Peace for Palestine

Material Information

Peace for Palestine first lost opportunity
Berger, Elmer, 1908-1996
Place of Publication:
University Press of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
xv, 287 p. : maps ; 24 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Israel-Arab War, 1948-1949 -- Armistices -- Sources ( lcsh )
Vredesonderhandelingen ( gtt )
Arabisch-Israëlisch conflict ( gtt )
Palestijnen ( gtt )
Palästinafrage ( swd )
Friedensbemühung ( swd )
Geschichte (1919-1949) ( swd )
Foreign relations -- Sources -- United States -- Middle East ( lcsh )
Foreign relations -- Sources -- Middle East -- United States ( lcsh )
Foreign relations -- Sources -- United States -- 1945-1953 ( lcsh )
Israel ( swd )
Palästinenser ( swd )
Geschichte -- 1919-1949
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


At the outset of the 1949 armistice negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, acting UN mediator Ralph Bunche expressed his hope that the talks would "chart the road to a peace for Palestine," an outcome apparently as elusive today as when he spoke those words more than forty years ago. Perhaps the most significant aspect of this meticulously documented analysis of those negotiations is its relevance for today's headlines. Relating the proposals and counterproposals, the conspiracies and power plays to present-day Israeli and Middle East policies, Elmer Berger suggests that the basic negotiating strategies of the main players have persisted almost unchanged into the present, a "near rigidity" that has defeated all efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East's central conflict. Berger is a controversial rabbi, an avowed anti-Zionist who proves himself capable of examining highly flammable issues and events with objectivity, insight, and rigorous scholarship. Drawing upon newly released material from official Israeli and U.S. archives, Berger manages to paint both the large picture and the telling detail - the frustrations of the conscientious and highly respected Bunche, the pathetically unprepared Arab negotiators, the well-informed Israeli diplomats, the intrigue of the Israel-Transjordan alliance. The work will serve serious observers of the prolonged conflict over Palestine as a guide to applicable international law and to the attitudes and negotiating policies of the countries involved.
Includes bibliographical references (p. [271]-274) and index.
Statement of Responsibility:
Elmer Berger.

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First Lost Opportunity

Elmer Berger

University Press of Florida Gainesville
Boca Raton

Copyright 1993 by
the Board of Regents
of the State of Florida
Printed in the United States
of America on acid-free paper @
All rights reserved

An earlier version of this book was
published in The Palestine Year-
book of International Law 5 (1989).

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-
Publication data appear on the last
printed page of the book.

The University Press of Florida is
the scholarly publishing agency
for the State University System of
Florida, comprised of Florida
A & M University, Florida Atlantic
University, Florida International
University, Florida State
University, University of Central
Florida, University of Florida,
University of North Florida,
University of South Florida, and
University of West Florida.

University Press of Florida
15 Northwest 15th Street
Gainesville, FL 32611

For Roselle,
who will know and remember
all the reasons


List of Maps ix
Foreword by Don Peretz xi
Preface xiii
Original Sins and Present Motives 1
The "Sacred Rite "-Classified Documents
History, Sources, Law 4
The Starting Point-Paris, 1919 10
Partition-Less than Half the Loaf 22
The Arab States, the Palestinians, and the British
Warring Their Way to "Peace" 33
First Try for Peace-With Egypt 36
Reluctant Negotiators
Talking with the Egyptians
Wearing Down the Egyptians
Washington: Star-Spangled Eminence?
Conspiracy for Betrayal
Ralph Bunche-Frustrated Mediator
The Negev
The Profits of Defiance
Lebanon 83
First Try for the Litani
Syria: The Negotiator Who Was Not There

8 Transjordan 9(
Playing Both Sides Against the Middle:
Israel and Abdallah vs. the Palestinians
Who Speaks for Whom?
The King Comes on Stage
Securing the Negev
"Too Good to Be True"
Who Knew What-And When?
Jerusalem! O! Jerusalem!
The "Triangle "
Fait Accompli Diplomacy
Jerusalem II: "Who Shall Ascend the
Lord's Mountain?" (Psalm 24)
Syrian Intermezzo
Concluding with Transjordan
Refugees and the Erosion of the U.S. Position
9 Scorning Syria 145
The Coveted Waters
The Long Way from Mishmar Hayarden
to Lausanne: Between Armistice and Peace
A Syrian Peace Proposal
Israel: The 1919 Map Still Operative
Bunche and the United Nations vs. Israel and
the United States
For "Eyes Only" Truman
Drafting: Reconciling the Irreconcilable
10 Entr'acte 21S
The Palestinians: The People Who Weren't There
The Arab States
The Israelis
The Major Powers
The United States
The United Nations
11 Epilogue 23(
A Personal Word

Notes 243
Bibliography 271
Index 275


p 1. Territory Requested by Zionists
'aris Peace Conference, 1919 12

p 2. Territorial Partition Proposed
UN General Assembly Plan, 1947 13

p 3. Territorial Division Proposed
:he Jewish Agency, 1946 19

p 4. Zionist Military Operations beyond
posed UN Partition Borders, April 1-May 15, 1948 30


bbi Elmer Berger is not usually thought of as a Middle East scholar
; rather as an activist, an avowed anti-Zionist who for the past half
itury has been in the vanguard of one of the most unpopular and gen-
Ily misunderstood ideological movements in America. The very name
:he most recent organization he established at the request of some
is associates, American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism (AJAZ), has
de him anathema to many whose closed minds prevent them from
Mining, even critically, the message Rabbi Berger has sought to bring
American Jews. Because his name is so closely associated with this
popular cause, many "know," without examining any of his works,
t Elmer Berger is not, indeed, cannot be a scholar. This book refutes
t perception. It demonstrates the extent to which Dr. Berger is capa-
of examining one of the most controversial issues of our times with
testy, objectivity, insightfulness, and empathy, even with those whose
ws are at variance with his.
have known Elmer Berger for the past thirty-five years and although
often disagree, I have always found that he is prepared, willing, and
n eager to become familiar with diverse perspectives on controver-
I issues, including the Arab-Israeli conflict. His work in this volume
evidence of his eagerness to search out the truth, insofar as there is a
uth" in this very controversial dispute. This is a work of genuine dis-
nnvxT fl-tdif -11ciae INCIA1 Aia Tr~x-t\lknrle -3TiA ri~~(;Yf firet-r-ito~ Y I~;

It is a valuable addition to the "new thinking" about the Middle Eas
that many Israeli scholars such as Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Simh
Flapan, Tom Segev, etc. have begun in recent years, and it adds to an
complements their work. Unfortunately, as we know from the effort
made to publish this volume, there are many who will refute its contri
bution without so much as a glance at its first page because it was wril
ten by Elmer Berger. The loss is theirs. Who will gain are those, lik
Berger himself, with an open mind and a willingness to become familiar
with new perspectives on an ancient controversy.

Don Peret
Professor of Political Science


:cently declassified documents from Israeli and Zionist archives pro-
de fresh insights into the early years of the ongoing dispute over the
ture political conformation of Palestine, Israel, and the Palestinian
.ople. The following volume analyzes those documents that cover the
)48-49 armistice negotiations between Israel and the then-belligerent
rab states. Also included are relevant UN resolutions and U.S. atti-
.des and policies cited from the volumes of Foreign Relations of the
united States for those years. There are also references to such recent
orks as Simha Flapan's The Birth of Israel, Benny Morris's The Birth
the Arab Refugee Problem, 1947-49, Avi Shlaim's Collusion Across
'e Jordan, and Yehoshafat Harkabi's Israel's Fateful Hour.
The recorded frustrations of Dr. Ralphe Bunche, the UN's acting me-
ator for the bargaining sessions, provide fresh insights on the negotiat-
g strategies of several parties. The inadequate preparedness of the Arab
Lrticipants and their contrast with the well-informed Israeli diplomats,
e disagreements among the Arab states, and a conspiracy with Israel
)etted by one of those states, all contributed to the failure of the nego-
itions to lead to a durable peace. The Israeli government documents'
id been classified for more than three decades. They may now be ac-
pted as the authoritative Israeli record and are therefore an important-
id new-historical source.
Before proceeding to analyze and interpret this material it is appropri-

ate to compliment the editor of the published volumes. In fact, the work
of the editors appears to have been so conscientious that there is nc
simple reading of the finished product. It is often necessary to shuttle
back and forth among the 1,000 pages to comprehend fully the context
in which many of the documents should be read. They are not literarily
appealing works. Despite the editors' best efforts there is no clearly market
trail through this minefield of information. This present volume is ar
attempt to plow a furrow through this field of information that has re-
mained only inadequately explored, if not almost entirely ignored, by
historians of the problem of Palestine.2 Given the four decades of failure
of all parties to find the comprehensive peace toward which these nego-
tiations for the first armistices were intended to lead, some clues to a
more efficacious approach may be found in these historic records.
Accounts of the diplomatic efforts concerning Palestine have suffered
from fragmented, episodic, and disconnected historical review. Of the
several parties involved, one has benefited most from the omissions. ]
hope that this present analysis will serve serious observers of the pro
longed conflict over Palestine as a guide to the applicable international
law and to the attitudes and negotiating policies of the parties. Suck
new insights should help determine which party bears the heaviest re-
sponsibility for the failure to "chart the road to a peace for Palestine," tc
quote the hope so solemnly expressed by Dr. Bunche when he inaugu-
rated the negotiations on the island of Rhodes over forty years ago (M. V,
p. 13).


I am indebted to many for much of what I know-or think I know-
about the seemingly intractable problem of Palestine/Israel and the
Palestinians. The list includes people from many walks of life, those oi
high stations and average citizens, and individuals from many coun-
tries, ethnic backgrounds, and religious preferences. Here, it is possible
to identify only a few who, in my more than four decades of study anc
activism, have appeared to me personally to be most helpful, insightful
and responsible.
Directly responsible for the initiative of this volume is Dr. Anis F
Kassem, a leading Palestinian intellectual and legal authority. It was he
who asked me to study and interpret the Israeli and American primary
sources that provide much of the documentation for this work. I am

of the manuscript and their many constructive recommendations.
ecial thanks go to Ms. Angela Goodner-Piazza for constructive edit-
of the "Notes" and for preparation of the final typescript. I owe my
mentary knowledge of the principles of international law to a long-
ae friendship and collaboration with Professor Emeritus Dr. W. T
illison, Jr. Special thanks, too, to Ann Leggett who perceptively cap-
ed the spirit I tried to convey in writing by her jacket illustration of
children-future citizens of the state-principals involved in the di-
)macies reviewed and analyzed.
Finally, I find the few words permissible here inadequate to express
r profound gratitude to the men and women who, for more than four
cades, have encouraged me with their active support to continue my
ncentration on and my public expression of an essentially unconven-
nal viewpoint about what many believe to be the central problem in
. Middle East.
[ hope all these-and others who will read this book-will find it a
[pful contribution toward solving the many vexatious problems still
structing the road to peace in one of the world's most challenging and
tentially explosive areas.

chapter I


he "Sacred Rite" -Classified Documents

he substantive issues in the armistice negotiations were not new in
)48-49. Nor were they generated by the first Arab-Israeli war. Their
origins are found in visible form in the first two decades of the twen-
eth century. They acquired status as a subject of international diplo-
iacy in 1917 with the issuance of the Balfour Declaration and later,
ring the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The increasing importance
F the entire Middle East, not least economically, has added intellectual
)ice to the expanding knowledge of the area-including accounts of
ow present circumstances there came to pass.
Now, nearly three-quarters of a century after the events recorded in
previously classified documents, it would be foolish to try to deny that
iis present historical survey enjoys the infinite wisdom of 20/20 hind-
ght. This readily offered confession invites a comment that is applica-
le to the conduct of the current crop of wheelers and dealers in diplo-
lacy. If they are haunted by fear of judgments of their handiwork to be
iade twenty years after completion, let them take a second look at the
inctimony with which they randomly employ the near-universal, bu-
aucratic practice of "classified documents" and the feigned horror
ith which they contemplate "leaks." Most of that game is designed to
otect the players more than the audience, who, in a free society, are
ie people with a "right to know."
A classic example of this irreverent proposition is the so-called Pen-

tagon Papers, published in 1971 by the New York Times and other maj4
American newspapers. These leaked documents were appropriate
subtitled, "The Secret History of the Vietnam War." After the first fe
installments (there were estimated to be 2.5 million words in fort
seven volumes) were made available to the American people, the U.
government attempted to stop the publishing, claiming that "the n
tional defense interests of the United States and the nation's securil
will suffer immediate and irreparable harm." On June 30, 1971, by
vote of six to three, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the government
petition to terminate publication of the balance of the documents. 1
"The proof of the pudding was in the eating." The scare words used I
the government to terminate publication proved to be as ill founded ;
most of the cerebrations of the decision makers contained in the leak(
documents. The greatest damage done by the disclosures was the ui
scheduled deflation of the demigods who had greased the skids for Ame
ican involvement in its most hurtful war. They had guessed wrong mo:
often than they had deliberately reasoned their way through the facts 1
realistic conclusions. They had fabricated clever camouflages to mal
bad-and sometimes illegal-judgments look plausible, or legal. It h;
been well put that the "eyes only," "top secret" classifications on the;
documents served, in the main, to cover momentarily the fallacies, tk
"goofs" of those who were committing the nation's resources of life ar
material goods to a project badly conceived from the beginning and coi
sequently badly executed up to and including its demeaning and trag
If now-more than forty years later-an evaluation of the 1948-4
negotiations of the first armistice agreements in the Palestine confli<
appears to offer harsh judgments on the motives and ultimate purpose(
of the negotiators, they have only themselves to blame. And if no'
with historic perspective and new evidence, it is possible to speculai
on those earlier motives and objectives, it is justifiable to do so if th
exercise provides some clues to the persistence of the conflict and sul
gests to those now engaged in the search for the elusive peace some ne'
and radical shift away from the flawed earlier policies and postures. E
demythologizing and deflating some of the propagandized versions th;
have distorted much of Palestinian history for so long,2 this account (
the armistice negotiations will serve its intended purpose. Essentiall
this study will attempt to show why the armistices were so short live

Original Sins and Present Motives 3

why, in fact, they nurtured future wars instead of leading the parties
-he first step of the thousand-mile journey to peace.3
'he Israeli documents may not always do justice to the Arab view-
nt. If there are organized Arab archives no doubt they would suggest
nces, perhaps even fundamental perspectives and motives different
n the Israeli records used as the principal sources here.

chapter 2


ague states alter May 15, 194t, when the ritisn had decided to evac-
:e the last of their occupying troops. Just after 10:00 A.M. Eastern
mdard Time on May 14, "one hour before the mandate was to end,"
iresentatives of "the Jewish Community of Eretz-Israel [Land of Israel]
d of the Zionist Movement" declared "the Establishment of a Jewish
Lte in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel."4
The community fighting that erupted with the UN's vote was not a
w phenomenon. Palestinian Arab resistance to Zionism had existed
.ce about 1920, when knowledge of the Balfour Declaration became
despread in the Middle East. Even during the mandate, irregular Zion-
forces in the form of armed Zionist settlements accompanied the
)nist movement's policy to stake out "facts on the ground," to put
ritorial flesh on the skeleton promise of a "national home for the
vish people." In fact, civil war had existed in Palestine almost contin-
usly for more than a quarter century before the May 15 declaration of
ablishment of the Zionist state. The civil war character of hostilities
ntinued until May 15, 1948, when the armies of Egypt, Transjordan,
q, Syria, and Lebanon moved to provide assistance to the Palestinian
abs who were no match, either in funds, equipment, or numbers, for
: Zionist forces. And if the Palestinian Arabs jumped the gun at the
d of the mandate and were more aggressive than the better-organized
)nist forces in late 1947/early 1948, Zionist irregulars were not far
hind. The Irgun Zvai Leumi expanded its attacks and improved the
;anization of its guerrilla warfare at about the same time.5
The declaration of the establishment of Israel on May 15, 1948, esca-
ed the civil war into an international conflict. The United Nations
lately took notice of the expanding violence and responded with a
mber of resolutions. Their titles reflect the expanding violence and
:reasing urgency of finding an alternative to the conflict. On March 5,
48, the Security Council adopted Resolution No. 42 "Appealing for
mentionn or Reduction of Disorders in Palestine." Resolution No. 43
)48) was adopted on April 1, "Calling for a Truce Between the Arab
d Jewish Communities of Palestine." Note that the principals identi-
d in the resolution are referred to as "communities of Palestine."
Lere was, as yet, no declared Arab state intervention. On the same
te, Security Council Resolution No. 44 requested "the Secretary-Gen-
il to Convoke a Special Session of the General Assembly to Consider
: Future Government of Palestine." The session convened on April
. The United States offered a proposal to supersede the partition rec-

ommendation by referring the problem of Palestine to the Trusteeshi
Council to establish a "temporary trusteeship."6
On April 17, 1948, Security Council Resolution No. 46 called for '
Cessation of Military Activities in Palestine." The principals special
cally charged with this responsibility were the United Kingdom (sti
officially the mandatory power), the Jewish Agency, and the Arab High(
Committee. The absence of any Arab state is of historical importance
On April 23, Security Council Resolution No. 48 established a truck
commission to supervise implementation of the truce called for in Re
solution No. 46. On May 14, the General Assembly (in a special session
adopted Resolution No. 186 (S-2) asking for a UN mediator in Palestir
and called on "all Governments, organizations and persons" to obsen
the truce called for in the resolution of the Security Council. Section I
of the resolution relieved the Palestine Commission of the responsibi
ities detailed in the partition resolution (UN Res., pp. 14-15). The add
tion of the words "all Governments" to this resolution reflected th
then-current international character of the hostilities. Security Coui
cil Resolution No. 49 of May 22 called for a "Cease-Fire in Palestine ar
a Truce in Jerusalem."
On May 29, Security Council Resolution No. 50 again called on "a
Governments and authorities concerned" to order a cessation of all ac
of armed force for a period of four weeks. Other measures were call
for, all concerned with the effort to end the fighting and to prohibit tr
importation of war materiel or fighting personnel from outside source
Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN mediator, was charged with supervi
ing the provisions of this resolution. Putting teeth into this action,;
least rhetorically, paragraph 11 called for action under Chapter VII of tr
charter for any violation of the resolution involving "aggression," or
"threat to" or "breach of the peace." Another cease-fire was ordered an
the mediator was given three days to bring about compliance of th
belligerents. Special attention was given the situation in Jerusalen
where "an immediate and unconditional cease-fire" was ordered. Be
nadotte was also charged to "bring about the demilitarization" of th
city, "without prejudice" to its future political status and "to assure ti
protection of and access to Holy Places, religious buildings and sites i
Palestine." Resolution No. 54 states that "subject to further decision I
the Security Council or the General Assembly, the truce still remains i
force .. until a peaceful adjustment of the future situation of Palestir

history, sources, Law

is reaclne." ( lie tull texts ot security council Kesolution INos. 4Z-3(
are found in UN Res., pp. 125-28.)
On August 19, Security Council Resolution No. 56 established guide
lines for the mediator's efforts to attain and supervise a truce. Two
subparagraphs became important-and contentious-issues in the ar
mistice negotiations: 2(d) No party is permitted to violate the truce or
the ground that it is undertaking reprisals or retaliations against th(
other party; 2(e) No party is entitled to gain military or political advan
tage through violation of the truce.
An important geopolitical fact, with bearing on the future negotia
tions for armistices to replace the fragile truces, is that between the firsi
and second truce, Israel "seized some 780 square miles of territory frorr
the Arabs on nearly all fronts." Most of these areas had been allocated
by the partition proposal to the Arab state. On the other hand, once th(
second truce came into effect, the Arabs held parts of eastern Galilet
and most of the Negev, both of which the partition had designated a,
Israeli territory. And both belligerents occupied parts of Jerusalem con
trary to the November 29 partition plan.7
In addition to his efforts to gain all belligerents' immediate com
pliance with provisions of the truce, Bernadotte had been strenuously
engaged attempting to implement General Assembly Resolution No
186 (S-2) of May 14, 1948. On September 16, from Beirut, Bernadott
sent the UN secretary-general a progress report, destined to play a ver)
important role in future diplomacy about Palestine. What came to b(
known unofficially as the Bernadotte Plan held to the broad outlines o:
the November 29, 1947, partition proposal. It envisaged two states. I
eliminated the recommendation for economic union. "Political and eco
nomic union," Bernadotte concluded, may be "desirable," but "the tim(
is certainly not now propitious for the effectuation of any such scheme.'
And "Jerusalem, because of its religious and international significance
and the complexity of interests involved, should be accorded special
and separate treatment."8
Bernadotte also recommended several significant boundary change,
that departed from the November plan. (1) Most of the Negev, whici
the partition plan had assigned the Jewish State, should be defined ax
Arab territory. (2) Lydda and Ramleh (in the so-called Triangle) should
be "in Arab territory," but the boundary should skirt those Arab cities
giving Israel part of the Triangle area that had been designated in th(

