The following is excerpted from the CIA Weekly Summary Trends in Brief. These are the verbatim reports related to discussions concerning the resolution of the conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine and the UN partition proposal.
February 14, 1947
British Proposals on Palestine opposed by Arabs and Jews
New British proposals for a solution of the Palestine problem have been rejected by both Arabs and Jews, although neither group has indicated complete opposition to further negotiation. The Cabinet plan, which envisages the establishment of an independent Palestine after five years of British direction under a UN trusteeship, satisfies no one, but it does make greater concessions to the Arabs than to the Jews.
The Morrison-Grady plan (predecessor of the Cabinet plan) proposed immediate immigration into Palestine of 100,000 Jewish refugees and the establishment of a modified form of partition, giving Arabs and Jews separate provinces controlled by a British -directed Central Government. Under the latest Cabinet proposals, the immigration of 96,000 Jews would be extended over two years, and local areas of administration would be established under the majority rule of either the Arabs or the Jews. Supreme authority in Palestine during the five-year interim UN trusteeship would be vested in the British High Commissioner, with an Advisory Council of Jewish and Arab representatives from local areas.
While the Arabs are not faced with definite partition under the new plan and would presumably still constitute a majority, they are strongly opposed to further immigration of Jews into Palestine.
From the Jewish point of view, the most objectionable features of the Cabinet plan are that: (1) Jewish areas would not necessarily be contiguous; (2) local Jews would replace the Jewish Agency as official representatives of Palestinian Jewry; and (3) the immigration of 96,000 Jews would be distributed over two years. The Cabinet plan, moreover, represents retrogression in the achievement of a national home in Palestine.
If the talks in London break down completely (which appears likely, at least as far as the Jews are concerned), the British will have no alternative but to maintain strict control in Palestine until the issue can be referred to the UN.
Issue of Greater Syria Raised Again
The Greater Syria plan has again been given prominence by controversial articles in the Arab press and particularly by the recently expressed fear of King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia that the British intend to “appoint” King Abdullah of Transjordan as ruler of Syria. It is not likely, however, that the plan will be implemented in the near future.
The plan for Greater Syria has been the subject of periodic agitation in the Arab World since 1943. In general, it provides for the unification of Syria, Iraq, TransJordan, and possibly Lebanon and the Arab portion of Palestine (in the event of partition).
The British support the plan probably because they hope to establish influence over the new unified Arab state as compensation for the anticipated loss of prestige as well as strategic bases in Egypt and Palestine. Such a unified state, extending from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, might also constitute a more effective barrier to Soviet infiltration in the Near East. Even if the state is not created, the British may still see some gain in diverting Arab attention from the Palestine dispute and, by raising an issue over which the Arab dynasties are at odds, lessen the chances of a unified uprising by the Arabs in the event of a solution of the Palestine problem, unpalatable to them.
Among the Arab states, Iraq and Transjordan favor the plan as a means of extending their influence in the Arab World, while the Saudi Arabian-Egyptian bloc is opposed to it. King Ibn Saud’s opposition springs mainly from his bitter feud with the Hashemite dynasty (represented by Abdullah of Transjordan and Feisal of Iraq). A majority of Syrians are believed to oppose the plan because it would force them to trade their republican form of government for monarchy, and their independence for a minority role in the affairs of a larger state.
February 21, 1947
Effects of UK Decision to Refer Palestine Issue to UN
The decision by the UK (following the failure of the London talks) to refer the Palestine problem to the UN emphasizes the Government’s belief that the conflicting demands of the Arabs and the Jews cannot be reconciled by Britain alone. It also underlines the UK’s unwillingness to carry indefinitely the burden of maintaining peace in Palestine. As no solution of the problem can satisfy both Jews and Arabs, the British are transferring to the UN the onus of making and enforcing an inevitably unsatisfactory decision.
The British decision to present the issue to the General Assembly in September rather than to the newly formed Trusteeship Council at an earlier date indicates that the British feel able to maintain the status quo in Palestine until the UN reaches a solution. It is probable that the Arab League will anticipate any British move by presenting its own appeal to the UN. With official representation in the General Assembly, the Arab states will have a definite advantage over the Jews in winning support for their demands.
Most Jews appear to side with Jewish Agency leaders who probably prefer to deal directly with the British rather than submit the issue to the UN. The Jews have no official representation in the UN, and they will also be faced with the difficulty of trying to win a favorable decision from fifty-five nations instead of from one. Now that an appeal to the UN is certain, the Jews will continue their efforts during the interim to persuade the British to administer Palestine on the basis of the pre-1939 Mandate without the current immigration and land restrictions. Concessions of this nature would enable the Jews to strengthen their hold on Palestine, with the result that they would be well entrenched by the time the UN announced its solution – probably a year hence.
February 28, 1947
Bevin’s opposition to dividing Palestine into two states, as expressed in Commons on 25 February, foreshadows possible British support in the UN for one of two plans: an independent Palestinian state in which the interests of both Arab and Jewish communities are protected; or, in the event of partition, provision for the union of the Arab section of Palestine with another Arab state (presumably Transjordan) to insure its survival.
March 27, 1947
The union of Transjordan and Iraq will be urged by King Abdullah during the forthcoming visit to Amman (Transjordan) of the Regent of Iraq and Acting Prime Minister Nuri As-said. This union, if established, will be the first concrete step in the implementation of the Greater Syria plan. Regardless of the outcome, however, the conversations in Amman are certain to cause rumors concerning the establishment of a Greater Syria and may produce dissension in the Arab League Council, which is now meeting in Cairo.
