. Macdonald says that the Jews are opposed to demilitarization because they fear that it will lead to internationalization. He believes that if the expected trouble develops between Hagana (the Israeli Army) and the forces of Irgun Zvai Leumi (Jewish extremist group), the Government of Israel will insist on remaining in Jerusalem in order to “protect” it from dissident elements. In such an event, Macdonald feels that Israel would probably proclaim Jerusalem as part of the Jewish state and the Arabs would be given just cause to accuse the UN of assisting the Jews through the truce.
July 30, 1948
UK stresses need for SC action on Arab refugee problem – According to US Ambassador Douglas in London, Foreign Secretary Bevin is informing the British UN delegation that it may postpone action on the Arab refugee problem until 2 August, but not later. Bevin said that the matter could not be delayed longer because there is urgent need to: (a) show the Arabs that the UK and the UN are aware of Arab difficulties; and (b) convince the Arabs that-the UN is not “a malignant instrument but one to which they can look for help when the need arises.” (See attached Annex for a discussion of the Arab refugee problem.)
THE ARAB REFUGEE PROBLEM
The war in Palestine has produced an Arab refugee problem comparable to the Jewish DP problem which the establishment of a Jewish state was partly intended to alleviate. Although Arab-Jewish hostilities have for the most part ceased, the problem posed by the Arab refugees from Israel now in neighboring Arab lands is threatening not only the truce and the possibility of a compromise solution in Palestine but also the stability of the entire Arab world. Unless these refugees can be swiftly and adequately cared for, they will swell the ranks of the Arab extremists and possibly prevent the establishment of an effective Arab-Jewish agreement for many years to come.
UN Mediator Bernadotte has estimated that the refugees number between 300,000 and 400,000.Approximately 100,000 are believed to be in Transjordan; 65,000 in Syria; 55,000 in Lebanon; 25,000 in Egypt; and the remaining 100,000 in the Arab-occupied areas of Palestine. The Provisional Government of Israel has stated that it will not permit any of the refugees to return to their homes until a definitive settlement of the Palestine issue has been reached and then only under such restrictions that few Arabs will qualify for repatriation.
The neighboring Arab states have neither the economic resources nor the political stability to absorb the Arab refugees peacefully. The poverty of arable land ta the Arab states is chronic, and no state can afford to launch large resettlement projects involving land reclamation. An exchange of populations might solve the problem, but such a solution would raise other serious difficulties. The eviction of the Jews from the major Arab cities, in which they form sizable minorities, would entail further economic dislocation. If Israel were to receive the 200;000 Jews in Arab lands as well as the 200,000 Jewish DP’s from Europe, its area would have to be expanded far beyond the UN partition boundaries. Such a development would still further exacerbate Arab feelings and would, therefore, contribute little to an ultimate solution to the Palestine issue.
Temporary relief for the Arab refugees can be facilitated through substantial assistance from the International Red Cross, the International Refugee Organization, and the Arab League. However, a permanent solution of the problem, involving the whole question of the future of Palestine, will probably require positive action by the UN.
If Israel were to receive the 200;000 Jews in Arab lands as well as the 200,000 Jewish DP’s from Europe, its area would have to be expanded far beyond the UN partition boundaries. Such a development would still further exacerbate Arab feelings and would, therefore, contribute little to an ultimate solution to the Palestine issue.
[Ed: Report compares victims of the Holocaust in DP camps with Arabs who mostly fled voluntarily from fighting in Palestine. Note the estimate of 300-400,000 refugees is far below what Palestinians have claimed. The opposition to the immigration of Jews to Israel is also clear along with the false assertion that Israel’s boundaries would have to expand to accommodate them. This is reminiscent of the equally spurious British contentions before partition regarding the “absorptive capacity” of the area. Ultimately, Israel absorbed nearly 600,000 Jews in 1949-51.]
August 3, 1948
PALESTINE: UN Mediator threatens to resign – UN Mediator Bernadotte has informed US Consul General Macdonald in Jerusalem that he is “very disappointed and discouraged with the lack of support from the UN and particularly with the apparent noncooperative attitude of the US”‘ which he believes has not provided him with the material support necessary to carry out his task. Bernadotte says he cannot understand why the US objects to lending Marines to the UN for special guard duties in demilitarized areas. In view of the fact that the US bas no objection to supplying truce observers from both the US Army and Navy. The UN Mediator told Macdonald that he cannot continue at his post under present conditions and will feel forced to resign unless the required personnel and equipment are forthcoming at once. The US Consul General agrees that Bernadotte cannot hope to accomplish his mission with the small force he now has; Macdonald also expresses the opinion that Bernadotte’s resignation would preclude any possibility that the UN will find a solution for the Palestine problem. Macdonald feels that under such circumstances the US would be blamed by both Jews and Arabs and he recommends that “every passible support” be given to Bernadotte.
August 4, 1948
US unwilling to send Marines for guard duty in Palestine – The Department of State has instructed Consul General Jerusalem to inform Count Bernadotte that the US is not prepared to send Marines to Palestine for guard duty because: (a) provision of such troops might require additional US commitments to preserve the security of the original detachments; and (b) there has been no Security Council action providing for armed contingents of member governments for police duty. The Department is concurrently seeking British support of the US position with Bernadotte.
August 5, 1948
UK preparing detailed Palestine recommendations – US Ambassador Douglas reports that the British Foreign Office is preparing detailed proposals for a permanent division of Palestine along the lines of the present de facto Arab-Jewish frontiers and hopes for an early integration of US and British views on the subject. According to Douglas, the British provisionally think that the best Palestine solution under present circumstances would follow the lines of Count Bernadotte’s previous proposals, but would omit, on grounds of expediency, any specific provisions for economic union. The plan would thus provide for: (a) an independent Israel including most if not all of Galilee; and (b) an Arab territory, including the Negeb, which would be governed as desired by the Arabs. In order to reassure both sides, specific frontiers would be subject to international guarantees. The plan would include some form of international responsibility for Jerusalem which might place the city under Arab sovereignty; Haifa would be either made a free port or placed under some form of international control.
Douglas adds that the British doubt whether either the Arabs or the Jews would accept such a solution for some time to come, and that the Foreign Office consequently stresses the need for closely coordinated US-UK efforts in obtaining forceful UN action and in bringing pressure to bear on the two parties.
[Ed: Bernadotte was pushing a plan that would strip the Negev (spelled Negeb in reports) from Israel, a non-starter for Israel, as was any suggestion that Jerusalem should be internationalized. The Arabs had no more interest than the Israelis.]
Israeli Governor of Jerusalem “uncooperative” with Mediator – US Consul General Macdonald in Jerusalem reports that, in conversations with the UN Mediator, the Israeli Military Governor of Jerusalem was ‘“unfriendly, uncooperative, and defiant.” According to Macdonald, the Military Governor: (a) concluded a vitriolic attack on the UN by stating that the Jews had no confidence in the UN and regarded it as a “laughing stock”; and (b) subsequently stated, on instructions from the Provisional Government of Israel, that he could not discuss with the Mediator the demilitarization of Jerusalem because Israel had not yet accepted demilitarization. In principle Macdonald believes, however, that “even at this late stage” both Arabs and Jews will acquiesce in the internationalization of Jerusalem, if the city is first demilitarized by “concrete, energetic action” including the immediate provision of regular troops by the three Truce Commission members (the US, France, and Belgium). Macdonald adds that unless such forces can be provided, the whole demilitarization project should be abandoned as impractical.
[MacDonald completely misread the situation as neither Israel nor Transjordan were going to accept internationalization at this point under any circumstances.]
August 7, 1948
PALESTINE: Israeli official says “sudden” operations imminent – According to US Ambassador Douglas in London, the British Legation Amman (Transjordan) has intercepted a Jewish broadcast in which the Israeli Minister of the Interior stated: (a) Jewish troops are about to undertake “sudden and unexpected” operations; (b) the Israeli Government is cooperating with Irgun in plans to annex Jerusalem; and (c) Israel is being reinforced by air with well-trained personnel and has recently received 40 combat aircraft and other materiel. US Representative Lippincott in Haifa concurrently reports the general impression of his informants that fighting may be resumed within the near future. Lippincott also reports that the Jews are resentful and uncooperative toward UN observers; the Jews believe that if the second UN truce had not been imposed, the Arabs would soon have been “on their knees begging for peace.” According to Lippincott, many Jews justify their demands for Jerusalem with the argument that no outside state is willing to fight for it. Lippincott adds that the Jews, who initially accepted international control of Jerusalem because they feared that the Christian world would object to their control of it, now demand Jerusalem more vigorously because the Christian world has shown little interest in its disposition.
August 9, 1948
Bevin stresses need for guards in Jerusalem – US Ambassador Douglas in London reports that Foreign Secretary Bevin, in a long discussion of the security of the Middle East, characterized the Jerusalem situation as the “most serious” facing the US and UK in that area and offered the British estimate that a re-opening of the Jewish military offensive in the next few days is not unlikely. According to Douglas, Bevin alluded to US unwillingness to supply the Jerusalem guards requested by the UN Mediator and then asked what the US proposes in place of such guards, in as much as the plan for “well-disciplined” Arab Jewish police units in Jerusalem now appears impracticable. Having expressed the view that such guards could be supplied without the special Security Council action the US felt necessary. Douglas concludes by suggesting that the US seriously consider proposing to France and Belgium, its fellow Commission members, that: (a) they supply the armed guards requested by the Mediator; and (b) the US undertake to transport the troops from Europe and to supply vehicles, communication equipment, medical facilities, maintenance men, and similar support for the French-Belgian force.
Bunche reiterates Bernadotte’s plea for UN token force – Ralph J Bunche of Count Bernadotte’s staff, in a conference in New York with the US delegation to the UN, has reiterated Bernadotte’s urgent request that a force of about 240 men be assigned him in Jerusalem by the three powers of the Palestine truce Commission. Bernadotte feels that such a token force would indicate that he has UN support and would maintain order at three critical points in the Jerusalem area; he believes this force would therefore enable him to accomplish the demilitarization of Jerusalem which he feels is the crux of his whole problem in Palestine. Bunche emphasizes the Mediator’s belief that he cannot succeed without a “token temporary UN police force.” According to Bunche, Bernadotte plans: (a) to make a formal appeal to the Security Council, if the three truce Commission members fail to supply his minimum needs; and (b) to resign, if the Security Council fails him.
US delegation agrees with overall UK views on Palestine – The US Delegation to the UN has informed the Department of State that it agrees “in general” with the UK proposals for a definitive Palestine settlement based upon the present Arab-Jewish “line-of-force” frontier. The US delegation believes that there is much to be gained and little to be lost by making a vigorous effort to arrive at a definitive solution in time for the coming UN General Assembly, instead of merely proposing to the GA a continuation of the Mediator’s efforts. The US delegation hopes that it will be possible to avoid a situation in which the Mediator again makes unrealistic proposals which will be rejected by both sides. The delegation agrees with the British View that such a development can be avoided only by reaching a joint US-UK position which would be transmitted to the Mediator and backed by both governments.
August 10, 1948
US delegation to UN concerned over Israeli intransigence – The US delegation to the UN in New York is increasingly concerned by reports of mounting Israeli intransigence with respect to: (a) the status of Jerusalem; (b) the UN Mediator and other truce enforcement authorities; and (c) the procurement of military supplies and personnel. The delegation believes that the reports, although exaggerated, have some basis in fact; it observes that if the reports are substantially true, they would indicate that Israel may damage its own cause irreparably and make the precarious peace in Palestine more difficult to maintain. The US delegation recommends that the US, “as Israel’s best friend,” call upon the Provisional Government of Israel: (a) to disavow such reports;·(b) to demonstrate that its attitude is in fact peace-loving, through wholehearted cooperation with the Mediator, the Truce Commission, and the observers; and (c) to deal firmly with Jewish extremists.
