357.AC/8–2450: Telegram

The United States Representative on the Palestine Conciliation Commission (Palmer) to the Secretary of State


50. Palun 383. I had short talk with Kirkbride Amman morning August 21 informed him of PCC visit Tel Aviv and subsequent talk Shiloah (Palun 3821) and requested his views re my discussing with Jordan Government pertinent matters relating special committee. Kirkbride gave interesting background recent developments leading to proposals Prime Minister’s note (Palun 3792). He said King had for some time been pressing government to negotiate some type agreement with Israel and had told government that every time he talked with Palestine Arabs, latter seemed to favor peace negotiations with Israel. [Page 979] Government had replied its impression exactly opposite. Government agreed, however, to investigate and proceeded west Jordan for this purpose. Kirkbride said government’s arrival on scene in west Jordan rather awkward for him because he was himself in west Jordan attempting persuade Palestine Arabs of desirability of negotiating some sort of settlement with Israel. Investigating commission however, promptly set about proving government’s thesis concerning Palestinian opposition to peace. King was so angry at putup job on part of government that according Kirkbride he nearly had attack of apoplexy. Situation so bad Kirkbride finally had to mediate between government and King. Kirkbride informed King government was willing talk peace through PCC. King replied he washed his hands of whole situation, that it was up to government to see what it could do and that he would not even see PCC. Subsequently King agreed invite PCC for lunch but stressed he would not discuss politics. Situation of course was smoothed out by time PCC arrival. Kirkbride said Prime Minister’s suggestions were entirely work of government and looked at in that light he believed they represented substantial advance over previous attitude of government. Kirkbride said it was his belief that if Israel should show any indication of making substantial concessions to Jordan in special committee, Jordan Government would be willing seek final peaceful settlement with Israel through PCC in complete disregard attitude AL. I told Kirkbride of Shiloah’s scepticism re possibilities of progress in special committee and latter’s belief progress could only be facilitated by appointment of representatives of greater authority. Kirkbride said reason Shiloah had not heard from King was that His Majesty was not involved in present negotiations. Kirkbride said Israelis were under impression that King was autocrat. Since annexation of Arab Palestine, King had far less authority than before. His Majesty was now surrounded by Palestinian lawyers who were quick to note any attempt by His Majesty to exceed his prerogatives. In past Jordanians had maintained rather casual policy of allowing King to do as he pleased. Shiloah had been accustomed to dealing with King and Samir Rifai but Jordan Government does not have any one comparable to Shiloah. Kirkbride said reason why Israelis found it so pleasant to negotiate with King and Samir Pasha was because King did not really care on what terms peace was negotiated with Israel so long as settlement reached. After a settlement with Israel, King hoped proceed with his plans to establish Greater Syria and then achieve his life long ambition re taking [retaking?] Hejaz. Kirkbride said that these were pipe dreams of course, but explained King’s lack of concern with terms on which peace might be established with Israel. Jordan Government on other hand very much afraid of opinion AL and did not wish go ahead of other Arab states in negotiating with Israel. If Egypt should negotiate peace with Israel today, Jordan [Page 980] Government would be prepared sign tomorrow. Kirkbride thought would be useful for me to talk to Said Pasha but recommended against discussing Palestine situation with Samir unless King should request me to do so. Kirkbride said that Samir is King’s man and very unpopular with present government. Kirkbride believed that if progress were made in special committee, it might be possible to raise level of representatives and to expand agenda.

In afternoon I had talk with Prime Minister and Sabit Bey Khalidi as interpreter. I told Prime Minister that Israel had expressed great interest in Jordan suggestion concerning special committee and had inquired of commission whether there were any conditions precedent to establishment of committee. Said Pasha told me that Jordan had no prior conditions to impose on Israelis before commencement of negotiations in committee. It was not true as Azmi Bey had previously informed Riley (Palun 382) that Jordan representatives would be expected to report to government commission of four. All dealings of Jordan representatives would be directly with Cabinet and any discussions which were held in committee would be reviewed by entire Cabinet. Said Pasha said Jordan Government would not prepare terms of reference until after Jordan delegates (Fawzi Mulki Pasha and Hamad Bey Farhan) return from AL meeting. If discussions should go well in special committee, Jordan Government could give consideration to increasing level its representation. Meanwhile Jordan Government awaited with interest appointment of two Israel representatives. In response my question, Said Pasha told me Jordan Government had already informed General Riley formally of its desire to commence discussions through Special Committee. (Riley received communication evening August 22.) Said Pasha said commission of lour had been originally established under Foreign Minister as liaison between Jordan Government and PCC as well as PRA. It was not clear from statements of Said Pasha whether committee of 16 Palestinians was to work with this commission in connection with eventual negotiations for final settlement through PCC or whether only concerned with activities special committee.3

[Page 981]

[Here follows final paragraph transmitting the views of an Israeli spokesman given to Ambassador Palmer.]

  1. Identified also as telegram 46, August 21, from Jerusalem, p. 975.
  2. Identified also as telegram 40, August 17, from Jerusalem, p. 973.
  3. The Palestine Conciliation Commission met with the highest officials of Syria on August 24. The officials were said to be very friendly. Prime Minister Qudsi expressed the opinions that not many refugees would wish to return to Palestine and that those who did not wish to return should be resettled. He indicated that the Syrian Government would cooperate in a careful study of resettlement and that payment of compensation would facilitate resettlement. Territorial adjustments, he said, would also facilitate a solution of the refugee problem.

    The Commission met with the highest officials of Lebanon the next day. Foreign Minister Philip Tacla stated that his Government was agreeable to the resettlement of refugees who could not return to their homes. He reaffirmed, however, that no refugees could be resettled in Lebanon because the country was already overpopulated and resettlement there would upset the existing religious equilibrium.

    These accounts of the Commission’s meetings with Syrian and Lebanese officials were transmitted by Jerusalem in telegram 58, identified also as Palun 387, August 29, 357.AC/8–2950.