May 23, 1947
Friction with UK over Support in US of Palestine Terrorism
The support of terrorism and illegal immigration in Palestine, through the public solicitation of funds in the US, has been protested by the UK and could well become a source of international friction. The latest British protest referred to the publication in several New York newspapers of full-page advertisements written by Ben Hecht for the Palestine Resistance Fund, which linked an appeal for contributions with implied approval of armed resistance against the mandatory Government of Palestine.
The UK has several times called the attention of the US State Department to advertisements in a similar vein carrying the added inducement to contributors that “by ruling of the Treasury Department contributions are tax exempt,” thus indicating that the organizations soliciting funds were charitable or educational in character. The British maintained that, as the funds contributed were used for the strengthening of terrorist forces and the encouragement of illegal immigration, the description was hardly appropriate and, in effect, placed a premium on contributions intended to incite insurrection against a friendly government. The British likewise have pointed to the chartering, manning, and dispatching from American ports of ships to be used in illegal immigrant traffic to Palestine as a further embarrassment to Anglo-American relations. To these observations the State Department has pointed out that the US Government cannot stop the publication of such advertisements, that the question of tax exemption is a complicated legal one now under consideration, and that no legal authority exists for preventing the sale and departure of the ships in question.
It would be difficult to deny in open debate before the UN that the US has been the financial base for concerted hostile action against the Government of Palestine, and that such action has led to the assassination of British and Palestinian officials. The UN General Assembly might regard the following resolution of the Council of the League of Nations as a precedent: “. . . it is the duty of every State neither to encourage nor tolerate on its territory any terrorist activity with a political purpose; that every State must do all in its power to prevent and repress acts of this nature and must for this purpose lend its assistance to Governments which request it . . .”
If the Hecht incident should be laid before the UN in accordance with the Charter as a “situation” or “dispute,” the USSR or other Powers interested in stirring up trouble between the US and UK might advocate a rebuke to the US in the form of a UN resolution. Furthermore, one of the Arab League States (of which there are five members in UN) might discover in this situation an opportunity to discredit Zionism in the US by attempting to embarrass the US in the forum of the General Assembly.
Ibn Saud Seeks Greater Benefits from Saudi Arabia’s Oil
The normally excellent relations between the Arabian-American Oil Company (Aramco) and the Saudi Arabian Government have, during the past few months, been ruffled by King Ibn Saud’s determination to improve his position vis-a-vis Aramco, both financially and in matters of prestige. Negotiations are in progress to settle the ‘‘misunderstanding” which has developed over the interpretation of the gold clause of Aramco’s 1933 contract. Under this contract, royalties were to be paid in gold sovereigns, but the dollar rate of gold in Jidda.is today approximately twice its New York rate. Ibn Saud is demanding the Jidda rate, and thus in effect is requiring royalties nearly twice those now· being received by the other Middle Eastern oil-producing countries. Aramco claims it could not compete on this basis.
Complicating the settlement of this problem is the question of the trans-Arabian pipeline. Ibn Saud demands additional royalties for all oil piped across his deserts, but Aramco maintains that such added costs would offset the anticipated saving on shipping charges through the Suez Canal. Ibn Saud also intends to take up with Aramco in the near future the question of the equal treatment by Aramco of Saudi and American laborers. In addition he will insist that foreign workers, primarily Indians and Italians, receive no better treatment than Saudi workers. Both of these steps indicate Ibn Saud’s increasing preoccupation with matters of prestige.
To lend force to his arguments, Ibn Saud has suggested that he could expropriate Aramco after compensating it for its investment (presumably on his own terms). Although Aramco negotiators believe that the King has no intention of resorting to such drastic measures, they are convinced that some way must be found to increase the benefits he is receiving.
Ibn Saud’s immediate purpose in these demands is to increase his income. Almost as important, however, in view of the criticism Ibn Saud has received from other Arab states, is his determination to show the Arab world that he is no pawn in America’s “pro-Zionist, imperialistic’’ game.
Saudi Arabia Seeks Settlement of Middle East Problems
King Ibn Saud’s strong representations to the US concerning UK policy in the Middle East are designed to convince the US that the UK should be persuaded to abandon its alleged support of the Greater Syria aspirations of King Abdullah of Transjordan. Ibn Saud believes also that the recent treaties between Iraq and Transjordan and between Iraq and Turkey were fostered by the UK; he considers them directed against himself and, by implication, against the US oil position in Saudi Arabia.
To attain his objective, Ibn Saud has suggested a comprehensive multilateral US-UK-Arab agreement, to be drawn up by the two Great Powers and then to be submitted to the Arab States for ratification. He has implied that the Arab States would be willing to accept compromise solutions for Palestine and the Sudan in exchange for a US-UK guarantee to preserve the status quo of the Arab countries. Such a guarantee, in effect, would prevent the realization of Greater Syria.
Ibn Saud believes that such an agreement would appeal to the US and UK as a promise of greater stability in the Middle East and, consequently, of greater defense against Soviet expansion. In view of increasing xenophobia in Egypt and Syria and of extreme anti-Zionism in Iraq and the Levant States, however, it is doubtful whether any of the Arab States (other than Saudi Arabia) would consider Ibn Saud’s plan, particularly if it were presented by the US and the UK. His demarche tends to emphasize the very real differences among the Arab States and indicates the weakness of the Arab League position on such international questions as Palestine and the Anglo-Egyptian dispute.
August 1, 1947
The UK’s recent injunction to King Abdullah of Transjordan to cease agitating for a Greater Syria is in accord with repeated US requests for such action. The UK probably hopes that this step will persuade the Saudi Arabian, Syrian, and Lebanese Governments – which oppose the Greater Syria scheme – to adopt a more cooperative attitude in the Anglo-Egyptian and Palestine disputes before the UN.