November recommendation as part of the Arab state. (3) "Galilee shoi
be defined as Jewish territory." The original partition plan had assign
western Galilee to Arab territory.9
These territorial alterations, Bernadotte stated, were motivated by "
principle of geographical homogeneity and integration." He caution
against any plan to establish frontiers "rigidly controlled by the territol
arrangements envisaged in the resolution of 29th November." 10
The proposals were "flatly rejected by both parties," and, af
June 27, Bernadotte did not press them. As an alternative to agreems
by the parties he recommended a "technical boundaries commission
appointed by and responsible to the United Nations"" to determine 1
frontiers between the two states. But in the armistice negotiations B
nadotte's territorial proposals became some of the stickiest points
establishing armistice lines.
Bernadotte was greatly concerned with the human problem of 1
Palestinians who had been displaced. He recommended a formula co
posed of two basic components: the right of the refugees "to return
their homes in Jewish-controlled territory at the earliest possible da
and "their repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehab
station" and "payment of adequate compensation for the property
those choosing not to return."12
Bernadotte also proposed the establishment of a "Palestine conci]
tion commission" to serve for a "limited period," acting under the
thority of the United Nations. The commission was to take steps "(
during the continuation of the peaceful adjustment of the situation
Palestine." 13
On September 17, 1948, Bernadotte was assassinated in Jerusalem
Stern Gang terrorists. Dr. Ralph Bunche was appointed acting media
The substantive thrust of these UN resolutions provides a great
condensed legal and factual context in which Security Council Reso
tions No. 61 of November 4 and No. 62 of November 16 must be int
preted. Bunche's statement opening the armistice negotiations inforrn
the negotiators that they were to devise the means for implement
these two resolutions (M. V, pp. 12-15, particularly 13). The texts
these two resolutions will be reproduced at relevant places in the f
lowing analyses of the negotiations. (The full texts are found in L
Res., pp. 129, 130.)
Two other UN resolutions of 1948 had relevance to the armist
negotiations. The first, General Assembly Resolution No. 194 (III), v

pp. 15-17). It avoided the murdered mediator's specific boundary recom-
mendations for Palestine as a whole but contained detailed territorial
specifics for the "Jerusalem area" and for "the Holy Places-including
Nazareth-religious buildings and sites" (paras. 7 and 8). It established a
conciliation commission that was, "in so far as it considers necessary,
to ... assume the functions given to the United Nations Mediator ...
by Resolution 186 (S-2) of the General Assembly of May 14, 1948" (para.
2). It retained, in paragraph 11, an almost verbatim repetition of Ber-
nadotte's proposal for resolving the problem of the refugees. In a general
way, this December 11, 1948, General Assembly resolution supplanted
the November 29, 1947, partition recommendation as the blueprint for
partitioning the country. Since the 1967 war, its practical, political, and
geopolitical relevance has been in some doubt. There are legal scholars
who hold that, under certain conditions, General Assembly resolutions
constitute international law.14 Events have overtaken much of the De-
cember 11, 1948, resolution, but there is no comprehensive replace-
ment for it.
The other UN resolution with relevance to the armistice agreements
was Security Council Resolution No. 66 of December 29, 1948 (UN
Res., p. 130). This action was in response to an Israeli military campaign
in "southern Palestine" (the eastern and southern areas of the Negev)
after the "final" truce and in violation of the armistice negotiations
with Egypt. Each armistice agreement, consistent with UN resolutions,
provided that termination of the fighting and fixing of the armistice
lines were to be "without prejudice" to the ultimate disposition of ter-
ritory or the rights of the humans affected in permanent peace agreements.

chapter 3

PARIS, 1919

It is legitimate to ask which of the negotiating parties respected the
intent of the Security Council that the armistices were "to facilitate the
transition from the present truce to permanent peace in Palestine .. ."
(UN Res., pp. 129-30). Dr. Bunche, inaugurating the negotiations with
the Israeli-Egyptian delegations on January 13, 1949, declared that im-
plementation of the Security Council resolutions was the objective of
the armistice-diplomacy. "We are not holding a peace conference here,"
he cautioned (M. V, p. 13).
The Israeli documents provide no explicit answers to these ques-
tions. But some guidance for speculation is provided by a basic Zionist
document of 1919. The following excerpts from the Zionist Organiza-
tion's memorandum to the Supreme Council at the peace conference
ending World War I deals with the Zionist-proposed boundaries for the
Balfour Declaration's projected "national home for the Jewish people."

The Boundaries of Palestine
The boundaries of Palestine shall follow the general lines set out
Starting on the North at a point on the Mediterranean Sea in the
vicinity of Sidon and following the watersheds of the foothills of
the Lebanon as far as Jisr El Karaon, thence to El Bireh, following

The Starting Point-Paris, 1919 11

the dividing line between the two basins of the Wadi El Korn and
the Wadi Et Teim line between the Eastern and Western slopes of
the Hermon, to the vicinity West of Beit Jenn, thence Eastward
following the northern watersheds of the Nahr Mughaniye close to
and west of the Hedjaz Railway.
In the East a line close to and West of the Hedjaz Railway termi-
nating in the Gulf of Akaba.
In the South a frontier to be agreed upon with the Egyptian
In the West the Mediterranean Sea.
The details of the delimitations, or any necessary adjustments of
detail, shall be settled by a Special Commission on which there
shall be Jewish representation.'

These Zionist territorial aspirations should be read in conjunction with
map 1 and compared with the boundaries recommended for the parti-
tion in 1947 (map 2).
None of the territory beyond the borders of Palestine in map 1 had
ever been considered Palestinian. In the days of the Ottoman Empire,
these lands were part of Greater Syria, one of the empire's provinces,
insofar as they had any definable borders at all. After World War I, the
victorious Allied powers divided up the old empire. The authors of the
1919 Zionist proposal may-or may not-have been aware of these mach-
inations. In any event, the contemporary relevance of this map is that
many of the territorial objectives of the 1919 Zionist plan still appear to
be important to the territorial expansionists in today's Israel. These
include southern Lebanon up to the Litani River (much of this territory
is now held by Israel with the help of a surrogate army as a "security
zone"); the Golan Heights (until 1967 considered Syrian territory); all
of the West Bank (now called in Israeli parlance Judea and Samaria); a
part of the east bank of the Jordan River, to a line just barely west of the
old Hedjaz Railroad; and the Gaza Strip (in 1919 considered part of
The 1919 memorandum offered essentially economic arguments to
support these territorial claims. The following excerpts are illuminating.
The boundaries above outlined are what we consider essential
for the necessary economic foundation of the country. Palestine
must have its natural outlets to the seas and the control of its rivers

M'dit'erraneaan Sea LEBANON

Sid on \Damascus


Dead Sea

al-Arish I /


Map 1. Territory requested by Zionists at Paris Peace Conference, 1919







editerranean^Sead LEBANON

/ Proposed Ab SYRIA

Haifa Pr Sea of Galilee

Tel Aviv

Jaffa z *Amman

Dead Sea

\. /

- International Borders \ /
Proposed Arab State
Proposed Jewish State .

Proposed United Nations

ritorial partition proposed by UN General Assembly plan,

and their headwaters. [The Special] Commission will bear in
mind that it is highly desirable, in the interests of economical ad-
ministration that the geographical area of Palestine should be as
large as possible so that it may eventually contain a large and thriv-
ing population....
It is, therefore, of vital importance not only to secure all watel
resources already feeding the country, but also to be able to con-
serve and control them at their sources.
The Hermon is Palestine's real "Father of Waters" and cannot be
severed from it without striking at the very root of its economic
life. The Hermon not only needs reforestation but also other works
before it can again adequately serve as the water reservoir of the
country. It must therefore be wholly under the control of those
who will most willingly as well as most adequately restore it tc
its maximum utility. Some international arrangement must be
made whereby the riparian rights of the people dwelling south oi
the Litani River may be fully protected ....
The fertile plains east of the Jordan, since the earliest Biblical
times, have been linked economically and politically with the land
west of the Jordan. ... A just regard for the economic needs of
Palestine and Arabia demands that free access to the Hedjaz Rail-
way through its length be accorded both Governments.
An intensive development of the agriculture and other oppor-
tunities of Transjordania make it imperative that Palestine shall
have access to the Red Sea and an opportunity of developing good
harbours on the Gulf of Akaba. ... The ports developed in the
Gulf of Akaba should be free ports through which the commerce of
the Hinterland may pass on the same principle which guides us in
suggesting that free access be given to the Hedjaz Railway. (all em-
phases supplied)

There are no references here to security, and the relevance of ref
ences to biblical times must certainly raise some eyebrows in a forn
political document dated 1919. Israeli strategy, in both the fighting a
the armistice negotiations in 1948-49, adhered closely to the 1919 Zi(
ist aspirations.2 The Biltmore Program, adopted by "an extraordinary
conference" of Zionists at the Biltmore Hotel in New York, on May
1942 (para. 8), called for "Palestine [to] be established as a Jewish Co:
monwealth." The paragraph left little ambiguity about the Zionist mev

that the Jewish Agency be vested with control of immigration into Pal-
estine and with the necessary authority for upbuilding the country,
including the development of its unoccupied and uncultivated lands."
The program was "endorsed in Jerusalem the following November by
the Inner General Council (the supreme wartime policy-making body of
the Zionist movement) [and] constituted the basis of Zionist demands in
later efforts to settle the Palestine problem, first by the mandatory power
and then by the United Nations."3
The powers to be granted the Jewish Agency--"control of immigra-
tion" and "authority for upbuilding the country, including development
of its unoccupied and uncultivated lands"-are usually prerogatives of
"rMn r 1 1 _4- ,1- A

wnom naa oeen me rounaers ana supporters or sucn mstitutions as ti
American University of Beirut.
As the years passed and Palestine's internal political problems woI
ened, these became virtually the only visible activists for the rights
Palestine's Arabs. In the crunch of the political struggle after the BritiE
announced termination of the mandate and as the arena of politic
debate moved to the United Nations, the Foreign Service specialists, f
the most part, opposed partition.4 The cold war was in full cry, and tl
U.S. foreign policy establishment was obsessed with stopping Comm
nist expansion. British power in the Middle East was waning, and co
ventional American wisdom dictated that alienating the Arab stat
was no way to protect and promote U.S. geopolitical and oil interests
this area of such critical economic and strategic importance.
The British and American positions on the Palestine problem we
hardly in concert. President Harry Truman had only scanty knowled
of both the tangled web of the international politics of Middle Ea
history, on one hand, and even less familiarity with the stubborn, bitt
Zionist-Arab internal feuding in Palestine. His focus was almost entire
on humanitarian solutions for the displaced Jewish victims of Hitl
whose lives, among others in Europe, had been devastated by the Naz
during the war. Truman's State Department was almost unanimous
opposed to partition, fearing a violent uprising among the Arabs ai
permanent jeopardy to U.S. interests. But Clark Clifford, one of tl
president's closest personal advisors brought to Washington from Ka
sas City, was unmovably convinced that reelection in 1948 was cr
cially dependent on winning the Jewish vote in New York and oth
metropolitan centers. Clifford, accordingly, waged an incessant car
paign with the president to persuade him to support partition. In thi
Clifford had the full support of David Niles, another Missouri impol
who, although no committed Zionist himself, became a political al
with Clifford urging presidential support for Zionism.
Policy makers in England were divided, largely along party line
about solutions for the increasingly burdensome problem of Palestii
in the context of continuing British interests in the Middle East.
1947, Churchill, as the leading Conservative, had been a moderate Zio
ist. With the end of the war, "he became a moving spirit behind tl
solution of partition and its possible corollary of an independent Jewi.
State." But as early as 1946 he had said, "It is our duty .. to offer to 1;
down the Mandate. We should ... as soon as the war stopped, ha'

maae it clear to tme united states tnat unless tney
their share, we shall lay the whole case and burder
United Nations organization."5
Churchill's opposite in the Labour party, Ernest I
foreign secretary when Labour succeeded the Cons
war. He displayed less equivocation than could be ir
ing support for partition as an expedient for resolvir

British colonialism. Addressing an indoctrinated electorate led by ur
formed politicians and with any knowledgeable expertise restrictec
intragovernmental discussions, the records of which would rem
classified for two decades, the proponents of the Jewish commonwea
had a virtual field day in shaping American public opinion. In the rec
tragic history of Palestine, which saw Zionist political and territo
claims imposed on the country and its people, this American conr
tion has proven to be Israel's most reliable and profitable asset.
In 1947 the Jewish state proponents came to the UN deliberate,
well armed. They knew what they wanted. Their terrorists in Palest
accelerated and intensified harassment of the British. Aided by the
creasing public awareness of the tragedy that Hitler had inflicted
Europe, including coverage that concentrated on Europe's Jews am<
the millions of the Nazis' victims, Zionism enjoyed the virtually
challenged support of American public opinion.
The General Assembly's recommendation for partition offered on
partial fulfillment of the 1919 Zionist territorial aspirations. But
Zionists were not unprepared for compromise. In 1946, they had
formed the British and American governments they were prepare
accept partition of the country.8 They proposed a territorial divis
different only in some details-but important details-from those
corporate in the UN partition plan. Their 1946 plan provided a (
ridor to the sea for the proposed Arab state, but all of Galilee was inclu
in the Jewish state, along with the Negev and the Golan Heights. Jert
lem was to be part of the Arab territory. Map 3 makes an interest
comparison with the 1947 UN recommendation and has a bearing
the armistice negotiations following the first Arab-Israeli war.
The Jewish Agency-Zionist 1946 proposal was motivated by seven
pragmatic considerations. In 1946 a joint Anglo-American commit
had submitted to the British and American governments a recomm
dation for the immediate admission into Palestine of 100,000 Jew
survivors of Hitler's savagery. This humanitarian concession to Zioni
was balanced by the qualification that "Jew shall not dominate Arab
Arab shall not dominate Jew" (Recommendation No. 3).9 In other wo:
there was to be a democratic political system. After this emerge
admission of the 100,000, future immigration into Palestine woulc
determined by the majority population, differing from the exclus
control sought by the Zionists.
A second motivation for the 1946 Zionist compromise was, undot



Haifa Sea of Galilee


Dead Sea



SProposed Arab State
Proposed Jewish State

Map 3. Territorial division proposed by the Jewish Agency, 1946.

edly, growing Palestinian resistance to further Zionist development a
creeping acquisition of land. The increasing resistance had evoked stron
British curbs on Zionist-Jewish Agency activity. The shape of less r(
things to come for Zionists had been revealed in the Peel Commissio
partition proposal'0 in 1937 and in the McDonald White Paper" of 1c
following the formidable Arab revolt that lasted from 1936 to 19
Both of these reports submitted by royal commissions to the Brit
government contemplated severe limitations on Zionist expansion
A third factor influencing the Zionists' 1946 decision was increase
American involvement in the Palestine problem. The Biltmore C(
ference had signaled the shift of Zionist great power lobbying to Wa
ington. But the Zionists did not yet have anything in the United Sta
comparable to their long experience in England and the Parliament
bloc support that they had enjoyed.
Zionism has long pursued a strategy of creeping land acquisition
"establishing facts on the ground," to advance its ultimate goal of s
ereignty as a fait accompli. "Dunam by dunam," as Ben-Gurion o0
put it, was a pragmatic program that the English found difficult to
pose, both because of fear of being charged as anti-Jewish and also
cause limitations on the acquisition of land were of questionable le\
imacy under the mandate.
Also, Zionist policy makers were constantly concerned with ma
training favorable world public opinion. Minimal as knowledge of
Arabs and Arab rights may have been, it did exist and was attract
increased public attention. The expanding great power investment
and exploitation of Arab oil and rising national self-consciousness
the Arabs had begun to have more influence on great power policy ti
at the end of World War I.
One other consideration appears to have influenced the Zionist t
tical acceptance of the territorial shrinkage recommended in the I
proposal for partition. Zionist public relations and political pressure,
Western Europe and the United States had stressed the stark trag(
suffered by Jews (with little or no reference to Hitler's other victin
the frightening existence of survivors in concentration camps, and, j
lowing the war, the life-draining, hopeless prospects of the display,
persons camps. A great wave of sympathy and guilt tortured the c(
sciences of many in the victorious nations. These sentiments were e
ily exploitable for compensating actions for the surviving Jews. Orcb

