684A.85/9–950: Telegram

The Minister in Jordan (Drew) to the Secretary of State


57. Was called FonOff morning September 9 where ForMin Shuraiqi Pasha handed me confidential urgent note invoking three power declaration May 25 against incursion Israeli forces into Jordan territory on east bank Jordan Eiver near confluence of Yarmouk [Page 994] River. (See Legtel 52, August 31, 11 a. m.)1 ForMin stated Israeli forces which at one moment had been withdrawn following original incursion had returned and established military post within Jordan territory. He has verified this by personal visit area with other Cabinet ministers. He pointed out that land in question was not in any way involved armistice agreement and had always been included in area; of British mandate Transjordan. He attributed action to Israeli plan obtain possession old Ruetenburg hydroelectric concession. (It is recalled Israeli President during last winter’s talks endeavored bring; in discussion Ruetenburg concession2 but Jordan representative refused consider matter on grounds Palestine and not Jordan territory was under discussion.)

ForMin claims Jews have given-General Riley forged map area showing armistice line to east of Jordan River thus favoring their claim to occupy area in such manner as to deprive Jordan of control Yarmouk reservoir. However, map accompanying Rhodes armistice agreement (UN document S/1302/Rev 1 annex 1 map 1 part 13) shows armistice line passing to east of Jordan through center Yarmouk reservoir.

Minister takes position border violation clearly within scope three power declaration and hinted Anglo Jordanian treaty would be invoked if necessary compel Israelis withdraw. Also stated that while his government looks to us to effect peaceful solution it is fully prepared use force if necessary and that garrison in area has been reinforced in anticipation that contingency. I requested and he has promised supply me with more specific details such as number Israeli forces involved, size of area occupied etc.

I told ForMin that my government would deplore use force particularly at this critical juncture in world affairs and suggested possibility Israeli military might be acting as it has been known to do in, past without knowledge or approval of civilian element of governments I promised transmit his communication promptly Washington and let, him know nature reply as soon as possible, but advanced personal opinion [Page 995] that three power declaration did not contemplate minor border incidents such as present appeared to be but rather envisaged major belligerent violations in force. He was not impressed.

I learn independently that Jordan Cabinet has adopted unanimous decision expel Jewish troops by force at once. While government known to be extremely agitated this action interpreted as political manoeuver for record knowing that British will prevent use Arab Legion for that purpose. Kirkbride has received official note invoking Anglo-Jordan treaty but as of moment writing only French Minister has received note similar one handed me. British Minister believes he has convinced government folly taking belligerent action especially while resorting diplomatic measures. I have told Kirkbride call on me at any time he feels my influence could be usefully exerted backstop him.

Text Jordan note follows in Legtel 58, September 9, 2 p. m.4

Sent Department for action 57, Department pass priority London 23, Paris 3, Tel Aviv 20, Jerusalem 25.

  1. Not printed; it cited unconfirmed rumors that 400 Israeli soldiers had crossed the Jordan River into Jordanian territory near the junction of the Yarmuk and Jordan Rivers into land that may have been owned by the Israeli-controlled Palestine Electric Corporation. (684A.85/8–3150)
  2. Pinhas Rutenberg was the founder of the Palestine Electric Corporation,, which began operations in 1923. The company obtained the concession to develop the hydroelectric resources of Palestine. Its main plant was located at the juncture of the Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers, below the Sea of Galilee.
  3. For the text of this document giving the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan signed at Rhodes on April 3, 1949, and of the attached map entitled “Palestine [:] North Sheet”, see United Nations, Official Records of the Security Council, Fourth Year, Special Supplement No. 1.
  4. Not printed; it concluded with the sincere wishes of the Jordanian Government that the United States, in the interests of peace and stability in the Middle East, use all means at its disposal to allay the increasing anxiety throughout the Arab and Moslem world caused by “militant Zionist expansionist ambitions.” (684A.85/9–950). Legation Amman transmitted the full text of the Jordanian note to the Department of State in despatch 60, September 11 (684A.85/9–1150).