38 Williams to Chifley

Letter CANBERRA, 27 July 1946

TOP SECRET

I have been asked by the United Kingdom Government to let you know that they have been engaged in discussion with United States representatives on the subject of the recent report of the Anglo- American Committee [1] which recommended inter alia the immediate admission of 100,000 Jews into Palestine. It seems to the United Kingdom Government essential, if Arab opposition to any such plan for dealing with Jews who desire to leave Europe is to be overcome, that this particular proposal should be treated, not in isolation, but as part of the main problem of dealing with displaced persons and refugees in Europe, and that it should be made clear that other contributions are being made towards the solution of that problem. Further, on humanitarian grounds, in the interests of efficient administration in ex-enemy territories and on account of the political difficulties which arise from the presence of displaced persons in the occupied zones in Europe, it is most desirable that their numbers should be reduced as rapidly as possible.

2. The United Kingdom Government consider that the first objective should be to create in Europe conditions which are such that a substantial number of the displaced persons can be resettled in circumstances enabling them to live free from discrimination and oppression. It is recognised, however, that whatever steps can be taken to this end, there will still remain a substantial number of persons for whom it will be necessary to provide outside Europe.

The Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States intend to continue their efforts in the negotiations they are now conducting within the framework of the United Nations to bring into existence an international organisation which will be able to deal effectively with the whole problem. But the creation of this machinery is bound to take time and meanwhile it is important to proceed at once with measures designed to aid the resettlement of displaced persons, including Jews, overseas.

3. The main elements of the plan are as follows:

(a) In the first place, the strongest possible support should be given to the appeal which is to be made to the United Nations at the forthcoming General Assembly, calling upon all Member Governments to consider what contribution they can make by receiving in territories under their control a proportion of the displaced persons in Europe, including Jews.

(b) The United Kingdom Government have already accepted a substantial commitment in promoting the resettlement of Polish troops unwilling to return to Poland, the number involved being about 228,000 apart from civilians.

(c) As regards the United States, under existing quotas over 150,000 European immigrants can be admitted for permanent residence each year. Entry is also available to substantial additional numbers in classes exempt from quota restrictions. The total of the quotas from European countries from which the majority of the displaced persons originate and of the average number of non-quota immigrants from these same countries is some 53,000 each year, and it is assumed that in the next few years the majority of the immigrants will be Jews and other displaced persons. In addition, it is understood that the United States Administration are prepared to seek the approval of Congress for special legislation for the entry into the United States of 50,000 displaced persons including Jews. (d) Pending the establishment of an international organisation for dealing with refugees, the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States will continue to explore, through the agency of the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees, the possibility of securing the admission of displaced persons to other countries and will promote such settlement as far as practicable. Active consideration is already being given to a concrete proposal relating to Brazil and similar proposals relating to other South American countries are being explored.

4. The United Kingdom Government are naturally anxious that all other countries should be prepared to make their contribution, and I have been asked to represent to you the importance which they attach, particularly from the point of view of dealing with the Palestine problem, to securing a satisfactory International Agreement on the general problem of displaced persons and to express the hope that, in view of the great value which would be derived from cooperative action in this matter on the part of the various countries of the British Commonwealth, the Commonwealth authorities should take similar positive steps and also adopt a sympathetic attitude towards this question when it comes before the General Assembly of the United Nations.

5. It would be of very great assistance to the United Kingdom Government if a declaration in this sense on the part of the Commonwealth Government and of the other Dominion Governments (who are also being approached) could be made before the end of this month, especially if such a declaration could contain a definite offer to accept a specified number of displaced persons (including Jews).

E. J. WILLIAMS

1 The establishment of an Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry to consider the Palestine question had been announced by Bevin in the House of Commons on 13 November 1945. Its report was issued by the U.K. Govt as a Blue Book on 20 April 1946.

[AA:A1067, M46/17/2]