August 12, 1948
Arab feeling against Transjordan seen as threat to UK – US Ambassador Douglas in London transmits a report from the British Minister in Amman expressing concern over the “precarious” position of the UK in Transjordan and pointing out that Syria, Iraq, and the Arab League’s Secretary General are currently charging that the Arab Legion has been immobilized by “British treachery.” The Minister feels that the main danger is the possibility of a Jewish attack, which would find the Arab Legion lacking artillery and mortar ammunition with which to resist. The Minister asserts that many Arab states would rejoice in the downfall of Transjordan as proof that a country loyal to the UK can hope for nothing. The Minister adds that, if disaster overtakes Transjordan while the UK withholds ammunition, the British might as well abandon their policy of building defensive alliances in the Near East. ·
(CIA Comment: If Israeli forces attack Transjordan, the UK will almost certainly honor its treaty obligations with that country. The UK Is already considering stockpiling some armaments in Transjordan and Iraq which would be released to the governments concerned only in event of attack, apparently from any source.)
PALESTINE: Mediator’s warning on truce violations – US Consul General Macdonald reports from Jerusalem that UN Mediator Bernadotte has presented a strong letter to both Jews and Arabs regarding truce violations in Jerusalem and has threatened to refer the matter to the Security Council unless conditions improve. Macdonald agrees with Bernadotte that the Jews have been more aggressive than the Arabs in violating the truce. Macdonald suggests that because the Jews are sensitive to criticism and public opinion, they might be directed toward better cooperation in maintaining the truce if the UN, and especially the US, were to criticize them publicly for their failure to assist in finding a solution for the Palestine problem.
August 13, 1948
Informal US reaction to UK views on Palestine – The Department of State has transmitted to US Embassy London its “informal reactions” to the UK’s provisional views on a settlement of the Palestine problem. The Department is in general agreement with the British view that, in seeking a settlement, the current military situation in Palestine (as well as other factors) must be taken into consideration. However, it believes that the UN’s partition resolution should be retained as the basis for a settlement and that a continuing effort should be made to improve the resolution in order to make it more acceptable to both Jews and Arabs. The Department believes that, within the framework of this principle and with the guidance of the US and UK, the resolution could be modified “as a result of informal Arab-Jewish negotiations.” (The UK had expressed the view that pressure by the UN, the US, and the UK on Jews and Arabs would be more effective in achieving a settlement than Jewish-Arab negotiations.)
[Ed: By this time, the Jews had captured more territory than originally allotted in the partition plan and the Arabists and Foreign Office were trying to save the Arabs and roll back gains made by Israel. This would become their view from the 40s to the present, namely that the Arabs should be able to go to war and, even if they lose, regain whatever territory Israel captured.]
August 14, 1948
PALESTINE: Immediate aid urged for Arab refugees – US Consul General Macdonald in Jerusalem expresses the opinion that the Palestine Arab refugees currently constitute the most important political question in Arab Palestine; he considers immediate action to alleviate their plight essential. Macdonald says that the UN and the US are widely blamed for the situation. He suggests that effective assistance would be the best means of demonstrating continued US friendship for the Arabs and would also tend to arrest the deterioration of the US position in the Middle East.
August 16, 1948
PALESTINE: US favors return of some Arab refugees – The Department of State has informed the US delegation to the UN of its belief that a substantial number of Arab refugees could be permitted to return gradually to their homes, under the supervision of the UN Mediator, without prejudicing the maintenance of Israel’s internal security. Although the Department considers that an over-all solution of the refugee problem must be sought as an intrinsic part of a final settlement of the entire Palestine issue, it believes that the increasingly critical nature of the refugee siltation makes some prior repatriation of refugees essential. The Department adds that Israeli assistance in alleviating the refugee situation would facilitate a peaceful solution of the Palestine problem as a whole, while Jewish refusal to accept any refugees might adversely affect “the 700,000 Jews permanently residing in the Arab states.”
[Ed: This would also become a common theme, the idea if only Israel would make concessions, in this case repatriating refugees, peace would follow. This ignored what motivated the Arabs to go to war and their continued belligerence. Also, Israel is accepted to act for the sake of Jews in the Arab states rather than the US officials taking steps to make sure the Arabs do not harm them.]
August 18, 1948
US and UK concerned over Palestine situation – the Department of State has expressed to US Consul General MacDonald in Jerusalem its “increasing concern over evidences of new and potentially aggressive” Israeli intentions and has instructed MacDonald to obtain the private views of US General Riley (now serving as Military Observer to the UN Mediator) regarding the military situation in Palestine. Macdonell has concurrently reported his conclusion that, for all practical purposes, the truce in Jerusalem has already broken down, at least temporarily. Citing the “large and organized scale” of recent fighting as a basis for this view, MacDonald adds that the UN observers are being obstructed by Jewish restrictions on their movements and that their moral authority has “practically evaporated.” Meanwhile, US Ambassador Douglas reports Foreign Secretary Bevin’s concern over the “grave possibilities” suggested by the latest Jewish military action. Bevin urges that the US consider “immediate and forceful steps” to halt the “Jewish mailed fist,” lest a determined Jewish attack completely change the balance in Palestine and bring about the ultimate disintegration of Transjordan.
US UN delegation urges speedy Arab refugee relief – The US delegation to the UN has advised the State Department of its belief that “as a matter of cold-blooded, political realism” in terms of US short- and long-range relations with the Arab states, the US should take the promptest and most vigorous steps, regardless of difficulties, to comply with the UN Mediator’s request for Arab relief supplies. The US delegation also believes that the US should promptly take all other possible action to alleviate the desperate situation of the Arab refugees.
August 20, 1948
PALESTINE: Jews believed attempting to provoke hostilities – US Consul General Macdonald reports from Jerusalem that the Jews had made every effort to build up a case against the Arabs as violators of the present truce. He considers that the Jews are actually attempting to provoke an incident which would permit the resumption of hostilities but which could not be conclusively attributed to them. Macdonald believes that because of the current East-West division in the Security Council and in view of “past fluctuations in US policy,” the Jews discount the possibility of punitive action by the UN, particularly against the state of Israel.
August 21, 1948
Jews reported influenced by economic factors – According to US Consul Lippincott in Haifa, many observers believe that both the current drain on the Provisional Government’s financial resources and the economic disruption of the country caused by the maintenance of a large body of armed forces have created an impossible situation for the Israeli regime, necessitating immediate action despite the truce. Lippincott also reports the unanimous conviction of neutral observers that the Jews are about to make a determined attempt to take all of Jerusalem and may succeed within a week.
August 23, 1948
PALESTINE: Israel reported increasingly restive under truce – Following conversations with Premier Ben-Gurion and Foreign Minister Shertok, US Special Representative McDonald in Tel Aviv estimates that: (a) Israel is not about to take deliberate overt action in violation of the truce; and (b) if an increasingly tense situation is to be relieved, there must be evidence of a “measurable progress toward peace” in the near future. According to McDonald, Shertok categorically denied reported Jewish plans for general military action in Jerusalem or northern Galilee but asserted that the indefinite continuation of the truce, without any move toward a final peace settlement, was creating an intolerable financial and manpower situation for Israel.
August 25, 1948
Iraq and Transjordan discuss unification of command in Palestine – US Representative Stabler in Amman reports that the Regent of Iraq and other Iraqi officials have arrived in Amman to discuss with King Abdullah of Transjordan the implementation of a unified command of Iraqi and Transjordan forces in Palestine. According to Stabler, Abdullah’s principal aims in the current talks are: (a) to put Iraq in the position of having to assume at least some of the blame in the event of future adverse developments; (b) to give the Transjordan Arab Legion a freer hand in the defense of Jerusalem by persuading Iraq to take over some of the Legion’s commitments elsewhere; and (c) to obtain additional financial aid from Iraq. Stabler feels that Abdullah will have difficulty accomplishing these aims because the Iraqis are aware of the trap he is setting and realize that they will gain nothing by accepting his plan.
August 26, 1948
PALESTINE: Reported concern over Israeli UN membership – Concerning possible US support for Israeli membership in the UN, US Minister Keeley in Damascus comments that recent Israeli expansionist statements seem to indicate that Israel is neither peace-loving nor disposed to carry out the obligations of the UN Charter. Keeley relays the opinion of some of his diplomatic colleagues that such encouragement of Israel by the US will only further antagonize the Arabs and thus make more difficult any eventual compromise.
[Ed: Now that Israel has essentially defeated the Arab invasion, attention began to turn to admitting Israel to the UN which drew the predictable opposition of the State Department, which again warned of the impact on U.S.-Arab relations.]
August 27, 1948
Bernadotte feels Palestine must come before General Assembly – UN Mediator Bernadotte bas informed US Embassy Stockholm that he believes the Palestine problem must come before the next UN General Assembly. Bernadotte is convinced that the Arabs will never recognize the Jewish state voluntarily because of public opinion in their countries, and he therefore feels that if the General Assembly passes some resolution similar to that of last November, the Arab leaders will be able to accept the Jewish state after pointing out to their people that world opinion is against them. Bernadotte prefers not to make bis recommendations to the Security Council because the Jews, seeking greater territorial gains than his proposals provide, might oppose them and he fears the USSR would then use its veto. Meanwhile, an Arab representative has informed US Embassy London of his belief that Arab “acquiescence” in a Jewish state is the most that can be obtained from the Arab states for at least a year. The representative believes that the Israeli frontier will have to be defined by some UN agency and drawn up on the ground as an imposed boundary to which the agreement of both sides is demanded.
September 2, 1948
US favors simultaneous recognition of Israel, Transjordan – The Department of State has requested US Ambassador Douglas in London to solicit Foreign Secretary Bevin’s comments on the following position, as approved by the President, regarding recognition of Israel and Transjordan: (a) the US should plan for simultaneous de jure recognition of the two countries; (b) recognition should follow the election of a permanent government in Israel, which is scheduled to take place about 1 October; and (c) the intervening time should be utilized in discussing the question of recognition with the Provisional Government of Israel and with Transjordan. The Department expresses the view that US recognition of Transjordan might induce the UK to give favorable consideration to recognition of Israel.
September 3, 1948
UK-Transjordan concern over activities of Mufti – The Liaison Officer in Amman for the US member of the UN Truce Commission has been informed by King Abdullah that the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is now organizing an irregular “Palestine Army” with active financial and material support from the Arab League. The King stated that because such an army would “seriously hamper” the regular Arab armies in Palestine as well as the administration of the Arab areas, the Transjordan Government has called on the League in strong terms to cease its support of the Mufti.
US Embassy London reports that the UK Foreign Office is seeking the views of all British diplomatic missions in the Middle East on “what might be done about the Mufti who appears likely to be a major obstacle to settling the problem of the Arab part of Palestine.” The Foreign Office is considering the advisability of pointing out to the rulers of the Arab states the dangers which would arise from breaches of the truce by the Mufti irregulars and from the existence of a Mufti-controlled administration.
[The Mufti was the principal agitator since the 1920s. The desire to sideline him is indicative of the Arabs’ disinterest in the Palestinians’ position. King Abdullah sees him as a hindrance to the war and obstacle to his future control over the area he captured.]
September 14, 1948
PALESTINE: Arabs demand return of refugees – Secretary General Azzam Pasha of the Arab League recently told an official of US Embassy Cairo that the Arab countries would refuse to discuss a Palestine settlement until the right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes had been acknowledged by the UN and accepted by Israel. Azzam Pasha added that he had proposed to UN Mediator Bernadotte that the UN undertake to resettle 100,000 refugees in Haifa and Jaffa, which would become neutral zones under UN control. Azzam Pasha also mentioned to Bernadotte the possibility of achieving a settlement through the cantonization of Palestine into Jewish and Arab districts according to population.
(CIA Comment: It is extremely unlikely that the Provisional Government of Israel would agree to any of these proposals.)
