683.84A/3–251: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Legation in Syria 1


313. ReLegtels 4042 Feb 20, 434 Mar 2,3 and Jerusalem Contel 162 Mar 54 suggest you reply to Qudsi along fol lines: “Dept has studied with interest proposal PriMin re demilitarized zone on Syrian-Israel border and appreciates spirit which prompted his suggestion. Study situation reveals that administration in demilitarized zone regulated by terms Syrian-Israel Armistice Agreement. Alteration along lines PriMin’s suggestions wld require modification this Agreement. According to art 8 para 3 of agreement, any suggestion for modification Armistice may be introduced by either of parties concerned. Dept considers, [Page 592] therefore, wld be inappropriate for Chairman MAC introduce proposal suggested by PriMin. Perfectly proper, however, Syrian Rep MAC take up question possible modification Armistice Agreement in MAC.

Dept appreciates interest PriMin in peaceful solution in MAC problems arising between Syria and Israel. Fully agrees with him every effort must be made avoid incidents Syria-Israel border and work out peacefully all problems that arise. Dept assures PriMin it will keep close watch over situation and has full confidence in ability MAC work out satisfactory solution present problem. We are certain Syrian Govt will continue extend close cooperation to MAC since principally through that body difiiculties arising between Syria and Israel can be solved”.

FYI Dept never gave “green light” to Israelis regarding project for construction in demilitarized zone. Several weeks ago the Israelis informed Dept of project in Huleh area they planned undertake and said Syrian soldiers bordering area were adopting hostile attitude. Dept informed Israelis it would request leg Damascus raise matter informally with Syrian Govt (Deptel 272, Feb 8).5

Dept will consider discussing matter with Israel reps after Gen Riley has had opportunity attempt work out solution in Syrian-Israel MAC. Dept strongly of opinion that Arab residents demilitarized zone shld be protected in property rights in event Israel project permitted continue. Dept prepared make subsequent representations this regard.6

  1. Telegram drafted by Mr. Waldo and cleared within NE. Repeated to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
  2. In this telegram the Legation had informed the Department of Prime Minister Qudsi’s proposal to divide the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria along ethnic lines as a means of eliminating friction in that area. “Both states would agree to continuance demilitarized nature border areas and arrangement would not prejudice final settlement.” (683.84A/2–2051)
  3. In this telegram Minister Cannon had endorsed the Syrian proposal summarized in footnote 2 above, and had commented in part: “Legation believes that aside from any easing of friction that might result agreement with Israel in MAC would associate present government more closely with armistice. More important any form voluntary negotiation between Arab States and Israel desirable if only to accustom them to idea.” (683.84A/3–251)
  4. Supra.
  5. Not printed. (683.84A/2–651)
  6. In telegram 458 from Damascus, March 14, Mr. Cannon in part reported that he had informed the Foreign Ministry of the Department’s position as conveyed in telegram 313. (683.84A/3–1451)