Title: Policy background.
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072554/00029
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Title: Policy background.
Physical Description: Book
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Bibliographic ID: UF00072554
Volume ID: VID00029
Source Institution: The Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica
Holding Location: The Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica
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Washington, D.C.

6 October 1969


1. Speaking to reporters at the UN, September 24, the Egyp-

tian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad is quoted as having said that

negotiations with Israel are feasible "and might take the form of

those in Rhodes," The widely reported statement was understood

to mean that Egypt was ready for some form of direct talks with

Israel under the auspices of Dr. Gunnar Jarring, the Special Re-

presentative of the UN s~-c:c ry General.

Israel's reaction came that evening in a statement by

Prime minister Golda Meir who had arrived in the United States

hours beforehand on an official visit. She said:

"Israel has declared and now reiterates that Israeli
representatives will meet Egyptian representatives in
direct negotiations at any time, at any place and with-
out preconditions. If the Egyptian Government is ready
for such negotiations, they can take place forthwith."

Next day came the Egyptian retraction, A government

spokesman in Cairo labelled the American press reports of Riad's

statement as "falsehoods". "Those organs," he said, "only reveal

their nature as organs upholding and siding with Zionism and Is-

rael and nurturing the cherished hope of Israel, namely direct

negotiations with the Arabs a hope that will never come true,"

Riad explained to reporters at the UN that his "allusion

to the possibility of the type of negotiations that took place on

Rhodes twenty years ago meant what is now transpiring in the in-

direct contacts between the parties to the Middle East conflict

through United Nations representative Gunnar Jarring," (Washing-

ton Post, Sept. 26) The Neav York Times quoted Riad: "During

armistice talks on the island of Rhodes in 1948 and 1949 the

principals had no direct contact, dealing only through Dr, Ralph

J. Bunche, the United Nations mediator. 'We are doing here ex-

actly the same thing we did in Rhodes'" (Sept. 26).


2. What Happened at Rhodes

On November 16, 1948, the UN Security Council, which for

six months had confined itself to orders for cease-fire and

truce, decided "that in order to eliminate the threat to peace

in Palestine and to facilitate the transition from the present

Truce to permanent peace, an armistice shall be established in

all sectors of Palestine." It called upon the parties directly

involved in the conflict to seek agreement with a view to the

immediate establishment of an armistice as a preliminary to


3. The fighting on the Egyptian-Israeli front ended on

January 9, 1949, Five days later negotiations began at Rhodes,

a location conveniently neutral and within easy distance of Is-

rael and Egypt alike,

Dr. Ralph Bunche, the Acting mediator, and his staff set

up headquarters and living accommodations for the delegations

in a wing of the Hotel des Roses, Israel occupied the larger

part of one floor, and Egypt the floor immediately above, It

was a convenient arrangement since all the parties were under

one roof, yet each enjoyed privacy.

The delegations came with the declared purpose and au-

thority to negotiate an armistice agreement, a fact made clear

in their own pronouncements and officially and publicly trans-

mitted by Dr. Bunche to the UN Secretary General. In his cable

from Rhodes, (January 12, 1949), to the Secretary General, the

Acting Mediator reported:

"Both delegations are empowered to negotiate, conclude
and initial an armistice agreement, subject to its final
'ratification by their respective GTovernments," (UN becu-
rity Counbil document, s/12.5, Jan. 13, 1949.)


October 6, 1969


Dr. Bunche reported further:

"I have today met each delegation separately and dis-
cussed with them questions of procedure and agenda for
subsequent joint discussion. I shall hold further
meetings with each delegation tomorrow morning, January
13, and the first joint meeting under United Nations
chairmanship is fixed for 3:30 PM on the same day,
These preliminary meetings have been encouraging in that
both delegations have evinced a sincere desire for a
meaningful outcome of the discussions and a readiness to
reach with as little delay as possible discussion on
substantive matters." (UN Security Council document
S/1205, January 13, 1949).

On the following day, the Acting Mediator dispatched a

further cable to the UN Secretary General, describing the first

joint meeting:

"This afternoon, January 13, the first joint meeting was
held. At this meeting the delegations were introduced.
On the formal request of both delegations I assumed the
role of Chairman of the meetings. The heads of the two
delegations each made a formal declaration ofr hs Lov-
ernment's desire for the establishment of an armistice
and pledging his delegation to work persistently and in
a spirit of conciliation towards that end. The agenda
for future discussion is sufficiently broad to cover
outstanding points with regard to the implementation of
the resolutions of 4th and 16th November, meetings will
now proceed on the substantive items on three levels as

1, Preliminary discussions separately with each dele-
2. 7I..:.f-77-.i i1eetings between heads of delegations and
United Nations;
3. Joint formal meetings of the two delegations.

The conciliatory spirit of both parties and the progress
made in matters of procedure continue to inspire hope
for successful results," (UN SC document S/1209,
January 13, 1949),

4. This first joint meeting referred to in Dr. Bunche's

cable took place in the Acting Mediator's sitting room with the

representatives of Israel and Egypt grouped on chairs to the

right and left of him respectively. At first, the Egyptians in-

sisted on addressing their remarks to Dr. Bunche, but it was not

long before the delegations were arguing with one another

directly in English and French.


October 6, 1969


The three methods of procedure referred to by Dr. Bunche sep-

arate meetings, informal talks, and joint formal meetings took

place simultaneously, the joint exchanges being held invariably,

around a single table.

5, In the course of the six weeks the Egyptian and Israeli

delegations spent together at the Hotel des Roses, relations

between them became increasingly cordial. On the evening the

armistice agreement was signed, February 14, 1949, Dr. Bunche

gave a party, described by observers as "gay". The Egyptians

had sent a special plane from Cairo with delicacies from the

famed Groppi's.

6. The general feeling at Rhodes was that the Armistice had

not only brought the fighting phase to a formal end, but had

laid the foundations of normal relations between the two coun-

tries. The agreement with Egypt was negotiated on the assump-

tion that its place would soon be taken by a treaty of peace.

Article I, Paragraph 4 of the agreement stated:

"The establishment of an armistice between the armed
forces of the two Parties is accepted as an indispen-
sable step toward the liquidation of armed conflict
and the restoration of peace in Palestine."

It was as much a political as a military instrument and

was accepted as such from the start by both sides. This was

reflected, inter alia, in the composition of the delegations,

each of which consisted of political and military officers.

Agreements of a similar kind were drawn up shortly there-

after between Israel and Jordon, Lebanon and Syria respectively.

6. These are the facts concerning the procedure of negotia-

tion carried out at Rhodes. They are a far cry from the current

ostracism which ir. Riad calls "Rhodes-type indirect talks" sup-

posedly taking place at the United Nations in New York.

October 6, 1969


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