September 18, 1948
THE ASSASSINATION OF COUNT BERNADOTTE
The assassination of Count Bernadotte, allegedly perpetrated by Stern Gang terrorists in the all-Jewish Katamon district of Jerusalem, increases the likelihood that a settlement will be achieved in Palestine. The revulsion of feeling throughout the world and the loss of prestige the UN would incur by failing to act may well galvanize the Security Council and the General Assembly into taking action which would not only strengthen its peace machinery in Palestine but also bring about a definitive solution of the entire Arab-Zionist issue. The Provisional Government of Israel (PGI), fearful of further antagonizing world opinion and of losing the decisive support which it has received from the US, will probably be more willing to keep the peace and to accept UN recommendations than in the past. Moreover, it will probably be compelled to attempt the immediate liquidation of the Stern Gang, and possibly Irgun Zvai Leumi as well, in order to ward off full responsibility for the crime. Such liquidations will cost the PGI the military and political strength which the Stern Gang and the Irgun Zvai Leumi have contributed to the Zionist cause and will also confront Israel with a serious internal security problem. Thus, Jewish military strength, which has motivated Jewish opposition to a genuine compromise settlement with the Arabs, will be sharply reduced.
Despite the strong temptation to seize Jerusalem while the Jews are embroiled in internal difficulties, the Arabs are not likely to take military action at this time. The organization of the Arab armies has apparently not advanced sufficiently to permit them to take immediate advantage of the situation. Moreover, the Arab governments are not likely to jeopardize the abundant propaganda benefits which will naturally accrue to the Arab cause as a consequence of Jewish responsibility for Bernadotte’s murder.
Because of these considerations. Count Bernadette’s official report to the Security Council, which will inevitably be endowed with greater significance because of its author’s tragic death, may well constitute a basis for a definitive solution of the Palestine issue.
[The assassination of Bernadotte did cause turmoil within Israel and produced bad publicity, but it did not change the basic dynamics on the ground – the Arabs remained unalterably opposed to accepting Israel and the Israelis had no intention of giving up their military gains or retreating from their commitment to independence in their homeland.]
September 23, 1948
US and UK urge acceptance of UN Mediator’s plan – The Department of State has instructed US representatives in Tel Aviv and the Arab capitals to urge acceptance of Count Bernadotte’s recommendations for Palestine. The Department instructs the representatives that even though acquiescence in the recommendations may be all that the US can hope for, it would be a tactical mistake to urge less than acceptance to the Near East countries.
US Ambassador Douglas in London transmits a message sent by the UK Foreign Office to British representatives in the Arab capitals strongly urging Arab acceptance of UN Mediator Bernadotte’s recommendations for Palestine. The Foreign Office endorses the Mediator’s proposal that Arab Palestine be incorporated in Transjordan because of the British view that Arab Palestine: (a) could not maintain itself as a separate state militarily, economically, or politically; (b) would be “a most uncomfortable neighbor” for the other Arab states because of the irresponsible elements who adhere to the Mufti and who would have prominent positions in the new state; and (c) would be so weak and inefficient that it would very shortly be subject to Jewish penetration. The Foreign Office declares that existing British guarantees to Iraq, Transjordan, and Egypt will be valid against any unprovoked aggression by the Jewish state.
[Ed: UK worries about the Mufti’s extremism and also remains committed to their creation – Transjordan – at the expense of Arab Palestine.]
UN officials press demilitarization of Jerusalem – US Consul General Macdonald in Jerusalem reports that acting UN Mediator Bunche and the UN Truce Commission will attempt to negotiate the demilitarization of Jerusalem as soon as possible, on the ground that the conciliatory attitude displayed by Israeli officials following the assassination of Count Bernadotte may be only temporary. Macdonald suggests that the Department of State might find it helpful to express informally to the Israeli representative in Washington its interest in the Jerusalem situation.
September 24, 1948
Israeli representatives comment on Bernadotte plan – US Embassy London reports that Israeli representatives in London and at the UN have expressed the feeling that Count Bernadotte’s plan represents a great advance over his previous proposals for Palestine. Both representatives, however, stressed Israel’s “strong sentimental attachment” for the Negeb (awarded to the Arabs under the Bernadotte plan). Embassy London received the impression from the Israeli representative that Israel was confident of obtaining sufficient backing in the UN to modify the plan with respect to the Negeb and to provide the Jews with a corridor to Jerusalem or at least “an enforced guarantee of access.” The representative appeared optimistic about gaining US support, hinting broadly that because of “its political repercussions in the US” Secretary of State Marshall’s statement in support of the plan might not be the final US word on the subject.
[Ed: State and Foreign Office strongly supported Bernadotte; however, Israel was unalterably opposed to giving up the Negev.]
September 29, 1948
UK pleased with prospects for Palestine settlement – A high UK official has informed US Embassy London of his belief that the UN General Assembly has a “splendid start” on the Bernadotte plan and that preliminary soundings of some non-Arab delegations show “a strong disposition to go along with the US and UK.” The British official believes that strong Arab and Jewish opposition is inevitable throughout the UN discussion but considers this a necessary prelude to acquiescence.
October 1, 1948
RIFT IN THE ARAB LEAGUE
The formation of a Palestine Arab Government (PAG) has caused a serious rift in the Arab League, which may lead even to open hostilities between the Arab Legion of King Abdullah of Transjordan, who is violently opposed to the PAG, and Arab guerrilla bands under the Grand Mufti, who strongly supports the PAG. In sponsoring the PAG, the majority of the Arab League states (especially Egypt and Syria) seek to: (a) establish a government which can speak for an Arab Palestine vis-a-vis Israel before the UN; (b) shift the main responsibilities for developments in Palestine from themselves and their armies to the new state; and (c) frustrate Abdullah’s plan to incorporate Arab Palestine into Transjordan.
Abdullah is in a strong position because his Arab Legion already occupies much of central Palestine, the Bernadotte plan recommends that Arab Palestine be annexed to Transjordan, and the UK is making vigorous representations to the other Arab States in support of Abdullah’s claims to Arab Palestine. However, the Mufti’s guerrilla bands; together with the formation of the PAG, are a serious threat to Abdullah’s position.
A critical factor in the situation will be the attitude of Iraq; traditionally an ally of Transjordan but now under great pressure from the Arab League to alter its alignment. With Iraq’s backing, Transjordan can flout the rest of the Arab League. However, if Iraq recognizes the PAG, Abdullah will probably be unable to make good his claims to Arab Palestine.
October 2 or October 3, 1948 [undated and garbled]
Possible Soviet reversal on Palestine – US embassy Moscow has been informed by an Arab source that Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Zorin told him that the Soviet position concerning Palestine is no longer subject to review because the partition plan of 29 November 1947 is not being carried out. The implication according to the source, was that a dramatic Soviet reversal might take place if the UN General Assembly attempted any solution for Palestine other than reaffirmation of its original resolution.
(CIA comment: CIA does not believe that the USSR will change its support in the General Assembly from the Israelis to the Arabs. CIA believes, however, that the Soviet Union will oppose the adoption of a solution based on the US-UK supported Bernadotte proposals and will insist upon the original UN partition plan.)
October 4, 1948
PALESTINE: US opposed to formation of Arab “government” – The Department of State has instructed US diplomatic representatives in the Arab capitals to point out in a “spirit of friendly counsel” that the US considers the establishment of the “Arab [rest of text missing]
October 7, 1948
PALESTINE: Necessity for aid to Arab refugees stressed – US Ambassador Griffis Cairo has learned from an American Red Cross representative that the Arab refugees have received substantially no food or goods from international sources. Griffis also reports that the relief organization set up by the UN Mediator has apparently been unable to obtain funds from the UN. Griffis says that Arab League leaders have declared their unwillingness to negotiate over the Bernadotte plan until the Jews permit the refugees to return to their homes.
October 8, 1948
Israeli official hopeful about UN decision – The Israeli representative in London has informed US Embassy London of his belief that “many UN delegations which were at first disposed to support the Bernadotte plan for Palestine were now pausing for second thoughts.” The Israeli representative is therefore hopeful that the UN decision on Palestine will be more favorable to Israel than the Bernadotte plan. The representative added that Israel did not want war but that, if hostility should be renewed, the Israeli forces would for the first time make an all-out effort to crush Arab resistance.
October 9, 1948
British attitude on Bernadotte plan – The British Foreign Office has stressed to US Embassy London the crucial importance of a firm stand by the US and UK against any amendments to the Bernadotte plan. The British believe that the strength of the plan “rests largely on US and UK solidarity in accepting the plan in its entirety.” The Foreign Office emphasizes that, although the UK has thus far firmly resisted Arab blandishments to induce the UK to abandon its support of the plan, this line can be continued only if the US likewise maintains its backing for the entire plan.
October 18, 1948
PALESTINE: Arab refugee problem held “catastrophic” – US Representative McDonald in Tel Aviv expresses the opinion that the Arab refugee problem is rapidly reaching catastrophic proportions and should be treated disaster. McDonald estimates that of the approximately 400,000 refugees, 100,000 will perish during the approaching winter. McDonald believes that present and prospective relief and resettlement resources are completely inadequate and that the whole problem should be turned over promptly to the International Red Cross.
[Ed: Note again the number of refugees is far lower than would be claimed decades later.]
October 19, 1948
PALESTINE: Israeli attacks add to refugee problem – US Representative Stabler in Amman has been informed by the British Minister to Transjordan that the Jewish offensive in the Negeb has induced a flight of Arab civilians from the nearby towns of Hebron and Bethlehem to Jericho. The British Minister pointed out that this development and the possibility of similar panic among Arabs in the old city of Jerusalem will intensify the already grave refugee problem.
October 21, 1948
Stronger SC action on Palestine held possibly necessary – The US Delegation to the UN believes that the Security Council’s latest Palestine cease-tire resolution “can only be described as a holding action.” The delegation feels that if the resolution is not sufficient to stop the fighting, to restore the “previous situation” in the Negeb, and to prevent the outbreak of hostilities elsewhere, the Security Council should give immediate consideration to further action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. (Chapter VII authorizes the use of sanctions against an offending party.)
October 22, 1948
US to remain firm on Palestine stand – In reply to the suggestion of the US delegation to the UN that stronger Security Council action may be necessary on the Palestine problem, the Department of State has declared that the US feels it must abide by: (a) its commitments under the UN charter; and (b) its previous statements advocating Security Council action under Chapter VII if such action becomes necessary to prevent further hostilities in Palestine. The Department expresses the desire of the US not to have to play the role of protagonist in the matter nor to have to speak first.
October 23, 1948
Jewish attack on Jerusalem feared – US consulate general Jerusalem considers that there now exists the possibility of the Arab-Jewish conflict in the Negeb shifting to Jerusalem. UN observers state that the Jews are concentrating troops in the Jerusalem area and that Brigadier Glubb Pasha, commander of the Arab Legion, has expressed great concern of the possibility of a Jewish attack. The Consulate General further considers that immediate UN action is most important in order to forestall further Jewish military action which might lead to the collapse of UN efforts in Palestine. The Consulate General urges that the Provisional Government of Israel be told unequivocally that Israel will derive no political advantage from military defeats they may inflict on the Arab armies.
October 25, 1948
Reported “conciliatory” Israeli attitude at UN – The US delegation to the UN has been informed by acting Palestine Mediator Bunche that Israeli UN representative Eban has recently taken a very conciliatory attitude toward the Bernadotte plan. According to Bunche, Eban indicated that Israel would be satisfied if the UN: (a) affirmed the existence of the Jewish state; (b) declared the termination of hostilities and the right of individual Arab refugees to return to their homes; and (c) referred to the proposed conciliation commission such matters as frontiers and access to Jerusalem. Eban also indicated that Israel would not resist the internationalization of Jerusalem.