August 8, 1947
ARAB REACTION TO POSSIBLE PALESTINE REGIMES
Because of the irreconcilable aspirations of Zionists and Arabs, no regime which the UN establishes in Palestine can settle the problem entirely. Any solution adopted will, of necessity, be a compromise, which may through gradual evolution and modification attain independent strength and relative stability. The most important factor in determining the success of such an evolution and the future stability of the Near East will be the attitude of the Arab states.
Although many solutions of the Palestine problem have been suggested, the regime to be established by the UN will probably follow one of three basic patterns, each of which is capable of many variations. The basic patterns are: (1) a single, independent state; (2) trusteeship under the UN; or (3) partition into Arab and Jewish states. It is possible to indicate in general terms only the probable Arab reaction to each of the foregoing possibilities and to estimate the type and extent of retaliatory measures which the Arabs might take in the event of an unacceptable decision. It is certain, however, that any solution which permits substantial Jewish immigration would be violently opposed and would cause an Arab revolt in Palestine. It might also lead to an economic boycott of the US and the UK and to a reorientation of Arab foreign policies toward the USSR.
The first possibility – a single, independent state – would be acceptable to all the Arab countries. Arab delegates at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly, Arab statesmen in their parliaments and in the councils of the Arab League, and the Arab press have been unanimous in demanding both termination of the British Mandate and attainment of independence. Although the Jews might be allowed considerable local autonomy, the Arab majority in the National Government would be in a position to restrict Jewish immigration and to control foreign policy. The Grand Mufti would have no reason to start an Arab revolt in Palestine; the only serious obstacle to cordial relations between the US and the Arab states would have been removed.
The second possibility – trusteeship under the UN – would probably be acceptable to all the Arab Governments provided the following conditions were included: (1) no further Jewish immigration except as provided for in an international agreement under which nations of the UN would accept displaced persons in proportion to their populations; (2) participation by both Arabs and Jews in the administration of the country in proportion to their numbers in Palestine; and (3) eventual independence and incorporation into the Arab League. (Certainly Iraq, and possibly Syria, might attempt to persuade the other states in the Arab League to maintain their original demands for independence. But Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, and Transjordan would gladly accept an international administration and thereby avoid an open break with the Western Powers. For reasons of personal ambition, the Mufti might start an Arab revolt within Palestine, but such a revolt would not obtain general support unless the UN administration betrayed a pro-Zionist bias.)
The third possibility – the partition of Palestine into two independent states – would lead to serious consequences in the Near East. Although most of the Arab governments would be reluctant to act in opposition to a UN decision and against the wishes of both the US and the UK, the pressure of nationalist opinion might force them into an extreme position. An Arab uprising in Palestine would almost certainly ensue and would increase the pressure against moderation.
In the event of partition, Syria would give greater support to an Arab uprising in Palestine than would any of the other Arab states. Although the Syrian Government might shrink from openly sanctioning aid to the Palestine Arabs in opposition to a decision of the UN if it would unofficially permit the shipment of arms and ammunition to Palestine and would not prevent enthusiastic Syrians from joining the Mufti’s forces.
Egypt’s attitude toward partition would be similar to that of Syria. It might reluctantly agree to retaliatory measures against the US and the UK, but, in view of its past record, would refrain from implementing such measures if they injured Egypt’s political or commercial interests. At the same time, nationalist groups would support the Mufti and would urge the Government to take extreme action in the Arab League against the Western Powers.
The Iraqi Government during the past few months has been unequivocal in its demand for Palestinian independence. For this reason, although it may retreat to the extent of reluctantly accepting UN trusteeship, it would hardly accept partition. Iraq would insist that the Arab League invoke retaliatory measures against the US and the UK. As both King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia and President al-Khuri of Lebanon have indicated that they would not agree to such measures, and as King Abdullah of Transjordan is in no position to do so, the danger of a serious split in the Arab League would be very real.
Lebanon would like partition no better than any of the other Arab states, but unless a common Arab policy of opposition were adopted by the Arab League, it would not openly oppose partition. It would urge the Arab League (probably with the backing of Saudi Arabia) to follow a moderate course regard to Palestine and to accept the decision of the UN. As in the other Arab states, however, a revolt in Palestine would result in increased sympathetic agitation in Lebanon and would make it all the more difficult for the Government to maintain a moderate position.
It is doubtful whether King Abdullah of Transjordan is able to follow an independent policy in relation to Palestine. As he is subsidized by the British Government, his opinion carries little weight among Arab nationalists. Although he may make resounding speeches about the rights of the Palestinian Arabs, no substantial support would go to Palestine from Transjordan without the sanction of the British-controlled Arab Legion.
Saudi Arabia, for the sake of maintaining the stability of the Near East, would try to persuade the members of the Arab League to accept partition as a temporary arrangement and Ibn Saud would do his best to discourage an Arab revolt in Palestine. He is convinced that King Abdullah’s plan for Greater Syria is more of a threat to the security of his kingdom and to the stability of the Near East than Zionism, and he is fearful lest a Palestine revolt should develop into a Greater Syria crusade.
