Saturday, December 08, 2018

When the US Information Agency Referred to "Palestine"

As I, and others, have consistently pointed out, the United Nations SC Resolution 242 does not mention "Palestine" as a state.

It does mention "the refugee problem" but without characterizing any specific nationality.  As we now know, some 60,000 Jews were cause to be refugees as a result of the 1947-49 hostilities, initiated by the Arabs, not to mention several thousands more expelled and ethnically cleansed from their homes in locations throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza during the Mandate years, also by Arabs in a terror campaign.

Below, I have found, perhaps, the first mention of "Palestine" in what could be called, in a very qualified manner, a "state".  

The document is a "talking points" summary, dated August 7, 1967. It was composed or at least authorized by Leonard Marks, director of the US Information Agency at the time.*  It was presented to Averell Harriman, Ambassador at Large, under cover of an attached August 9 typewritten note informing him that the Talking Paper had been “released for us in all posts on the U.S. position in the Middle East.” The note indicates that copies of the Talking Paper were also sent to Walt Rostow and Eugene Rostow.

The questions he poses, and then provides answers for, are illuminating in that they largely reveal that rumor, bias and misinformation seems always to be at the basis of attacks on Israel.

The 18th question is formulated:

What about the Arab refugees from Palestine?

That might, to some people, to indicate a state of "Palestine" existed.

But reading the answer, it is obvious that that is not the case:

ANSWER: Secretary of State Rusk proposed that the refugees have a free and private choice of their future. The U.S. is firmly opposed to permanent eviction of the refugees, and to barring their return.

It is probable that not all would want to return to the Palestine area—especially if they were offered an opportunity for resettlement, with the required financial backing, in other Arab states.

It should be remembered that the United States has contributed over a third of a billion dollars to Palestinian refugee relief since 1950. This is about 70 per cent of the total funds made available for this purpose. So it cannot be said that the U.S. is not interested in the welfare of the refugees, or in a permanent solution of their problems.

In other words, the "Palestine" referred to is just an "area" and it is obviously the former Mandate area. "Arab states" are mentioned, but not a "Palestine". Moreover, the only framework for discussing those persons from an area called "Palestine" are "refugees".

Incidentally, question 19, deals with Jerusalem.  The question is phrased

The U.S. didn’t vote for condemnation of the Israeli annexation of Jerusalem by the U.N. General Assembly. Does this mean the U.S. concurs in the Israeli annexation?

The talking point reply notes that 

The United States has made it clear that the U.S. will not accept Israel’s unilateral action as a determinant of the future of Jerusalem.

However, it also notes that

The Israeli Government has said that its arrangements for the administration of Jerusalem were not an annexation. It seemed to the United States that the proposed U.N.G.A. resolution, which condemned annexation and called for its recision, was not directed to the situation on the ground.

On that, see here where official US statements are quoted, among them

On June 19, President said: “There must be adequate recognition of the special interest of the three great religions in the Holy Places of Jerusalem”. A White House statement on June 28 said that the President “assumes that before any unilateral action is taken on the status of Jerusalem there will be appropriate consultation with religious leaders and others who are deeply concerned … The world must find an answer that is fair and recognized to be fair. That could not be achieved by hasty unilateral action and the President is confident that the wisdom and good judgment of those in control of Jerusalem will prevent any such action.” 

Interestingly, the religious rather than the political and diplomatic aspects are paramount.

That is evident in the words of UN Ambassador Goldberg quoted there:

“During my own statement to the General Assembly on July 3, I said . . . the safeguarding of the holy places and freedom of access to them for all should be internationally guaranteed and the status of Jerusalem in relation to them should be decided not unilaterally but in consultation with all concerned. These statements represent the considered and continuing policy of the United States Government.”

There is there, however, this, too:

We do not recognize Israeli measures as having effected changes in formal status of Jerusalem.(a)Israelis are in that city, as they are in other recently occupied territory, as a result of hostilities last month.(b)Israel may thus be said to be an occupying power with duty under international law to conform its administration as closely as possible to existing local law.(c)Israeli action to establish a unified municipal administration of Jerusalem cannot be regarded and will not be recognized as a valid annexation, or a permanent change in legal status of Jerusalem in any sense.(d)It should be considered an interim administrative measure to provide a more convenient and efficient occupation regime for area formerly under Jordanian control, using Jordanian police and other officials wherever possible.(e)Government of Israel has made it clear that it does not claim that its unified administration of Jerusalem is an annexation.

President Trump's decision altered that policy, but not completely.

P.S.  Already way back when, they knew internationalization was wrong for Jerusalem and the Partition Plan was really dead.

* By the way, Marks foresaw the rise of alternative media in that 

he once implemented an unusual plan to explain US policy directly to the Vietnamese.

He wrote in his 2004 memoir, ``The President Is Calling," that ``the Vietnamese household was well served with gossip and information when the women gathered each morning at the fish market and swapped stories about local events. At the suggestion of one of our employees, I retained the services of talented storytellers who, each day, would compose stories describing the issues of the Vietnam conflict and report on the progress being made in repulsing the communist invaders.

``At night, singing troubadours would go to Vietnamese guesthouses, churches, and other gathering places. We eliminated daily newspapers and replaced them with live fish market correspondents."


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