(CIA comment: CIA doubts that Israeli representative Eban accurately reflects Israeli policy, particularly on the internationalization of Jerusalem. However, Eban’s proposals might indicate, in the light of Israel’s clear determination to win more territory before a final Palestine settlement, an effort to postpone UN action on Arab-Jewish boundaries. This maneuver would enable the Israelis to win recognition for Israel but provide them opportunity to further their territorial aims.)
UK concerned over UN delay on Palestine – A UK Foreign Office representative has told the US delegation to the UN that the British are fearful that delay in UN consideration of the Palestine question may permit major changes in the existing Arab and Jewish territorial positions. The Foreign Office representative believes that both the US and UK should guard against such changes and give all possible support to the Palestine mediator.
October 27, 1948
Strong SC action on Palestine urged – The US delegation to the UN in Paris has recommended to the Department of State that the US strongly support a projected British resolution which would: (a) endorse the acting UN Mediator’s order that both Arab and Israeli forces withdraw to their 14 October positions; and (b) appoint a Security Council committee to report on appropriate measures, including sanctions, which could be taken if either party refuses to comply. In discussing possible steps following the passage of such a resolution, the US delegation points out that refusal of either party to comply would be a most serious breach of the truce and the failure of the SC to take strong action at that time would not only further weaken the prestige of the SC and the US but would seriously impair the chances of a Palestine settlement based on the Bernadotte plan. The delegation further urges the US representatives in the Near East be instructed to press for prompt compliance with the Mediator’s 25 October order so that further deterioration of the truce, to the point requiring threatened SC sanctions, will be avoided.
(CIA comment: CIA believes that, unless the Security Council takes strong action immediately, the Israeli forces will not withdraw to their 14 October position and may even extend the scope of their present military operations.)
October 28, 1948
US to support British on Palestine resolution – Concerning the recommendation of the US delegation to the UN that the US strongly support the 28 October British resolution on Palestine, the Department of State has instructed the delegation to limit its action to brief endorsement and favorable vote on the resolution. (The British resolution endorses the Acting Mediator’s recent order that both sides in Palestine withdraw to their 14 October positions and directs the appointment of a Security Council committee to examine appropriate measures to be taken subsequent to non-compliance by either belligerent.)
November 8, 1948
US favors truce negotiations in Palestine – Concerning the Palestine problem, the Department of State has instructed the US delegation at the UN: (a) to vote against the British proposal to apply to the northern Palestine front the 4 November Security Council resolution demanding troop withdrawals in the Negeb; (b) to support the proposal of UN Acting Mediator Bunche which requests the Arabs and Jews to enter into immediate negotiations with the intention of settling all truce problems and establishing an armistice; and (c} not to cosponsor or introduce the Bunche resolution. The US delegation has previously reported that the British do not appear “to hold too strongly” to their proposal and that Canada may be inclined to sponsor Bunche’s suggestion.
November 10, 1948
Possibility of Arab-Jewish negotiations – The Arab military governor in Jerusalem has informed US Vice Consul Burdette that no military accord exists between Arab and Jewish forces, although the governor considers it possible that informal political talks may be taking place between Israel and Egypt or Transjordan. The military governor believes that all the Arab rulers are reluctant to seek negotiations openly for fear of being branded traitors but would welcome peace talks through the UN.
[Ed: The Arab rulers were brutal dictators and yet reports repeatedly excuse their refusal to make peace by arguing their people would revolt against them without presenting any evidence for the fear.]
November 18, 1948
PALESTINE: Arabs may be willing to negotiate – The Prime Minister of Transjordan has informed US Representative Stabler that all the delegations at a recent Arab League meeting appeared to consider that further postponement of a Palestine settlement would not be advantageous to the Arabs. The Prime Minister feels that the 16 November UN resolution (which urges an armistice, with a demilitarized area between Arab and Jewish forces) might provide an opening for the Arabs to commence negotiations with the Jews. The Prime Minister declared that if the other Arab states agreed to negotiate with the Jews and wished to place the blame on Transjordan for such a move, Transjordan would not object.
[Ed: A week earlier the claim was they could not negotiate for fear of being labeled traitors.]
November 22, 1948
British reaction to US speech on Palestine – US Embassy London reports that there has been “a very unfavorable” reaction by the UK Foreign Office to US Delegate Jessup’s 20 November speech on Palestine before the General Assembly. According to the Embassy, the aspects of the speech that particularly disturbed the Foreign Office were: (a) the abandonment of the principal that the General Assembly lay down a final settlement and subsequently call for acquiescence by the parties; and (b) the position that the partition plan boundaries can be changed only with Israeli consent.
December 8, 1948
UK to take no further initiative in UN on Palestine – A British Foreign Office official has informed US Embassy London that the UK has decided to take no further initiative regarding Palestine at the General Assembly. The Foreign Office has instructed the UK delegation at the UN that it should not join in “any lobbying” and should advise the Arab delegates of the British view that their opposition to the UK draft resolution: (a)is highly irresponsible and prejudicial to the best interests of the Arabs; and (b) makes it practically impossible for the British delegation to attempt to cooperate with the Arab delegates any more.
December 9, 1948
UN Mediator considers time ripe to force Arab-Jewish agreement – According to US Consu1 Burdette in Jerusalem, acting UN Mediator Bunche believes that the psychological moment has arrived to exert strong pressure for an Arab-Jewish agreement. Bunche points out that: (a) Lebanon desires no further involvement in Palestine; (b) Syria is incapable of military action; and (c) King Abdullah of Transjordan has “pleaded” for strong UN directives that an armistice be reached with the Jews. Bunche adds that the main difficulty has come over Jewish-Egyptian negotiations, but that the Egyptians have now agreed to permanent truce lines. According to the US delegation at the UN, Bunche also regards the failure of the US to recognize Transjordan to be a real factor in the problem because non-recognition has made Transjordan more hesitant about taking the initiative in political discussions with the Jews.
[Ed: At this point the Arab defeat is clear, and they are expressing increasing desperation to extricate their armies from Palestine.]
December 11, 1948
TRANSJORDAN: US recognition urged – The US Representative at Amman concurs in the belief of UN Mediator Bunche that extension of de facto recognition by the US to Transjordan might have a desirable stabilizing effect on the work of the proposed UN conciliation commission and contribute to a final settlement of the Palestine problem. The US Representative considers that US recognition, by putting Transjordan on an equal footing with Israel and Egypt, would help to overcome the reluctance of Transjordan to extend current talks with the Israelis to the political level. US Ambassador Douglas in London transmits his belief that the British Foreign Office would welcome US recognition of Transjordan as a definite contribution to Middle East stability.
December 27, 1948
US not to support British Palestine resolution – The Department of State has instructed US Representative Jessup at the UN not to support a draft resolution which the UK intends to introduce if the UN Palestine Mediator confirms reports of recent fighting in the Negeb. The proposed British resolution would: (a) reaffirm the 4 November and 16 November resolutions (which call on Israel and Egypt to withdraw from the Negeb and undertake negotiations of all outstanding issues); (b) ask the SC to consider possible action under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter (presumably sanctions against Israel); and (c) fix a time limit within which Israel and Egypt must comply with the SC resolutions of 4 November and 16 November. The Department considers that US support for the resolution would gravely jeopardize the position of the US on the recently farmed Palestine Conciliation Commission, especially since the Israeli Government does not regard the other two members (France and Turkey) as friendly to Israel.
December 30, 1948
PALESTINE: Transjordan fearful of Israeli attack – US Representative Stabler in Amman has learned that at a recent meeting between Israeli and Transjordan representatives, the Israelis asserted that Israel is no longer interested in maintaining the armistice between the two countries and insisted on immediate peace talks. According to Stabler, King Abdullah feels that the Israelis are prepared to resume hostilities to achieve their ends and will attack the Arab Legion or the Iraqi Army, or both, unless Transjordan agrees immediately to peace negotiations.
(CIA Comment: CIA believes that Israel is fully prepared to continue military operations and at most will be only temporarily restrained by the Security Council’s cease-fire resolution of 29 December.)
December 31, 1948
US issues warning to Israeli Government – By direction of President Truman, the Department of State has instructed US Representative McDonald in Tel Aviv to inform the PGI (Provisional Government of Israel) that the US is “most deeply disturbed” by apparently authentic reports that Israeli forces have invaded Egyptian territory in “a deliberately planned military operation.” McDonald is to call the attention of the PGI to the grave possibility that by ill-advised action Israel may: (a) jeopardize peace in the Middle East; (b) cause reconsideration of Israel’s application for UN membership; and (c) make it necessary for the US to reconsider its relations with Israel. The Department instructs McDonald also to inform the PGI that if reports of its threatening attitude towards Transjordan should be confirmed, the US would again have no course but to undertake a substantial review of its attitude toward Israel.
Israeli invasion now confirmed – US embassy London has learned from the UK Foreign Office that reconnaissance of the El Arish area by the RAF indicates the presence of Israeli forces about 20 miles inside Egypt. According to the embassy, the Foreign Office considers this evidence to be conclusive confirmation of Israel’s armed incursion into Egyptian territory.
[Ed: It is not clear if this message is from the White House through the State Department or State acting on its own in its ongoing effort to constrain Israel. Regardless, it is an indication of the willingness of U.S. officials to threaten Israel with dire consequences if it fails to heed American demands.]
January 3, 1949
Israel orders withdrawal of units from Egypt – US representative McDonald in Tel Aviv reports that in accord with the Department of State’s instructions he has informed the Israeli Government of the US views concerning the Israeli invasion of Egypt. The Israeli Foreign Office has advised MacDonald that orders have been issued for the withdrawal of Israeli units from Egyptian territory.
US urges British to restrain Egyptians – The Department of State has expressed to US Embassy London its strong belief in view of Israel’s order to withdraw all troops from Egyptian soil as result of US representations, that the British should impress on the Egyptians the necessity of refraining from further attacks similar to the 1 January attack on Tel Aviv. The Department fears that otherwise a chain of reprisals may jeopardize the progress which has been made so far toward a final settlement. The Department advises the Embassy that this view has been officially conveyed to the UK through the British Embassy in Washington
British reportedly will send troops to Transjordan – US representative Stabler in Amman has learned from officials of the British legation that the UK has decided to send to “a unit of ground forces” to the Transjordan port of Aqaba. Stabler understands that the British will announce that the troop movement is in response to Transjordan’s request, based on the Anglo-Transjordan treaty.
January 4, 1949
US comments on Israeli reaction to representations – The Department of State has informed US representative McDonald In Tel Aviv of its surprise at the comments made by Israeli officials on the US representations concerning Israel’s invasion of Egypt. The Department instructs McDonald to inform the PGI (Provisional Government of Israel) that the US has important interests in the Middle East and that the Israelis therefore have no just grounds on which to resent the fact that the US should react strongly to any action by either Israelis or Arabs which might threaten to enlarge the Palestine conflict. McDonald is also to inform the PGI that the US is making strong representations to Egypt concerning the Egyptian hostilities against Israel.
US representations to Egypt – the Department of State has instructed US Embassy Cairo to inform King Farouk of the deep concern of the US over the renewed outbreak of hostilities between Israeli and Egyptian forces in the Negeb and to express the conviction of the US Government and people that the time has come to make peace in Palestine. The Embassy is to point out that the Provisional Government of Israel, in response to US representations, has promised to withdraw its forces from Egypt and that the US expects Egypt to act with “wise restraint” concerning further hostilities against Israel. The Embassy is also to inform Farouk that the US would be encouraged if the Egyptian government would promptly undertake Armistice negotiations with Israel as recommended by the Security Council on 16 November.
January 5, 1949
Palestine: Reported progress in Israeli-Transjordan talks – US representative Stabler in Amman reports that “good progress” is apparently being made in Israeli-Transjordan negotiations and that the next meeting will be held in Jerusalem on 5 January. Stabler adds that the Israeli attitude was apparently more cordial at the last meeting than in previous sessions.