-d conventional opinion held they would not want to return to their
aer homes but were uniformly eager to find insurance against any
,tition of the tragedy in a nation of their own. To have quibbled
at a few square miles of territory would have appeared unseemly
ungrateful, so the Zionist managers believed. They masked their
appointment over the territorial specifications of partition with re-
ined expressions of satisfaction with the promise of Zionist sov-
gnty over whatever territory they would acquire. With the same
ical suppleness that had led Chaim Weizmann to accept the Balfour
laration, even though it promised less than the 1919 blueprint of
list claims, the 1947 leadership accepted partition with public grace
le privately harboring profound reservations.12 In 1948, after the
sion had been made, David Ben-Gurion cryptically described the
ition-prescribed Jewish state as having been established in only "a
:ion of the land of Israel." And he reminisced, [I]f Moshe Dayan had
a chief of staff during the war of 1948 against the Arabs in Palestine,
eli territory might have been greater."13
another authoritative source put it differently. In the official Zionist
location, Zionist Review, of January 30, 1948, Walter Eytan, who
ild become director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, con-
uted an article called "The Search for a Name" of the "Jewish State."
stated that "Eretz Yisrael" (Land of Israel) was discarded as "inap-
priate for the state which was in only a part of Palestine." "Medinat
rael" (State of Israel) was finally adopted.14 The distinction remains
auch Zionist-Israeli terminology.

chapter 4


General Assembly Partition Resolution No. 181 (UN Res., pp. 4-1
noted that England had informed the United Nations it would "coi
plete its evacuation of Palestine by 1 August 1948." Part I of the resol
tion declared, "The Mandate for Palestine shall terminate as soon
possible but in any case not later than 1 August 1948." For a variety
reasons, the British actually declared termination of their mandate
responsibilities on May 15, 1948.1
Zionist reservations about the territorial allocations were made ,
famille, in assemblies of the inner circle of policy makers or confined
Zionist publications with limited readership or, regrettably, no rea
ership at all among the movers and shakers of diplomacy. There we
massive rallies of cheering Zionists in New York and in Palestine. B
far from the near-hysterical joyous crowds, more sober Zionist planned
considered how to improve the disappointing boundaries that had be(
proposed largely based on demographics of concentrated Arab and Je
ish populations. There was little regard for either the 1919 Zionist drea
or for rational boundaries demarcating the proposed Arab and Jewi
states. Also, contrary to Zionist aspirations, Jerusalem was to be a c(
pus separatum, a separate city, "under a special international regir
and administered by the United Nations."
In Palestine, the Zionists acquired the means to translate private r
ervations into geopolitical facts. As early as 1946, terrorists led by Me

Partition-Less than Half the Loaf 23

achem Begin and the Irgun had begun offensive military action against
the British. On July 22, with the agreement of the Haganah, the Jewish
Agency's regular defense forces, the Irgun blew up the King David Hotel.2
At the time, this was the most celebrated of the terrorist exploits, but
Hirst inventories a long list of additional acts of violence.

They also blew up bridges, mined roads, derailed trains and sank
patrol boats. They raided armouries and robbed pay vans. They
blew up twenty warplanes on closely guarded airfields in a single
night. They staged what the British press called the "greatest jail-
break in history." Irgun and Stern [another, smaller terrorist group]
... blew up the British embassy in Rome. They despatched letter-
bombs to British ministers. They sent an assassination squad
into Britain, with the mission-which was not accomplished-of
executing the former commanding officer in Palestine, General
Evelyn Barker; its members included Weizmann's own nephew,
Ezer Weizmann, one of the architects of the Israeli air force. In
Palestine they killed soldiers in their sleep. They captured and
flogged officers; then they hanged two sergeants from a tree and
booby-trapped their dangling corpses.3

The hanging of the British sergeants on July 30, 1947, and the booby-
trapping of their bodies stirred the greatest anger in England and out-
raged people in many parts of the world. Begin selected the earliest
targets of terrorism-primarily the British. The political objective was
to make administration of the mandate impossible. The Palestine prob-
lem would then be debated by the United Nations, leaving the Palestin-
ians to the mercies of the Zionists.
The Jewish Agency consistently and publicly declared its disapproval
of and separation from the terrorism and its perpetrators. The most
eloquent-and widely accepted-disavower was Chaim Weizmann. In
his autobiography, Trial and Error, Weizmann recalls the substance of
his testimony in 1947 before the United Nations Special Committee on
Palestine:4 "I said before the U.N.S.C.O.P. in Jerusalem: The [British]
White Paper [of 1939] released certain phenomena in Jewish life which
are un-Jewish, which are contrary to Jewish ethics, Jewish tradition.
'Thou shalt not kill' has been ingrained in us since Mount Sinai. The
dissident groups which sprang up in Palestine, and which terrorized the
Government and to some extent the Jews, and kept up an unbearable

tension in the country, represented to my notion a grave danger for
whole future of the Jewish State in Palestine."5
Earlier, before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry (194
Ben-Gurion was asked by a British committee member "whether
agreed with Dr. Weizmann's condemnation of violence." Ben-Gurioi
reported to have replied that "he associated himself with it." He tl
added that the Jewish Agency had discontinued "collaboration" w
the British "in suppressing the terrorists because it was futile
But in 1948, after the terror had driven the first mass of Palestin
refugees from the territory assigned by partition to the Jewish st
Weizmann, no longer despondent over the "un-Jewish" character of
terror, called the results of the violence "a miraculous simplification
Israel's tasks"!7
There was good-even if closely guarded-reason for the Jew
Agency's equivocation about Begin's extremist exploits in terror pi
to the UN decision. The Zionists anticipated a close call in the Gen(
Assembly for the decisive vote. The U.S. government's position wo
be decisive. But it was in the United States, more than in Europe, t
Zionism was generally perceived as a humanitarian refugee moveme
In fact, the agency had never been more than halfhearted in its efforts
identify the terrorists and put a stop to their activities. There had be
on-again-off-again negotiations since 1946 between Begin and his
gunists, on the one hand, and the agency's military arm, the Hagan
on the other hand.8
In July of that year British Command Paper No. 6873, "Palestine St<
ment Relating to Acts of Violence," noted that during the preced
eight or nine months the "Haganah and its associated force, Palma
working under the political control of prominent members of the J<
ish Agency, had been engaged in the carefully planned use of violet
and sabotage under the name of the Jewish Resistance Movemen
The British document also said the Ster Gang (more radical and V
lent than the Irgun and in which Yitzhak Shamir was a leader) had b<
cooperating with the Haganah, and the Irgun's "illegal radio transmit
calling itself the 'Voice of Israel' was working under the general dir
tion of the Jewish Agency." 10
The Irgun's 1946 campaigns realized its immediate political gc
when a war-weary Britain determined to leave Palestine and put
problem before the United Nations. It is clear that by raising nor
countability to an art form, the official Zionist establishment, with

Partition-Less than Half the Loaf 25

Jewish Agency internationally recognized as its representative, was a
now-you-see-it, now-you-don't partner with the terrorists.
The General Assembly's partition decision dictated the next logical
target. The date of May 15, 1948, which the British had determined for
their withdrawal from Palestine, became crucial in the early months of
1948 and set the agenda for the political and territorial issues to be
addressed in the armistice agreements. The Zionists lost no time pre-
paring to take by force many of the territories of their 1919 plan that the
partition threatened to deny them.

The Arab States, the Palestinians, and the British

The Arabs of Palestine reacted almost immediately against the recom-
mended partition, but they were no match, either militarily or organi-
zationally, for the Zionist forces. The disparities were attributable largely
to British policy during the mandate. There had been times when the
British had displayed some concern for the Balfour Declaration's pledge
that "nothing shall be done to prejudice the civil and religious rights" of
the Arabs. But in practice, the British administration, politically harassed
by a determined Zionist machine, closed its eyes to Zionist policies that
persistently stretched the Balfour agreement's promise to the Zionists
to its limits and often beyond them. British respect for Arab rights usu-
ally consisted of damage control, reaction to Zionist faits accomplish.
The Jewish Agency had consistently evaded halfhearted British attempts
to prohibit the importation of military equipment and the influx of
illegal Jewish immigrants." The Palestinian Arabs lacked both the cen-
tral organization and the means to mobilize, train, and equip a compara-
ble fighting force.
Arab resistance to the UN decision was directed both against the
partition-on principle-and against the Zionists. Zionist objections
were directed against the territorial allocations of partition, while the
principle was accepted. In its conceptualization, therefore, the civil war
was uneven. On the Zionist side was the weight of general, worldwide
support, even if only partially informed. Weighing against the Palestin-
ian Arabs was rejection by international consensus and a decisive im-
balance in the means to fight a war.
The early engagements between the adversaries were numerous but
rather small scale. The Zionist attacks were generally planned to secure
geographically strategic points whether within the proposed Jewish

26 Peace for Palestine

state or not. Arab attacks were on a kind of hit-or-miss basis, lacking
any overall strategic design or central control.
The partition recommendation (Section B) specified "Steps Prepara-
tory to Independence." The paper plan was designed to provide an or-
derly transition from mandatory Palestine to the partition of the coun-
try into the so-called Jewish and Arab states. The General Assembly
was to elect a commission of representatives from five member states.
Paragraph 2 (Section B) introduces the commission and invites the co-
operation of Great Britain to coordinate implementation of its declared
intention to withdraw with the optimistically blueprinted expansion of
the commission's authority.

2. The mandatory Power shall to the fullest possible extent co-
ordinate its plans for withdrawal with the plans of the Commis-
sion to take over and administer areas which have been evacuated.
The Commission shall have authority to issue necessary regula-
tions and take other measures as required.
The mandatory Power shall not take any action to prevent, ob-
struct or delay the implementation by the Commission of the mea-
sures recommended by the General Assembly. 12

The British, however, declared they would not cooperate. They re-
fused to allow the commission to enter Palestine before their scheduled
withdrawal on May 15. The Arab Higher Committee, which was the
closest the Palestinian Arabs came to any representative central author-
ity, refused to recognize the commission because the Arabs, on princi-
ple, rejected partition. Consequently, "the Commission members never
left New York."13 British noncooperation with the plan for partition
went beyond refusing to assist the commission. As early as April 1947,
War Minister Emanuel Shinwell, a staunch Zionist, directed the armed
forces "not to become involved in the Arab-Jewish conflict." The com-
manding general's responsibility was restricted "to ensure an orderly
withdrawal."'4 The inevitable result was a vacuum of authority and a
collapse of law and order. "Between December 1, 1947 and February 1,
1948, according to a UN report, there were 2778 casualties, including
1462 Arabs, 1106 Jews and 181 Britishers."'5
The power vacuum was more advantageous to the Zionists than to
the Arabs. By April, Begin's Irgun was prepared for disciplined attacks
on Arab population centers that could provide strategic bases for Zionist
territorial expansions toward the maximum goals of their 1919 map.

Partition-Less than Half the Loaf 27

Jerusalem became a prime target for the Zionist irregulars to frustrate
the partition recommendation to separate the Holy City from both
states and to be governed by an international regime. The Irgun care-
fully planned its assault on the city's approaches and environs.
The notorious massacre at Deir Yassin was an integral part of this
strategy. In addition to the Zionist objective of moving on Jerusalem,
the savagery and brutality of the attack on the villagers played the im-
portant role of turning the original flight of the noncombatant Palestin-
ian Arabs into a stampede from their homes. The cry of "Deir Yassin"
became a warning of horror, spurring several hundred thousand refugees
to flee in the weeks before the scheduled termination of the mandate
and providing a great leap forward toward the Zionist goal of reducing
the Arab population and the realization of ultimate demographic domi-
nation by Jews. As Menachem Begin boasted in The Revolt (pp. 164-65),
"Panic overwhelmed the Arabs of Eretz Israel. the Arabs began to
flee in terror even before they clashed with Jewish forces," such as in
Haifa, where the Palestinians fled "in panic, shouting Deir Yassin!"
The details of that grim and tragic episode at Deir Yassin have been
well reported elsewhere. Critically relevant for this account is the scat-
tered but unmistakable evidence that again, while the Jewish Agency
was playing diplomat at Lake Success and bidding for favorable public
opinion in capital cities around the world-particularly in Washing-
ton-its acknowledged militias, Haganah and Palmach, were providing
support to the terrorist attack on Deir Yassin. "The rifles and hand-
grenades had been furnished by the Haganah." Once the Zionist ter-
rorists had wreaked their havoc on both homes and humans, "The
Haganah moved into Deir Yassin to take over the village. The first party
to reach the area was led by Eliyahu Arieli, a scholarly veteran of six
years' British army service who commanded the Gadna, the [Zionist]
youth organization. The spectacle he found was, in his eyes, 'absolutely
barbaric.' "16
Using Zionist sources, Hirst's account of Jewish Agency collabora-
tion is more detailed.

For this operation, as for the blowing up of the King David [Hotel],
the Irgun was acting in collaboration with the Haganah and the
official Jewish leadership. "I wish to point out that the capture of
Deir Yassin and holding it is one stage in our general plan." So ran
the letter, quickly made public by the Irgun, in which the Jerusa-

z2 reace Jor raiesulne

lem commander o mtne -aganan naa outlinea nms interest in tme
affair. The raiders called it "Operation Unity," for not only had
Irgun and Stern joined forces, Haganah had made its contribution
too. It had furnished weapons, and a unit of the Palmach, the
Haganah's elite commando forces, was to play some part in the
actual fighting--supplying covering fire according to its own ac-
count, demolishing the Mukhtar's house with a two-inch mortar
according to the Irgun. 17

Robert John and Sami Hadawi add to the Deir Yassin record: "The
Jewish Agency could not afford to jeopardize their political struggle at
the United Nations. They condemned the massacre strenuously .
but on the same day the Zionist General Council ratified an agreement
... for cooperation between the Hagana and I.Z.L. [Irgun]." 18
From that point on, collaboration between the Jewish Agency forces
and the Irgun (and Sternists) gradually increased, accompanied by fre-
quent resort to the art of nonaccountability or plausible deniability.
The agency's public denials were considered essential to retain cre-
dibility with the United Nations. But by 1954, Ben-Gurion considered
it safe to confess at least some of the truth. He dated the beginning of
"our War of Independence" in April 1948. 'As April began, our War of
Independence swung decisively from defence to attack. Operation
'Nachshon' was launched with the capture of Arab Khulda near
where we stand today and of Deir Muheisin, and culminated in the
storming of Qastal, the great hill-fortress near Jerusalem."19 On
another occasion when candor might be exercised at low cost, the
prime minister added:

The primary task of the Hagana was to safeguard our settlements
and lines of communication, but here the best defence is attack ....
In operation "Nachshon" the road to Jerusalem was cleared at the
beginning of April, almost all of New Jerusalem occupied, and the
guerillas were expelled from Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias, Safad while still
the Mandatory was present. Arabs started fleeing from the cit-
ies almost as soon as disturbances began in the early days of De-
cember [1947] .... The exodus was joined by Bedouin and fella-
hin, but not the remotest Jewish homestead was abandoned and
nothing a tottering Administration [i.e., the British Mandatory]
could unkindly do stopped us from reaching our goal on May 14,

1948 in a State made larger and Jewish by the Hagana. (emphasis

The following is an inventory of Zionist attacks before withdrawal of
the major British forces and the May 15 intervention of the Arab states'
armies. Some of these offensives resulted in occupation of the territo-
ries. Most uprooted the local Arab inhabitants, producing new facts on
the ground, to use Moshe Dayan's euphemism. These attacks took
place before a single soldier from any Arab state entered Palestine and
two months before the UN date for establishing a Jewish state:

(a) In the territory reserved for the "Arab state" the village of
Qazaza was attacked and occupied as early as December 1947; Sal-
ameh in March; Saris, Qastal, Biyar Adas and the town of Jaffa, in
April; and the town of Acre in May 1948.
(b) In the territory assigned to the "Jewish state" the towns of
Tiberias and Haifa in April; Safad and Beisan in May 1948, besides
hundreds of Arab villages.
(c) Within the area reserved for "Jerusalem International Zone,"
the village of Deir Yasin was attacked where the massacre of 250
men, women and children took place on April 9, 1948; and the Arab
quarter of Katamon in Jerusalem City on April 29.
During this six-month period over 300,000 Arabs were driven
out of their homes and became refugees-contrary to the expressed
intentions of the United Nations.2'

Map 4 indicates that the Israelis came to the armistice negotiations
with long-held conceptions of the dimensions they envisaged for their
state. This geographic plan gave them a distinct advantage in the nego-
tiations. They were on the offensive for more territory than partition
had allocated to them. The Arabs, on the other hand, had rejected parti-
tion, and both the Palestinians and later the contiguous Arab states
were on the defensive. As Zionist military achievements mounted, the
Arabs negotiated, hoping only to salvage as much territory as possible
in Palestine and beyond the international borders, where fighting had
taken place and Israelis already occupied territory where sovereignty of
Arab states had been internationally recognized.
The map shows Zionist military campaigns before May 15, 1948,
indicating Zionist incursions into territory assigned by partition to the

i^.Med--iter-anean SeaS --sS: r --


3:x s: z : : : -:-. : : .----, :- Tel Aviv
SS z 2. z : ,:s:;S^ :.: ^ Latroun




Map 4. Zionist military operations beyond proposed UN partition bor-
ders, April 1-May 15, 1948.

- - N M

1 Proposed Arab State
_ Proposed Jewish State
":^ Area of Zionist Military
Operations outside pro-
posed Jewish State

Arab state. The Arab states' reasoning for their own intervention is
summarized as follows:

Had the British Government fulfilled its obligations "to main-
tain law and order" up to the date of the termination of its Man-
date; and had the United Nations from then on undertaken its
responsibilities of ensuring peace and security for the Arab inhabi-
tants, Arab States intervention would have been unnecessary.
The Arab States armies were at no time inside the area set aside
for the "Jewish state" under the Partition Resolution.22

This account is probably technically correct. There is no hard evi-
dence that any regular forces from any Arab state entered even those
parts of Palestine assigned to the Arab state before May 15. A U.S. source
reported, however, in an undated State Department memorandum,
"prepared, presumably, between January 24 and January 26, 1948," that
irregulars were infiltrated, largely from Damascus.