It is difficult to gauge accurately to what extent US interests would be affected by these possible developments in Palestine. Certain conclusions are, nevertheless, inescapable. If the UN recommends and establishes in Palestine a single, independent state, US prestige and influence in the Arab world will be extremely high and US interests will benefit almost immediately. Bilateral air agreements according Fifth Freedom privileges to US carriers (long pending with Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia) would probably be rapidly concluded. A decrease in xenophobia would improve the position of US oil companies in the Arab states, whose governments, freed from the pressure of local hostility toward what are now considered pro-Zionist Americans, would not feel constrained to drive such hard bargains. US advisers, teachers, and technical experts would be employed in increased numbers; and the greater stability in the entire area would increase the possibility of the Arabs’ carrying through, together with the US and the UK, long delayed and urgently needed economic development projects. Greater economic development and increased political maturity would strengthen immeasurably the Arab world as a bulwark against Soviet expansion. Such a development, however, cannot materialize without the aid of the Western Powers and, particularly, of the US; and the Arabs will not accept aid from countries that are committed to a Zionist policy. Consequently, a pro-Zionist US policy would make it all the more difficult to build the Arab states into a bastion against the USSR. ·
The immediate effects on US interests of a UN decision unfavorable to the Arabs would not be particularly serious. Occasional attacks on US nationals, haphazard destruction of parts of the pipelines, and vilification of the US by press and public might result, but it is very doubtful whether any concessions would be cancelled or an efficient boycott on imports from the US would be established. Several of the Arab states, Iraq particularly, would probably urge these measures in conformity with the decisions of the 1946 Bloudan Conference, but lack of unanimity on the part of the Arab League members and their failure to implement the resolutions whole-heartedly, in opposition to commercial interests, would render the whole campaign innocuous.
In time, however, a pro-Zionist development in Palestine would seriously endanger US strategic and commercial interests. The greatest danger to these interests is instability in the Arab world, and instability is implicit in any settlement of the Palestine problem which fails to take account of Arab demands. The more unfavorable the settlement from the Arab point of view, the greater the unrest will be. Revolt in Palestine, disunity in the Arab League, and increased xenophobia would be symptoms of this unrest. Communist activity would increase and, with it, Soviet influence. The influence and prestige of the Western Powers would decrease proportionately. Western economic and strategic interests would be seriously endangered, and the Zionists would be no better off than they now are in Poland, Rumania, and the Ukraine. The Palestine issue is capable of changing the development of the Arab world from one of evolution in cooperation with the West, to one of revolution with the support of the USSR.
August 29, 1947
CONTINUED AGITATION FOR GREATER SYRIA
The UK’s injunction to King Abdullah of Transjordan to cease agitating for his plan to form a Greater Syria has, in effect, been disregarded. Abdullah called a meeting of Arab leaders recently to discuss the question of Greater Syria; he has also suggested to the Cabinet and the Parliament of Syria that the Syrian constitution be changed to facilitate the execution of his plan. These new moves have little chance of success, however, because the governing group in Syria is not sympathetic to Abdullah’s schemes, and King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia is violently opposed to them. There are even indications that Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia may seek the expulsion of Transjordan from the Arab League because of Abdullah’s agitation.
At this time the UK ls reluctant to take further steps against Abdullah’s crusade for two reasons: (1) to antagonize Abdullah is to risk the friendship of the only Arab country which is not trying to compel the UK to evacuate its military bases in the Near East; and (2) agitation for Greater Syria, by weakening Arab solidarity, may be useful to the UK in the Egyptian and Palestine disputes. if, however, it appears that the actions of Abdullah might split the Arab League, the British will almost certainly take positive measures against Abdullah, because the UK values the League for its generally conservative and stabilizing influence on the Arab world.
September 10, 1947
ARAB REACTION TO THE UNSCOP PARTITION PLAN
The reaction of the Arab world to the UNSCOP report and to Secretary Marshall’s statement that the US gives “great weight” to the partition plan recommended therein has been unequivocally hostile. Individually and collectively, officially and informally, the Arab States, Arab political leaders, Arab civic organizations, and the Arabic press have stated bluntly that the attempt to implement any scheme similar to the majority partition plan will lead to bitter armed conflict in the Near East. The Arab world appears to be perilously close to the point at which governments no longer lead the people but are dragged along in their wake. That point may well be reached with the beginning of an insurrection in Palestine. Such a development has been specifically anticipated in an official note agreed to by the Arab League’s Political Committee in secret session at So far and presented to the US Legation in Damascus on 22 September.
Arab leaders maintain that, far from being partition, the plan is in effect mutilation, that it could never be implemented, and that if the British Mandate has been unworkable, this plan would be doubly so. They argue that the 40% Arab minority in the Jewish state would constitute as thorny a problem as the present 30% Jewish minority in the whole of Palestine and that no indigenous administration could be established in the Arab state because of Arab non-cooperation. Finally, the Arab leaders hold that the US and the UK are responsible for the situation in Palestine. The Arab States therefore threaten to sever relations with these two powers if an attempt is made to implement the UNSCOP partition plan.
In Palestine, the various Arab factions have been united by their opposition to partition. The dominant faction, represented by the Arab Higher Committee and led by the Grand Mufti, is the most extreme and revolutionary-minded group in the Arab world. The Mufti is reportedly making final preparations for a call to a holy war (jihad), which may start even before the UN General Assembly completes its deliberations. He recently told the press that the UNSCOP recommendations could not be implemented even at the cost of much bloodshed and suffering “to all concerned.” Although it is difficult to predict accurately how Arab resistance to partition will develop, it will certainly be far more intense and widespread than the sporadic violence of the 1936-39 Palestinian Arab revolt, which was essentially local in character and largely unorganized. The anticipated revolt may well spread throughout the Middle East, and an organized underground resistance movement is prepared to support it.
In Iraq, reaction to the UNSCOP recommendations has been swift and violent. Foreign Minister Jamali predicted that acceptance of the report would touch off an Arab uprising, not only against the Jews but also against the British, should the UK support partition and the establishment of a Jewish state. The US Embassy has received several hundred telegrams of protest, and precautions have been taken to protect the lives of US citizens. The Iraqi press has been unrestrained in attacking the US, the UK, and UNSCOP. In the event of an uprising in Palestine, the Government apparently expects (and will probably tacitly condone) the desertion of many officers and men from the army in order to serve in Palestine. It is also likely that the Government will finance guerrillas in Palestine so that, by ‘‘paying their way,’’ they will retain the active cooperation of the Arab villagers.
