Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Acting Officer in Charge of Palestine-Israel-Jordan Affairs ( Waldo )


Subject: Syria-Israel Border Situation.

Participants: Major General W. E. Riley, USMC, Chief of Staff, United Nations Truce Supervision Organization for Palestine.
NE—Mr. Waldo

I telephoned General Riley at the US Naval Hospital in St. Albans, Long Island, New York, concerning the serious situation which has [Page 608] arisen between Israel and Syria in the demilitarized zone of the Hule swamp area. I gave him the substance of Damascus telegram no. 492, March 28.1 I told him that we had previously discussed this matter with the Israelis on an informal basis, but now felt that the situation had become so serious that a more formal representation should be made by the Department. I asked the General what his views were.

He told me that he agreed that the only way these matters could be handled effectively was for the Department to take an active interest in the workings of the Mixed Armistice Commission. He approved our making representations to the Israelis on the matter, and said that he thought we should also discuss it with the Syrians.

The General considered the Israelis were responsible for the tense military situation on the Syria-Israel border. He said that the Israelis had apparently refused to abide by his memorandum of March 7 in which he had stated: “Until such time as a mutual agreement is reached between the governments of Israel and Syria with respect to work now being conducted in demilitarized zone in connection with drainage of Lake Hule marshes, the Palestine Land Development Company or any successors are, in the opinion of the Chief of Staff, not justified in continuing such work.” The General said that he had called into the Hospital Rafiq Asha, Syrian Consul General in New York, and discussed the matter with him and expected to see Gideon Rafael, Israel Counselor and Deputy Representative to the UN, tomorrow.

The General also thought it might be a good idea to inform the French and Belgians of any steps we might take since the Acting Chief of Staff of the UN TSO, Col. de Bidder, is a Belgian.

  1. Not printed. In it the Legation had in part indicated a rising level of tension in Syria as a result of the Huleh conflict. (683.84A/3–2851)