43 Allen[1] to Deschamps

Minute, CANBERRA, 20 May 1948

RECOGNITION OF THE JEWISH STATE The logical consequence of Australian policy to date on the Palestine question would be the recognition of the newly proclaimed Jewish State[2], the main ground for this being it would be in line with the Assembly resolution of November 1947, which Australia has consistently upheld and supported.

2. As against this, however, the following factors need to be taken into consideration:-

1. It is true that the Assembly resolution of November, 1947 gives the Jewish State the advantage of favourable world opinion, as well as at any rate a certain appearance of legality. U.K. legal opinion, however, (Comrel telegram No. 192 dated 15th May[3]) is to the effect that the Jewish claim to set up a state by virtue of the Assembly resolution cannot be held as valid.

2. The military position is quite fluid. From this two alternatives follow:-

(a) The Jews may gain the upper hand. In which case they may not be content to remain in the areas allotted to them under the Assembly resolution; they may carry the attack over into what, under the resolution, may be considered as legitimate Arab areas, with the ultimate aim possibly of gaining control over the whole of Palestine. Under such circumstances, previous recognition would embarrass the recognising nations.

(b) On the other hand, the Arab forces may overcome the Jews. In which case, recognition would have no meaning, and in the end would have had the effect merely of antagonising the entire Arab world.

3. This latter would involve great disadvantages from two vital points of view:-

(a) The general strategical position in the Middle East (i.e. communications, defence, etc).

(b) Oil supplies.

4. Our position in the Middle East (in so far as we represent western democracy in general and the British Commonwealth (i.e. mainly U.K.) influence in particular) vis--vis the Soviet Union would be weakened.

5. Recognition of the Jewish State would cause strongly unfavourable reactions in Pakistan and India (particularly the former). At the present delicate stage, this could easily have a decisive effect in disinclining them to remain within the British Commonwealth.[4]

6. The reaction in Indonesia and other S.E. Asian countries would also in all probability be unfavourable. While this may not have any direct, immediate effect on Australia, these countries are at any rate our nearest neighbours, and some of them (e.g. Malaya) have recently been incensed by the implementation of our Immigration regulations.[5]

7. In short, it would seem advisable at the present juncture (a) that the nations of the British Commonwealth should act in concert; (b) that they should follow the present lead given by the U.K., i.e. to postpone a decision in the matter until the situation in Palestine, especially from the military point of view, becomes more clearly defined.

[1] J.L. Allen, Third Secretary, Middle East Section, Department of External Affairs.

[2] The Jewish Provisional Government had proclaimed the State of Israel on 15 May 1948.

[3] See note 1 to Document 42.

[4] On the question of India remaining within the British Commonwealth see Volume 14, Document 60.

[5] On Malaysian protests against Australian immigration regulations see Volume 14, Document 158.

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