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U.S. Policy on Jerusalem: Memorandum on U.S. Policy

(February 7, 1963)

This is a memorandum of conversation between William Crawford Jr. and Mr. Shaul Bar-Haim from the Israeli Embassy meeting and discussing the U.S. position on the status of Jerusalem.


Mr. Shaul Bar-Haim, Counselor, Israel Embassy
NE--William R. Crawford, Jr.
UNP--Stephen J. Campbell

Mr. Crawford recalled a conversation between Assistant Secretary Talbot and Ambassador Harman on July 17, 1962,/2/ in which Mr. Talbot had said we would no longer take the initiative in presenting our views on the status of Jerusalem to governments contemplating the initial establishment of a diplomatic mission in Israel. In describing the limits of this concession, Mr. Talbot said we would not acquiesce in Israel insistence on issuance of visas or consular exequaturs that would inhibit the freedom of movement of U.S. Consular Officers within the corpus separatum, or in other Israel moves which we would view as eroding our stand in principle on the status of Jerusalem.

Mr. Crawford further recalled that the Israel Embassy had subsequently taken strong exception to our reference to the corpus separatum, in conversations between Mr. Strong and Minister Gazit on July 20 and 30, respectively. These exchanges led the Israel Embassy, in a conversation between Mr. Bar-Haim and Mr. Crawford on August 6, 1962 to seek our approval of its own recapitulated formulation of the U.S. position. We reserved our reply, saying we would like to refer the Israel formulation to officers in the Department with long experience on this problem.

Mr. Crawford said this study has now been completed, and our comments on the Israeli formulation are evidenced in the following revision of it:

1. The Government of Israel may take as its guidance in interpreting the United States position on Jerusalem the U.S. Aide-Mémoire of July 9, 1952, and Secretary Dulles' speeches of June 1, 1953, and August 26, 1955, of which Israel is fully informed.

2. In the United Nations resolution of partition of Palestine, Resolution 181(II) and in the Swedish-Dutch draft resolution subsequently considered by the General Assembly, various solutions to protect the interests of the U.N. in Jerusalem were laid down, but in both Resolution 181 and Swedish-Dutch draft, the geographic area of Jerusalem was the same; i.e., as defined in Resolution 181. The attitude of the Department is that, while the United States Government is of an open mind as to the type of arrangements which might be made for the area to satisfy the international community's interest in it, the geographic boundaries of this area are as set forth in Resolution 181. The U.S. believes that whatever arrangement is made should have the concurrence of Israel and Jordan, and the necessary majority of the Members of the United Nations. (Mr. Talbot's use of the term corpus separatum on July 17 was in reference only to this geographic definition.)

3. This basic U.S. view concerning the geographic definition of the area describes also the area of jurisdiction of the United States Consulate General in Jerusalem.

Mr. Crawford stressed that the basic U.S. position is as stated in Paragraph 1. Paragraph 2 should be regarded as "informal comment and current amplification". As regards Paragraph 3, we have not dissented from the Israeli formulation provided Israel recognizes that the term corpus separatum does in fact describe the area of jurisdiction of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem. As footnote to Paragraph 3, we would point out that the Consulate General's area of jurisdiction includes areas in Jordan which are over and above the area defined by Resolution 181.

Mr. Crawford said Israel would note that the foregoing involved no change in the long-standing U.S. position on Jerusalem. It is somewhat our feeling that Israel made a mountain out of a molehill in contesting Mr. Talbot's use of the term corpus separatum. We saw no advantage in reopening discussion of the U.S. position, but felt we should not avoid comment when the Israel Embassy sought to formulate our position for us.

Mr. Bar-Haim said he hopes this U.S. commentary will put an end to the exchange.

Mr. Bar-Haim said he wished to raise a question earlier discussed by Mr. Gazit with Mr. Strong: the use of the term "Jerusalem, Palestine" in the passports of U.S. officials in Jerusalem. Israel wishes the U.S. would drop this practice. The use of the term "Palestine" is historical fiction; it encourages the Palestine entity concept; its "revived usage enrages" individual Israelis; the Jordanians, also, would be happier if it were dropped; this is a trivial irritant; the U.S. position on Jerusalem would in no way be eroded by ceasing to use this term.

Mr. Crawford replied that, insofar as he could recall, Mr. Strong had implied to Mr. Gazit that pushing this matter will serve little practical purpose. If Israel, nevertheless, wishes to press this officially, we will look into it. By way of preliminary, informal comment:

1. The present practice has caused no problem in the past fourteen years.

2. It is not a "revival".

3. It is difficult to see how it "enrages" Israel opinion.

4. The practice is consistent with the fact that, in a de jure sense, Jerusalem was part of Palestine and has not since become part of any other sovereignty.

5. We would not see this as simply a question of dropping the phrase "Jerusalem, Palestine" from the passports of those few officers we have in Jerusalem. What about related questions such as quota nationality, in regard to which U.S. legislation and regulation continue to employ the term Palestine?

6. Israel has been informed that we do not approve actions which might be regarded as watering down our stand in principle regarding Jerusalem. Israel has termed this "trivial", but we would necessarily have to judge it against the background of other actions of the past year, such as Israel's elimination of the Foreign Liaison Office in Tel Aviv and its request that we cease taking the initiative in representations to other states regarding the location of their missions in Israel.

7. We question whether the Jordanians would be happier if we drop the term. They fear the ridicule of other Arab states.

Mr. Bar-Haim said he appreciates Mr. Crawford's informal comment but hopes this matter can be looked at by the Department

Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000