42 Department of External Affairs to Noel-Baker

Cablegram 140, CANBERRA, 18 May 1948

TOP SECRET

Palestine.

We have carefully considered your telegram[1] and fully understand your point of view.

2. As you know, Australian foreign policy is based on support for United Nations and avoidance of political decisions purely on grounds of strategy, for we are convinced by experience that strategy is best served by policy based on principle. We have always believed, as we have made it clear to you, that strategic objectives in the Middle East might have been best secured by following through the Assembly recommendation by exerting all possible pressure on the Arab countries to accept it. It would seem, however, that Arab countries have always been certain that opposition by them to the point of force would not meet with any serious reaction from the Western powers. Even now they seem to be sure of their position. It was because we feared this was the position and because we feared open warfare that we sent our previous telegrams[2] urging the United Kingdom Government to use their very strong bargaining power and moral influence on the Arab countries during treaty negotiations to accept the United Nations recommendation.

3. In the present circumstances it is most important that we should act together and we suggest that we take the common line of declaring ourselves willing to consider recognition of states who become members of the United Nations, and further that in the case we are willing to support the new Government's request for membership in view of the United Nations Assembly recommendation and, on approval by United Nations, to accord recognition. This would apply not only to the new state of Israel but to any new state.

[1] Presumably cablegram 192, dispatched 15 May 1948. It considered the legal status of Palestine once the mandate ended. It concluded that, barring aggressive action or the use of armed force, there was probably nothing in law to prevent peaceful action 'directed to setting up by other state or states of a government or governments in Palestine or to incorporating some part of its territory in the territory of neighbouring states'. In considering the validity of either a 'Jewish claim to set up a state in the boundaries of Jewish areas' or an 'Arab claim to set up a state covering the whole of Palestine' it observed that the resolution of 29 November 1947 gave the Jewish state 'a certain appearance of legality'.

[2] Documents 15, 17 and 18.

[A : A1838, 191/1/4, I]