Summary: Reports from the U.S. Mission at Damascus indicate
that Syria is the center of recruitment and training of the so-called
irregulars, which are intended for infiltration over the Palestine
border and subsequent guerilla work in Palestine. There is evi-
dence that such forces have already proceeded across the border to
a considerable extent. ...
(1) Recruitment. Active recruiting of "irregulars" under Fawzi
Qawuqji has been carried on in Syria.
(2) Training. Syria appears to be the training center for recruits
from Palestine, Egypt and Iraq. (FRUS 5, part 2 [1948], p. 556)

A secret, urgent telegram from the U.S. consul at Jerusalem, on May
3, to the secretary of state says, inter alia, the British commander had
informed the U.S. consul "categorically that Arab armies have not en-
tered Palestine." It continued, "Arab irregulars and volunteers are still
dribbling in" and estimated the "present strength" of the "liberation
army" at 7,000. [The] fact that they are trained and equipped by govern-
ment neighboring states is well known but they do not form component
regular armies" (FRUS 5, part 2 [1948], p. 889).
On May 16, the secretary-general of the United Nations formally
notified Warren Austin, the U.S. representative, that Egypt had informed
the Security Council on the fifteenth that "it has engaged in 'armed
intervention'" in Palestine. The secretary-general added, "I received a

_ __ _

32 Peace for Palestine

cablegram from the Arab League making similar statements on behalf
of the Arab states."
And from Israeli journalist Simha Flapan comes the following expla-
nation of Arab miscalculation: "If there was one matter on which the
Arab states were unanimous, it was the view of Zionism as an alien
invader, an expansionist cancer. By the spring of 1948, the destruction
of Arab villages, the massacres and the mass Palestinian flight made
continued inaction by the Arab states untenable. In addition, the
Arab states greatly feared that Israel and Transjordan would carry out
their agreement to divide Palestine between themselves, eventually
perhaps leading to a Hashemite kingdom extending over Syria and Leb-
anon."23 The problem was already under discussion by the Security
Council (FRUS 5, part 2 [1948], p. 1000).
This extended review of history and legal documentation, beginning
with the 1919 Zionist territorial proposals, is essential to any apprecia-
tion of the place of the armistice negotiations in the protracted problem
of Palestine and the Palestinians. It demonstrates that Zionist/Israeli
negotiating strategy and tactics reveal a planned, determined pursuit of
territorial and even demographic objectives and largely explain the con-
tinuing frustration to this day of attempts to secure a lasting peace.

chapter 5


reluctantly supported partition because at the time
obtaining all of Palestine. They were far from content
I allocation of territory despite the fact that partition
i approximately 55 percent of mandate-controlled Pal-
Zionists actually owned about 7 percent. Much of the
I to them by partition was inhabited by Arabs whose
for generations in these villages and towns. The rec-
ion boundaries would have resulted in leaving a ma-
19,780) in the proposed Jewish state where there were

labitants of the towns and villages allocated to the
li sovereignty would mean foreign rule, their status to
hat of a majority to a minority in their own country.
:er of their social, economic, and communal life would
an alien culture and alien values reinforced by the
e preordained to be Jewish. The personal and commu-
s of these Moslem and Christian Arabs would be sub-
erests of Israeli settlers. And to the governors of the
state, so large a population of remaining, resentful
it perpetuating trouble. Palestinians had no option
i domination.
)tember 1948 proposed revision of the partition bound-

34 Peace for Palestine

aries was an attempt to produce a better match of population concentra-
tions to geography. But Zionist military actions had, by that time, over-
taken demographic rationality. Tens of thousands of Arabs had become
refugees, and Israeli military superiority was a factor that could not be
dismissed unless the Israelis voluntarily withdrew from the strategic
points they had occupied beyond the partition borders. The armistice
negotiations would reveal early on that these concessions were not a
consideration of Israeli negotiating strategies. Although it would not
become a slogan until after the 1967 war, it was in the context of these
first armistice negotiations that the formula in which Israel might trade
territory for peace first presented itself. The Zionist state was as ada-
mant in rejection then as it has been in later years.3
This impasse confronted Ralph Bunche when he was appointed act-
ing mediator on September 18, and the situation continued to deterio-
rate. As able as Bunche had proven to be as an administrator, at the time
he lacked the commanding international stature Bernadotte had enjoyed.
Despite their military superiority, the Israelis felt threatened by the
growing worldwide support for the Bernadotte proposals. In the United
States some indications began to appear of a possible reversal of earlier
acquiescence to Zionist-Israeli demands. On September 21, 1948, Act-
ing Secretary of State Robert Lovett, attending the General Assembly in
Paris, released a statement urging the parties and the General Assembly
"to accept [Bernadotte's proposals] in their entirety as the best possible
basis for bringing peace to a distracted land. It is our sincere hope
that the parties concerned will realize that their best interests and the
interests of the world community will be served by accepting in a spirit
of fair compromise the judgment of Count Bernadotte" (FR US 5, part 2
[1948], pp. 1415-16).
But the Israelis were not buying. Their advances had been largely
dictated with an eye to future geopolitical strategy, camouflaged as "se-
curity" or "necessary for defense." Israel had violated the truce early in
September. It had two strategic objectives in mind. One was occupation
of Jerusalem. The Israelis were concerned that they would suffer world
condemnation if they violated the truce designed to isolate Jerusalem
from battle damage that would follow certain resistance by Jordan's
Arab Legion. The other objective was designed to frustrate Bernadotte's
proposal to award the Negev to the Arabs. The plan involved renewed
fighting with the Egyptians on the southern front. In a series of coor-
dinated moves their forces advanced on approaches to Faluja and

rsheba. A further Israeli battle plan in the south was to establish
:s for a later attack on Jerusalem from the rear.
unche charged Israel with "a serious breach of the truce" and ordered
to halt [its] forces and to withdraw them behind the October 14
s, the date when, with 15,000 troops, Israel had launched its major
nsive, known as 'Operation Ten Plagues.' "4 The October 14 date
the freezing of the belligerents' positions had been called for in
arity Council Resolution No. 61 (November 4, 1948, operative para-
>h (1) and was reaffirmed on November 16 in the preamble of Resolu-
SNo. 62 (UNRes., pp. 129-30).5 Three thousand Arab civilians and a
e unit of Egyptian and Sudanese soldiers had been trapped at Faluja
:he Israeli advance. The disposition of these forces and civilians
lid play an important role in the armistice negotiations with Egypt.
wo more developments in 1948 were of major significance for the
istice agreements. First, on October 28 Israel launched a major of-
>ive with the objective of seizing all of western Galilee (which parti-
i had allocated to the Arab state). Second, Truman's red light on
her U.S. support for Bernadotte's proposals was turned on by an
:nsive Zionist public relations campaign that started during the last
,k of September after the General Assembly had publicly released
murdered mediator's proposals. Truman's advisors, Clark Clifford
David Niles, were in positions to play decisive roles. Truman con-
ed later that the pressures exerted on him were unlike anything he
ever before experienced.6 The earlier American endorsement of Ber-
otte's proposals was substantially diluted. The U.S. switch from
sort with the majority UN opinion to acquiescence to Israeli defi-
e of the international body began a long record of American aban-
ment of cooperation with world opinion in the search for peace in
-stine. The U.S. pro-Israeli bias would become increasingly apparent
>ughout the armistice negotiations.

chapter 6


Reluctant Negotiators

The historical, military, political, and demographic facts provided in-
cendiary materials inherited by Ralph Bunche as the UN's chief repre-
sentative when, on January 12, 1949, Egypt and Israel reluctantly agreed
to discuss replacing the precarious truce with a more durable, negoti-
ated armistice. Egyptian reluctance to engage was attributable to its
adverse military position at the time and because of a conviction that
"Arab allies had deserted in the hour of need." Israel was reluctant to
bring its successful military campaigns to an end. But pressures from
both the United Nations and the United States finally persuaded it to
agree to negotiations.' On January 7 a formal cease-fire went into effect
on the Egyptian front. Egyptian-Israeli talks began on the island of Rhodes
on January 12, with Bunche acting as mediator. The Israelis came with
great confidence.
Zionist leaders had been disappointed with the Balfour Declara-
tion. Lord Balfour's promise compared badly with their earlier dream
state. It denied all of Palestine as the locus for the national home. One
safeguard clause protected the "civil and religious rights" of the Pal-
estinian Arabs. The phrase carefully avoided reference to any national
rights of the indigenous Arabs. Nevertheless it strongly implied some
national home obligations with respect to the status of inhabitants of
Palestine who were not Jews. The second safeguard or limiting clause
stipulated, with greater specificity, that the Zionists were to do noth-

ing to prejudicee tne rights ana political status ot Jews" in any country
other than Palestine. This limitation reflected the position of Jews who
rejected recognition in international law or agreements of all Jews-the
Jewish people-as a political-national entity. These anti-Zionist Jews
wanted neither to acquire nor to exercise collectively national-political
rights in any sovereignty other than the one in which they possessed
Despite Zionist misgivings about the internal contradictions of the
Balfour Declaration, for the three decades between the issuance of the
declaration and the armistice talks the Zionists, with more successes
than failures, had manipulated British policy to their general satisfac-
tion. With British help, they continued their success under the League

Talking with the Egyptians

The confident Israeli attitude is reflected in the editor's Introduction t(
the Companion Volume of the Israeli documents. "The start of armi
stice negotiations with Egypt was postponed for many weeks, main'
because of Israel's refusal to accede to Egypt's demand, based on th,
4 November resolution, to allow the evacuation of the besieged Egyp
tian garrison from Faluja prior to opening the talks." The same entr'
continues: "Both countries responded to the Security Council appeal t<
cease hostilities on 7 January; the Egyptians simultaneously announce
ing their agreement to immediate armistice talks. These opened offi
cially in Rhodes on 13 January 1949."
The editor summarizes the Israeli approach: "The Israeli represent
tatives came bolstered by the advantage of military control of the are
claimed by Israel and victory in the war. .... [It became clear that thi
advantage, important as it was, did not suffice to guarantee realization
of all Israeli expectations .. ." (emphasis supplied).4
Israel occupied territory that partition had allocated to the Arab state
But its initial demands were "total Egyptian withdrawal from the con
fines of Palestine, viz., the Gaza strip and the Bethlehem area." A]
though the (Israeli) Provisional Council of State argued that this deman<
should serve only as a "bargaining point and not an irrevocable condi
tion," the negotiating delegation was instructed to be "inflexible .
not to agree to withdrawal from any outpost which is held by the Israel
army" (C. V, p. 15).
The summary in the Introduction to the Companion Volume con
tinues: "Consequently the Israeli delegates rejected Egypt's demand
for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Beersheba, Asluj and Auja. [Al
were outside the partition "boundaries."] On the tactical level, the dele
gation was directed not to deviate from the above-mentioned basic frame
work nor to make any concessions. However, they were not to break ul
the negotiations without first consulting with the political and defenc
authorities in Israel."
Without apology, forty years after the event, the Israeli interpretation
admits that "the Egyptians were capable of capitalizing both on thei
very willingness to negotiate, and on the authority of Security Counci
resolutions" (C. V, pp. xiii-xv). Judging by the available records, howv
ever, they did neither.
If Security Council resolutions have the weight of inscribed internal

tional law and if law is some prescription for prot
property and an instrument for achieving justice, tl
was closer to these landmarks of whatever internati
than the Israeli reliance on superior military power ai
by conquest. The point is relevant to the propaga:
accompanied Israel's consistent aggression and helix
cal sunnort of Western democratic governments. T

developed permitting the "immediate unconditional evacuation
Egypt, under UN supervision, of sick [and] wounded" (M. V, p. 24). T
rest of the military personnel and equipment would be phased or
according to a detailed schedule, over a period of time. The final sta
was to be delayed until final negotiations for the armistice were col
pleted and signed (M. V, p. 698).6
With the vexing Faluja problem temporarily disposed of, negotiation
for a full armistice could proceed. The crucial questions concerned wh(
the final armistice demarcation should be drawn "without prejudice
the claims of either party" in any final settlement. The Israeli force
occupied many strategic points beyond both the partition boundaries a
the provisional demarcation lines delineated by Bunche. Despite appe;
by Bunche and some concessions by Egypt, the Israelis were adama
about three key areas: Bir Auja (on the approaches to Jerusalem), Be
Asluj (south of Beersheba), and Beersheba itself (C. V, p. xviii). None
these was within the partition borders for the Jewish state. Reluctant
the Israelis gave up hope of an Egyptian withdrawal from the Gaza Str
The Israelis were prepared for trading on some positions. But rigidity
Auja, Asluj, and Beersheba was essential to their long-range targets: t
Negev, which Bernadotte had recommended be given to the Arab state
exchange for western Galilee, and Jerusalem, which the United Natio
continued to insist should have some form of international control.
When negotiations began on the hard, substantive matters of t(
ritory, the determination of permanent lines, allowable troop strength
types of military hardware, and establishment of neutral zones (whi
Bunche had recommended to separate the military forces and minimi
a renewal of fighting), the Israelis found themselves at a disadvantage
the terms of reference governing the Rhodes negotiations. Their mi
tary superiority and illegal occupation of territory should not have or
weighed the clear, legal weight of Bunche's and the Egyptians' relian
on the UN Charter, the Security Council resolutions, and the gene:
Egyptian strategy to return to the status quo ante and the partiti<
recommendations, modified to conform to the Bernadotte proposals.
With the legalities against them, the Israelis decided that if they we
to attain their objectives, they would have to mount a public proi
ganda campaign that might enlist a wide, politically active audience
They had two specific political objectives in mind. One was their pe
tion for admission to membership in the United Nations. The ott
was to deepen and expand the still somewhat uncertain commitment

the United States as a reliable backup partner in the negotiations. Real-
ization of this second objective would have a powerful influence on the
first. But the political goal was in constant potential jeopardy from the
professional diplomats and Middle East experts in the State Department.7
To outflank this resistance and reach the president, who possessed
the final authority to determine foreign policy, it was necessary to influ-
ence the president's in-house personal political advisors, Clark Clifford
and David Niles. These two pro-Israeli stalwarts needed plausible rea-
sons for the president to ignore the advice of his Middle East experts. It
was necessary for the president to have simplistic rationalizations to
take to committees of Congress and to professional politicians of his
party so as to be prepared for the time when it would be required to
provide public explanations. The pro-Zionist-Israeli advocates had the
experienced Zionist public relations machinery in the United States to
serve as both ally and mentor.
The Egyptians, on their side, had only the professionals in the State
Department, together with a few Christian missionaries and anti-Zionist
Jews.8 There were also the less than publicly eloquent lobbyists for the
American petroleum industry. The handful of American missionaries
who had served in the Arab world, the few academics who had been
associated with the American academic institutions in Beirut and Cairo,
and the small group of anti-Zionist Jews, who were more opposed to
Zionism's Jewish nationalism than they were advocates of Arab claims
and rights, were no political match for the Zionist team. The oil people
registered their reservations about U.S. support for Zionist aspirations
in subdued voices, consistent with the usual less than courageous cor-
porate attitudes when controversial political issues were involved.
The Israelis negotiating at Rhodes had more respect than the Israeli
cabinet for this complexity of forces with the potential of influencing
the outcome. The cabinet, sitting in Tel Aviv, was concentrated on the
long-range, still unfulfilled military-territorial and demographic objec-
tives. One objective contemplated for the near future was "the General
Staff's plan for an advance to Elath" (C. V, p. xx).

Wearing Down the Egyptians

The Egyptians were not unaware of the historic Zionist pattern of advanc-
ing two feet, falling back one foot when necessary, in order to advance
another two feet. They were eager to conclude the negotiations and to

have the results become operative immediately upon the signing. I
Israeli negotiators at Rhodes confronted a tactical problem. On the c
hand, they wanted to avoid the appearance of obstructing an agreeme
so they had to provide plausible counteroffers to this Egyptian plan
concluding an armistice. At the same time, however, the government
Tel Aviv was in no hurry to reach any binding agreements because it h
not yet reached all the strategic positions it considered essential for t
campaigns it still had in mind to attain maximalist territorial gai:
This difference in timing prompted Walter Eytan9 to send Sharett a lc
letter as early as January 16. The following excerpts are revealing.
Eytan began by saying that the letter was devoted, "in fact ...
general considerations on which Reuven [Shiloah]lo and I are agree
He continued, inter alia:

The fact of signing this armistice with Egypt is in itself of far
reaching importance irrespective of the terms of the agreement. ...
Lebanon, Syria and Transjordan, all these countries are willing tc
sign an armistice if the negotiations with Egypt succeed-succeed,
that is, in the sense of ending in agreement, signed, sealed and de-
livered. Stav[ropoulos]11 also spoke to the Iraqi Minister in Damas-
cus, who spoke to him along the same lines as far as Iraq was con-
cerned. A series of such armistice agreements would transform the
political situation in the Middle East. They are possible only if the
talks with Egypt lead to results. If we here fail, it sets back indefi-
nitely the chances of armistice with all these countries. We con-
sider, therefore, that the signing of an armistice agreement with
Egypt in itself transcends in importance this detail or that. It is
perfectly clear that [the Egyptians] have orders to reach agreement
and reach it quickly. They want the agreement to come into force
immediately on signature, or at the latest within a matter of hours
(not days) afterwards.
All this being so, I hope that the traditional military considera-
tions will not be allowed to carry too much weight. ... (M. V, pp
26-28; emphasis supplied)

But a week later, on January 22, Eytan was apparently giving m(
weight himself to military considerations. He informed Sharett that

We made it absolutely clear that politically we could undei
no circumstances accept any settlement which provided for at

M t -I

Ivance of Egyptian forces even in token strength or the appoint-
lent of even the most unreal and symbolical Egyptian civil
administrator on the Palestine side of the frontier. This was a
political principle from which we could not under any circum-
:ances recede, and in the specific case of Auja it was reinforced
y equally unalterable military considerations. Unless this basic
principle were conceded without reservation, there could be no
If our hopes prove justified-and as a matter of fact we all still
;el reasonably optimistic-the talks may have to go on for another
ur or five days. It is simply a matter of wearing the Egyptians
own. The process is rather callous and extremely tiring, but we
link it worthwhile making the extra effort over the next few days
1 view of the great political possibilities which success would
pen up for us. (M. V, p. 55; emphasis supplied)

wo elements in Eytan's letter deserve emphasis. First, his use of the
ise Palestine side of the frontier is unusual at this point because the
lis were insistent on using the name Israel now that the state existed.
Professional diplomat accustomed to precise language, Eytan's use
Palestine" must be interpreted to mean the Israelis were not recon-
d to the partition borders even in the southern sector bordering the
a Strip. Al-Auja had been allocated to the Arab state. The Israelis
in mind to maintain several bases contiguous to the strip once they
e reconciled that Gaza would be under some form of Egyptian con-
. All these bases were in territory allocated to the Arab state.
he second point worth emphasizing in Eytan's January 22 commu-
ition is the candid admission that Israeli strategy to wear the Egyp-
s down was callous. He admitted the extra effort to prolong the
otiations was extremely tiring but was justified by "the great politi-
possibilities." One possibility was the demonstrated ability of Amer-
i Zionists, coordinating with the Israeli diplomatic corps and partic-
ly through Aubrey (now Abba) Eban, to manipulate U.S. political
port for the Israeli political objectives. Prolonging the Rhodes nego-
ion to wear down the Egyptians was related to the ability of the
erican Zionist-Israeli government combine to hold and increase
. support for Israeli territorial and military objectives at Rhodes.12
he smooth sailing of Clark Clifford's and David Niles's influence on
White House was fading.a3 The situation emerging in the Middle

East had been predicted by the State Department's specialists, and
department's credibility commanded greater respect at the White Ho
Not the least important, the 1948 election and the threat of the Jev
vote were now history. The Arab states continued to protest partit
but by late January-early February 1948 a subtle change of tone
apparent in their attitudes. Egypt, for example, was "anxious to get
Palestine question settled so that they could get along with the deve
ment of the Egyptian economical and social system." The Egyp
ambassador, Mahmoud Fawzi, "had the authority to enter into disc
informal conversations with the American and British Governm,
regarding the boundary lines which should be established in souti
Palestine" (FRUS 5, part 2 [1948], pp. 624-25).
This was de facto acceptance of the Jewish state, although quest:
of boundaries remained. In a comprehensive memorandum of Jam
27, 1949, Samuel H. C. Kopper, special assistant to the director of

A A T-W 1 7, *-

First Try for Peace-With Egypt 45

the November 29, 1947 resolution the Arab leaders were able to
indicate to their Asiatic friends their willingness to have them
abstain or vote in favor of the December 11, 1948 [General Assem-
bly #194] resolution. (FRUS 5, part 2 [1948], pp. 704-5)

These reports by professional diplomats suggest that the Arabs did
not much like what had happened but were ready to negotiate a settle-
ment. Although they were resigned to U.S. support for Israel, they still
hoped for a fair measure of justice in territorial questions along the lines
of Bernadotte's proposal, incorporated in the December 11, 1948, Gen-
eral Assembly resolution. Of prime importance to the Arabs was oper-
ative paragraph 11, calling for the refugees to be offered a free choice
between repatriation and compensation for those who elected not to

Washington: Star-Spangled Eminence?

