6-242 Memorandum of Conversation, May 25, 1948

Date: May 25, 1948

May 25, 1948
[New York, New York]

Ambassador Parodi said that while he did not express any opinion on the lifting of the United States arms embargo, he felt that it would be desirable if we do lift the embargo to get assurances from the Jews that they would not indulge in excesses such as bombing of cities in the Arab States.
The general line stated by the Secretary, not for repetition, was as follows:

1. The Secretary emphasized the continued great importance we attach to getting a cease-fire.

2. He thought that it might be possible to get a cease-fire in Jerusalem first and spread it out from there.

3. He was doing and would continue to do everything he could to have this case dealt with through the Security Council but action was necessary.

4. Making clear that he was not implying that we were likely to lift the arms embargo, he said that if we did, this act might have a strong psychological effect but it would be at least a month before it would have any material effect.

5. The Secretary wanted to correct what seemed to be a wide misunderstanding. The United States had maintained a strict arms embargo for some months past, while other nations had in fact been shipping arms into the area. The fact that other nations had been doing this while we had not made his task in developing the United States arms embargo policy an extremely difficult one. with a tremendous political pressure in this country to have us do so made our position extremely difficult and the maintenance of the embargo by us an impressive fact.2

6. There were three factors which stiffened the Jewish position before May 15 and may have caused failure of true efforts at that time, namely, (a) initial military successes of the Jews; (b) the bait held out by Creech-Jones concerning a possible compromise solution along the Abdullah line, and (c) the fact that a Colonel on Brigadier Glubb’s staff (Arab Legion) had visited the Jews and talked about a possible compromise.3

7. The Secretary said that the British seemed to be better aware of their position and seemed to be active in a constructive sense. He thereby had some hope that practical proposals might be forthcoming.

NA/RG 59 (Central Decimal File, 501.BB Palestine/5–2548)

1. Marshall departed Washington, DC, for New York City at 11:30 a.m. in order to deliver two speeches. He noted in a letter to a friend that “my arrival was delayed an hour and a half by poor flying weather which forced me into a landing at Mitchell Field [Long Island] and a long drive into the city. As I had a luncheon engagement with the French Ambassador to the United Nations [Alexandre Parodi] and the Secretary General of the United Nations [Trygvie Lie of Norway], I did not get free of that before the afternoon, and then I had two unbreakable business conferences, followed by considerable motoring in the city. That was followed by a dinner of 1800 given by the Economic Club, which I had to address, and from there I went on to Madison Square Garden to do my part there before some 20,000 people and did not get away until 11:30 [p.m.].” (Marshall to Mrs. Percy Waxman, June 3, 1948, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Secretary of State, General].) Concerning Marshall’s arrangement of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel luncheon to discuss Palestine, see Marshall to Lie, May 21, 1948, and the memorandum by Loy W. Henderson and its annotation in Foreign Relations, 1948, 5, pt. 2: 1018, 1044–45. The New York Times reported that Marshall’s informal remarks at the Economic Club of New York dinner were off the record. (New York Times, May 26, 1948, p. 13.)

The account printed here of the secretary’s meeting with Ambassador Parodi and the head of the United States delegation to the United Nations, Warren R. Austin, was written by John C. Ross, a member of Austin’s mission, and was read by Marshall.

2. Marshall lined-through the indicated text and handwrote the italicized words.

3. Since October 1946, Arthur Creech Jones had been Britain’s secretary of state for the colonies and a member of the Privy Council. His name was not hyphenated as Creech was his middle name.
John B. Glubb (“Glubb Pasha”) had commanded the Arab Legion since 1939. The legion had about forty British officers and received arms and a financial subsidy from Great Britain. It was the army of Transjordan and the best trained of the Arab states’ armies. At this time it was engaged in an attack on the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City—which it conquered on May 28. (New York Times, May 19, 1948, p. 1; May 29, 1948, p. 1.)