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Israel Requests Recognition From the United States

(May 14, 1948)

The story of the United States decision to recognize Israel is well-documented. Less well known is the fact that someone had to first make a request for recognition and no one in the provisional government had thought to do so.

David Ben-Gurion declared independence at 4 p.m. Israel time, which was early morning in Washington, D.C. The act did not take effect until 6:01 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on May 14, 1948.

Clark Clifford, President Harry Truman’s aide, called Eliyahu Epstein, a Jewish Agency official in Washington, and explained that there had to be an official request. Epstein, who was not actually a member of the government, nevertheless drafted a letter and signed it as an “agent of the provisional government.”

Truman’s favorable reply can be found here.

Source: Israel State Archives