A three-way exchange from January 23 to January 29 among Eytan in
Rhodes, Sharett in Tel Aviv, and Eliahu Epstein (later Elath),14 the pro-
visional government's special representative in Washington, sheds light
on the Israeli perception of the new U.S. approach. Epstein cabled Shar-
ett on the twenty-third that it would be advisable to accept a "reason-
able compromise" with the Arabs (M. V, p. 63; C. V., p. 18). The alter-
native would enhance the authority of the Conciliation Commission,
composed of "unfriendly Turkey, unreliable France and vacillating
U.S.A." But on the twenty-ninth, from Rhodes, Eytan urged Sharett to
send Epstein "further guidelines," for continuing contacts with the U.S.
government. Sharett apparently complied, and on the twenty-ninth
Epstein met with a team from the State Department.
The department's "Memorandum of Conversation" records that the
U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Near East and Africa told Epstein
the Egyptians considered Israeli evacuation of Faluja the key to further
progress. Epstein replied, "We will let them [the Egyptians] out of Faluja
if they will agree to our staying at El Auja." He added that Israel "would
never agree" to a "token Egyptian force" remaining in El Auja-a U.S.
proposal. Epstein commented on "the long-range aspects of the Arab
refugee problem," saying "he was sure the Israeli Government would
welcome back the Christian Arabs" (emphasis supplied); "such a wel-
come would not be accorded the Moslem Arabs." But he added that "the

Mohammedans [sic] would not wish to return in any event as they d
not feel comfortable as a racial or religious minority group." Rath
gratuitously, the Israeli continued, "certain of the Arab states, such
Transjordan and Iraq, were in need of extra population and might be ab
to take a considerable portion of the refugees" (FR US 6 [1949], pp. 70
The negotiations were now stalled on dead center. On February 3, I
Aviv informed Eytan that Ben-Gurion "objects to the handing over
Auja or any other place in the Negev to UN rule." This was a rejection
a Bunche proposal that Eytan had explored with both the Egyptian ai
Israeli delegations to break the impasse on El Auja, Beit Asluj, an
most importantly, Beersheba. On the fourth, Eytan informed Tel Av
that once again the Egyptians were taking their stand on the UN resol
tions and on Bunche, who was attempting mediation by invoking ft
respect for the same resolutions. "Bunche favors them," he added, "b
cause they have accepted the draft proposal" (submitted on January 2
(C. V, p. 23; M.V, pp. 56-57). Israel continued to rely on "tiring t]
While publicly posturing as an impartial referee, supporting tl
United Nations and Bunche's efforts to hold the negotiations as close
possible to his UN mandate, the United States continued to tilt towa
Israel. On January 27, Secretary of State Dean Acheson sent Truman
memorandum recommending de jure recognition of Israel and Transjc
dan. James G. McDonald, a pro-Zionist activist before the Israeli sta
was formed, was to be nominated as ambassador to Tel Aviv. The pre,
dent approved. Both actions were formally announced by the Whi
House on January 31 (FRUS 6 [1949], pp. 702, 713). A footnote (p. 71
reports, "In a note of February 4, Egyptian Ambassador Rahim express(
to the Secretary of State the very deep regret of his Government th
'certain powers' had recognized the 'so-called State of Israel,' despi
the failure to find a solution for the problems of Palestine. [W]hi
such recognition was not to be interpreted 'as a definite stand in favor
Zionists, yet the Zionists had exploited it in this sense'."
The Israelis reciprocated elevation of Israeli status by announcing c
February 1 that on August 2, 1948, the Israeli cabinet had decided
terminate the military governorship of Jerusalem and "to institute :
that city governmental arrangements obtaining in other parts of tl
State of Israel" (emphasis supplied). Shertok (the Israeli foreign mini
ter, who later changed his name to Sharett) advised McDonald that "

A 47-%.. D /7,. L vI,,,- ,,,

avoid international misunderstanding" the Israeli action was merely an
"administrative" move "and not annexation of Jerusalem."16 Contra-
dicting Shertok's disclaimer, the exact language of the cabinet's state-
ment, reported by the U.S. consul in Jerusalem, was "that all laws of the
State of Israel apply to the area of Jerusalem under Israeli occupation."
William Burdett, the U.S. consul, added, "Initial local public reaction is
that [the] announcement [is] tantamount to annexation [of the] Jewish
sections [of the] city [of] Jerusalem to [the] State of Israel" (FRUS 6
[1949], p. 717. A copy of Burdett's telegram was sent to Amman, notify-
ing the Transjordanians.
On February 8, 1949, Burdett forwarded to Washington a lengthy
report by Mark Ethridge of a conversation with Shertok in Jerusalem on
January 7, 1949.17 Ethridge confronted Shertok with a report that the
Provisional Government of Israel (PGI) planned a constituent assembly
in Jerusalem where it would offer a resolution calling for annexation of
the city. The provisional government also "intends [to] hold municipal
elections" there. Ethridge reminded Shertok that such actions "appeared
to be contrary to the spirit, if not the letter of GA [General Assembly]
resolution December 11 [#194]" (FRUS 6 [1949], pp. 736-37). Shertok
responded that on Jerusalem, the Israelis "had acquiesced in the inter-
national status in 1947 but situation had subsequently changed
because of failure of international community or any other authority to
protect it except Jews themselves. PGI could not now entrust security
of Jews in Jerusalem to any outside agency nor could their economic
security be safeguarded except by integration in Israel .... Holding of
constituent assembly would not result in fait accompli. On other hand,
Israeli Jerusalem to all practical intent and purpose is now part of Israel"
(emphasis supplied) (FRUS 6 [1949], p. 736).
In the cable Ethridge went on to report Shertok's response to a ques-
tion raised about the refugees by the French representative on the Con-
ciliation Commission, Claude de Boisanger:

[The] refugee problem can only be settled as part of peace settle-
ment. There can be no significant return of refugees before and
possibly after that event. Since they fled voluntarily and at
British instigation PGI policy has been based on status quo. Exodus
was primarily caused by aggression of Arab states. Return now
would undermine security of Israel and would impose impossible
economic burden on Israel to integrate refugees in Israeli economy.

Arab refugees are essentially unassimilable in Jewish Israel. Effor
can now be made [for] radical sound solution, namely integratic
in neighboring Arab states, especially Iraq, Syria and Transjorda
which Shertok claims are underpopulated and require more pe,
ple. (emphasis supplied)

The telegram also contains Shertok's statement of the Israeli pi
sional government's position on two other items: territory and
modality for conducting negotiations. On separate negotiations V
each Arab belligerent, "Shertok stated regarding general peace se
ment that Israel desires to negotiate separate peace treaties and did
wish general conference. Shertok reasoned Israeli-Lebanese problem
for example, were of no concern to Egypt" (FRUS 6 [1949], pp. 736-
On January 28, Bunche had informed Israel that Jordan, Lebai
"and perhaps Syria as well are willing to join the Rhodes talks." Bur
"wishes to know Israel's position." From Rhodes, Eytan informed S
ett the Israeli delegation was holding out for separate negotiations v
each of the Arab states: "Additional parties might stiffen Egypt's st<
the delegation is seeking a way to endorse the proposal yet postpone(
implementation until an agreement with Egypt is signed or at 1
until the final stage of the negotiations." Using a "divide and r
strategy, Sharett cabled Eytan the official Israeli opposition "to broa<
ing the range of the Rhodes talks" (C. V, p. 16).

Conspiracy for Betrayal

What Shertok did not tell the commission-and what apparently Bur
did not know-was that from early December 1948, Israel and Tranw
dan had been engaged in secret negotiations. The Israelis were attend
ing to persuade King Abdallah to sign "a general armistice" and b<
"peace talks" (C. V, p. 46). The Transjordanian negotiating position
sented by Abdallah's emissary, Colonel A. Al-Tall, was based on
Jericho Conference of early December 1948. Attending had been "d
gations from towns and villages of the Jordan-controlled part of
estine," some military authorities (unidentified in the Israeli recc
"officers of the Arab Legion and military governors, representative
the Supreme Moslem Council and [also unidentified] guest delegate
from Jordan, Syria and Lebanon." The conference resolved "no cc
dence in the Arab Higher Committee and the 'Gaza Government'

n r -- 7 -

First Try for Peace-With Egypt 49

established the Union of Jordan and Palestine as the Arab Hashemite
Kingdom. Abdallah was proclaimed king." Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Ara-
bia, and King Farouk of Egypt, the secretary-general of the Arab League,
rejected these resolutions (C. V, p. 156). Secret Israeli-Abdallah negotia-
tions continued. But on Rhodes, Israel insisted on negotiations with
Egypt alone.
Burdett's February 8 telegram to Washington reported a second item
summarizing in detail Shertok's address on territory before the Concil-
iation Commission: "Shertok explained that Israel had accepted
1947 partition [provided] Arab Palestine would become independent
state. If it now became part of Transjordan situation was radically altered
and Israel's previous acceptance no longer valid. Israel claimed, for
example, widening of 12-mile coastal strip between Haifa and Tel Aviv
for security reasons. PGI had decided it would not agree to foreign bases
in Palestine section of an enlarged Transjordan on basis of present Brit-
ish treaty with Transjordan. Shertok voluntarily disavowed inten-
tion of seizing non-Israeli Palestine unless provoked" (FRUS 6 [1949],
p. 737).
And on Jerusalem: "Shertok stated that discussions 'between Israeli
and Arab Military Commission should be encouraged to continue,'"
but the talks "were limited to demarcation of military areas and that he
doubted whether Commission would be of assistance to them. ...
Shertok stated demilitarization of Jerusalem was only possible if there
was outside force or no need for protection. As neither condition existed
demilitarization was not possible" (FR US 6 [1949], p. 738).
In a footnote, Burdett's telegram added that Ethridge had described
"Shertok's presentation" of the Israeli "views regarding Jerusalem ...
unyielding." Israel "does not accept world opinion regarding interna-
tionalization" and "intends to take steps looking toward eventual incor-
poration of Israeli Jerusalem in Israel." Ethridge's comment continued:
"It may be true PGI does not intend to transfer its capital from Tel Aviv
to Jerusalem. [But] facts that constituent assembly is opening here,
that certain central administrative offices are operating here, that Israeli
civil law applies here and that municipal elections under Israeli aus-
pices will be held here seem to bear out my analysis. It seems
logical, however, present policies will continue and may only be coun-
teracted by firmness on part of command [sic] governments there repre-
sented" (FRUS 6 [1949], p. 738).
Ethridge added that Shertok's stated position on the refugees "offended

F0 Pacnro fnr Pnal.tinp

[the] Commission." "It also astonished me in view imperative necc
for friendly relations between Israel and Arab States and importar
early establishment of economic connections with Arab hinterland
It might be wise in long run to resettle greater portion Arab refuge
neighboring Arab States; nevertheless, it appears contrary to Is
best interests at outset to take inhuman position" (FRUS 6 [1949
Nearly 750 pages in the Main Volume of the Israeli records are de
to the armistice negotiations with Egypt, Jordan (Transjordan), LebW
and Syria. The weight attached to the talks with Egypt is evident b
fact that this diplomacy occupies just slightly less than half of the p
Both sides agreed that significant precedents might influence the 1
tiations to follow with other Arab states. The fundamental negoti
positions of the two sides were therefore important, as were Bun
reactions. Bunche's opening statement on January 13, 1949, cla
that he saw his role to be "implementing the Security Council re
tions of 4 and 16 November 1948" (M. V, p. 13). He-and the Egypti;
regarded those resolutions as the governing law for the discussions.
Operative paragraph 1 of the November 4 resolution called on
interested Governments to withdraw those of their forces which
advanced beyond the position held on October 14." The acting med
was authorized to establish provisional lines beyond which there M
be no movement of troops.
On October 15, the Israelis had "smashed the Egyptian lines i:
northern Negev. Israeli forces occupied Beersheba and the coastal
from Isdud south to Yad Mordechai, as well as a strip across from
Jibrin to Majdal. [They] also expanded the territory under their co
in the Hebron area and in the Jerusalem corridor. An entire Egy
brigade was trapped in the 'Faluja pocket'" (C. V, p. xii).
These advances violated the Security Council resolution. Disre
ing their own violations, the Israeli basic position was that the ]
tians must withdraw from "the confines of Palestine." The deleg
was instructed "to be inflexible on this last matter, and consequ
the Israeli delegates rejected Egypt's demands for the withdrawal
raeli forces from Beersheba, Asluj and Auja. The delegation w
reacted not to deviate from the above-mentioned basic framework r
make any concessions. However, they were not to break up the neg
tions without first consulting with the political and defence autho
in Israel" (C. V, p. xv).

in hgyp

ne period oerween approximately january Lz anu reoruary 13 was
:ial to the Egyptian-Israeli talks and established the pattern for later
s with the other Arabs. Bunche had cabled UN Secretary-General
;ve Lie that "prospects for an armistice agreement are virtually nil"
JS 6 [1949], p. 707). The impasse involved the 3,000 Egyptians trapped
he Faluja pocket. Israel refused to withdraw and release them until
armistice was arranged. A second stumbling block was Beersheba
a third El Auja. Bunche had appealed to the president of the Secur-
iouncil to convene a meeting "to arbitrate the disputed points." The
ident declined, advising Bunche he could not call a meeting unless
che sent "a full report," identifying "specific issues to be debated"
/, p. 27). The Israelis feared that if Bunche went to the Security
.ncil, the council would support Bunche's position based on the
irity Council resolutions of November 4 and 16 (M. V, p. 93). Then
che would use the Security Council's support to impose "his solu-
on both parties" (C. V, p. 27).
tactically, matters were going well for the Israelis. They had defeated
tilateral negotiations in a single conference with all Arab bellig-
Lts. They had also prevailed that the armistice demarcation lines
ild be based on existing fighting lines rather than the positions of
ober 14 and should be the starting point for negotiations, contrary to
irity Council Resolution No. 61 (1948). But strategically they found
;es for apprehension. First, there was Bunche himself and his dedi-
on to the UN resolutions. Sharett described the acting mediator as
ble to prove extremely dangerous" (C. V, pp. 12-13).
nd despite past U.S. support for Israeli positions, the Israelis were
*ehensive about the staying power of the American commitment.
United States had much broader and more complicated national
rests than Israel. It was a member of the Conciliation Commission.
hu Elath, Israel's ambassador to Washington, had described the
e members as "unfriendly Turkey," "unreliable France," and "vac-
ing U.S.A." (M. V, p. 63). Also a fairly energetic effort was under
to coordinate American and British policy on Palestine. England
a treaty with Transjordan and, on the whole, was inclined to be
e supportive of the Arab than of the Israeli position. The U.S. tilt
ard Zionism and Israel had created misunderstandings between the
traditional allies (FR US 6 [1949], p. 691).
high priority Israeli objective, beyond a satisfactory conclusion to
armistice negotiations, was the pending application for member-

ship in the United Nations. Israel had submitted its first application
November 29, 1948. The Security Council rejected it on Decembe:
because of "noncompliance with the United Nations resolutions
U.S. lobbying had been essential for adoption of the partition plan
his frustration over negotiating the armistice with Egypt, Bunche
threatened several times to turn the matter back to the Security Co
cil. The Israelis did not want to risk a second rejection. The media(
threats, therefore had several times wrung concessions from the Israe
This mix of facts and attitudes was not lost on the Israeli pol
makers. For the moment they were more than satisfied with their ru
tary accomplishments. But they were confronted now with the m
difficult task of attempting to legitimate their war gains and, indeed
legitimate the state itself.
In an effort to reconcile these somewhat divergent interests, El
and his first secretary, Uriel Heyd, obtained an appointment on Janu
28 with the middle-level State Department officers directly invol
with the Rhodes negotiations. That same day Elath reported to Shar