January 6, 1949
Palestine: US urges Egypt and Israel to effect cease-fire – The Department of State has instructed US Embassy Cairo to express to the Egyptian government the hope of the US that Egypt will not alter its expressed readiness to enter into talks with the Provisional Government of Israel (PGI) even though the PGI did not accept the Security Council’s cease fire before the 5 January deadline set by Egypt. The Department considers that a reasonable opportunity should be given the PGI in which to accept the Egyptian offer. In a parallel message to US Representative McDonald in Tel Aviv, the Department has instructed McDonald to inform the PGI that the US trusts that it may be still possible for Israel and Egypt to enter into negotiations following a prompt and effective cease-fire. The US representatives in both Cairo and Tel Aviv are to point out that the US is making similar representation to each government.
January 8, 1949
Premier Spaak’s views on Israeli aggression – Belgian Premier Spaak has expressed to US Ambassador Kirk in Brussels his concern over the Palestine situation, declaring that the “small military successes” of the Israelis have gone to their heads. Spaak regards the recent advance into Egypt as very dangerous and expresses his understanding of the UK’s concern over the incident. Spaak believes that Israel’s “martial ventures” must be ended as quickly as possible, and he suggested that the US would do well “to put the brakes on the Provisional Government of Israel.”
January 13, 1949
Egypt to stress military aspects in Rhodes talks – US Charge Patterson in Cairo has been informed by Prime Minister Hadi Pasha that Egypt considers the Rhodes conversations with Israel to be designed primarily to implement the Security Council resolutions of 4 and 16 November 1948 rather than to obtain a general political settlement. According to Patterson, Hadi gave no indication that the RAF incident would have any direct bearing on the Rhodes talks and allowed it to be understood that if discussions on the military level proved productive, Egypt might then consider continuing the talks on a wider basis.
January 14, 1949
US views on Palestine settlement – The Department of State has informed US Embassy London that the British Ambassador in Washington, under the personal instructions of Foreign Secretary Bevin, recently requested a clear statement of US views on a final territorial settlement in Palestine in the light of common US-UK strategic interests in the Middle East. Bevin was particularly interested in ascertaining the US attitude toward the maintenance of strategic land communications between Egypt and the other Arab states, specifically the road from the Negeb to Transjordan. Acting Secretary Lovett [rest of report missing].
January 15, 1949
Palestine: Israelis urge immediate settlement for Jerusalem – US Consulate General Jerusalem reports that an Israeli representative has expressed to the French Consul General his pessimism regarding current talks on Jerusalem between Israel and Transjordan and Israel’s desire for French and US pressure to secure a prompt separate settlement on the status of the city. According to the Consulate General, the Israeli representative indicated that his government was willing to make specific territorial concessions in order to secure a quick settlement, but added that Israel was capable of solving the problem by force, if necessary. The Consulate general expresses the belief that: (a) the proposed division of the city is “extremely favorable” to the Arabs; (b) the Jews although genuinely desirous of peace, will resort to force if the prospects for an immediate settlement do not improve and; (c) the US should, therefore, seize the present opportunity and press for a prompt settlement of the Jerusalem problem.
January 19, 1949
Closer US-UK understanding on Palestine envisaged – US Charge Holmes in London expresses the belief that President Truman and the Acting Secretary of State, by their recent talks with the British Ambassador on the Palestine issue, have made a “genuine contribution” to US-UK understanding and have made US thinking clearer to the British cabinet than ever before. Holmes feels that as a result of the authoritative and unequivocal statement of US policy by the President and the Acting Secretary, sympathetically transmitted to the British Ambassador, the British now know “where they stand” and realize that the US has a “reasoned point of view” on the Middle East. Homes adds that these statements have also ended Foreign Secretary Bevin’s hopes of obtaining US-British cooperation on British terms. Holmes hazards the guess that the UK will do as little as possible about Palestine in the immediate future and will progressively but quietly unbend toward the Provisional Government of Israel.
January 21, 1949
PALESTINE: UK urges Arab states to seek settlement – US Embassy London reports that the British Foreign Office has sent a circular message urging the Arab governments to make armistice agreements with the Provisional Government of Israel and then to commence final negotiations, either through the UN Conciliation Commission or directly. According to the Embassy, the British recommended that the Arab states coordinate their policies for this purpose.
January 25, 1949
US stresses importance of Rhodes talks – The Department of State has informed the US Mission in Tel Aviv of recent conversations with the Israeli and Egyptian representatives in Washington. The Department advised the Israeli representative of its apprehension over reports indicating that Israel had postponed evacuation of Egyptian forces trapped at Faluja, despite a voluntary agreement entered into by Israeli and Egyptian delegates at Rhodes for the unconditional release of these forces. The Department also stressed to both the Egyptian and Israeli representatives the hope that neither government would take a position which would cause the armistice negotiations at Rhodes to breakdown, because the US very much desires a prompt and successful conclusion to the negotiations.
Transjordan prepared to negotiate with Israelis – King Abdullah has informed US Representative Stabler that he is still awaiting from the UN Acting Mediator a formal invitation for Transjordan to send delegates to the Egyptian-Israeli armistice talks at Rhodes. Abdullah declared that if the invitation did not arrive by 29 January, he planned to instruct his government to enter into direct peace negotiations with Israel. Abdullah added that in this connection he had two worries: (a) possible Israeli trickery and intransigence; and (b) his own desire to retain his position in the Arab world. He expressed the hope that with regard to both points he would find “friendship and understanding” on the part of the US and the UK.
[Ed: Abdullah consistently looked after his own interests but also was worried about the backlash he might face from other Arab governments if he pursued peace with Israel.]
PALESTINE: Bunche considers armistice still possible – According to US Charge Patterson in Cairo, UN Acting Mediator Bunche has transmitted in a personal letter his opinion that the failure to conclude an Israeli-Egyptian armistice at Rhodes was not due to any lack of good faith on the part of the Egyptian representatives. Bunche believes that an armistice can be concluded despite the narrow and rigid approach taken by the Israelis with regard to the withdrawal of their forces in the Negeb. Bunche declared, however, that if an armistice is to be achieved the Israelis must be persuaded to be more generous and to cease their attempts to exclude the Arabs from the Negeb.
[Ed: As was the case with his predecessor, Bunche wanted Israel to give up at least part of the Negev; however, Israel considered the area essential for settling the expected influx of new immigrants and to serve as a buffer protecting the country from a future Egyptian invasion.]
January 29, 1949
Bunche reports “complete impasse” at Rhodes – According to the US Delegation at the UN in New York, Acting UN Mediator Bunche has expressed to UN Secretary General Lie his “inescapable conclusion” that the prospects for an Israeli- Egyptian armistice agreement at Rhodes are “virtually nil.” Bunche reports that although he has exerted every effort to induce concessions, both delegations have remained adamant. Bunche adds that despite this “complete impasse,” neither delegation wishes to take the responsibility of walking out of the conference. Bunche reports that as a last alternative he will seek an indefinite adjournment of the talks rather than their termination. Bunche suggest that some form of Security Council intervention now might be helpful, pointing out that the possibility of renewed fighting will be greatly increased if no agreement is signed.
[Ed: Israel hoped Egypt would be induced to sign a peace treaty; however, the government had no intention of doing so and, even after signing an armistice agreement, remained belligerent. It would be more than 30 years, and four additional wars, before Egypt would agree to a peace treaty with Israel.]
PALESTINE: Rhodes deadlock continues – US embassy Cairo reports that Egypt is unwilling to accept, as a basis for an armistice agreement with Israel, the partial withdrawal of Israeli forces from the key road junction of El Auja, as proposed by Israeli officials. The Egyptian Government informed the Embassy that it could not consider the El Auja proposal until Israel has demonstrated its good faith by an unconditional release of the Egyptian garrison at Faluja, “as already agreed upon between Egyptian and Israeli Rhodes negotiators.” (The Department of State had instructed US Embassy Cairo to express to the Egyptian Government the earnest hope that Egypt would try to reach an armistice agreement with Israel on the basis of the proposed El Auja compromise.)
February 4, 1949
PALESTINE: Israeli steps toward absorbing Jerusalem – US Consulate General in Jerusalem expresses the view that the extension of Israeli civil law to the Jerusalem area is tantamount to incorporation of the Jewish-held sections of the city into the state of Israel. The Consulate declares that this action “faces the UN and US with a virtual fate accompli.” In the Consulate’s opinion, the Department of State should officially declare that: (a) US de jure recognition of Israel does not extend to the incorporation of any portion of Jerusalem into Israel; and (b) the US firmly supports the UN view that Jerusalem should be an international city.
Transjordan favors partition of Jerusalem – US Representative McDonald in Tel Aviv has been reliably informed that King Abdullah of Transjordan recently expressed his opposition to the internationalization of Jerusalem and his preference for partition. Abdullah reportedly favors the assignment of part of the city to Transjordan and part to Israel, with both parts remaining under some form of UN supervision.
[Ed: Jewish leaders had only accepted the internationalization of Jerusalem as the price for UN approval of partition; however, once the Arabs had invaded, they rejected the idea and made the city its capital. As indicated here, Abdullah also opposed internationalization and was determined to hold onto his half of the city (which included the Old City). For the next several years the UN passed resolutions calling for internationalization of the city, but after being ignored by Jordan and Israel eventually dropped the idea though it has been raised in more recent years as a solution to the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians over the city. Neither, however, has accepted the idea.]
February 7, 1949
PALESTINE: Israel noncommittal to US compromise appeal – Israeli Foreign Minister Shertok has been presented with a memorandum from the US Department of State expressing the earnest hope that Israel will follow Egypt’s lead in accepting UN Acting Mediator Bunche’s draft proposal at Rhodes as a possible basis for agreement. McDonald in Tel Aviv reports that Shertok, before departing for a Cabinet meeting at which the US memorandum was presumably to be discussed, responded by pointing out that Israel had already made several concessions and by expressing the view that the Bunche proposal called for abandonment of vital strongpoints so as to leave Israel “wide open” if Egypt should resume hostilities. McDonald comments that he is uncertain about what results the US memorandum may have, in view of Israel’s “basic fear” of Egyptian strength.
Concurrently, Mark Ethridge (US member on the Conciliation Commission) transmits from Jerusalem the opinion of UN Acting Mediator Bunche that the Egyptians have made “very substantial concessions” and that an armistice would be in sight if the Israelis would do likewise.
February 14, 1949
Palestine: US-UK statement urged – US Ambassador Griffis in Cairo transmits his opinion (in which Mark Ethridge concurs) that no final settlement in Palestine can be reached prior to high level agreement between the US and UK regarding: (a) Jewish-Arab borders; (b) rehabilitation of refugees; and (c) internationalization of Jerusalem. According to Griffis, the Egyptians, who realize other Arab states except Transjordan have little further interest in the problem, want to be “coerced” into a solution. Griffis, therefore, feels that a strong public statement made jointly by the US and UK would go far toward promoting a settlement. He adds, however, that such a statement would have to be backed by the strongest representations to both Egypt and Israel at the highest US and UK levels.
Israelis reported adamant at Rhodes – According to US Consulate General Jerusalem, UN Acting Mediator Bunche has informed Mark Ethridge that the Israeli delegation at Rhodes continues to be completely adamant on all important points. According to bunch Bunche, the Egyptians assert they will make no more concessions until the Israelis “throw in some.”
March 10, 1949
Israeli military moves – US Charge Stabler in Amman has been notified by King Abdullah of Transjordan and by Arab Legion Commander Glubb Pasha that Israeli forces have invaded Transjordan proper and have attacked an Arab Legion post inside the frontier. Stabler was similarly informed that other Israeli columns are continuing their advance through the Negeb toward the Gulf of Aqaba. (Meanwhile, the US Military Attache in Baghdad has been informed of Israeli troop concentrations opposite the Iraqi forces in Central Palestine.)