Although the Saudi Arabian reception of the UNSCOP report was not so violent as that of Iraq, King Ibn Saud has predicted bloodshed in the Middle East. He has also implied that if the US supports Zionism, it may lose its traditionally-favored position in his country. Following Secretary Marshall’s speech, Foreign Minister Emir Feisal (one of the most level-headed, moderate, and pro-US statesmen in the Arab world) asserted that to support partition would be the most dangerous step ever taken by the US in the Middle East. There are indications that Bedouin tribesmen from Saudi Arabia will take part in guerrilla warfare in Palestine.
The UNSCOP recommendations and Secretary Marshall’s speech have received less notice in Egypt than in the other Arab States, principally because Egypt is preoccupied with its own private grudge against the UN over the handling of the Anglo-Egyptian dispute in the Security Council. However, on·16 September, at the instigation of the Arab League, a one-hour general strike was called, and the Secretary General of the League has warned that acceptance by the UNGA of either the majority or minority report will result in an Arab-Jewish war.
The Syrian Prime Minister recently declared that the Arab people must be ready to defend Palestine should the partition plan be put into execution. The note which the Government delivered to the US Legation on 22 September and which represents the views of all the Arab States asserted that the Arab Governments would not be able to restrain the feelings of their nationals and would be compelled to assist them to resist “aggression” in Palestine.
In Lebanon, the reaction to the UNSCOP partition plan has been similar to that in Syria. A leader of the Lebanese Moslem Youth Organization stated that Arab resistance to partition would probably assume the following pattern: (1) counterterrorism, (2) guerrilla warfare, and (3) a holy war in which all the Arab world would participate. This same leader has intimated that the Arab underground resistance movement is becoming increasingly well organized throughout the Arab world, notably in Syria where some 20,000 men might be expected to join an insurrectionary movement in Palestine.
There is no doubt that both the Arab Governments and the Arab peoples are violently opposed to partition, and that aid will be given, covertly by the Governments and overtly by the peoples, to an uprising of the Palestine Arabs. Any nation that actively or passively supports partition will incur tremendous hostility throughout the Arab world. If the US and the UK vote for partition, there is a strong probability that those Arab Governments whose power has traditionally rested on Western support will be overthrown by political and social reaction, and that the Arab States will orient themselves toward the USSR. In any event, Soviet influence will increase in the Middle East, and the economic and strategic interests of the Western Powers in that area will be vitally affected.
September 17, 1947
ANALYSIS OF PROBABLE UNGA VOTE ON PALESTINE
The UN General Assembly will probably be asked to vote on a partition plan for Palestine similar to that recommended by the Majority Report of the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). Although any prediction of the Assembly vote is necessarily speculative, it appears that even if a two-thirds majority supports the plan, the vote will be very close. An analysis of the vote in UNSCOP when the reports were drawn up· and of the attitudes (so far as they can be determined) of the UN members toward the Palestine problem suggests that:
(1) Eleven states will oppose partition (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, India, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen);
(2) Eight states will oppose partition or will abstain (UK. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Turkey, Siam. and Ethiopia);
(3) Four states will abstain (USSR, White Russia, Ukraine, Poland); ·
(4) Five states will favor partition or will abstain (Greece, China, Philippines, Cuba, and Haiti);
(5) Twenty-nine states will favor partition (Sweden, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, Peru, Guatemala, Uruguay, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, Luxemburg, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Liberia, and the US).
There is little doubt that the states in category (1) will vote against partition. Iran, India, and Yugoslavia are the three members of UNSCOP who submitted a minority report recommending a federalized state instead of partition. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are members of the Arab League, which strongly opposes partition. Afghanistan has close religious and political ties with members of the League through the Saadabad Pact; moreover, that country consistently supported the Arabs at the Special Session of the GA in April. If, as expected, Pakistan and Yemen become UN members before a vote is taken on the Palestine question, they will certainly vote with the Arabs against partition.
The eight states in category (2) may support the Arabs or, for various reasons, may abstain. The UK’s difficulties in the Near East would be greatly increased by UN acceptance of a plan for Palestine which is unacceptable to the Arabs. It is unlikely, therefore, that the UK will accept the partition plan recommended ‘by the majority report (particularly if the British must bear the brunt of enforcing the decision), unless it is drastically revised in favor of the Arabs.
Australia which abstained in UNSCOP from supporting either partition or federalization might agree, together with New Zealand, to a modified form of partition. In any event, both states are expected to follow the lead of the UK. South Africa has no strong feeling on the Palestine issue. Stability in the Near East and Commonwealth security, however, are important to South Africa for strategic and economic reasons. These considerations (plus local anti-Semitism and an Indian minority problem. which create difficulties analogous to those in Palestine) make it probable that South Africa will follow the lead of the UK and oppose partition as recommended in the majority report.
France probably has more to gain by supporting the Arabs against partition than by abstaining. The French have no wish to see the Arab League become too strong and influential, but they do not want to antagonize the Arab world and risk increasing France’s difficulties with the recalcitrant colonies in North Africa. The French also hope to regain some of their lost prestige in the Levant.
Turkey voted with the Arab states in the Special Session of UNGA, and will probably continue to support the Arabs against partition. Turkey might change its stand, however, or abstain, because of the financial aid it is receiving from the US.
Siam and Ethiopia abstained from voting on most of the issues at the Special Session and will very likely continue to abstain. If they vote, they will probably support the Arabs rather than the Zionists.