Found them most conciliatory and open our arguments. No mor
mention made by them of Security Council resolutions nor di<
they challenge us or try argue Egyptian case. They carefully in
quired whether Auja main stumbling block Rhodes and whether
we will implement Faluja agreement when general agreement
reached. We replied affirmative. McClintock agreed Egyptian fea
that Auja our hands threatening their communications unfounded
if we maintain there mere outpost, taking main force back,
supervised UN.
Satterthwaite urged we should not break off negotiations Rhode
and they meanwhile try influence Cairo as requested. (M. V, p. 83
emphasis supplied)

Ralph Bunche-Frustrated Mediator

The nub of the impasse, which had led Bunche to conclude "that pr
pects for an armistice agreement are virtually nil," was the rigid Isrn
refusal to withdraw from el-Auja and Faluja and "unconditionally
release [the] Faluja garrison." To the Egyptians the Faluja matter wa
"token evidence of good faith." The Israelis insisted on holding the Eg
tians-troops and civilians-as hostages until Egypt agreed to the an


First Try for Peace-With Egypt 53

E. El-Auja (and Bir Asluj) were strategically important points on the
ving board of Israeli campaigns to take the Negev-contrary to the
ladotte proposal and to Security Council Resolution No. 61. The
response to Elath's January 28 presentation was to request the Brit-
:o make a "particular effort [with] Cairo [to] attempt to persuade the
ptians [to] reach compromise with Israelis at Rhodes" (FR US 6 [1949],
he United States was shaving its commitment to the United Nations
despite its Conciliation Commission membership, was gradually
forcing Israeli strategy. The reasons for the shift of American policy
more consistent tilt toward Israel are complicated. But two consid-
ions appear to be dominant. First, the pro-Israel propaganda cam-
n continued and was intensified, producing greater political pres-
s on the White House than previously. Probably of even greater
;ht was the extension of Truman's cold war ideology to the Middle
, following Washington's realization that British power and influ-
were on the wane. Middle East historian J. C. Hurewitz wrote,
ited States rivalry with the Soviet Union went to absurd lengths." 9
Soviets and the Eastern bloc had begun to support Arab positions at
United Nations. The American reaction was to increase political
)ort for Israel gradually while attempting to avoid serious damage to
-Arab relations.
L an attempt to break the stalemate, on January 31 Bunche submit-
a draft "Egyptian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement" to the Isra-
elegation. In a letter of transmittal to Eytan, Bunche admitted that
iuse "these armistice negotiations are very narrow in scope," no
tical implicationss were discussed "even when these are clearly visi-
ust below the surface." He therefore found "it necessary to employ
*ded phraseology and symbolic or token devices which leave much
e desired" in order "to keep some doors open in anticipation of
nate peace negotiations" (M. V, pp. 96ff.).
he draft referred explicitly to Security Council resolutions of No-
ber 4 and 16. It called for the withdrawal of the Egyptian forces from
Sal-Faluja area," to begin on the day "immediately following the
ing this agreement." They were to withdraw "beyond the Egypt-
stine frontier." There would be no "restoration of previous fighting
s" and "no advance of military forces of either side beyond positions
Sat the time this Armistice Agreement is signed" (M. V, p. 99).
iragraph 3 of Article IV of the draft referred to several points that had

been strenuously disputed during the several previous weeks of talk,
embodies a principle that most of the UN resolutions stated and t
came to be, more or less, standard language in subsequent armist
agreements and warrants reproduction here inter alia:

[T]erritorial custodial or other claims or interests which may b4
asserted by either Party in the areas in which their forces have beer
engaged shall not be prejudiced or otherwise affected by the signing
of this Agreement. [I]nterests which may be asserted by Egyp
in southern Palestine, including such interests as may be claimed
to relate to the Beersheba and Bir Asluj areas deriving from the Z
November 1948 resolution of the Security Council and the 13 Nc
vember 1948 Memorandum for its implementation, as well as claim
on other grounds which either Party may assert, shall be entitle(
to consideration in the discussions with the United Nations Con
ciliation Commission and in the final settlement between the tw(
Parties on the same basis as though that Resolution and Memoran
dum had been fully implemented. (M. V, p. 99)

Paragraph 2 of Article V restricted the armistice agreement to m
tary considerations, leaving determination of future "political or terr
rial boundaries" to an "ultimate settlement of the Palestine questic
Article VIII deferred resolution of the el-Asluj problem by establish
"a Special Neutral Zone from which both Egyptian and Israeli ari
forces shall be totally excluded." The neutral zone "shall be under
full supervision and effective control of the United Nations, whose j
shall fly there and shall be held in custody by the United Nations pe
ing final settlement of territorial dispositions in southern Palestir
Violations, "when confirmed by the United Nations, shall constitute
flagrant violation of this Agreement and an act of force directed agai
the United Nations." A Mixed Armistice Commission of seven mc
bers was to be responsible for execution of the agreement. Three m(
bers were to be designated by each side. The chairman was to be chie
staff of the UN Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) or a ser
UNTSO officer designated by him (M. V, pp. 98-102).
A major issue throughout the talks had been southern Palestine.
Auja, Beersheba, and Bir Asluj were all strategic prizes. The Egyptia
apparently, had been satisfied with the arrangement for UN control
the el-Auja area and agreed that Egyptian troops might return to the a
"in defensive strength only" and "under supervision of the United i

ns." But they insisted on retaining military occupation of the Gaza
a and on civilian administrators in Beersheba and Bir Asluj, "follow-
the withdrawal of Israeli forces" (M. V, p. 105).
3unche rejected these demands about Beersheba and Bir Asluj if they
re predicated on the armistice agreement. But in a compromise dated
uary 30, he allowed an Egyptian assertion "of interests" in "southern
estine," based on the November 4 Security Council resolution. He
3 allowed an Israeli "assertion" of claims in these areas (M. V, p. 108).
Concessions were made to Israel's rejection of the October 14 fight-
lines, but "the advance of Egyptian forces anywhere in Palestine
mnot be considered." At their disputed points, both Israel and Egypt
uld be permitted forces "in defensive strength only" during the period
:he armistice. It was explicitly stated that all of these compromises
I their supporting claims by either party "shall be entitled to consid-
tion in the discussion with the United Nations Conciliation Com-
ssion and in the final settlement between the two parties on the
ne basis as though that resolution and [his November 13] Memoran-
n had been fully implemented" (M. V, p. 106).
Vith such language and circumlocutions around the impasse of Is-
li demands for the armistice lines to be based on the existing fighting
es, on the one hand, and the Egyptian insistence on the relevant UN
solutions, on the other, Bunche tried to move the negotiations from
id center while still upholding the authority of the United Nations.
n this connection, a telegram from Eytan to Shertok, dated Febru-
1, is significant because it illuminates again the Israeli intention to
asculate UN authority, if possible. The following summary of the
egram is from the Companion Volume: "In view of the Security Coun-
's present composition Eytan proposes working for repeal of the
november resolution, which determined cease-fire lines that are out
accord with the present military situation. He also suggests the
;sibility of cancelling all obsolete Security Council resolutions on
estine" (p. 21).
Colonel Yigael Yadin of the Israeli army, who served the Israeli dele-
ion in Rhodes as its military expert, expressed the same idea in some-
lat different terms. In a meeting with the Israelis on January 31, the
nche draft-armistice agreement was subjected to the most minute
guistic criticism. At one point Yadin offered a new formulation of
*agraph 3, Article IV of Bunche's original draft: "I understood that in
ning this armistice whatever claims the Parties will have in the fu-

56 Peace for Palestine

ture will not be based on [November resolutions] 4/11 or 16/11. Insofar
as these are concerned, they will be finished here" (M. V, p. 114).
Bunche agreed but only if these resolutions were "signed away" in a
final agreement. "But there would be no automatic signing away to this
effect." Later, on the same subject, to the Israelis, he added, "You cannot
gainsay any Security Council resolution that has not been repealed.
The point is that the resolutions will be repealed if the armistice works.
If it does not, they will be kept in force. If there is no danger to the peace,
the Security Council will wipe the slate clean" (M. V, pp. 114-15).
Bunche's draft agreement raised the question of what was meant by
southern Palestine, a phrase he had used several times. Transjordan's
Arab Legion had been Israel's military adversaries in the eastern Negev.
During the negotiations, the Egyptians had made several claims to ter-
ritory where they either had no troops or their troops had not been a
significant factor. In the southern Negev there had been some coordina-
tion of Egyptian forces and those of the Arab Legion.
The Egyptians knew little, if anything, about the secret negotiations
involving King Abdallah and the Israelis, and the Israelis never enter-
tained the idea of abandoning their plan to acquire the southern Negev,
which would provide a southern outlet to the sea. The Egyptians had
guessed at this objective because of the Israelis' insistence on including,
as part of their territory, Beersheba, which was outside the partition-
recommended borders for the Jewish state. The Egyptians counter-
claimed the right to occupy southern Palestine on the grounds of custo-
dial responsibility for territory Bernadotte had recommended to be part
of the Arab state.
The Israelis hoped to remove as many military obstacles as possible
on the road to Elath by negotiating with Abdallah. They argued, there-
fore, that the Egyptians had no legitimate basis for negotiating anything
in the eastern Negev. That was to be left to armistice negotiations with
Abdallah (M. V, p. 117).
Some of the most illuminating disclosures of the attitudes of Bunche,
the Israelis, and the Egyptians are recorded in detailed reports of conver-
sations between Bunche and the Israeli delegation on January 31 and
February 1. The subject was one that had plagued the talks from their
inception: whether fighting lines or the Security Council resolutions
should be the basis for establishing the armistice lines, for the with-
drawal of troops, for determining who should have authority for troop
movements, for categories of weaponry, and for UN instruments to moni-

First Try for Peace-With Egypt 57

r the armistice. There were also questions involving territory where
th parties were to share control. The Egyptians insisted that the Se-
rity Council's pronouncements should govern. Israelis, in violation
the Security Council resolutions that called for a truce, had occupied
any places beyond the borders of the partition resolution. They were
ually determined about the reality of the fighting lines to establish
e armistice. One important agenda item was where to establish head-
Larters for the Mixed Armistice Commission. The Israelis-with an
e to future claims for sovereignty and particularly concerned about
quiring the Negev-wanted as little UN authority as possible in ter-
ory they had already occupied. The Egyptians, Bunche reported,
o not wish to sign away any territory which might be Arab" (M. V.,
The November 4 Security Council resolution (No. 61) had ordered all
rces to withdraw to the positions held on October 14. It provided
pport for the Egyptian negotiating strategy. The Israelis argued for the
.hting lines held by their forces after that date, contending that ter-
ory acquired by fighting after October 14 should be Jewish state ter-
-ory. El-Auja, Bir Asluj, and Beersheba were in this category and all
,re essential to the Israeli planned military campaign to acquire the
-gev. At one point Eytan admitted to Bunche, "We are allergic to the [No-
mber] 4/11 resolution. [A]ny expression of its terms in the armi-
ice agreement is setting up what is today an utterly artificial struc-
re, which carries in it the seeds of its own destruction" (M. V, p. 132).
Beersheba was the most important strategic point. El-Auja was a con-
A1 point on an important road across the Negev. Once it had been
reed that Egypt was to be allowed to retain forces in Gaza, it became
iportant for the Israelis to thwart any possible Egyptian attack from
aza into the Negev. Bir Asluj was to defend Beersheba against an attack
)m the south as well as supply a base to launch the Israeli campaign to
cupy the southern Negev. The location for the Mixed Armistice Com-
ission headquarters therefore became a pawn in this larger game.
)th parties were attempting to position themselves advantageously
r what they speculated might be future developments. In these Janu-
y 31-February 1 talks with Bunche, from the legal standpoint of the
N Charter's prohibition against "acquisition of territory by war," the
raelis were more guilty by several degrees than the Egyptians.
With the responsibility of enforcing the UN resolutions, Bunche told
e Israelis at one point:

58 Peace for Palestine

We are here trying to draw a line between positions taken by the
two delegations, and we have had to speak with both delegations.
On the one hand we are told that the whole thing must be on a
completely reciprocal basis: what is done in your territory must be
done in Egyptian territory. I would agree with you fully if I had
some basis from you or your Government of saying to the Egyp-
tians: "Look here, this territory, Auja or Beersheba, is sovereign
territory of the State of Israel in the same sense that el-Arish is
sovereign territory of Egypt, and they must be treated on a recipro-
cal basis." If there is such a basis for explaining this to the Egyp-
tians, then the picture becomes much clearer. We tried to steer a
middle course in these negotiations and tried to cut through the
fog. I'm not sure we may not have added more to it. (M. V, p. 133)

Eytan's response was typical of Israeli tactics: "It is true that Israel
has not asserted formal political sovereignty over Beersheba or Auja.
That does not matter very much in the terms of an armistice. But what
in fact matters is that militarily the Government does exercise sov-
ereignty, and this is so with regard to both Beersheba and Auja" (M. V,
pp. 132-33).
But Israel was satisfied to defy the November 4 resolution and to
assert de facto control over both contested areas. This was consistent
with its strategy to denigrate UN authority, on the one hand, and to
minimize Egyptian claims, on the other. The disputed areas were essen-
tial to communications and transport for the Negev. The Israelis, there-
fore, were satisfied for the moment to stabilize the status quo, beyond the
partition-recommended boundaries. To accomplish this it was necessary
to neutralize the United Nations without antagonizing so many of the
member-states that Israel's membership application might be jeopar-
dized. It was also necessary to defeat Egyptian aspirations to authority
over Palestinian territory that had been allocated to the Arab state.
An exasperated Bunche finally rebuked the Israelis, saying "I do not
know what the nature of your thinking was when you accepted this
invitation [to the armistice negotiations]." Eytan responded by claim-
ing the November 4 resolution (No. 61) obsolete and the Egyptian posi-
tion no longer compatible with the fact of the Israeli military advances.
He put it this way:

You asked just now on what basis we thought we were coming here
for discussions which involved 4/11 and 16/11 [November 4 and

- VVi L1 I,,

J1 / J. r/ T ;,,a1VU L J.V.V .i i,. J, X.3VI LULIVII U1. ... / ..L CIO Uc VV., .LV 61V-C L a..
since on 4/11. The whole context of the 4/11 resolution is a truce.
5/11 is an armistice. And it got us a great deal nearer realities and
-ace than any previous resolution of the Security Council. It never
:curred to us that 4/11, which represented an outdated state of
fairs, would work as a brake on the 16/11. That, properly
)eaking, is what we had in mind. ... The Egyptian position of
holding up 4/11 as if it had a special sanctity of its own, which has
be considered separately even when one is talking in entirely
different terms, was a thing which had scarcely occurred to us. .
have said they were being excessively legalistic, etc. They were
ying to put a brake on, by appealing to something which to all
tents and purposes has lost its applicability. It gives them certain
Ivantages, but only in terms of a situation which no longer exists.
hat is the answer which seems to us to be a common-sense point
F view. (M. V, pp. 133-34)

ytan's argument is an early example of Zionist-Israeli diplomacy by
accompli: establish military facts and then bend and twist law and
omacy to legitimate acquisitions by force. It is a practice that con-
ies in the creeping annexation of the West Bank, the declared an-
ation of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and the unilaterally
blished "security zone" in southern Lebanon. These acts of ag-
sion, except for largely rhetorical objections by the major world
rers, are often acquiesced in by the United States, which rarely
s Israel in violation of the UN Charter and thus subject to conse-
nt penalties.
he Eytan argument cannot stand against the text of the November
security Council Resolution No. 62. The first paragraph of the pre-
)le reaffirms "previous resolutions concerning the establishment
implementation of the truce in Palestine"; the last makes specific
rence to Resolution No. 61 of November 4 and to "the actions of the
ing Mediator" (UN Res., p. 130). The Israeli tactics were circular. By
sing to withdraw to the October 14 lines, they had violated the
member 4 resolution. Then they insisted on basing the armistice
s on the territory they had occupied in violation of the Security
Lncil order.
)n February 1, Eytan informed Sharett that the Egyptians had to go to
ro for consultations, dashing Bunche's hopes for a quick windup of

the talks. Eytan saw the delay as an opportunity to reinforce the Isrn
demands by recruiting Washington's help. His message to the minis
for foreign affairs described the Egyptian negotiators as "cronies" of
colleague Reuven Shiloah, meaning they were "patsies" for the Israe
Israel's position on Beersheba, Auja, and Asluj would prevail, he s<
"If our case on Beersheba, Bir Asluj and Auja is strongly supported fr4
Washington, there may be some chance of getting away with it" (M
p. 144).

