684A.85/3–1951: Despatch

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

No. 223

Subject: Meeting of March 16, 1951 Between Jordan Prime Minister and Shiloah.1

The Department will recall that on February 23, 1951, Samir Rifa’i met Shiloah at Shuneh in order to explore various means of further implementing the Rhodes Armistice Agreement.2 (Attention is invited in this connection to Legation’s telegram 145 of February 27, 1951).3 The discussion centered chiefly around implementation of Paragraph 6 of Article VI and of Article VIII, such implementation being conditioned upon Israeli evacuation of the Naharayim area. At that meeting, on the basis of a request made by Shiloah, both parties agreed to adjourn and draw up within the framework of the subjects discussed certain proposals representing the position of the party in question for further discussion on or about March 9. This meeting was later postponed and took place one week later than originally planned.

During the meeting between Mr. G. Lewis Jones and myself and Sir Alec Kirkbride (see Legation’s despatch 219, March 15, 1951),3 the British Minister agreed to make available to me the purport of proposals which might be made by Samir Pasha Rifa’i at his next meeting with Shiloah. I met Kirkbride on March 17 and he showed [Page 602] me a copy of Samir’s document4 and gave me the following account of the proceedings of the meeting between the two. I should point out in this connection that the meeting between Samir and Shiloah and the proceedings which transpired were discussed between Samir and Kirkbride in the greatest secrecy and confidence. It is most unlikely that Samir has shared his information with more than one or two of his Cabinet colleagues and it is imperative that the following information not be disclosed to any Israeli authorities or to Jordanian representatives as having been received from Kirkbride.

Although Samir came to the meeting prepared with a document outlining Jordan’s position, he found that his Israeli counterpart was equipped with no such paper. Samir’s document outlined a broadening of the present degree of agreement between the two parties along the following lines:

Israelis would evacuate the Naharayim area and the boundary at this point would follow the old international line. Whatever crops had been planted by the Israelis in this region would be harvested by them.
Following evacuation of the Naharayim area and after the elapse of two months, but in any case not less than one month, the two parties would proceed to implement Article VI and Article VIII of the Rhodes Agreement.
The Special Committee provided for in Article VIII of the Rhodes Agreement would deal with the following questions in the order indicated:

a. Article VI:

(1) Paragraph 6 of this Article, which states, “Wherever villages may be affected by the establishment of the Armistice Demarcation Line …, the inhabitants of such villages shall be entitled to maintain, and shall be protected in their full rights of residence, property and freedom”, would be implemented in order to alleviate the distressed condition of the inhabitants of the border-line villages who are separated by the line from their lands and means of livelihood. In particular, such inhabitants would have access to their lands and reap the produce therefrom, although such lands would be considered an integral part of Israeli territory.

b. Article VIII:

Free movement of traffic on the Latrun–Jerusalem road. Resumption of traffic on this road would be agreed to in conjunction with division of no-man’s-land in its vicinity. The road itself in the Latrun area and no-man’s-land south of the road would go to Israel. That portion of no-man’s-land north of the road would go to Jordan.
Resumption of the normal functions of the cultural and humanitarian institutions on Mount Scopus and free access thereto. United Nations control over the Mount Scopus area would be terminated [Page 603] Free access, under Jordan control, would be assured in order to permit the normal functioning of the University and Hospital on Mount Scopus.
Free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Free access to these areas would be agreed to as a matter of principle and it would be the task of the Special Committee to agree upon a practical method of carrying out this principle. The measure of freedom of access would depend largely upon security considerations.
Resumption of operation of the Latrun pumping station. This would take place in conjunction with opening the Latrun-Jerusalem road.
Resumption of the operation of the railroad to Jerusalem. This has already been done.
Jordan’s advantages under Article VIII of the Agreement, opening of the Bethlehem-Jerusalem road and provision of electricity for the Old City, would be renounced.

c. Division of No-Man’s-Land:

(1) Division of no-man’s-land would be accomplished on the basis of property ownership. Absurdities in the configuration of the land which might result would be worked out on the basis of practical adjustments.

d. Compensation for Arab Property in Israeli-Held Jerusalem:

(1) The Israeli Government would provide financial compensation for Arab property in Israeli-held Jerusalem and the Jordan Government would provide financial compensation for Israeli property in Jordan-held Jerusalem.

e. Release of Frozen Balances:

(1) The Israeli Government would release all Arab balances blocked in Israeli banks.

Shiloah’s reactions to this document are stated to have been as follows:

He agreed to the provisions of the first point of Samir’s statement.
He considered that under (2) the elapsed time should be one month instead of two. Samir agreed to this modification.
As regards (3)a(1), he did not agree with Samir’s interpretation that villages on the Jordan side of the line should benefit from Paragraph 6 of Article VI. However, he recognized the hardships suffered by these villagers and thought some form of compensation or other special arrangement might alleviate the situation. The matter would be studied.
He agreed to (3)b(1).
As to (3)b(2), he astounded Samir by stating that Israel had always considered the Mount Scopus area to be Israeli territory and that no form of Jordan control could be recognized. Without referring to the official map attached to the Armistice Agreement which clearly shows the Mount Scopus area to be on the Jordan side of the line, Samir said that he would be glad to learn from Shiloah the basis of this claim. Shiloah said he would study the matter further.
Shiloah agreed to (3)b (3).
As regards (3)b(6), he said that although Jordan might renounce these advantages, the Israelis were still prepared to grant them.
The questions raised under (3)c and (3)d would be studied further by Shiloah and his associates. He stated that he did not believe Israel was now in a position to be able to pay compensation for Arab properties in Israeli-held Jerusalem.
Shiloah would recommend favorable action on the release of Arab blocked balances mentioned under (3)e.

The Legation believes that the proposals made by Samir represent a constructive step forward and that they should help dispell doubts concerning his intention to implement the Armistice Agreement. It would seem that, as a result of these discussions, the responsibility for making the next move is placed upon the Israelis. For the first time since he assumed office and began discussions with the Israelis, Samir is now in the happy position of being able to relax and allow the other side to take the next step.

It was apparently agreed at the meeting that after further consultation with his superiors, Shiloah would indicate a date on which he was prepared to continue discussions with Samir.

A. David Fritzlan
  1. Documentation concerning those of the Rifai–Shiloah conversations which were held previously in 1951 is not printed. It is in file 684A.85. For general background, see Mr. Ludlow’s memorandum of March 14 to Mr. Hickerson, p. 592.
  2. Reference is the Israel–Jordan Armistice Agreement of April 3, 1949.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Complete text of a purported copy of this document, dated March 15, furnished the Embassy in Israel by the Israeli Foreign Office, is in despatch 541 from Tel Aviv, March 23, not printed. (684A.85/3–2351)