It is impossible to predict accurately how the states in category (3) will vote, for the USSR is faced with a dilemma. The USSR might favor partition in the belief that such a recommendation would diminish the influence of the UK and the US in the Near East by creating great unrest in the Arab world. On the other hand, it would like to make a more positive bid for Arab favor by supporting a pro-Arab solution. Under these circumstances, the USSR will probably abstain. The Soviet-controlled states may also abstain or they may split their votes (as did Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia in UNSCOP).
The five states in category (4) are more likely to support partition than to oppose it, though they may abstain. Greece has recently sought to establish closer contact with the Arab world, but it will probably vote with the US on this issue. As neither China nor the Philippines has strong interests in the Palestine question, both states will probably follow the lead of the US. Haiti and Cuba may abstain; at the Special Session of UNGA, they deviated on several occasions from the generally pro-Zionist attitude of Latin America.
The twenty-nine states in category (5) will probably vote for partition. Sweden, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Peru, Uruguay, Guatemala, and Canada voted for partition in UNSCOP. Norway, Denmark, and Iceland will probably vote with Sweden; and Belgium and Luxembourg will probably follow the lead of the Netherlands. Brazil, Chile. Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua. Honduras. Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Argentina were consistently pro-Zionist in the Special Session of UNGA and will probably vote for partition also. Liberia is expected to follow the lead of the US.
From this analysis it appears that the two decisive factors will be the action taken by the Soviet-controlled delegates and the position of the thirteen “wavering” states in categories (2) and (4). (The attitude of the US, when made known, may influence the votes of all other states except those in the Soviet and Arab blocs.)
October 3, 1947
A substantial proportion of world Jewry does not favor partition as a solution of the Palestine problem.
An increasing number of UN representatives doubt that the UNSCOP majority proposal for the partition of Palestine can obtain the required two-thirds support in the General Assembly. These representatives consider that the probable abstention of the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium, and possible similar action by some Latin American representatives, will prove decisive in preventing acceptance of the report.
Strong Arab opposition to the UNSCOP majority report continues. Although no organized uprising is likely to take place in the Middle East until the UN General Assembly has completed its deliberations, the general strikes scheduled for 3 October in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia may lead to violence.
JEWISH REACTION TO THE UNSCOP REPORT
An analysis of Jewish reaction. to the majority report submitted by the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) reveals that a substantial proportion of world Jewry, for varying reasons, does not favor partition as a solution of the Palestine problem. The extreme Zionists reject partition and claim all of Palestine and Transjordan for a Jewish state. The moderate Zionists accept partition with reservations, hoping that it will lead to the acquisition of all Palestine and possibly Transjordan. The non-Zionist Jews, large in number but generally non-assertive, reject partition, maintaining that the primary interests of world Jewry are jeopardized by the attempt of a militant minority to build a national state on the basis of a religious faith. (In particular, most Jews in the Arab states, other than Palestine, fear that Zionism will antagonize the Arabs and thus endanger the long-established and relatively-secure minority position of the Jews.)
The extreme Zionists are represented in Palestine by the Stern gang and the Irgun Zvai Leumi and in the US by the United Zionists-Revisionists of America and the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation. These organizations have rejected both UNSCOP reports and are continuing their terrorist activities in Palestine. The Irgun Zvai Leumi has taken the stand that any attempt to solve the Palestine problem by partition would be “tantamount to a historical national disaster.” Both organizations have called on the Jews to prepare for a long war, not only against the British but also against those Jews who are willing to accept partition. The United Zionists-Revisionists are in complete sympathy with the terrorists and maintain that the Jews are not prepared to trade “national” territory for purposes of expedience.
The moderate Zionists, represented chiefly by the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, favor the UNSCOP partition plan but with certain reservations. The immediate Jewish Agency response was “pleasure and surprise tempered with caution.” The Agency was pleased by the provisions for an independent Jewish state and for large-scale immigration into Palestine but expressed objection to the suggested internationalization of Jerusalem and the omission of Galilee from the proposed Jewish state. It has called upon the US to take the lead in implementing the plan, but it is also actively investigating the possibility of putting the plan into effect independently. The Agency, which is not worried by the prospect of civil war in Palestine, has repeatedly asserted that it has sufficient armed forces to defend a Jewish state against the Arabs, and it is confident of receiving aid from abroad – fighters from the DP camps of Europe and money and arms from the US. Moreover, the Agency believes that once Arab-Jewish hostilities break out, most of the world will be sympathetic toward the Jews and further support will be forthcoming from Western Europe, the US, and South America. The Agency thinks that with such support the Jews might be able to enlarge the Jewish state to include all of Palestine and possibly Transjordan as well. Thus, even the moderate Zionists do not look upon partition as a final solution. to the Palestine problem. (The World Zionist Organization has commented favorably on the majority report but has announced that detailed comment will be reserved for presentation to the UN General Assembly by the Jewish Agency.)
The leading representative of the non-Zionists is the American Council for Judaism. The Council praised UNSCOP for its conscientious effort to find a solution but is opposed to the establishment of a sovereign state on church-state ties. The president of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who is strongly backed by the Council, claims that partition will arouse the resentment of large numbers of Jews and that peace can be brought to the Middle East only through a clear-cut policy of Jewish-Arab cooperation.
October 17, 1947
It appears increasingly likely that the Palestine partition plan will not obtain the necessary two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly despite US and USSR backing. Argentina and Cuba have declared themselves against partition, thereby raising to 16 the number of opposing states. Moreover, it is reported that the Netherlands, Belgium, and possibly two or three more states (Luxembourg, Siam, and Yugoslavia) may vote against partition and that six states (the UK, Australia, and four Latin American states) may abstain.