The Negev

Both the Israeli and American documents record an exchange of vie
among Washington, Cairo, and Tel Aviv that was the most heated of1
long weeks of talks. One of the principal remaining issues had a dir
bearing on the future of the Negev. The Israelis insisted on the righl
maintain "mobile forces outside ... scattered Jewish points (set
ments) in the north." The Israelis considerably expanded the role pla)
in the armistice negotiations by their mission to the United Natio
Abba Eban, head of their delegation, was paying particular attent:
to the U.S. delegation. On February 3 Eban called Sharett, inform
him that John Ross, deputy to the U.S. ambassador, had told him t
the question of where Israeli forces might remain in the Negev after
armistice was considered crucial. Ross had apparently told Eban
United States "could not understand why it was necessary" to maint
military forces "outside settlements." Eban's explanation disclo
Israel's ultimate political goals. He told Sharett: "I explained differed
is between Negev in obvious effective Israel control and Negev of un
termined authority except scattered Jewish points in north. This (
ference might be decisive politically. I emphasized urgency Americ
pressure Cairo since we had gone to great lengths conciliation and (
attitude Faluja, Gaza, Auja village, cease-fire, offered ample mate]
[for the] Egyptians emerge honorably.... Our impression Americ
pressure is on us, not Cairo" (M. V, pp. 147-48).
The Israeli concessions had all been beyond the recommendations
the partition in territory to which Israel had no claims except the rij
of conquest (M. V., map facing p. 138). They were demonstrations ofI
fait accompli diplomacy used by Zionists to expand the Balfour Dec
ration's "national home for the Jewish people in Palestine" int
full-blown national Jewish state.

rlrst iry jor Peace- wltn Egypt oi

The Egyptians were as aware as the Israelis that title to the Negev was
stake in this vigorous dispute over seemingly minor territorial dif-
rences. And both parties were becoming increasingly aware that, al-
ough not a direct party to the armistice negotiations, the United States-
hind the scenes and in the United Nations-was exercising increas-
g leverage in the critical discussions. Consequently, representatives of
>th Egypt and Israel converged on the U.S. State Department on Febru-
y 5. Both were received personally by Secretary of State Dean Acheson.
he Egyptian ambassador came first. As reported in "Memorandum of
)nversation by the Secretary of State" (FR US 6 [1949], pp. 725-27), he
viewed negotiations at Rhodes, emphasizing that Egypt "had accepted
id was willing to carry out Security Council resolutions of November
h, 16th and December 29th," as well as the "last compromise sug-
sted by Mr. Bunche, which involved a recession on their part from the
november 4 resolution." But "unfortunately 'the other side' had con-
stently refused to accept any compromise and adhered to its origi-
11 position." His government therefore had instructed him to ask the
united States to "intervene" to prevent the breakdown of negotiations.
Acheson replied the United States "could not 'intervene,' but it would
intinue to use its good offices." He added that the United States agreed
o the desirability of our getting back on closer and friendlier rela-
)ns." The memorandum of the conversation concludes with Acheson's
[mission that "we were aware of the cooperative attitude displayed by
e Egyptians at Rhodes and were most appreciative of it." Acheson's
)nversation with the Israeli ambassador is recorded in a top secret
emorandum that was sent to President Truman. It may be significant
at the initiative for the meeting had come from Acheson.
The American secretary chided the Israeli with the information that
inche and the U.S. delegation to the United Nations had sent reports
Washington "which caused us considerable concern." The Egyptians
id accepted "the Mediator's proposals .. practically in full, although
ith reluctance." But Eban, the Israeli "representative in New York had
Id our representative that the Israeli Government could not accept
ese proposals." Bunche had "expressed grave fears that the negotia-
mns would break down and that the matter would have to be reported
the Security Council by him." Acheson warned Elath, "It appeared
at in such a situation the collapse of the negotiations would rest on
e Israeli Government" (FRUS 6 [1949], pp. 727-29).
Acheson then emphasized the seriousness with which he hoped the

Israelis would receive this information. He was, he said, "speaking .
with the knowledge and approval of the President" who had been "cause
.. deep concern" by the situation (FRUS 6 [1949], p. 727). The pres
dent believed the time was ripe for an armistice agreement. The rest (
the memorandum warrants extensive verbatim excerpts because it re
flects the waffling that characterized much of the U.S. "good office,
during the negotiations. It illustrates also the Israeli tactic of cultiva
ing the U.S. perception of Israel as an authentic democracy that, f(
security, needed the territories it had acquired by war beyond the part
tion boundaries.
Acheson noted that Truman believed an armistice could be crafte
"without injury to the vital interests of any of the parties, if the Israe
Government would approach these discussions in a spirit of broad state;
manship and make concessions which were wholly in accord with th
moral position of Israel." He continued: "I hoped therefore that his [Israel':
Government would not reject the proposals but would accept them as
basis for further discussion and work out an armistice along the line
proposed. I did not believe that the attitude of the Egyptian Goverr
ment was brittle but did believe that there was sufficient flexibility s
that with a conciliatory attitude on both sides, a solution could b
reached. I said that if this were not done, if the negotiations failed, an
if the matter was so reported to the Security Council, the position c
Israel, both morally and otherwise, would be prejudiced" (FR US 6 [1949
p. 728).
Acheson's memorandum recounted the Israeli ambassador's response
"He stated that his Government knew that it had no more sympathetic
friend than President Truman and that his views would be pondere
with the greatest respect. He said that I could assure the President tha
.. his Government was not making a flat rejection of the Mediator'
proposal but was finding difficulty on security reasons to eliminating
its forces from certain places." Acheson then began to give ground: "W
both agreed that we would not go into the details of the matter and h
understood that what I had said did not mean that we believed that th
proposal as made in all its details ought to be the one finally accepted
(FRUS 6 [1949], p. 728).
At this point, the Israeli ambassador changed the subject to the his
tory of the Jews, stressing the Holocaust theme. "The Ambassador the:
spoke of some of the problems which his Government had as the goV
ernment of a democratic country in carrying its own people with it. H

First Try for Peace-With Egypt 63

L spoke at some length about the spiritual and moral forces which
enabled the Jews to survive their hardships and which lie at the
s of the state of Israel" (FRUS 6 [1949], p. 728).
cheson acquiesced in the switch of substance. He had called in the
li to discuss the military strong points that Israel insisted on re-
ing beyond the partition boundaries. But now the secretary of state
ed a kind of half benediction to the Israelis' pitch about moral forces.
)ped they [the Israelis] would approach the proposals for an armi-
Sfrom the point of view of these considerations and that what he
said assured me that they believed that reliance upon these forces
more effective than military strong points here and there, and that
saw it the thing that his Government would wish to avoid more
i anything else would be impairing in any way its moral position. He
ed that this was so and that considerations of noblesse oblige bore
ngly upon the Jewish attitude" (FR US 6 [1949], pp. 728-29).
n February 9 the Israeli cabinet reviewed the negotiations to that
. Compromises were accepted on Auja. It might serve as the seat of
Armistice Commission; the Egyptians were to demilitarize a zone
ieir side combined with a reduction in the size of the demilitarized
.But the area "must not be placed under United Nations control."
way to the southern tip of the Negev was still clear. The Israeli
rd was consistent: They did not want the United Nations in the
hborhood. "The Cabinet realized that failure to achieve agreement
ithe Egyptians might be politically dangerous should the matter be
Lght before the Security Council, while, it was hoped, some further
sessionss would make agreement on all military matters possible,
facilitating the implementation of the General staff's plan for an
nce to Elath (Operation Uvda)" (C. V, p. xx).
:fore proceeding here with the negotiations with the Egyptians it is
ul to examine the success of the Israelis' strategy in these earliest
ids. On the whole, it had benefited them handsomely. Consequently,
pursued-or tried to pursue-the same pattern for upcoming dis-
ions with Lebanon, Transjordan, and Syria. It is important to under-
d this strategy as part of a well-thought-out long-range plan that
It otherwise appear to be only a series of good-faith but expedient
mmodations to attain peace at any reasonable price. Not only did
[sraelis attempt to denigrate the stated, general objectives of the
rant Security Council resolutions, but they invested the specifica-
s of the partition recommendation with as little sanctity as they

"could get away with," to use Eban's words. At the same time th
invested the concept of partition with the most inviolate authority i
the legitimacy of their state.
All of the territorial points contested with the Egyptians had been
signed by the partition to the proposed Arab state. The Bernadotte pi
posals had revised the partition boundary recommendations and assign
the Negev to the Arab state. Following the declaration of Israel's establish
ment, there had been no Egyptian invasion of territory designated for t
so-called Jewish state. It was Bemadotte who had proposed that the Neg
be included in the Arab state. By February 5, 1949, Israel had determine
as a matter of policy, to use force to reverse this Bernadotte proposal.
During the 1948-49 fighting, Israel had occupied key strategic poir
that would be indispensable to the success of the military campaign
already planned-to take the Negev. Egypt, on the other hand, consi
ered itself a partner in the Arab stewardship to protect the part of P
estine that partition or Bernadotte had assigned to the Arab state. B
throughout the negotiations the Israelis constantly denied that the Egy
tians had any rights to occupy any part of Palestine. With equal cons
tency, the Israelis vigorously defended their right of conquest to rema
in parts of Palestine that had been designated Arab. At the third joi
informal meeting of the two delegations, with his staff present, Bunc
commented on the phrase right of conquest that Eytan had invoked
support Israeli claims to Auja and Beersheba. Bunche's challenge
instructive: "I would like to raise two points in regard to Auja, as
matter for the record. I wonder if you really, in view of the wide impli
tions this could have in terms of the overall Palestine situation, mea
to base your presence in Auja not only on practical necessity or securi
reasons as you pointed out, but also on the concept of something stran
in the framework of the truce; namely, the right of conquest. Right
conquest is one thing, but there is a different framework in terms of t
truce, and you might for the sake of the record wish to qualify it in sor
way" (M. V, p. 188).
Realizing that Bunche saw through the Israeli pretext of security
justify its aggressions, Eytan backtracked, dropped the demand for r(
ognition of its "right," and substituted a more credible explanation
its conduct. He responded to Bunche:

I am well aware that "right of conquest" is a technical term in
1 T, ,1 _1 T .,1 1

First Try for Peace-With Egypt 65

the meaning which I was trying to convey might be equally well
expressed by the term "fact of occupation." What I was trying to
point out is that in el-Auja we have a situation where the whole
area up to the Egyptian border is held, occupied, and controlled by
Israeli forces. I was trying to point out that this military situa-
tion which exists is not one which can be completely disregarded.
We are in occupation of that area, and when we voluntarily recede
from a position there, we are receding from a position which we
actually hold. I was trying to point out the contrast between this,
and the alleged concessions of the Egyptians of land which they do
not hold. (M. V, p. 188)

1 other words, Israel had the right of conquest and Egypt had no rights
because it did not conquer.
In a February 7 letter to Eytan, Bunche cut through the Israeli lin-
aistic fog, instructing the Israelis that the Security Council truce per-
iitted no advances by either side while the truce obtained. Then, with
npeccable logic, he added, "If your forces are often asked to withdraw,
can only be that they have often advanced under the truce. If the
gyptians are not called upon to withdraw, it is only because, for what-
ver reason, they have nowhere advanced. Indeed, in one instance, al-
aluja, they have been ordered to withdraw and have been prevented for
months from doing so for reasons well known to you" (M.V., p. 210).
'he Israelis had occupied Auja in violation of the truce. If no negotiated
agreement were reached, the Auja problem would automatically revert
the Security Council for action. The Israelis were anxious to avoid
ae public debate that would follow.
In the same February 7 letter Bunche strongly intimated he saw through
;raeli rigidity on the three strategic Negev areas (Auja, Bir Asluj, and
eersheba) to their design for acquiring the entire Negev. He put the
charge with a modest amount of diplomatic indirection:

It has never been my understanding that you are insisting that in
the armistice agreement the Egyptians must recognize your right
to any territory, whether in the Negev or elsewhere. For if that were
the case, there would be obvious difficulties, since it is not yet
known officially whether you are claiming all or part of the Negev,
and whether or not you are claiming places outside the 29 Novem-
ber 1947 lines such as Beersheba and el-Auja. It is inconceivable,

also, that if you were claiming all of the Negev, you would be will
ing to sign an agreement permitting Egyptian forces to remain
there during the period of the armistice.
I point all this out to emphasize that not only because of Securit
Council resolutions, but also because your own position is un
known, there is a distinction that can be drawn between what i
clearly defined as Egyptian territory and what is not yet clearly,
defined as yours, and that, in any case, it is not the responsibility o
an armistice agreement to settle territorial disputes. The Egyp
tians could scarcely be called upon to recognize claims not evei
advanced. ...
On the other hand, nothing in the agreement envisaged should
prejudice any rights, claims or interests you may wish to advance
when the settlement stage is reached, and in its present draft I an
positive that nothing does.
For these reasons I am appealing to both parties to ... return t(
.. the basic premise of the intended armistice, viz. the liquid
tion of the military phase of the conflict.
.. I am in full accord with you that your security interest:
must be fully safeguarded and I think that the Egyptians also wil
be amenable in that regard. (M. V, pp. 211-12)

So, in these first Israeli-Arab conversations, in what many hoped woi
be the beginnings of the first peace process, the Israelis establish
another strategy that they pursue to the present: they demand secure
and recognition but refrain from declaring either their optimum ne
tiating positions or permanent borders.
This letter and another, more formal in style to Sharett and also da
February 7, indicated that Bunche was losing patience with Israeli
lays. On the same date, Eytan confirmed this in a cautionary letter
Sharett. In the following excerpt, Eytan confessed to his own fore
minister that the Security Council, if called on to act, might mo
evident it was "fed up with our failure to comply with orders":

The threat of Security Council action has of course lurked behind
Bunche's conversations with us ever since we came here, but it hac
never come out so clearly before. The basic question which the
Government has to ask itself is whether it is prepared to face th(
Security Council on these issues. I take it from your cable to Bunch(
that the answer is in the affirmative, though I do not for the life o:

me know what the Government would do if the Security Council,
egged on by Bunche and fed up with our failure to comply with
orders, took a really strong line to force us to withdraw from Auja,
return to November 13th lines, etc.-or be branded as violators of
the truce and mockers of UN, with all that this would mean in
respect of our chances of becoming members of that organisation
in the near future. For all the strength of our military case-and it
is this of course that we have been pressing all along-we should
have a very sticky time attempting to justify ourselves in terms of
the international order as represented by Security Council deci-
sions. I presume that this aspect of the present armistice negotia-
tions is being borne in mind by the Government, and that the
Government has decided that it doesn't give a damn. (M. V, pp.

On February 8, Eban informed Sharett that he had briefed David Niles
and Clark Clifford on the Rhodes talks and left "a short paper-urging
stronger pressure on Egypt [to] sign without further demands."20 The
same day, Uriel Heyd, first secretary of the Israeli Embassy, informed
Sharett that Clifford had told Abe Feinberg that day that "Bunche [a]
few days ago suggested U.S.A. should press us for further concessions
Rhodes, but White House instructed Acheson against one-sided pres-
sure on Israel" (M. V, p. 220).21
On February 18, Warren Austin, the U.S. representative to the United
Nations, informed Secretary of State Acheson that Bunche had asked
the U.S. "for any possible assistance" with the Egyptians, who had
agreed to Israeli forces in "the surrounding area" but were adamant
about withdrawal from the town itself. They argued that Beersheba "is
an Arab town" and "is intended in territory allotted to Arab state by
November 29 resolution" (FR US 6 [1949], pp. 755-56).
The Israelis, however, "are adamant in refusal to withdraw from
town" but "are in fact building camps outside the town." This might be
interpreted to mean "that Israelis plan informally to withdraw their
forces." The reasons they offered were that Bunche was not on the Egyp-
tian front, and until an armistice was negotiated with Transjordan they
needed a military base in the event of a renewal of fighting by Abdallah's
forces. Bunche therefore observed "that Beersheba is more of an issue
between the Security Council and Israel than between Egypt and Israel,
if it is an issue at all" (FRUS 6 [1949], pp. 755-56).22

On February 21, James McDonald, the U.S. special representative
Israel, informed Acheson that Sharett had told him that Bunche I
narrowed the difference about Beersheba by designating the "east(
front 'irrelevant' until armistice negotiations open with Transjorda
"Beersheba," the telegram continued, is "well east [of] dividing lin
Hence its noninclusion in Israel evacuation zone." McDonald concluc
his message by adding an appeal from Sharett for a "word from Wa
ington to Egypt urging unqualified acceptance latest Bunche draft mi;
result signature armistice Wednesday or Thursday this week. He ple;
urgent action by Department" (FRUS 6 [1949], p. 760).
This recommended exclusion of the Transjordan front from the Isrn
Egyptian discussions had been incorporated in a new draft of Article N
of Bunche's draft agreement of February 12, after consultations with 1
military experts of both parties. The revised draft declared the IsrJ
and Egyptian negotiators recognized that "the proximity of the forces
a third party [Transjordan] ... in certain sectors .. makes impracti
full application of the provisions of the agreement to such sectors."
addition to the eastern front, the territory "south of Bir Asluj down
the southernmost tip of Palestine" was excluded from the Israeli/Eg
tian agreement, "pending conclusion of an Armistice agreement,
replace the existing truce" with the "third party [Transjordan]". At t]
time "the matter shall be subject to review by the Parties." A note to 1
draft agreement adds "acceptance by the Parties" of this paragraph (id(
tified as paragraph 5) "shall be on the agreed understanding, not to
incorporated in the agreement, that "(a) The line described in pa
graph 4 shall follow the road through the town of Beersheba its<
(b) Israeli forces now in the town of Beersheba shall be gradually wi
drawn, but in any case not later than one month after the Agreemeni
signed, and garrisoned in nearby camps and settlements; and (c)
United Nations Observer team shall be stationed in the town of Be
sheba" (M. V, pp. 239-40; emphasis supplied).
This concession to the Israelis was not to be published when 1
armistice agreement might be made public. It also eliminated sol
obstacles to Israel's determination to occupy the entire Negev. And t
Transjordanians were to be kept in the dark about when formal negot
tions would be started for an armistice with them.
On February 14, Eytan updated Sharett on the negotiations and r
ommended that Shabtai Rosenne, legal advisor to the Israeli delegation
"be ready to come" to Rhodes "to help in the final drafting." He report

SIsraelis were prepared to agree to a demilitarized Auja area provided
vas smaller than Bunche had proposed; also it should "not be a UN
.e nor in any way under UN rule or control." The Armistice Com-
ssion might be based there but "nowhere else." Egyptian defensive
;itions were to be restricted, and the road "from Taba via Quseima"
uld be denied to "any military force whatsoever .. for the purpose
entering Palestine" (M. V, p. 245). Eytan reported he had accepted the
ger demilitarized Auja area finally proposed by Bunche. Measured by
1 terms of the November 29 partition proposal, Eytan noted this final
:ermination was another victory for Israel. His vague reference to the
mination of a "danger for the future" is significant in the context of
: Israeli plans to invade and claim the entire Negev: "This has the one
at advantage over the area previously suggested by Bunche for the
4 zone that it bears no relation at any point to the 29 November
e. [T]he earlier area had the apex of its triangle on the 29 Novem-
* line, which Bunche maintained was purely fortuitous, but which to
spelled danger for the future. In the new area this is removed. I have
doubt that we shall reach agreement with the Egyptians on this
is, and that we shall never have to make the maximum concession of
:epting Bunche's full plan for a UN zone" (M. V, p. 247).
Dn the question of Beersheba, Eytan informed Tel Aviv that he had
d Bunche that he "objected strongly to the attached 'Note,' which
tes that 'acceptance of this Article is to be on the agreed understand-
, not to be incorporated in the Agreement. .. .' I thought the princi-
of the thing was unsound. If a matter could not be incorporated into
written agreement, but had to be dealt with by the subterfuge of an
understanding it was a bad thing and we had had an unfortunate expe-
nce before" (M. V, p. 247). The "note," Eytan observed, is "the only
uble" with the draft agreement, but he expressed the belief the prob-
n would be settled and "the agreement will be all but signed" after
Lr more days of work (M. V, pp. 246-48).23
Fhe time prediction was optimistic. On February 21, the day Acheson
eived McDonald's telegram conveying Sharett's request for the United
.tes to persuade Egypt to accept the "latest Bunche draft," Acheson
1, in fact, comply with the Israeli request. His instructions to the U.S.
ibassy in Cairo were something less than accurate. He reported the Is-
lis had "accepted without reservations" Bunche's final draft of the
)mplete text armistice agreement and appendices." He added that the
5. government had been "further informed that Egyptian delegation

