867N.01/1–249: Telegram

The Special Representative of the United States in Israel (McDonald) to the Secretary of State

top secret

4. For American eyes only. Shiloah1 officially informed mission night December 31 as follows:

Secret preliminary armistice negotiations with Abdullah el Tel2 initiated December 25 in atmosphere cordiality.

2. Meetings in complete secrecy owing (a) save King3 embarrassment and possible retaliation from other Arab countries and (b) prevent British interfering.

3. Second meeting was held December 30 in Arab Jerusalem with Shiloah and Day an4 representing Israel, and Tel representing King. Conversations very satisfactory according Shiloah and one two questions on subjects were listed as agenda for further secret meeting to be held January 5 in Jewish Jerusalem. On agenda are such items as delineation frontiers, renewal operations southern potash works, operations Palestine Corporation electric plant, etc.

4. Shiloah promised keep mission secretly informed progress talks.

5. Also stated satisfactory preliminary tentative discussions on military level have been initiated with Lebanese looking toward armistice. In addition Israeli have secretly approached Lebanon Prime Minister on political level and are hopeful.

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6. Also Israel has sent secret message to new Prime Minister of Egypt offering negotiate, but Shiloah stated not certain that inter mediary “has courage to present offer to Prime Minister.”5

  1. Reuven Shiloah, Political Adviser in the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Lt. Col. Abdullah el Tel, Commander of Transjordan armed forces in Jerusalem.
  3. Abdullah, King of Transjordan.
  4. Col. Moshe Dayan, Commander of Israeli armed forces in Jerusalem.
  5. Amman advised, on January 2, that the previous day Lieutenant Colonel Tel met at Jerusalem with Elias Sassoon, Colonel Dayan, and an unidentified Israeli Foreign Office representative and was said to have “informed Israelis that as personal representative of King he was prepared receive their suggestions re possible boundary settlements. It is understood Israelis endeavored ascertain for second time whether British are being kept advised of these developments. Tel is alleged to have replied he had forgotten to ask.” (Telegram 1, 867N.01/-1–249) It is possible that the meeting described in this message is the same as that summarized in Tel Aviv’s telegram 4.

    Mr. Sassoon was Director of the Middle East Department in the Israeli Foreign Office. His surname is rendered also as Sasson; his given name as Eliahu.