684A.85/1–350: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Holmes) to the Secretary of State


25. Furlonge,1 Head Eastern Department, commented today that Israeli-Jordan joint talks seem to have bogged down at least temporarily over corridor question.2 He reiterated UK has scrupulously maintained hands-off attitude during negotiations, but he wondered whether time may not arrive when it might be desirable for US and UK to help talks along with both parties. We informed him that we did not know Department’s latest thinking on this question, but recalled that at Istanbul Conference3 it had been consensus that while US Government should encourage direct talks, it should refrain from taking direct part in them and from suggesting nature of settlement. Furlonge stated that he felt, for present at least, both US and UK should continue to refrain from intervening, but that time might arrive in future when it would be desirable assume more active role.

Furlonge stated Foreign Office has thus far refrained from giving any advice to Jordan, although it has given Kirkbride4 certain background information and advice for his guidance in event he were asked for advice by Jordan Government. We asked Furlonge whether he was referring to comments re corridor, which he had mentioned to us in earlier conversation (see final paragraph Embtel 5079, December 22).5 Furlonge confirmed this to be true but added Foreign Office comments covered other matters as well. He then gave following details:

Foreign Office told Kirkbride for his background information that there seem to be fair indications Israel anxious effect settlement with Jordan, particularly in order reach de facto agreement on Jerusalem question in view Israel’s current difficulties with UN. (Furlonge stated that although this appeared to be true at time telegram sent to Kirkbride, he now felt perhaps Jerusalem motive was overemphasized. Nevertheless, he still felt it fair to say Israelis seem most anxious obtain general settlement with Jordan.) In view Israeli eagerness, Foreign Office feels Abdullah should not be in too much of hurry to make concessions merely for purpose reaching early settlement, [Page 666] but should use his bargaining power to obtain most favorable settlement possible even if negotiations thereby protracted.
Foreign Office does not feel corridors are ever satisfactory arrangements. Egyptians have been insistent. Israel should not have access to Gulf of Akaba and Foreign Office not completely convinced Israelis might not be willing make concessions southern Negev in order reach settlement with Jordan. If Israel not willing, Foreign Office felt Jordan would do better ask for corridor terminating north of Gaza which would give it direct access to Mediterranean, rather than corridor to Gaza which would result in later protracted negotiations with Egypt re access to sea. (Furlonge noted with satisfaction Jordan has taken former line in subsequent conversations with Israel.)
Foreign Office feels Jordan should take present opportunity to endeavor to obtain concessions in Jerusalem which would include within Jordan’s sector certain of Arab quarters now held by Israel. If Jordan were successful in obtaining agreement to redraw Jerusalem boundaries to accomplish this, it would help make separate Jordan-Israeli settlement more palatable to other Arab states and would provide additional areas for resettlement of refugees.

Furlonge emphasized Jordan has not as yet requested UK advice and foregoing has therefore not been communicated to Jordan Government.6

  1. Geoffrey W. Furlonge had been appointed Head of the Eastern Department in the British Foreign Office on December 9, 1949.
  2. This refers to the Jordanian demand for a corridor to the Mediterranean Sea through Israeli territory. For documentation on Israeli-Jordanian talks in 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. vi, pp. 594 ff.
  3. For documentation on the Conference at Istanbul of American Chiefs of Mission in the Near East during November 1949, see ibid., pp. 165 ff.
  4. Sir Alec S. Kirkbride, British Minister in Jordan.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. vi, p. 1556.
  6. The Department of State, in reply on January 4, expressed its continued belief that while the United States Government should encourage Israeli-Jordanian peace talks, it should refrain from intervening in them (telegram 28, 684A.85/1–450). A. David Fritzlan, the Charge in Jordan, inquired of King Abdullah of Jordan on January 4 concerning the peace talks. The King replied that the Israelis were being difficult and that he had decided that Samir Rifai, his Minister of Court, should attempt to reach basic agreement at Jerusalem with David Ben-Gurion, the Israeli Prime Minister. He also indicated that the Israeli offer of a corridor extending from 50 to 100 meters to give Jordan access to the sea was entirely unacceptable. During the discussion, Mr. Fritzlan presented President Truman’s message of December 30, 1949 (see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. vi, p. 1564) to the King and noted that the King seemed greatly pleased (telegram 4, January 4, from Amman, 785.11/1–450); see also airgram 15, January 9, from Amman, p. 677.