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Top Secret Truman/Ben-Gurion telex, May 29, 1949

Parts of this telegram have been referred to in various books on the origins of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, but to my knowledge its full text has never been put on the internet in an html, pdf, or other format that is accessible by a keyword search (I believe it can be found as a photographic file at a website associated with the Truman Library).I thank Portland IMC for the opportunity to make it more widely available, and I urge readers to copy it to websites dedicated to study of the Middle East, the UN, US foreign policy and President Truman.What follows is as near as possible a verbatim copy of the original, though there may be transcriber errors in abbreviations, capitalization and punctuation:
Top Secret Declassified 1975

Draft telegram Verbatim text



President desires you to deliver following note immediately to Ben-Gurion.


Excellency, I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that the President of the US has instructed me to inform the Govt of Israel as follows:

The Govt of the US is seriously disturbed by the attitude of Israel with respect to a territorial settlement in Palestine, and to the question of Palestinian refugees, as set forth by the representatives of Israel at Lausanne in public and private meetings.According to Dr. Eytan, the Israeli Govt will do nothing further about Palestinian refugees at the present time, although it has under consideration certain urgent measures of limited character.

In connection with territorial matters, the position taken by Dr. Eytan apparently contemplates not only the retention of all territories now held under military occupation by Israel, which is clearly in excess of the partition boundary of November 29th, 1947, but possibly an acquisition of further territory within Palestine.

As a member of the UNPCC, and as a nation which has consistently striven to give practical effect to the principles of the UN, the US Govt has recently made a number of representations to the Israeli Govt concerning the repatriation of refugees who fled from the conflict in Palestine.These representations were in conformity with the principles set forth in the Resolution of the GA of December 11th, 1948, and urged the acceptance of the principle of substantial repatriation, and the immediate beginnings of substantial repatriation on a reasonable scale, which would be well within the numbers to be agreed to in a final settlement.The US Govt conceded that a final settlement of the refugee problem must await a defintive peace settlement.These representations, as well as those made concurrently to the Arab states concerning the resettlement outside of Palestine of a substantial proportion of Palestine refugees, were made in the firm conviction that they pointed the way to a lasting peace in that area.

In the interest of a just and equitable solution of territorial questions, the US Govt, in the UN and as a member of the UNPCC, has supported the position that Israel should be expected to offer territorial compensation for any territorial acquisition which it expects to effect beyond the boundaries of set forth in the Resolution of the GA of November 29th, 1947.The Govt of Israel has been well aware of this position and of the view of the US Govt that it is based on elementary principles of fairness and equity.

The US Govt is deeply concerned to learn from Dr. Eytan's statements that the suggestions, both on refugees and on territorial questions, which have been made by it for the sole purpose of advancing prospects of peace, have made so little impression upon the Govt of Israel.The US attitude of sympathy and support for Israel has arisen out of broad American interests and principles, particularly out of support for the UN and its desire to achieve peace and security in the Near East on a realistic basis.The US Govt and people have given generous support to the creation of Israel because they have been convinced of the justice of its aspirations.The US Govt does not, however, regard the present attitude of the Israeli Govt as being consistent with principles upon which the support of the US Govt has been based.The US Govt is gravely concerned lest Israel now endanger the possibility of arriving at a solution of the Palestinian problem in such a way as to contribute to the establishment of sound and friendly relations between Israel and its neighbors.The Govt of Israel should entertain no doubt whatever that the US Govt relies upon it to take responsible and positive actions concerning Paelestine refugees and that, far from supporting excessive Israeli claims to further territory within Palestine, the US Govt believes it is necessary for Israel to offer territorial compensation for territory which it expects to acquire beyond boundaries of the November 29th, 1947 Resolution of the GA.The Govt of Israel must be aware that the attitude which it has thus far assumed at Lausanne must inevitably lead to a rupture in those conversations.The US Govt must state in candor that it considers that the Govt of Israel must provide a basis for continuation of such talks under the auspices of the PCC, and that a rupture arising out of the rigid attitude of the Govt of Israel will place a heavy responsibility upon that Govt and people.If the Govt of Israel continues to reject the basic principles of the Resolution set forth by the GA on December 11th, 1948 and the friendly advice offered by the Govt of the US for the sole purpose of facilitating genuine peace in Palestine, the US Govt will be regretfully forced to the conclusion that a revision of its attitude toward Israel has become unavoidable.


Additional keywords:United Nations Conciliation Commission on Palestine UNCCP Palestine Conciliation Commission United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 Resolution 194 Resolution 273 Lausanne Peace Conference Lausanne Protocol Mark Ethridge Walter Eytan Walter Eitan Israel's admission into the UN Jordan Lebanon Syria Egypt First UN peace process Palestinian Right of Return

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