Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs (Jones) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (McGhee)


Subject: Possible Moves to Improve Relations Between Israel and the Arab States.2

We have noted the current Israeli preoccupation over the possibility that in the event of a major war involving the Near East, Israel would be completely cut off from its Western sources of supply for food and fuel. This preoccupation has resulted in the recent Israeli approach to advocate the desirability that the United States stock-pile food and fuel in Israel.

If food and fuel sources of supply in the Arab states were open to Israel, the position of the latter would not be so precarious if its present foreign supply lines were cut. This will not be possible, however, until an improvement takes place in the relations between Israel and the Arab states.

There are submitted hereunder some ideas on moves which Israel might make in an effort to induce the Arab states to adopt a different attitude. These ideas are based on the assumption that Israel needs peace more than do the Arab states, and that it would be Israel, not the Arabs, who would have to make concessions in order to obtain this peace, given the present Arab determination not to come to a settlement with Israel.

Israel might publicly accept the UN recommendation that those refugees desiring to return to their homes and to live at peace with their neighbors would be permitted to do so. Israel might then make a genuine effort to take back as many refugees as it possibly could.
Israel might make an offer to give adequate compensation for abandoned refugee property and to begin payment of such compensation, [Page 560] without making this action dependent upon a general peace settlement.
Israel might offer to return some of the Arab quarters of Jerusalem. This would have an important effect on the possibility of peace with Jordan.
Israel might offer to cede to Egypt and Jordan part of the Southern Negev in order to establish the land bridge between the Arab states so much desired by the Arabs. If this were not possible, Israel might offer the Arabs a corridor across the Southern Negev. Transit rights for Israel across this corridor to Elath could doubtless be arranged.
Israel might offer to return to Jordan the areas in the “Triangle” region taken over as part of the Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan.3
Israel might offer to make Haifa a free port and Lydda a free air-port.
Israel might offer to the Arab states facilities for rail transit of Israel in sealed cars.
Israel might offer to make available to the Arab states scientific and medical advice and equipment.
Israel might return to Jordan the disputed territory in the Rutenberg area.

On the reverse side of the medal the Arabs should be expected to take the following steps:

To sign non-aggression pacts with Israel if outright peace settlements were out of the question.
To begin commercial relations with Israel.
To permit free passage of persons and goods between Israel and the Arab states.
To permit the flow of oil through the Haifa pipeline.
To cease boycotts and blockade practices.
To arrange for full Israeli access to the cultural institutions on Mt. Scopus, and to the Wailing Wall.

In the opinion of NE, peace with Jordan might be achieved if the Israelis could see fit to make some of the moves suggested above. Given the serious international situation, Lebanon might follow Jordan once the ice were broken. However, Israel has always strongly rejected any suggestion that she make concessions of the above nature, on the grounds that this would indicate weakness and would only serve to whet the appetite of the Arabs for more concessions. Conversely, we have no assurance that the steps, if taken would result in countersteps by the Arabs in the direction of better relations with Israel.


  1. The following handwritten note appears in the margin of the source text next to the first paragraph: “Dreamy! G[eorge] C. M[cGhee]”. Another handwritten note reads: “Let’s make George eat his word! [G.] L[ewis] J[ones]”.
  2. Of April 3, 1949; U.N. Doc. S/1302/Rev. 1.
  3. The remainder of this memorandum has not been found in Department of State files.