Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Recommendation that US Oppose British Raising Jewish DPs and Arab Refugees in Security Council

(July 28, 1948)

top secret
us urgent

New York , July 28, 1948—7:15 p. m.

963. Cadogan called this morning and showed us his instructions to bring up in SC question of Jewish DP’s and Arab refugees. Substance as reported by Douglas in London’s 3413, July 27. Cadogan was instructed to request special meeting SC, if necessary, for early consideration these subjects. Although instructed consult USUN, he also on no account is to defer action unless specifically instructed to contrary. He said he would, however, take no action before tomorrow (Thursday) morning in order give us opportunity consult Department, but his present view is he must then request meeting for Friday.

We urge Department cable Douglas immediately asking him to request Bevin instruct Cadogan to defer action at least over weekend, pending fuller opportunity exchange views.

For reasons given in our comments below, we are strongly inclined to view that proposed British action is not advisable. This morning we told Cadogan we had no comments from Department. I said we were puzzled to know how UK Government thought proposed action would contribute to smoothing of situation in Palestine during next few weeks and months. Continuing in a general and personal way, we raised some of questions implied in following comments:

1. International refugee problem.
(a) The proposed British action may be confusing and possibly prejudicial to President’s request made in special session yesterday that our DP legislation be liberalized.
(b) Some members of Congress, hostile to liberalizing our DP legislation, might take line that British were attempting to dump European DP’s in our laps. Other hostile members of Congress might take line that since SC is dealing with this matter there is no need for further legislation.
(c) PGI would probbaly feel obliged to state that most of European DP’s want to go to Jewish homeland in Palestine. This would be provocative to Arabs (thereby having effect contrary to that contemplated by UK), and might also diminish prospects for liberalization DP legislation.
(d) Although they might not do so publicly, it is likely that PGI through propaganda channels would spread word, whether justified or not, that this action was hidden effort by UK Government to impair Jewish sovereignty in matters of immigration.
2. Arab refugees.
(a) PGI views on this problem set forth in USUN 957, July 27, Raising of this question by UK in SC would create at least some embarrassment for PGI and in turn for US Government, risking impairment our solidarity with British in Palestine matters because, in effect, we would be public advocate PGI position while UK would be public advocate Arab position.
(b) Public declaration by Bernadotte July 25 dealt specifically with his plans for dealing with question Arab refugees (Beirut’s 386, July 26,2 numbered paragraph 3). Bernadotte, having commendably taken initiative this regard, it would be gratuitous and tend to undermine his prestige for SC to take matter up and ask Mediator to do what he is already doing.
3. Proposed British action would encourage Arab extremists in their attempt to lay down conditions for maintenance present truce. Department will recall that telegram of July 18 from SYG Arab League to SYG UN (S/908, 19 July)3 in reply to SC July 15 resolution attempted to lay down three conditions for maintenance truce, two of three being complete cessation Jewish immigration and return of Arab refugees to their homes during truce. SYG Arab League reiterated this view in communiqué issued following recent conference with Bernadotte (Beirut’s 387, July 262). In this connection please refer to USUN 930, July 212 and Department’s circular, July 26, 2 [1] a. m., stating Department considers acceptance of truce as unconditional and differing views re immigration and other matters are subjects for consideration by Mediator.
4. We feel that proposed British action reflects confusion in their minds concerning proper functions of SC with regard to Palestine. While related to maintenance of truce we feel that question of European DP’s and immigration into Palestine, on one hand, and fate of Arab refugees, on other hand, are predominantly matters which must [Page 1254]be dealt with in connection with “peaceful adjustment of the future situation of Palestine.” For obvious reasons the Soviet and Ukrainian representatives in SC have missed no opportunity to discuss future settlement in Council; the proposed British action would give them still another opportunity. Future settlement, we feel strongly, is a matter which concerns GA and Mediator under Assembly’s resolution May 14, and not the SC which is concerned primarily with maintenance of peace in Palestine.
5. Our estimate of British motives in proposing this action is as follows:
(a) They are undoubtedly sincere in wishing to alleviate problems presented by unfortunate status of Jewish DP’s in Europe and Arab refugees.
(b) They wish to minimize Jewish immigration and Arab refugee problem as factors which might impair prospects of future settlement.
(c) They probably feel that proposed action might help mend their fences with Arabs.
6. While we do not question sincerity of these probable motives we do feel that British are misleading themselves because it is our estimate that effects of their proposed action would be directly contrary to hoped for results. It is our view that public discussion of these problems in SC at this time would exacerbate rather than relieve problems, and stiffen both Jewish and Arab positions and impair rather than minimize risk of impairing prospects of future settlement, and by misleading Arabs would worsen rather than improve US–UK relations with Arabs.
7. On last point, while we agree with view expressed by Douglas in paragraph 5, London’s 3188, July 14, it is our impression that evidences of lowering of British prestige in Near East resulting from their commendable attitude towards July 15 resolution, has caused them to become somewhat squeamish, and as a result to consider taking hasty and ill-advised action. British have certainly not lost nearly as much influence in Arab countries as we have. While Bevin’s stand and British courage in recent dealings with Arabs have been wholly admirable, it is our view we should spare no effort to encourage them to stand firm with us in inducing Arabs to take the bitter pill which sooner or later they must swallow, given the circumstances with which we have to deal.
8. Although we have received very little first-hand information concerning situation of Arab refugees, what little information we do have indicates these people will be in serious condition unless steps are taken promptly to assist them. We would suggest following alternatives, therefore, separately or in combination, to British proposals for dealing with these particular problems in SC. These alternatives should, of course, be coordinated with President’s legislative program concerning DP’s.
(a) US and UK might jointly take action in ECOSOC and, if feasible, directly with IRO (paragraph 3, London’s 33624).
(b) US and UK might jointly suggest to Mediator that he request ECOSOC and IRO for advice and assistance in dealing with these problems. The Mediator clearly would have authority to do so under paragraph 1 (c) of GA resolution of May 14 and this action would be consistent with his statement of July 25 (Beirut’s 386).
(c) US and UK might jointly encourage philanthropic organizations in respective countries (Amman’s 23, July 264) to organize large-scale joint program Near East relief, corresponding so far as US is concerned with large-scale Jewish relief projects.
9. In a broader sense we feel that most effective way for us to mend our fences with Arabs and deal with such specific problems as Jewish immigration and Arab refugees is to get together promptly as possible with UK on details of plan of settlement along lines set forth USUN 831, June 29 [30]; 837, July 1; and paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 of 870, July 10. In this connection please note particularly paragraph 4, Amman’s 18, July 22,4 indicating Transjordan Prime Minister’s view that US and UK should decide between themselves what plan should be adopted. In particular most effective steps we feel might be taken to improve US–UK relations with Arab states and would be active development of plans for recognition Transjordan and economic assistance as recommended in paragraphs 4 and 12 USUN 831. Amman’s 17, July 20 and Jerusalem’s 1118, July 24,5 are pertinent to question recognition Transjordan. A program of economic assistance would be particularly important in case of Iraq which, together with Syria, reflects the most extreme Arab position involving greatest risk of political instability.


Source: The Acting United States Representative at the United Nations ( Jessup ) to the Secretary of State, U.S. Departyment of State, (July 28, 1948).