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State Department Memo on a Final Solution in Palestine

(June 2, 1948)

Memo from Philip Jessop, the deputy to U.S. Representative to the UN, Warren Austin, outlining what he believed were the necessary steps for resolving the issue of Palestine.

[New York,] June 2, 1948.

Subject: Final Solution in Palestine

It would seem important immediately for the Department to formulate its views concerning the eventual solution in Palestine toward which the mediator will be working during the cease fire period. Although presumably the mediator will exercise a free hand, it is clear that the views of the United States will exercise a strong if not controlling influence on what is ultimately recommended or accepted.

The first alternative to be considered is the question whether during the four week period there should be an effort to reach a permanent solution or whether a temporary solution should be aimed at. On the one hand, it can be argued that the Arabs may need time for adjustment to the idea of a Jewish State and that some temporary arrangement, say for six months, might pave the way for future long range agreement. On the other hand, there are some indications that since Arab councils are divided, they may wish to be forced and would like a strong recommendation to which they would have to bow. Our best political judgment is needed in regard to this Arab attitude.

With reference to a possible final solution, the following assumptions may be valid:

First Assumption

There will be a State of Israel.

If this is taken as certain, then it could be argued that the best way to get the Arabs to acquiesce in this fact is to secure as many recognitions as possible, particularly the recognition of the United Kingdom. If the United Kingdom admitted this fact and committed itself to it, it might help to put it over in the minds of the Arabs. The more states that recognize, the easier it would be to get Arab acquiescence.

[Page 1089]

Second Assumption

There must also be an Arab State in Palestine.

The question exists as to whether the Arabs can agree on Abdullah as the head of the Palestinian state regardless of its exact boundaries. If the Arabs were agreed on this, it might be possible to hold out the hope of recognition and support of application for United Nations membership. Attention should also be given to the thought that recognition of a greater kingdom of Abdullah’s would solve the problem of recognition of Transjordan.

Third Assumption

There must be close relations between the Jewish and Arab states in Palestine, especially on economic lines.

Here it would be necessary to explore all of the various solutions which have been suggested, including the November 29 plan for economic union and Tsiang’s suggestion for some kind of dual commonwealth with a head man or mediator appointed by the United Nations and having charge of foreign relations and finance.

One point which seems to be dominant in Arab minds is the possibility of subsequent Jewish expansion. Consideration might be given to some kind of guarantee of the Arab state which would prevent possible subsequent Jewish expansion. It might be assumed that in regard to immigration, the Arab state would be free to exclude Jewish immigrants since each state presumably would have control of its own immigration policy.

Methods: While it would seem desirable that negotiations should be carried on in New York, in Washington and in the Arab capitals, and in Tel Aviv, it would appear that nothing should be done to stultify the role of the mediator or to weaken his hand, and that the lead should be given to him in the negotiations.

In order to support the mediator, it would seem desirable immediately to strengthen the Truce Commission by appointing to its membership persons of highest ambassadorial rank from Belgium, France and the United States.

Consideration might be given to the appointment during the four week period of a boundary commission which could continue its work after the termination of the cease fire period. The mediator might act as Chairman of such a boundary commission.

It might be desirable to draw up something of a balance sheet showing what advantages or concessions would be given to each side. One might also note what factors would be common to both a temporary and to a permanent solution. Common factors would include separate Jewish and Arab governments, common services and the problem of the City of Jerusalem. In regard to Jerusalem, the alternatives might be either to let the Arabs have it as Abdullah’s capital, to make it an [Page 1090]international city as under the November 29 plan, or possibly to find a combination of the two schemes. Perhaps the old city could be made a corpus separatum as under the November 29 plan and have a purely religious significance comparable to, but different from that of the Vatican City. Access would, of course, have to be secured.

The boundaries laid down on November 29 would certainly seem to be capable of adjustment and modification. The Arabs would seem to be entitled to a port on the Mediterranean Sea. Further consideration would need to be given to the Negeb.

Source: “Memorandum by the Deputy United States Representative on the Security Council (Jessup) to the United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin),” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, The Near East, South Asia, And Africa, Volume V, Part 2, U.S. Department of State, (June 2, 1948).