784.00/1–2550: Telegram

The Chargé in Jordan (Fritzlan) to the Secretary of State


7. This a. m., I had long talk with Samir Rifai re Jordan-Israeli meeting last night Shuneh. Following his version events:

Week ago King Abdullah received letter from Shiloah suggesting discussions re Jerusalem in view TC consideration problem and possible action implement international resolution. King responded favorably requesting Samir arrange meeting.
Samir declined saying he felt time for Government consider matter negotiations and if thought them advisable participate in them formal basis. King agreed asking Prime Minister consider matter.
Cabinet debated question and decided might be possible Government representative discuss Jerusalem question with Israelis. Samir’s suggestion Defense Minister Fawzi Mulki chosen represent Government. Samir consented accompany Fawzi.
Meeting took place with Shiloah and Dayan, King being absent perhaps in view recent indisposition due light attack flu. Outset Israeli suggested agree on procedural approach UN on Jerusalem. Both Fawzi and Samir expressed surprise stating they hoped discuss substantive questions. Samir expressed view Israel had committed itself re Jerusalem more heavily than Jordan and as UN member had more to fear from possible UN sanctions and that Israelis seemed quite naturally especially eager obtain agreement with Jordan on partition city. He asked how far Israel would go to defy UN and what Jordan might expect from agreement.
Reply to first question Shiloah replied Israel would leave UN before giving up Jerusalem. Re second Dayan said Israel would agree to rectification present armistice line but only on “meter for meter” principle.
Samir stated this principle entirely unacceptable and question one of interest each party recognizing Israeli interest obtain Jewish quarter, Wailing Wall and access Mt. Scopus though latter secondary (these concessions made December 13 meeting). In turn Jordan interested regain Arab quarters and Bethlehem Road though latter now minor interest view completion Bethany Road to Bethlehem. Felt if each recognized other’s interests suitable line could be drawn without difficulty.
Bawis [apparent garble] foregoing Jordan members at meeting proposed line running along Nablus and St. Paul’s Roads to Allenby Square thence along Mamillah Road to point between Terra Saneta College and Franciscan Convent and point on Bethlehem Road so as [Page 704] to embrace Talbiya, Greek Colony and Baqa quarters. In return for rectification line Jordan’s favor Jordan would give area around Palestine Police Headquarters between Nablus Road and Sanhedriya, give passage Jewish quarter and Wailing Wall and guarantee free access Mt. Scopus.
Israelis did not comment possibility solution along these lines but agreed consult their superiors and return for meeting January.

Comment: Samir has somewhat modified position from that of December 13, when he did not demand Talbiya, Greek Colony and Baqa but was content compensation Arab quarters generally though he stated Jerusalem agreement must be part general agreement (Legtel 421, December 151).

Though Samir would undoubtedly prefer tying Jerusalem question with general settlement he seemed consider discussions Jerusalem separate issue warranted now in view: (a) desirability agreement between parties in control city in face imminent UN action and (b) strong likelihood gaining Jordan Government’s approval widening base negotiations should satisfactory Jerusalem settlement result.

Samir seemed fairly optimistic success discussions which related solely to Jerusalem question.

Re likelihood King giving up corridor demand, mentioned in Tel Aviv 50, January 23,2 it would be great mistake to take all King’s statements at face value. He might personally indicate willingness scale down his demands somewhat but he would have great difficulty persuade any government accept his view. Modification re corridor conceivable only if compensation territorially elsewhere demanded.3

Sent Department 7; Department pass London 3, Tel Aviv 3, Jerusalem 4, Geneva 2, for USPCC 3 and USTC 1; pouch Arab capitals.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. vi, p. 1545.
  2. Not printed; it advised of information from Mr. Shiloah concerning reports of “UN visitors” to King Abdullah that he was willing to give up his demand for a corridor and accept frontier rectifications and free access to Israeli ports. The former also indicated that the King had been disappointed at Baghdad, receiving no support there for his position on Jerusalem or Syria and that he had been upset when the Egyptian Prime Minister received the Grand Mufti at Cairo instead of agreeing to a conference with him (684A.85/1–2350).
  3. Ambassador McDonald, on January 28 reported on these talks as follows: “Re Israel-Transjordan talk January 24 Shiloah and Kollek my residence January 26 report following: Participants for Israel Shiloah and Dayan, for Transjordan Samir and for first time Minister Defense Fawzi el Mulki; King still slightly indisposed but present short time at dinner. King urged both sides make progress towards agreement.

    “Technical subject discussion limited Jerusalem but implications broader. Concentration was on possible partition Jerusalem. Transjordan conciliatory re Wailing Wall and Jewish Quarter but more firm re Scopus. Both sides agreed bring tentative [plan?] Jerusalem partition next meeting January 20.” (Telegram 63 from Tel Aviv, 684A.85/1–2850)