501.BB Palestine/5–249: Telegram

The Minister in Syria (Keeley) to the Secretary of State


261. Mytel 256, April 28.1 When I orally communicated text Depcirtel April 29, 5 p. m. to Prime Minister Zaim last evening he reminded me that several days ago he had expressed his desire speed solution Palestine problem and had stated his willingness to accept as part comprehensive settlement of Palestine conflict quarter million or more Arab refugees for resettlement provided they are compensated for their losses and Syria is given adequate financial aid necessary to resettle them. He reiterated his sincere desire for prompt [Page 966] agreement with Israel and his willingness to enter direct negotiations with Israel to that end. He went on to say that as Syria, Transjordan and Egypt are Arab states most directly concerned in Palestine; problem, he is willing meet with Abdullah and Farouk in effort to reach common basis for realistic approach to Israel.

While eager to give concerete proof, of his sincerity already evidenced by his proffered concessions, he emphasized that unless Israel also manifests spirit of compromise stalemate will continue since Arab states cannot be expected to make all the concessions.

He laughed at Sharett’s fear that mobilization 20,000 recruits could be immediate threat to Israel. Call up is internal measure to take potential trouble makers off streets. Without arms and other equipment they could be used only as labor battalions and will, he said, be so used. Israel has, he added, nothing to fear from Syria if it comes to reasonable terms. Others had created debacle; he wishes earnestly to liquidate it so as to get on with more important things: internal development and preparation against Soviet menace which he insists is real threat of moment.2

Sent Department 261; repeated Beirut 56; Baghdad 49; Tel Aviv 24: London 72; Paris 57; Bern 3 for Ethridge. Pouched Amman, Cairo, Jerusalem, Jidda, Athens, Ankara, Moscow.

  1. Not printed, but see footnote 3, p. 962.
  2. Chargé Patterson, on May 3, discussed the content of the circular telegram of April 29 with the Egyptian Prime Minister. The latter was reported to have stated that the “Lausanne talks were based upon UN’s December 11 resolution whereby principle of repatriation established. Egypt insisted this principle should be reaffirmed by all participating Lausanne conversations, Zionists in particular. Once principle of repatriation shall have been established as basis of conversations Egypt and Arab States (Prime Minister believed) would at once get down to study of practical aspects of problem.” (telegram 430, May 3, 6 p. m., from Cairo)

    Minister Pinkerton discussed the circular telegram with the Lebanese Minister and received his assurances that the “Lebanese delegation Lausanne meetings with PCC has been given widest instructions to cooperate with PCC in finding answer problems. He reiterated that [Lebanon?] is already overpopulated and is organized on confessional lines so delicately balanced that acceptance permanent settlement any refugees here would be impossible.” (Telegram 217, May 4, noon, from Beirut) Nos. 430 and 217 are filed under 501.BB Palestine/5–349, /5–449, respectively.