Memorandum of Conversation with Moshe Sharett, Eliahu Elath, Dean Rusk and Fraser Wilkins, December 17,
1949. Secretary of State File . Acheson Papers
DEPARTMENT OF STATE Memorandum of Conversation
Date: December 7, 1949
Participants: The Secretary Deputy Under Secretary Rusk Mr. Moshe Sharett, Israeli
Foreign Minister Mr. Eliahu Elath, Israeli Ambassador Mr. Wilkins - ANE
Problem: Current developments at the UN regarding Palestine.
Mr. Sharett called on me this morning for the purpose of paying his respects during his
current visit to the United States to attend the present session of the General Assembly
and for the purpose of making known Israeli views on certain aspects of the Palestine
Mr. Sharett informed me that it was a great relief for him to leave the present nightmare at
Lake Success for the calm of Washington. He indicated that an "unholy alliance" of Arab
states, Latin American states, the USSR and its satellites had brought about, in
subcommittee of the ad hoc political committee, the adoption of an amended Australian
resolution providing for rigid internationalization in the Jerusalem area. Mr. Sharett said
that the ghost of November 29, 1947 was "stalking the scene" and that many
representatives in the United Nations were bowing down before it.
I asked Mr. Sharett if any progress had been made in recently reported conversations
between representatives of Israel and representatives of the Vatican in Rome. Mr. Sharett
said he could tell me confidentially that, while it should be understood that the Vatican
did not approve of present Israel proposals regarding Jerusalem, a message had been
sent to him to the effect that he continue his present line and that conversations could be
continued later. Mr. Sharett said that this message meant the Vatican was not displeased
with the manner in which the Israeli Government was conducting its relations with
Catholic representatives within Israel and that, as the Vatican did not expect any action
at the present session of the General Assembly, representatives of Israel and the Vatican
could continue their current talks thereafter. Mr. Sharett believed that the Vatican was
divided regarding the question of full internationalization for the Jerusalem area, but that
it would maintain its present position of support for full internationalization pending
action by the GA.
I asked Mr. Sharett what the views of the Israeli Government were with respect to
Jerusalem. He informed me that his Government considered an agreement between the
United Nations and Israel with respect to the Holy Places through the medium of a UN
commissioner appeared to be adequate and said that arrangements of this character
would make it possible for Israel and Jordan to take care of the practical affairs of
everyday life in Jerusalem.
I observed that when I had last seen Mr. Sharett in the spring of this year I had pointed
out to him that we envisaged, in the light of the General Assembly resolution of
December 11, 1948, a practical arrangement for the Jerusalem area under the general
supervision of the United Nations in which the authorities of the adjoining states would
have responsibility for administration. I remarked that he had previously indicated that
we were in general agreement and that his present views were at some variance with his
I asked Mr. Sharett what he thought of the Swedish-Netherlands proposal regarding the
Jerusalem area. Mr. Sharett replied that its concept appeared acceptable but that it
contained a number of serious faults, including suspension of laws and regulations by
the UN commissioner, the character of the Consular Court, and the prohibition on the
establishment of national administrative agencies within Jerusalem. He also indicated
that Israel had a number of other reservations and amendments to this proposal.
I asked Mr. Sharett what action he thought the United Nations might take regarding
Jerusalem. Mr. Sharett replied that he thought the United Nations should restrict itself to
a reaffirmation of its previously stated principles regarding the Holy Places, to a request
to the parties concerned that they make arrangements with the United Nations regarding
the Holy Places and to a call upon the parties that they cooperate with the United Nations
in the establishment of peace in Jerusalem.
Mr. Sharett told me that, at Jordan's request, Israeli representatives had been holding a
series of exploratory talks with King Abdullah and his representatives and that, while he
could not report any substantial progress, his Government was hopeful of the outcome.
He said that this optimism was based on the present position of both governments in
Israel and Jordan and that Israel was prepared to offer agreement to the incorporation of
Arab Palestine in Jordan in return for peace from Abdullah. He said that no serious
question of territory existed between Israel and Jordan and that Abdullah, desiring a port
in the Mediterranean, was anxious to obtain the Gaza strip from Egypt and subsequently
access, by means of road or strip, from Israel. Transfer of the Gaza strip was a matter
solely between Jordan and Egypt. Israel would not be in a position to offer Jordan a
territorial strip which would cut Israel in two but would be in a position to offer Abdullah
free access from Jordan to Gaza.
I asked Mr. Sharett if Israel and Jordan had discussed the refugee question. Mr. Sharett
said their representatives had not.
Mr. Sharett concluded by informing me that Israel was seriously apprehensive regarding
frequent Arab announcements of a "second round" with Israel and regarding Arab
rearmament through shipments of British jets and tanks. He said that Israel would
appreciate my authorizing shipments of military supplies from the United States through
the granting of export licenses. I said that I was not informed on this subject and that we
would study it. Ambassador Elath said he would supply us with additional details
regarding this matter.