November 7, 1947
Soviet intentions in Palestine may be illuminated by similarities between the December 1945 Moscow Agreement on Korea and the recent Soviet proposals for setting-up separate Jewish and Arab states. The Korean pact provided that a joint US-USSR commission consult with “democratic parties and social organizations” in setting up a provisional ‘‘democratic government.’’ The Soviet proposal on Palestine suggests that during a transitional period the Security Council administer the country through a special commission. This commission is to elect a provisional council of government for each part of Palestine after consultation with “democratic parties and organizations,” just as proposed for Korea. The adoption of the Soviet proposal would afford the USSR new opportunities to delay action through interminable bickering over the question of what parties and organizations are truly ‘‘democratic,” just as this question has delayed solution of the Korean problem.
A potential threat to Arab political unity arises from the long-standing rivalry of two powerful groups in the Syrian district of Jebel Druze, which was brought to a head by recent fraudulent elections. Unless the Syrian Government can control the conflict, which has already reached the point of open hostilities, disorders may spread throughout the country, thus: (1) threatening the internal stability of Syria; (2) hampering Syrian military cooperation with the other Arab states for possible action in Palestine; and (3) possibly leading to intervention by other Arab states in support of one of the Druze groups.
November 14, 1947
The question of enforcing the partition of Palestine remains the chief difficulty facing the UN sub-committee on Palestine. The UK has stated that it will not use British troops to impose any settlement which is unacceptable to the Jews or Arabs and that (previous to the British withdrawal by 1 August 1948) the troops will be responsible for the maintenance of order only in those areas which they occupy. Thus, unless the General Assembly is prepared to organize an international police force to replace UK troops (which the GA appears reluctant to do), any partition plan recommended by the UN has little chance of successful implementation.
November 21, 1947
The Palestine Issue at the UN
The plan to partition Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states probably will not receive the necessary two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly. Fifteen delegations have indicated that they will oppose the partition plan; seven will abstain from voting. It is almost certain that of the remaining thirty-five nations, a number sufficient to defeat partition will either vote against it or abstain from voting. (The plan thus could be defeated by two additional opposition votes, by one additional opposition vote and three more abstentions, or by six additional abstentions.)
If partition is defeated, the GA will then vote on another plan: to establish in Palestine a unitary state with a large degree of autonomy for both the Arabs and the Jews. Because controversy in the GA over Palestine has been centered around the partition issue, it is impossible to predict the fate of the less-publicized, Arab-supported scheme for a unitary state. The defeat of partition might persuade a substantial number of states not directly involved in the Near East to vote for some form of unitary state – particularly in. view of probable Arab concessions on such issues as immigration – on the theory that any solution is better than no solution at all. The votes of these states, together with those of the solid Arab bloc, might be sufficient to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority.
If neither of the two plans is accepted and the UK fulfills its pledge to withdraw from Palestine by August 1948, conditions m Palestine will become chaotic. Bitter and sustained fighting between the two groups will ensue. The US may then be compelled, because of aroused Zionist sympathy on the part of the US public, to take an active part in the struggle.
November 24, 1947
While Arabs and the Arab press continue their diatribes against the UNSCOP partition plan and against the US for supporting the plan, the Arab Governments are following a policy of “watchful waiting” in the expectation that the plan will be defeated in the UN General Assembly. The UK, which announced some time ago that it would not assume responsibility for enforcing partition, may be expected to expedite its withdrawal from Palestine if UNGA accepts partition. If no decision is reached at this session of UNGA, the UK will probably set a definite date for withdrawal (within the next eighteen month) and, as in India, attempt during the intervening period to persuade the Arabs and the Jews to accept some sort of settlement.
Offers of armed support to the Iraqi Army and other Arab armies to prevent the partition of Palestine have been agreed upon at an Iraqi tribal conference, representing Iraq’s 600,000 nomads. The most significant aspects of the conference are that: (1) the innumerable chronic antagonisms between the various tribes have been submerged in the face of the common danger in Palestine; (2) the Kurdish tribes are willing to associate themselves with an essentially Arab issue; and (3) Prime Minister Saleh Jabr is the guiding force behind the whole movement. If the Iraqi Government can retain control of this movement, the Government will have at its disposal for possible action in Palestine a formidable force of fanatic fighters.
SOVIET SUPPORT OF UNSCOP PARTITION PLAN
The recent decision of the USSR to support the UNSCOP majority plan for the partition of Palestine represents an important change in Soviet policy in the Middle East. This decision apparently reflects the Kremlin’s realistic acceptance of its failure to achieve a working arrangement with the present Arab leaders. Inasmuch as the Arabs have resisted Soviet overtures and Communist ideology, the Kremlin apparently has decided upon a course calculated to create the maximum degree of instability in the Arab world. Such a chaotic condition would jeopardize the influence of the US and UK in the Middle East and would endanger the stability of those Arab governments which look to the West for support. Consequently, it would permit the USSR to increase its influence throughout the area. The establishment of an independent Jewish state, with the subsequent removal of immigration restrictions, would make it possible for thousands of Communist-indoctrinated “refugees” from the Satellite nations to emigrate to Palestine. The USSR would thus acquire, for the first time, a substantial foothold in the Middle East.
Another major reason for Soviet support of partition is undoubtedly the desire to obtain UN recognition of the right of a minority group to set up its own state, with the support of the great powers, in the land where it resides. Such recognition would constitute a precedent for Soviet support of an ‘‘independent” Kurdistan and for the return of the Turkish eastern provinces to a reconstituted “independent” Armenia.