The Department of State has expressed to the Israeli government its gravest concern over the situation and has warned of the serious consequences if the reported Israeli incursion to Transjordan should be verified.
(CIA Comment: whether or not Israeli troops have invaded Transjordan, their advance through the Negeb violates the UN Truce of July 1948. CIA believes that this movement indicates a clear intention on the part of Israel to seize territory in Palestine and present the UN and the Conciliation Commission with a new fate accompli. Such a seizure would: (a) go far to complicate the work of the UN Commission; (b) virtually preclude application of the proposed formula whereby Israel would provide compensation for territory it retains outside the UN partition boundaries; and (c) give further support to the Arab contention that Israel does not have peaceful intentions but is acting aggressively and in bad faith.)
[Ed: Once Israelis forces gained an advantage in the summer of 1948, the British and, to a lesser extent, the United States, wanted to prevent them from capturing additional territory.]
March 11, 1949
PALESTINE: Israeli advance seen as threat to settlement – US Consulate General Jerusalem expresses the view that the Israeli advance into the southeastern Negeb: (a) constitutes a violation of the Security Council truce resolution of July 1948; and (b) is apparently intended to present the UN with a fait accompli before permanent armistice lines are drawn during the Transjordan-Israeli negotiations at Rhodes. The Consulate declares that the Israeli advance, besides jeopardizing the Rhodes negotiations and the work of the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission, will destroy the slowly developing willingness of the Arab states to negotiate a settlement with Israel. In the Consulate’s opinion, strongest representation should be made to the Israeli government against Israeli incursions into Transjordan and also against any advance by Israeli forces into the negative.
British instructions to Aqaba garrison – According to US Embassy London, the British War Office has sent the following instructions to the commander of the Aqaba garrison: (a) if Israeli forces open fire, either from Palestine territory or after crossing the Transjordan frontier, the fire is to be returned; (b) if Israeli troops cross the Transjordan frontier without firing, the British commander is to warn them not to approach and then open fire if the warning is disregarded; and (c) if Israeli aircraft fly over British positions, they are to be engaged whether or not they take offensive action. The Embassy adds that Acting UN Mediator Bunche and the Israeli Government have been informed of these instructions.
(CIA Comment: it is unlikely that the Israelis will initiate offensive action against the British or invade Transjordan territory again intentionally.)
[Ed: The reports consistently refer to pressure on Israel but do not mention any pressure to restrain the Arab forces. The Arab states never agreed to negotiate peace – Iraq refused to even sign an armistice agreement – so it is unclear where the British and U.S. got the impression that changing Israeli behavior would result in peace.]
March 12, 1949
PALESTINE: Israeli invasion unconfirmed by UN observers – US Charge Stabler in Amman reports that preliminary accounts from UN observers in the area indicate Israeli forces have not crossed into Transjordan territory. Stabler adds, however, that government circles in Transjordan have been badly shaken by Israeli actions in the Negeb. According to Stabler, there are indications that Transjordan officials, though possibly still willing to conclude a peace agreement at Rhodes despite Israeli occupation of the Negeb, are uncertain whether Israel will cease its expansion moves and are fearful of an attack on the Arab-controlled area in north central Palestine. Stabler urgently recommends that the US warn the Government of Israel of the serious consequences upon its relations with the US if Israel undertakes this or any other aggressive action.
March 18, 1949
Bunche reports Israeli intransigence threatens talks – According to the US delegation at the UN, mediator Bunche has reported that an armistice between Lebanon and Israel is being blocked solely by Israeli intransigence on the subject of the removal of its forces from Lebanon. The Israelis reportedly demand Lebanese permission to retain forces in Lebanon until Syria concludes an armistice. Bunche has declared that he feels so strongly on this matter that unless Israel changes its position within the next few days, he will inform the Security Council that Israel is deliberately blocking a Lebanese agreement and will seriously consider withdrawing altogether from the armistice talks.
March 19, 1949
British concern over Israeli intentions – UK Foreign Secretary Bevin has expressed to US Ambassador Douglas in London his concern regarding Israeli intentions, particularly the possibility that the next Israeli move might be against Arab positions in north central Palestine. Bevin asked that Secretary Acheson be informed of his view that another Israeli fate accompli might damage UN prestige irreparably and confirm the Arab belief that they can expect no help from the west. On the subject of western aid, Bevin told Douglas that it is becoming more and more “ridiculous” for the UK to refuse arms and ammunition for the Arab Legion when arms continued to flow into Israel on a large scale. He indicated that although the British have given the Legion no war materials as yet, it will be “extremely difficult” for him to continue making flat refusals to King Abdullah’s requests. Douglas reports that Bevin informed him tangentially that the Conservative Party plans next week to attack the Government for “jeopardizing the vital UK-Transjordan friendship.”
The Department of State has informed Ambassador Douglas that the British Embassy in Washington has declared “it will no longer be possible to refuse to send arms to the Arab Legion.” The Department indicates that great concern was expressed at “the working level” over the this possible move and that it was pointed out what an adverse effect this would have on armistice negotiations, emphasizing the likelihood of pressure for the removal of the arms embargo against Israel and the possibility that the Israelis might seize upon this pretext to reopen hostilities.
March 21, 1949
PALESTINE: US concern over Iraqi front – The Department of State has advised US Ambassador McDonald in Tel Aviv of its concern over the possibility of an outbreak of fighting on the Iraqi front in Samaria (north central Palestine). The Department believes, in view of this possibility, that: (a) everything possible should be done to facilitate the rapid conclusion of an Israeli-Transjordan armistice agreement; (b) such an agreement should be extended to the Iraqi front; and (c) Israel should interpose no objection if Iraq turns the Samaria front over to Transjordan. The Department adds that it might be desirable to have the present ceasefire agreement extend automatically to the Iraqi front at the time that Transjordan assumes responsibility for it.
March 24, 1949
Transjordan reports ultimatum from Israel – King Abdullah of Transjordan has informed US Charge Stabler in Amman that at the 22 March Israeli-Transjordan meeting, Israeli representatives made detailed demands for frontline adjustments on the north-central front. According to Abdullah, the Israelis announced that unless their final demands were incorporated into a formal agreement within 24 hours, they would not acquiescence to the proposal that Transjordan take over the Iraqi front in Palestine. Stabler adds that Abdullah will attempt to obtain more reasonable adjustments if he could be certain that the US would prevent Israel from reopening hostilities.
March 28, 1949
US position regarding Israeli-Transjordan negotiations – The Department of State has advised US Representative Stabler in Amman of its view that US representations to Israel regarding current negotiations with Transjordan would not be productive at this time. The Department authorized Stabler, however, to tell King Abdullah that the US would be prepared to give strong advice against any action leading to a serious breach of the secret Israeli-Transjordan agreement. In reply, Stabler has indicated that he still believes the US should take a stronger line toward the Israelis in view of their “defiant and threatening attitude.” Stabler suggests if the US does not take such a line, Israel may extend its frontiers to the Jordan before peace is concluded in Palestine.
[Ed: State Department remains concerned with Israel’s behavior and wants tougher position to prevent its expansion.]
March 29, 1949
President advises Abdullah of US position – US Representative Stabler in Amman has been instructed to transmit a message from President Truman to King Abdullah of Transjordan concerning the attitude of the US toward territorial adjustments in Palestine. The President’s message reiterates the US view that Israel should offer territorial compensation for any additions to its territory beyond the boundaries established in the UN resolution of 29 November 1948. After pointing out that the draft Israeli-Transjordan agreement stipulates that its provisions will not prejudice an ultimate political settlement between the parties, the message assures King Abdullah that the US would regard any attempt at a major break of the agreement as a serious obstacle to peace in Palestine and would be prepared to make strong representations to any party making such an attempt.
[Ed: Pressure is again being applied to Israel to accept the boundaries of the partition resolution whereas there is no mention of Abdullah’s seizure of the territory allocated to the Arab state as well has part of Jerusalem.]
PRELIMINARY APPRAISAL OF THE MILITARY COUP IN SYRIA
Colonel Husni Zaim, Chief of Staff of the Syrian army, seized control of the Syrian government on 30 March. Although detailed information is lacking, Zaim and his ultranationalist followers will probably be able to consolidate their control over the Government and, by ruling with a strong hand, may be able to solve many of serious internal difficulties. Despite Zaim’s nationalistic program, US-Syrian relations are not expected to deteriorate appreciably (Zaim is personally friendly toward the West). However, the coup will probably have certain adverse effects. It will check the scheduled Syrian-Israeli armistice talks; Zaim will unquestionably cite the decision of the previous government to enter into these negotiations as proof of that government’s unfitness to remain in office. There will also be inevitable delays in the ratification of the agreement for the Trans-Arabian petroleum pipeline and the French-Syrian financial agreement. Moreover, the danger exists that the Syrian coup may provoke disturbances in other Arab states, particularly Iraq and Egypt. Neither of these countries is sufficiently stable politically to ensure surviving a serious local outbreak.
April 1, 1949
PALESTINE: UN effort seen blocked by Israeli attitude – US Representative Ethridge concludes, in a review of the work of the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission to date, that Israeli cooperation with the Commission is unlikely unless the UN and its member states are willing to back the Commission as an agency for facilitating a settlement of all outstanding issues. Ethridge considers that the Israelis have no respect for either the Commission or the Arab states and are apparently convinced that Israel can progress only by military means. Ethridge comments that in view of Israeli intransigence the Commission has had as much success with the Arabs as might be expected.
April 6, 1949
Israeli thrust into Syria reported – US representative Ethridge in Beirut transmits reports from UN observers that Israeli forces made an incursion into Syrian territory on 5 April and that a general mobilization has been ordered in Syria. (Israeli-Syrian armistice negotiations had been scheduled to open on 5 April.) Meanwhile, Acting Mediator Bunche has made strong representations to the Israeli Government, pointing out that the Israeli incursion is “a most flagrant and dangerous violation” of the Security Council truce order and insisting that any Israeli forces beyond the Syrian frontier be withdrawn immediately.
April 7, 1949
Israeli foreign minister given US views on Palestine – Secretary Acheson has informed Israeli Foreign Minister Sharett that President Truman holds the following views regarding the Palestine situation: (a) Israel must be prepared to offer territorial concessions in exchange for any increase over the 29 November territorial allocation it wishes to retain; (b) the concept of internationalization for Jerusalem still should be supported, although local Arab and Israeli government might be arranged under trusteeships recognizing international interest in the Holy Places; and (3) Israel should attempt immediate repatriation of perhaps one-fourth of the eligible Arab refugees. The Secretary pointed out that Israeli action on the refugee question would not only constitute a real contribution to a political settlement but would also “make it possible” for the President to continue his “strong and warm support of Israel.” After Sharett had reiterated the Israeli position that the refugee problem can be solved only in the final settlement, the Secretary suggested that Israel at least indicate its willingness to accept a certain number of refugees and take further action as peace negotiations progress.
US Ambassador McDonald in Tel Aviv has been instructed to communicate the results of this interview to Prime Minister Ben Gurion and also to express the serious concern of the US over reports of an Israeli incursion into Syrian territory. McDonald is to state that confirmation of these reports would necessarily make a most unfavorable impression, particularly in view of the current consideration of Israel from membership in the UN.
[Ed: Israel is once again seen as the party creating problems and is not very subtly threatened that if it does not offer a deal on refugees and cease any action against Syria, U.S. support for Israel and its application for membership in the UN may be in jeopardy. The following paragraph expresses support for recognizing the new government in Syria.]
April 8, 1949
PALESTINE: Israeli withdrawal from Syria – The US delegation to the UN transmits UN Mediator Bunche’s confirmation of the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Syria. Bunche considers that issue now closed and his notified Secretary General Lie that Israeli-Syrian armistice talks will open on 8 April.
