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Harry Truman Administration: Memo to President Truman Regarding Stance on Palestine

(October 17, 1945)

The White House

October 17, 1945

Memorandum for the President

I have talked with Secretary Byrnes today about Palestine and his proposed statement for you to make. I presented my views, but they have not been at all persuasive. The Secretary adheres to the views expressed to you by him heretofore.

For obvious reasons, it is very embarrassing for me to be in disagreement with the State Department on this particular question. I really think that you should have someone else here in the White House to handle it – and hope you will.

However as long as you have asked me to thus far, I wish to express to you the views which I expressed to Secretary Byrnes today:

(1) In view of the fact that you have not taken any position orally or in writing which would support President Roosevelt’s letter of April 5th, I think that you should definitely not make the statement proposed.

I think it is proper for you to take the position that the admission of 100,000 Jews into Palestine is not a “change in the basic situation.” There are now approximately 600,000 Jews and 1,200,000 Arabs in Palestine. For that reason, 100,000 additional Jews would not be a change in the basic situation.

(2) You should make it clear that the most that President Roosevelt stated was that he would “consult” with the Arab and Jewish leaders, but that there was no intention on his part that he would have to obtain their consent before he took action.

(3) Some further action should be taken by you immediately with the respect to Atlee so as to show that you are really pressing the British for the additional certificates.

(4) That you or the Secretary of State call the Jewish and Arab leaders into conference at an early date, and “consult” with them so that the promise of consultation will be fulfilled – and then you can take whatever action you wish.

(5) Immediate effort should be made by the State Department to postpone publication of the April 5th letter until the middle of November. At any rate, I do not see why we should publish it ourselves at any time.


Sources: The Harry S.Truman Library and Museum