The Soviet leaders probably reason that a Jewish state, enjoying the vigorous support of influential Jewish elements in the US, would serve as a continuing irritant to US-Arab relations. Moreover, they probably believe that the formation of an international constabulary under UN auspices would provide the USSR with an excellent opportunity to place in Palestine experienced Soviet personnel who would be capable of integrating their activities with local pro-Soviet groups.
December 5, 1947
Concerted Arab action against the partition of Palestine may be expected after the British withdrawal which is expected to begin early in 1948. Meanwhile, evidence is increasing that the USSR intends to capitalize on the chaos which will result from attempts to implement partition.
The Palestine Situation
The initial Arab reaction to the UN decision on Palestine has followed the expected pattern of “spontaneous” rioting. In Palestine, these outbreaks consist of armed clashes between Arabs and Jews; in the Arab states, there are attacks on Jewish quarters and demonstrations directed primarily against the US. Such manifestations of popular feeling may be expected to continue as a preliminary to large-scale organized Arab resistance to partition. The Arab League is scheduled to reconvene on 12 December to complete plans for the defense of Palestine, but concerted military action will probably be delayed until after the British withdrawal, which is expected to begin early in 1948.
The Arabs do not intend to establish a separate government in the Arab-state sections of Palestine delineated by the UN and are expected to boycott all efforts of the UN commission charged with the transfer of authority from the British to the new Arab and Jewish states.
Meanwhile, evidence is increasing that the USSR intends to make capital of the chaos resulting from attempts to implement partition. If troops from various countries are sent to Palestine, the USSR will undoubtedly seek to include a contingent of Soviet troops specially trained for subversive political activities. At present, the USSR is taking steps to establish its influence in the area by sending agents to Palestine along with illegal immigrants. A sizeable number of Soviet agents are reportedly included among the bona fide immigrants on the PAN CRESCENT and PAN YORK, two ships under Panamanian registry scheduled to sail for Palestine from the Rumanian port of Constanza between 10 and 15 December. Space on the vessels has also been allotted to the ‘‘Jewish Marxist Youth,” a Rumanian organization oriented toward Moscow.
In Palestine the USSR is reported to be working mainly through the illegal Jewish Stern Gang, with subsidies and recruits dispatched from the Soviet Union via Syria. The Communists are expected soon to shift their Near East headquarters from Lebanon to Palestine, which will then· become the center of Soviet operations in the area.
December 19, 1947
A widening schism among the Zionists in Palestine is indicated by: (1) the recent resignation of Leftist Moshe Sneh from the Executive of the Jewish Agency, on the ground that the Agency is too partial to the US and UK; and (2) the failure of the Jewish Agency to prevent the sailing of the PAN YORK and the PAN CRESCENT from a Balkan Black Sea port, carrying 12,000 illegal immigrants to Palestine. The majority right wing of the Jewish Agency opposes this illegal immigration because it does not wish to antagonize the US and the UK and because it fears that the arrival of such a shipment of Eastern European immigrants – including Soviet agents – will increase the influence of the Leftists in Palestine. The Zionist terrorist organizations (lrgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Gang) and the left wing of the Jewish Agency appear to be looking more and more to the USSR for support. In permitting the ships to sail, the USSR undoubtedly realized it: would thereby embarrass the conservative groups now dominant in the Jewish community.
Neither the Arabs nor the Zionists are likely to be hampered by serious arms supply problems in their Palestine dispute. The armament position of the Arabs has been notably improved by: (l) a $2,085,000 contract for small arms, ammunition, and other materiel just negotiated by Syria with the Skoda works of Czechoslovakia; (2) the decision to complete deliveries under existing arms contracts with Arab states, especially with Iraq; and (3) the reported arrival of Soviet shipments of small arms in Lebanon and Syria. The Zionists, likewise, are believed to have ample stocks of small arms and ammunition in addition to some local arms factories, although so far their efforts to obtain heavy equipment in the US have been unsuccessful.
Arab League Plans to Fight Partition
As expected, Arab determination to fight against the partition of Palestine continues unwavering, even though the Arab League states may not become directly involved for several months. In spite of the disagreement between Saudi Arabia and Iraq as to whether retaliatory action should be taken against those countries which have backed partition, no disagreement exists among the Arab states on the question of support for the Palestinian Arabs.
The decisions of the recent Arab League meeting in Cairo are unofficially stated to be the following: (1) the partisan movement in Palestine will be supported by funds, men, and arms; (2) the economic problem (presumably the question of economic reprisals against those states supporting partition) will be examined ‘‘at an appropriate time” by the Economic and Political committee of the Arab League; (3) the official command of operations is given to Kawukji, guerrilla leader in the 1936-39 Arab revolt, who is ordered to take over immediately; (4) training is entrusted to Taha Hashimi, a former Chief-of-Staff in the Iraqi Army; (5) the first installment of funds is fixed at 3 million pounds (Ibn Saud has contributed an additional $4 million and the Imam of Yemen 300,000 pounds); (6) a Special Committee is entrusted with the defense of the frontiers of Palestine, which would be guarded to prevent outside reinforcement from reaching the Zionists; and (7) no regular Arab army will intervene in Palestine until after the departure of the British troops.
December 22, 1947
Persistent mob violence against Jewish communities throughout the Arab world, and possibly throughout the Islamic world, appears to be an unavoidable byproduct of the Palestine crisis. The long-established Jewish communities in the Near East fear subsequent outbreaks over a long period and the imposition of an increasingly ghetto-like status. Although the leading rabbi of Baghdad has gone so far as to appeal for funds to fight the Zionists, the Iraq capital remains the principal danger spot: its Jewish quarter (about 100,000 persons) was the scene of extensive violence and looting in 1941, and the city today is a center of unrestrained anger about Palestine.