April 18, 1949
Israel and Transjordan may bypass UN Commission – US Charge Stabler in Amman expresses his concern that Israel and Transjordan may conclude a separate peace settlement which will settle the future of Jerusalem without regard for international interest, thereby relegating the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission to a position of insignificance. After pointing out that the Israeli-Transjordanian armistice provides for a special committee to negotiate such a final settlement, Stabler expresses the view that King Abdullah is likely to accede to Israeli pressure to set up such a committee soon and that Abdullah would be inclined to a accede “somewhat too rapidly and generously” to Israeli demands. Stabler suggests that US advise Abdullah at least to await the outcome of the UN Commission’s Lausanne conference before proceeding far with direct negotiations.
[Ed: After months of pressing for a peace agreement, the State Department now wants to prevent Israel and Jordan from negotiating an agreement on their own.]
April 22, 1949
US assurances to Arab states urged – The US Consulate General in Jerusalem suggests that, in order to restore peace in Palestine and long-term stability in the Middle East, the US should give assurances to the Arab states that US is prepared to make strongest representations to Israel against the threat or use of force both during and after the 26 April peace negotiations at Lausanne. The Consulate believes that such assurances are necessary in order to restore Arab confidence and to free the Arabs from fear of the kind of military pressure they experienced during the recent armistice negotiations. The Consulate adds that postponement until September of the Israeli application for UN membership would demonstrate to Israel that it cannot continue to ignore world opinion with impunity.
[Ed: Israel again is threatened if it does not behave. The State Department does not seem to remember who invaded Palestine less than a year earlier.]
April 28, 1949
US not to press Israeli UN membership – The Department of State has informed the US delegation to the UN that the US is not yet in a position to sponsor a resolution for Israel’s admission to the UN. The Department indicates that the US awaits Israeli assurances concerning the status of Jerusalem, the Arab refugee problem, and territorial settlement, so that a favorable atmosphere will be created for Israel’s admission. The US will still support the Israeli application, whenever the General Assembly actually considers it.
[Ed: There is no mention of the Arabs having any obligation to address the refugee problem or reach a peace agreement with Israel nor is there any reference to Jordan’s occupation of Jerusalem.]
April 30, 1949
Strained relations between Syria and Transjordan – US Charge Stabler in Amman reports that, following Syrian radio attacks on King Abdullah in Transjordan, the Amman press and radio have begun a campaign of criticism against Syria. Stabler considers it likely that the propaganda battle will become intensified and that Abdullah will make ill-advised statements concerning the Greater Syria issue “which will only add fuel to the flames.”
May 3, 1949
Department favors new plan to internationalize Jerusalem – The Department of State has informed the US member of the Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) that it approves the plan for internationalizing Jerusalem prepared by the PCC Secretariat. This plan provides for: (a) an international authority exercising actual governing power only over the Holy Places, reserving all other powers to the Jewish and Arab authorities in their respective zones; (b) demilitarization of the area; (c) an administrative council, composed of Arabs, Jews, and neutrals, responsible for matters of common concern to both zones; and (d) an international tribunal with jurisdiction over disputes regarding the competence of organs and courts within the area.
May 6, 1949
Israeli intransigence at Lausanne – According to US representative Ethridge, the Israeli delegation’s statement on the Arab refugees before the Palestine Conciliation Commission at Lausanne indicates that the Israelis are as intransigent as ever. Ethridge considers Israel’s failure to appreciate the importance of a conciliatory approach toward outstanding problems as “particularly disheartening” in view of the increasing disposition of the Arabs “to come to grips with the situation.”
[Israel again blamed for failure of negotiations even though Arabs refused any suggestion of peace despite claims they had “come to grips with the situation.]
May 10, 1949
Commission’s views on Israeli application for UN membership – According to US representative Ethridge, the Palestine Conciliation Commission at Lausanne feels that, if Israel gains admission to the UN at this session of the General Assembly, the Israeli delegation at Lausanne will become “hopelessly intransigent” in the peace talks with the Arabs. The Commission believes that if Israel’s application is rejected, the Israelis will maintain their present position as best they can, pending the September General Assembly session, but that the Arabs will be more confident in negotiating with the Israelis.
[Ed: The State Department continues to seek ways to pressure Israel to accept Arab terms with no indication of a desire to pressure the Arabs to make peace.]
May 21, 1949
Israelis make known their territorial demands – US representative Ethridge in Lausanne has been told by Israeli delegate Eytan that Israel will not only present to the Palestine Conciliation Commission a demand that it retain all territory now under its control (with possible minor rectifications), but will also demand additional territory in north-central Palestine now occupied by Jordan. Eytan also told Ethridge that Israel will do nothing about the Arab refugees now. Ethridge comments that: (a) the Lausanne Conference is likely to break up when the Arabs know Israel’s position; (b) neither side seems ready for peace; (c) there seems little likelihood that Israel’s demands will be modified; and (d) unless Israel modifies its demands, there is no possibility of peace on any basis heretofore envisioned by the US.
June 9, 1949
Israeli incursion in Jerusalem neutral zone – US Consulate in Jerusalem regards the Israeli seizure of the western portion of the UN neutral zone in Jerusalem and subsequent repudiation of the agreement neutralizing the zone as a serious and carefully planned Israeli maneuver. The Consulate reports that: (a) the Arabs have refused to attend further Mixed Armistice Commission (MAC) meetings until Israeli troops are withdrawn; and (b) a UN protest to Israel was withdrawn following an Israeli threat to boycott further meetings of the MAC. The Consulate declares that the situation is “most explosive” and that the strongest measures should be taken to force Israeli withdrawal from the neutralized area.
June 10, 1949
Possible danger in raising Palestine arms embargo – The US delegation at the UN reports from New York that the Security Council will probably end the Middle East arms embargo by adopting some resolution based on Mediator Bunche’s proposals for terminating existing truce arrangements. The delegation considers that it would be most unwise to lift the embargo suddenly and completely. The US representatives fear that unless prior agreement is reached among potential arms suppliers for limiting arms traffic, the removal of controls by the Security Council will set off a dangerous armaments race in the troubled Middle East area.
June 11, 1949
Imposed SC compromise on Israeli-Syrian armistice urged – The US delegation at the UN, in commenting on possible lines of action if discussions breakdown on the Syrian-Israeli armistice, notes that the chief stumbling block in the negotiations is the intransigence of the Israelis and that the problem therefore is one of exerting sufficient pressure to make the Israelis accept a solution which a “reasonable majority opinion” believes best. The delegation considers that in the event of a breakdown it might be preferable to have UN Mediator Bunche report this failure to the Security Council and make a compromise proposal which, in his judgment, would meet the legitimate interests of both parties. The US representatives believe that if these SC called on both parties to accept such a proposal, Israel as a new UN member would find it difficult to refuse and Syria would probably be glad to accept.
Israelis to withdraw troops from neutral zone – According to UN Mediator Bunche, the Israeli representative on the Mixed Armistice Commission has declared that there has been a “misunderstanding” concerning the Israeli incursion into the western portion of UN neutral zone in Palestine and that the troops will be withdrawn. Bunche comments that he does not understand Israeli motives in seizing the neutral area, since such action obviously endangered their broader objectives, but expresses the view that it was “deliberately planned.”
June 13, 1949
Redacted or garbled…. America has been informed by a reliable military source that there has been greatly increased military activity in the Latrun and Jerusalem areas and along the entire Jordan-Israeli front recently. According to [redacted] local authorities in Jerusalem and Arab Legion Troops at Latrun believe that the Israelis are planning further operations in both areas. [Redacted] recommends that the US make immediate representations to Tel Aviv, without awaiting action by the UN mediator, on the ground that protracted attempts at mediation would only give the Israelis time to prepare further aggression.
June 14, 1949
PALESTINE: Bunche to confront Israel with resignation threat – Acting UN Mediator Bunche has informed US delegation in New York that he plans to tell the Israeli representative bluntly that unless Israel withdraws completely from the demilitarized zone in Jerusalem, he will submit his resignation to the Security Council, citing Israeli violation of the armistice agreement as his reason. Bunche told the US delegation that Israeli representatives on the Mixed Armistice Commission had vetoed the proposal, backed by Jordan and the UN representative, calling for withdrawal of both sides from the demilitarized zone. The US delegation adds that Bunche is thoroughly disgusted with Israel’s policy concerning Jerusalem and has characterized it as “criminally crooked.”
June 15, 1949
PALESTINE: US urges Israel to refrain from military action – The Department of State has informed US ambassador MacDonald in Tel Aviv that the Israeli Charge in Washington has been informed of US concern over recent reports of increased Israeli military activity. According to the Department, the Charge was told that: (a) the US would be “deeply disappointed” if Israel should undertake any new military action; and (b) no one could foresee the consequences which such action might have. The Department has also indicated to MacDonald its assumption that he is doing everything possible to head off a new Israeli military venture.
[Ed: Curious the State Department would refer to a “new military venture” when the war began with the invasion by the Arab states.]
June 27, 1949
PALESTINE: Israeli claims stall Syrian armistice – US Consulate-General Jerusalem has been informed by Brigadier General Riley of the UN staff that the Israelis are now interpreting acting UN Mediator Bunche’s latest Syrian armistice proposal as giving them administrative control over the projected military zone. According to the Consulate-General, Riley feels that the Israeli interpretation, which was confirmed to Riley by Foreign Minister Sharett, would be “completely inacceptable” to Syria and that there is thus little chance for the successful completion of an armistice. The US delegation to the UN in New York, meanwhile, reports the Bunche is taking a “stiff line” against the Israeli attempt to modify his proposal and is insisting that his proposal be accepted by both parties as it stands.
July 6, 1949
Israel reportedly considering pacts with Arabs – US Ambassador McDonald in Tel Aviv has been told by “a reliable private American” that Israeli President Weizmann is calling a conference of top Israeli officials to urge that Israel offer “qualified non-aggression pacts” to the Arab states. The Department of State has informed McDonald that it would be pleased to see the Arab states and Israel enter freely into non-aggression pacts, but that the Department cannot give the matter full consideration without clarification of such details as what is meant by the word “qualified” and whether Weizmann envisages the pacts as forming part of an over-all peace settlement. The Department expresses the opinion that the Arab states would hardly be inclined to take favorable action on such a proposal unless it were connected with an over-all settlement.
July 7, 1949
US counters Israeli views on Palestine – The Department of State has informed US Embassy Tel Aviv regarding views recently expressed by Israeli officials that the US: (a) also desires stability in the Near East but cannot agree that this can be achieved on Israeli premises regarding territory and refugees; (b) does not believe that the Arab states are preparing to resume the conflict in Palestine; (c) has pointed out on numerous occasions the steps Israel might take to facilitate the establishment of peace in the near East; (d) cannot agree that the repatriation of substantial number of Arab refugees would accomplish “nothing”; and (e) rejects the apparent Israeli implication that the solution of the refugee problem is the responsibility of the US.
[Ed: Israel is consistently seen as the obstacle to peace. No mentions are made of any Arab responsibility or evidence they are interested in peace. There is no suggestion, for example, that Jordan or Egypt should give up the territories they captured in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively.]
July 18, 1949
Syria to accept Israeli compromise armistice – Syrian Prime Minister Barazi has informed US Minister Keeley in Damascus that the Syrian delegation to the armistice talks with Israel has been instructed to accept the armistice agreement as modified by Israel. Barazi said that unless Israel raises new difficulties, the armistice agreement would be initialed on 18 July and signed later in the week.
July 19, 1949
PALESTINE: Views on renewed Lausanne talks – US Ambassador McDonald in Tel Aviv expresses the belief that Israel’s policy on the Palestine question is developing favorably, particularly with regard to the Arab refugee issue. The Israeli delegate to the Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC), which resumed negotiations at Lausanne on 18 July, has informed McDonald that he is taking “more elastic program” to Lausanne and that Israel’s offer on the Arab refugees will be “more definite and larger.” According to McDonald, Israel evidently feels the need to have the PCC present tangible evidence of progress in solving the Palestine problem to the General Assembly in September.
(CIA Comment: CIA believes that little substantial progress toward a final settlement of the Palestine problem will be made at Lausanne and that such limited concessions as Israel may make will not prove acceptable to the Arabs.)
[Ed: Rare admission the Arabs will not be satisfied by any Israel concessions.]
July 20, 1949
PALESTINE: Egyptians bitter over Gaza strip proposal – US Charge Patterson in Cairo reports that the Egyptian Foreign Minister and other Egyptian officials have expressed bitterness, distrust, and a “very real intellectual and moral disdain” regarding the Israeli proposal that Israel be awarded the Gaza strip in exchange for accepting the Arab refugees in the area. Although Patterson believes that Egypt might take a more conciliatory attitude toward the proposal if the US were actually able to guarantee Egypt a land bridge to Jordan as compensation for the Gaza strip, he fears that “continued harping” on the merits of the Gaza plan might cause the Egyptians to regard the US as “an accomplice of an expansionist and aggressive Israel.”
July 27, 1949
PALESTINE: Single authority replacing PCC urged – US Ambassador McDonald in Tel Aviv expresses the belief that the three-nation Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC), despite US Representative Porter’s best efforts, will remain incapable of the “strong affirmative and united actions” needed to induce the Arab states and Israel to move beyond the present armistice agreements. McDonald considers it “vital” that the PCC be replaced by a “single-man authority” and recommends that the US initiate a campaign now to have the UN General Assembly take this step.
July 28, 1949
PALESTINE: Outlook at Lausanne not hopeful – Paul Porter, US Representative on the Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) at Lausanne, reports that he can find little reason for hoping that the resumed Arab Israeli negotiations will produce an agreed settlement of the Palestine issue. Pointing out that the delegates are apparently willing to continue “endless and aimless discussions,” Porter believes that the PCC should be prepared to make equitable proposals to Arabs and Israelis. Porter therefore requests that the Department of State send him specific instructions on such matters as territorial boundaries in the refugee problem.
[Ed: This may be the earliest effort by the U.S. to develop a peace proposal for settling the Arab-Israeli conflict.]
July 30, 1949
PALESTINE: Developments in Israeli Arab negotiations – Although Foreign Minister Sharet [sic] has informed US Ambassador McDonald in Tel Aviv that Israel is prepared to receive 100,000 Arab refugees, US representative Porter on the Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) reports from Lausanne that Israel’s representative Shiloah, in stating that Tel Aviv would accept a specific number of refugees, failed to mention a specific figure. Porter adds that Shiloah also made it clear that actual repatriation must await: (a) preparation of an overall repatriation and resettlement plan plus assurance of its implementation; and (b) convincing evidence of progress toward a final settlement between Israel and the Arab states. On the territorial issue, Porter reports that Shiloah indicated Israel would stubbornly oppose any PCC plan involving reduction of any territory now held by Israel. Porter comments that he is not encouraged by the Shiloah conversations, but that he will press on in his attempts to discover if the possibility of an agreement exists.
Meanwhile, the Department of State has informed Porter at Lausanne of its considered opinion that the PCC should continue in its capacity of a “go-between” for the disputants in that anything resembling “a PCC plan” should be avoided at this time. While urging Porter to avoid committing the US to responsibility for sponsoring a specific number of Arab refugees for repatriation, Department adds that Israel should absorb 250,000 more refugees than the 150,000 presently estimated by Israel to be within its boundaries.
[Ed: Note again here Israel’s position is regarded as “stubborn” whereas, for example, on July 20, 1949, Egypt is said to be willing to be more “conciliatory” if its demands are met. Also, this is the first reference to Israel’s offer to repatriate 100,000 Palestinian refugees – an offer that would remain open for years afterward – and a specific number the State Department believed Israel should accept. This indicates the U.S. did not believe Israel was required, or expected, to repatriate all the refugees.]
August 12, 1949
PALESTINE: US considers Israeli refugee offer unsatisfactory – The Department of State has informed the Israeli Ambassador in Washington that the US does not consider the Israeli offer to repatriate 100,000 Arab refugees a satisfactory basis for contributing to an ultimate solution of the refugee problem. Although the US remains unwilling to assume responsibility for naming a final figure, the Department indicated to the Ambassador that 230,000 refugees, is suggested for repatriation under the Gaza strip proposal, would be considered the minimum number acceptable.
September 7, 1949
ISRAEL: Government reportedly planning move to Jerusalem – The US delegation to the Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) in Lausanne transmits a report from the PCC representative in Jerusalem that the Israelis intend to move all their ministries to Jerusalem and establish the government there before the fall session of the General Assembly. The US delegation believes that if the Israelis take this step, the possibility of reaching an Israeli-Arab modus vivendi, based on findings of the Economic Survey Group, will be gravely endangered.
[Ed: This is one of the first expressions of concern that Israeli changing the status of Jerusalem would create difficulties for reaching an agreement with the Arabs. There is no indication here the Arabs were interested in a “modus vivendi.” Similar warnings have been issued by the State Department up to the present.]
September 12, 1949
ISRAEL: Plan to move ministries to Jerusalem denied – The Israeli Foreign Office as informed US Charge Ford in Tel Aviv that rumors indicating Israel’s intent to move all government ministries to Jerusalem either prior to or following the fall session of the General Assembly are “utterly without foundation.”
September 20, 1949
US concerned by Israeli reaction to internationalization plan – The Department of State has expressed to US Embassy Tel Aviv its concern over Israel’s reaction to the proposals of the Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) for a permanent international regime in Jerusalem. The Department, observing that the Israelis have apparently rejected these proposals without giving them thorough consideration, instructs the Embassy to point out to the Israeli Foreign Office that the PCC plan represents the Commission’s considered views on most practical approach to the problem of internationalizing Jerusalem. The Department expresses the hope that whatever objections the Israeli Government has will be presented to the General Assembly in a conciliatory spirit.
[Ed: Not clear why the Department would think the GOI did not give the proposal “thorough consideration” before rejecting it. Jordan occupied half of Jerusalem, including the Old City, and never excepted internationalization but that is not mentioned in any of the reports.]
October 24, 1949
JORDAN: Decision to proclaim annexation of Arab Palestine – The US delegation at the UN has learned [redacted] that King Abdullah and the Jordan government have decided to proclaim the annexation of Arab Palestine on 1 January 1950. [Redacted] the UK approves the idea of annexation and would probably extend the terms of the UK-Jordan defense treaty to the new territory. [Redacted] Abdullah might not go ahead with the plan if the UK should refuse to extend the treaty.
[Ed: State acknowledges Jordanian plan to annex the territory it occupies but expresses no position, unlike the cases involving Israel.]
November 3, 1949
JORDAN: Abdullah desires treaty with Israel – US Charge Fritzlan in Amman reports that during a recent conversation King Abdullah expressed the desire to bring about permanent peace in Palestine and to conclude a definitive treaty with Israel. Abdullah declared that, without the restraint of the UN and the Arab League, he could easily negotiate a satisfactory treaty with Israel. Meanwhile, US Consul General Burdett in Jerusalem has been informed by the Belgian Consul General that Abdullah has already established direct communications with Israel and that the British are encouraging Israeli-Jordan talks. According to the Belgian Consul General, Abdullah desires peace with Israel so that he can devote his entire attention to preventing a Syrian Iraqi union into promoting a union of Jordan and Syria.
[Ed: Abdullah was inclined toward at least coexisting with Israel but felt constrained by the other Arab leaders. Here he also reveals that he has not abandoned his desire to form “Greater Syria.”]
November 17, 1949
JORDAN: Abdullah reiterates desire for peace with Israel – US Charge Fritzlan in Amman reports that in a recent conversation King Abdullah again indicated a desire to achieve permanent peace with Israel. Abdullah expressed the opinion that the Palestine Conciliation Commission has failed in its task and that he should begin direct negotiations with the Israelis. The King added that the US and the UK should mediate in the matter and should “bring the Jews to their senses” so that Jordan might obtain the reasonable settlement based either on the 1947 partition plan of the UN or on compensation by the Israelis for their territorial holdings exceeding the partition boundaries.
[Ed: Interestingly, Abdullah believes he is entitled to territory or compensation for the area allocated by the UN for an Arab state, not for Transjordan.]
November 22, 1949
US position on internationalization of Jerusalem – The Department of State has instructed the US delegation to the UN to support, as a basis for General Assembly consideration, the proposal for internationalizing Jerusalem recently drafted by the Palestine Conciliation Commission. The Department further instructs the delegation to consider any amendments or new proposals “on their merits” as well as in “the light of the possibility of reaching general agreement in the GA.” If the GA is unable to agree on precise terms for settling the Jerusalem question, the US delegation should, pending further consideration of the issue, support some temporary arrangement providing for UN supervise protection of an access to the holy places.
[Ed: As noted above, neither Israel nor Jordan was interested in giving up control over the parts of Jerusalem under their control. The Jews had been prepared to accept internationalization as the price of winning the partition vote; however, Israel considered the matter moot after the war. Jordan occupied the Old City for 19 years, desecrating Jewish holy places, and never faced demands to end its occupation. The “Jerusalem question” has still not been resolved though Israel has unified the city and its leaders have said their capital will remain undivided.]
November 23, 1949
Israel intends to open talks with Jordan – The Department of State has been informed by the Israeli Ambassador that Israel intends to proceed with direct negotiations with Jordan for a Palestine settlement. The Department informed the Israeli Ambassador that, as previously indicated, the US favors direct talks and would welcome free negotiations “which would achieve instability in the area.”
December 14, 1949
PALESTINE: Israeli-Jordan negotiations deadlocked – US Embassy London has been informed by a UK Foreign Office official that the Israeli-Jordan peace talks were adjourned without provision for further meetings after a stormy session on 8 December, even though the parties did reach agreement in principle regarding the advisability of re-drawing demarcation lines in Jerusalem. According to the Foreign Office official, the principal point of contention in the negotiations continues to be Jordan’s demand for access to the Mediterranean. The Embassy reports that the official was pessimistic over the prospects for a settlement between the two countries as a result of the current conversations.
[Ed: This is the first indication that Jordanian demands are an obstacle to an agreement.]
December 16, 1949
PALESTINE: Israel offers Jordan access to sea – US charge Fritzlan in Amman has been informed by the Jordan representative in the current Israeli-Jordan peace negotiations that during the 13 December meeting, the Israeli delegation offered to grant Jordan full sovereignty over a corridor to the Mediterranean. According to the Jordan representative, the Israeli offer was made subject to the following reservations: (a) there should be no military installations or bases in the corridor; (b) the Israelis should have free passage across the corridor at three places; and (c) the British treaty guaranteeing Jordan’s integrity should not apply to the corridor.
(CIA Comment: CIA believes that although other difficult problems faced the negotiators, this offer represents a concession on the part of Israel which may make a substantial contribution toward a settlement.)
December 23, 1949
UK stand on extending Jordan treaty – According to US Embassy London, the British are informing the Jordan Government confidentially that they firmly intend to apply the UK-Jordan mutual defense treaty to any areas (including a corridor to the Mediterranean) which might be incorporated into Jordan as a result of peace negotiations with Israel. The UK is informing the Israeli Government that: (a) the question of extending the treaty is a matter which concerns only the UK and Jordan; and (b) the UK has no intention of establishing, in peacetime, military bases in any territory which Jordan might acquire.
(CIA Comment: The decision of the UK to extend the defense treaty to any parts of Palestine which Jordan might acquire will make the Israelis less willing to reach a settlement with Jordan in the present peace talks.)
[The British were determined to hold onto the one area of influence they had in the Middle East and made clear they would defend Jordan if necessary.]