70 Peace for Palestine

at Rhodes has made reservations to status proposed by Bunche for Beer-
sheba." Acheson's only source of information about the Egyptian posi-
tion had been McDonald's report of what Sharett had told him. Accord-
ingly, Acheson noted, the U.S. government "understands that provision
in Bunche draft agreement looks toward safeguarding of any political
rights or claims. Status Beersheba will be determined at time of final
peace settlement and USG believes question should not be permitted
obstruct signing of armistice agreement" (FRUS 6 [1949], p. 760).
Then, ignoring Israeli claims to Auja and Asluj that conflicted with
the recommended partition borders, Acheson offered self-congratula-
tions for U.S. "good offices" that had "worked to persuade Israeli au-
thorities modify their former adamant position, which was holding up
negotiations. Tel Aviv subsequently made several accommodations in
order to meet Bunche proposals such as status El Auja and Bir Asluj"
(FRUS 6 [1949], p. 761).
Acheson then instructed the Cairo embassy to twist Egyptian arms
by informing the Egyptians that the "USG would deplore any action
likely create further obstacles at time when armistice agreement seems
near. In spirit of friendship for Egypt and in its desire see peace
return to NE [Near East], USG urges Egyptian Govt accept Bunche draft
without insistence [on] reservations" (FR US 6 (1949), p. 760).
Events in the Middle East and on Rhodes were outpacing develop-
ments at Lake Success and Washington. On February 20, Eytan sent
Sharett "one copy of the 'Draft Egyptian Israeli General Armistice agree-
ment'" with the information it had been completed "at 10 o'clock this
morning." Eytan added that at 4:00 P.M. a "formal meeting" with the
Egyptians was scheduled, "at which time we shall indicate our assent to
the draft, and they likewise." The question of Beersheba remained "the
main outstanding point," but "it is the clear impression of all of us,
including Bunche, that the Egyptians will not allow Beersheba to stand
in the way of final agreement." Eytan also reported that "two or three"
of the Egyptians were flying to Cairo for final authorization to sign the
agreement (M. V, pp. 258-59).
On February 22, Jefferson Patterson, the American charge d'affaires
in Cairo, informed Acheson that he had seen Egyptian Prime Minister
Abdul Hadi Pasha and conveyed Acheson's message to him: the United
States believed that "Beersheba should not prove [an] obstacle to sig-
nature armistice agreement because Bunche's draft had safeguards for

litical rights or claims to that town which should be determined
Lring final peace settlement" (FRUS 6 [1949], p. 764).
The prime minister was reported to have replied that the "Egyptian
:itude toward Beersheba was not arbitrary, but was based on impor-
nce of town as symbol of UN November 4 resolution; as strategic
int important for Egypt's defense (although such importance now
finished by Zionist fortified villages in vicinity); and as communica-
)ns center on an important highway. For these reasons Egypt had been
xious to maintain a civil administration at Beersheba without troops
fortifications." Patterson concluded that his "final impression" was
at the prime minister "would use his influence to remove Egyptian
;ervations respecting Beersheba" (FR US 6 [1949], p. 764).
The Cairo telegram to Acheson then introduced, for almost the first
ne in the armistice negotiations, a reference to Egyptian concern
out the Palestinian refugees. The only other important reference to
e war refugees was in the February 8 message to Acheson from the
nerican consul in Jerusalem, reporting Sharett's statement to the Pal-
tine Conciliation Commission (FR US 6 [1949], p. 737).
The American consul's telegram of February 22 reported that having
"tually agreed to the U.S.-Israeli position on Beersheba, "possibly with
view of making a Palestine settlement more palatable to Egyptian
blic," "Hadi Pasha urged at considerable length importance of US
pport for return of Palestine refugees to their homes since temporary
ief would not suffice and also US aid to Egypt" (FR US 6 [1949], p. 765).
In response to the Egyptian request for American economic aid, Pat-
*son suggested to Acheson that "if a Marshall Plan for the Middle East
,re not practicable, at least the US Government should insist that
marshall Plan dollars supplied European countries should, when such
untries required Egyptian cotton, be used to pay for at least a portion
such cotton in dollars" (FR US 6 [1949], pp. 764-65). There is no rec-
i of a U.S. response on the refugee problem or to the question of eco-
mic assistance during the concluding negotiations for the armistice.24
Eytan's recommendation at the beginning of the negotiations to wear
wn the Egyptians had succeeded, aided by some duplicity and the
entual blessings of the United States. The armistice was signed at
lodes on February 24. On the same day, President Truman, in a public
ltement, declared, "I am immensely gratified." He also expressed the
pe that "this pattern for peace will be followed rapidly in the conclu-

sblU1 ui sIimilar agremIIntILs UCtLWeII isialc aiu Unte oUler iauD St.
[and] lead to permanent peace" (FR US 6 [1949], p. 765).
FRUS 6 (1949) records in an editorial note that "hostile" public r(
tion "in Egypt has been practically nil." Perhaps not surprising, sil
"while criticism has been barred from the press by government di
tive no indirect criticism, even by the opposition press, has yet appea
The press has, in fact, devoted itself to statements up-holding the v
and honor of the Egyptian Army and calling attention to Egypt's resi
and support for international organizations working for peace.
view is taken that the military experience gained in the Palestir
affair has more than compensated for sacrifices involved" (p. 766).
On February 24, Patterson telegraphed Washington that the Egypi
government's official communique "states 'agreement has no polit
character. It deals exclusively with military questions and does
affect in any way the political destiny of Palestine.' Press reproc
tion of agreement forbidden by censor although radio heard in Eg
carries full text. Security officials warned Embassy officer violent r<
tion possible when agreement is published" (FR US 6 [1949], pp. 768-65
The Israelis' handling of the press was more sophisticated. Eyt<
February 21 letter advised Sharett that the final text of the agreenl
was to be considered a "top secret document" until its simultane
release in Tel Aviv, Cairo, and Lake Success. He also recommended(
Sharett that "we should not trumpet this agreement abroad as a gi
achievement or victory, except in the political sense" (M. V, p. 261:
other words, it would not be prudent to emphasize the territories Is
had acquired beyond the recommended 1947 lines.

The Profits of Defiance

But privately, to Sharett, Eytan could hardly contain his exuberance.
provided a detailed inventory of what Israel had achieved over and ab
what it would have had to settle for had it abided by the original T
Bunche conditions. First, the mediator's November 13 memorand
called for a return to the October 14 lines:
This would have meant the total withdrawal of all Jewish force
from the Negev, except for those actually maintained in the settle
ments themselves for the purpose of [static] settlements defence
The effect of this would have been the full implementation of th
Bernadotte plan in military terms. Taken together with the ap

pointment of an Egyptian civil administrator for Beersheba, the
return of Egyptian military forces to el-Auja and elsewhere, etc.,
this would have meant the loss of our effective military control of
the Negev, which was achieved by the campaign which started on
14th October as well as by subsequent fighting, and with it the
probable loss of our political and territorial prospects in the whole
of Palestine south of Majdal and Faluja. For all these reasons-and
they are obvious reasons-we uncompromisingly opposed the
Egyptians' original demands, though this meant, between you and
me and Moish, opposing a Security Council resolution which we
had in principle accepted as long ago as November 18th. This
need not be stressed to the foreign press, but I presume that every-
one realises that the Egyptians' insistent and legitimate reliance
on the 4th November resolution made our position very difficult
and forced us practically to argue our heads off in the presence of
Bunche, who, as a loyal official of the United Nations, could not
too openly take our side in this matter. (M. V, p. 262; all emphases

The following paragraph features another assist for Israel's contem-
plated expansion in the Negev. Eytan points out that "the essential
feature of the armistice agreement is the reduction of forces on both
sides to defensive strength only" (emphasis supplied). "[But] the point
to stress here is that both we and the Egyptians are reducing our forces
in such a way that there will be complete equality on both sides. The
Egyptians will not maintain offensive forces any nearer to us than el-
Arish. The coastal strip between Gaza and Rafah is included in the area
in which the Egyptians must reduce their forces. (Our two main bases
for offensive forces are in any case Julis and Beersheba, both of which
bases are outside the scope of the agreement with Egypt. This of course,
is not for publication)" (M. V., p. 262; all emphases supplied).
Second, in the Gaza-Rafah area, Eytan noted that "we have given the
Egyptians the satisfaction of taking the 13th November line as the basic
Armistice demarcation line." But, he added, "in point of fact we shall be
remaining on the 'wrong' side of the line in at least one place (Deir
Suneid) but I strongly advise against mentioning this specifically to
journalists" (M. V., p. 262).
Third, on February 15, Sharett had informed Eytan in Rhodes that
"the only way to 'frustrate' [Abdallah's] plot" to take over the southern

scope of an armistice agreement with them, but refused to draw a line
dividing the eastern from the western part." "We got around this," Eytan

by agreeing that the line be drawn by the UN Chief of Staff. The
line drawn by the UN Chief of Staff is, in fact, in every detail the
line that we wanted. The formal position, therefore, is now that we
have complete freedom of action in the eastern sector (i.e., east of a
line from Beersheba to Bir Asluj and from there to the southern-
most tip of Palestine on the Gulf of Aqaba), except insofar as this
freedom of action is restricted by the existing truce, while in the
western sector we are not tied down to static settlement defence,
but can move freely except for certain spots (e.g., Auja) as provided
specifically in the agreement. (M. V., pp. 263-64)

Denial of any Egyptian concern for the eastern Negev was, legally, not
as absolute as Eytan makes it appear. The original partition recommen-
dation had assigned the Negev to Israel. But Beersheba, Auja, and Asluj
were not included. The Bernadotte proposal had recommended that the
Negev be assigned to an Arab state. But in the absence of any effective,
recognized Palestinian authority and in view of the expressed purpose
of the Arab states that they had joined the war to defend the rights of the
Palestinian Arabs, neither Transjordan nor Egypt could be arbitrarily
ruled to have no concerns for the proposed Arab state. However, as Eytan
put it in this February 21 letter, with the Egyptian-Israeli armistice agree-
ment neutralizing Auja and Asluj and allowing Israel to remain in Beer-
sheba and with the restrictions put on housing and movements of the
United Nations and the Conciliation Commission, a vacuum was cre-
ated at strategic points in the Negev. The Israeli's planned Operation
Uvda, already on the drawing board, ensured that the vacuum would
not long remain.
On February 24-the day the armistice agreement with Egypt was
signed-Eban requested the Security Council "to give renewed consid-
eration to his country's membership in the United Nations" (FRUS 6
[1949], p. 766). And on March 4 the Security Council found Israel to be
"a peace-loving state able and willing to carry out the obligations
contained in the Charter" (UN Res., p. 131). On May 11, 1949, the Gen-
eral Assembly, in Resolution No. 273 (III), noting that Israel "unreser-
vedly accepts the obligations of the United Nations Charter and under-
takes to honour them from the day when it becomes a Member of the

76 Peace for Palestine

United Nations and Recalling its resolutions of November 29, 1947 and
December 11, 1948 and taking note of the declarations and explanations
made by the representative of the Government of Israel before the Ad
Hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of said reso-
lutions decides to admit Israel to membership in the United
Nations" (UN Res., p. 18).
The Companion Volume was not published until 1983-more than
thirty years after the armistice with Egypt was signed. In the Foreword,
the editor summarizes the Israeli viewpoint of the results of the armi-
stice negotiations with all the belligerent Arab states. Her assessment
of the agreement with Egypt reflects the near-complete satisfaction
Eytan expressed in his February 21 letter to Sharett.

Neither side achieved all its demands: Israel had to accept Egyptian
military presence in the Gaza strip and to withdraw its troops from
the Beit Hanun area [but it was] permitted to maintain seven out-
posts along the Gaza strip; the besieged Egyptian brigade at Faluja
was released; Israel was forced to agree to the establishment of a
demilitarized zone in the Auja area, which did, however, extend
over both sides of the border; Auja was to be the seat of the Mixed
Armistice Commission, but Israel succeeded in preventing the
placing of the area under United Nations control; the Egyptian
demand that Beersheba be included within the area of defensive
forces was rejected, but Bir Asluj was included within this area;
Israel managed to guarantee the mobility of its forces in the north-
ern Negev, and attained the temporary exclusion of the entire east-
ern sector of the southern Negev, bordering on Jordan, from the
territory covered by the agreement with Egypt; it did not succeed
in preventing the frequent reference to the Security Council reso-
lution of 4 November and to Bunche's 13 November memorandum
in some clauses of the agreement which reserved the right of the
parties to raise their political demands in the course of future
Notwithstanding all the concessions, the agreement gave Israel
considerable advantages; militarily, it guaranteed Israel's control of
the northern Negev, and in fact left it free to occupy the southern
Negev without violating its agreement with Egypt. Politically, it
strengthened Israel's international standing and its chances for admis-
sion to the United Nations Organization. The signing of an agree-

ment with the largest Arab state opened up possibilities for agree-
ments with other Arab states and inspired hopes-soon dashed--
that the armistice would lead to a final peace. (C. V, p. xxvi; em-
phasis supplied)

One other Main Volume document pertaining to the Egyptian nego-
tiations is of more than ordinary significance, particularly to Ameri-
cans. On March 3, Abba Eban wrote a confidential letter to Eytan, its
purpose to inform Eytan-and presumably any other Israelis who might
be involved in future armistice negotiations with the other Arab states-
of "intimate connections between events at Rhodes and influences
from Lake Success and Washington" (M. V., p. 275).
Eban's first point was that Bunche "possesses a great power" because
he "is able to determine the target" for adverse public opinion when a
party to the negotiations "is considered culpable in preventing an agree-
ment." Pointedly, Eban noted that Bunche "is both an American and an
officer of the United Nations." "The United States Government, and, to
a more limited extent, the Secretary-General, have an important influ-
ence on his conduct, and therefore on the atmosphere of the negotia-
tions" (M. V, p. 276).
Second, Eban pointed out that Bunche sent "the Secretary-General a
detailed survey of the negotiations with summaries of all relevant docu-
ments." He then emphasized a pivotal role-but clearly (at least to Eban)
a somewhat irregular and privileged one-played by the United States.
He added, "There is obviously an agreement whereby these [detailed
reports] reach the United States Government immediately. If a crisis or
complication occurs," John C. Ross, U.S. deputy representative at the
Security Council, "refers the matter to Washington, where the State
Department exercises the requisite pressures on the negotiating par-
ties" (M. V, p. 276).
Third, Eban stated as an unqualified-and undocumented--fact that
"until the final phase, Bunche used his powers of reporting .. to se-
cure American pressure upon ourselves." "Our duty," he continued, "was
to withstand this pressure and to divert it in the Egyptian direction
[also] ... to keep contact with all Security Council members in an
effort to create an impression of Israeli moderation and Egyptian intran-
sigence" (M. V., pp. 275-78).27
This tactic was used by Eban in New York and by Elath in Washington
to accomplish these manipulations. According to Eban and to Elath's

I 0 I LU(5 t U1 FfUlt= Llllt.

representation to the State Department, there were communications
"including the Secretary of State himself, defending our position and
advocating pressure upon the Egyptians; and similar conversations be-
tween myself and members of the United States delegation at Lake
Success." The Israelis did not limit these communications to regular
channels. Eban noted "contacts between our embassy and White House
friends [anonymous, of course] to ensure that the President received a
fair impression of our viewpoint and interests." He (Eban) maintained
"close contacts with the Secretary-General to ensure a supply of infor-
mation [he does not say who gave what to whom] and the use of his
influence with Bunche" (M. V, p. 277).
Fourth, Eban admitted that "great pressure was exercised on the Egyp-
tians, both at Washington and at Lake Success" and, in a not-too-modest
bid for kudos, added, "It is possible that the activities detailed above
may have played some part in that result." He specified that following a
talk between Acheson and Elath "and the submission to the President
of our Rhodes memorandum, the United States showed less inclination
to bludgeon us, and a greater activity in their Egyptian contacts. ...
The whole weight of international pressure," Eban boasted, was brought
to bear "to make one of the parties yield on Beersheba. The whole
weight of international pressure was brought to bear upon the Egyp-
tians." But the secretary-general did not apply his pressure "convinc-
ingly," Eban complained, meaning that Trygve Lie's implementation of
this world pressure was halfhearted. Lie explained to Eban that "he had
been asked to suggest our withdrawal from the town of Beersheba; but
that if he were we, he would not do such a thing, since he had looked at
the maps and seen that the town was obviously vital for Israel and of no
account to Egypt."28
Fifth, having chronicled this "modest" record of accomplishment,
Eban criticized the communications between Tel Aviv and Rhodes and
Elath and himself. Often the Americans, he wrote, produced cables or
displayed "knowledge of intimate detail which had not been communi-
cated to Eliahu [Elath] or myself." This may suggest that Israeli employ-
ment of "White House friends"-with an inside track to the White
House and the president-worked better and faster than the bureau-
cratic channels leading from Tel Aviv to the recognized Israeli represen-
tatives in New York or Washington. The friends may also have been able
to short-circuit Washington's own bureaucratic maze. Eban expressed

the hope that "in the next stages, which are likely to be even more
influenced outside Rhodes, we shall be better equipped" (M. V, p. 277).
Sixth, Eban reported he found "the Soviets and the French deeply
resentful" of the back door pipeline between the UN Secretariat and the
White House "while they were kept in the dark." Or so Washington may
have pleasurably thought. The emergent "only ally of the United States
in the Middle East"-and the most "trustworthy"-was not inhibited
from playing both ends against the middle. Early in the game, it became
clear that Israeli and U.S. interests were not wedded "in sickness and
health." The Israelis were serving up to the French and Soviets such
tidbits of secret information as served Israeli purposes. Eban offered the
admission without apology. "They were therefore visibly grateful to us
for redressing this balance and keeping them well informed, not only
about the negotiations themselves, but also about United States efforts
to influence them" (M. V, p. 278; emphasis supplied).
Seventh, Eban apparently had not been informed of Sharett's direc-
tive to Eytan to stall negotiations with Transjordan until after Opera-
tion Uvda. He may also not have been "cut in" on the secret dealing
between Abdallah and the Israelis. His letter to Eytan indicated that he
believed the talks with Transjordan would follow completion of the
negotiations with Egypt. He cautioned that the Transjordan talks will
be complicated (for Israel) because "Great Britain will be standing in
tangible support" of Abdallah. He recommended beginning frank con-
versations immediately with both the State Department and the Ameri-
can delegation, "pointing out that equilibrium will be achieved only if
the Americans make it their main effort to support our legitimate inter-
ests and counterbalance British pressure. It will no longer be appropri-
ate for them to bring pressure for concessions upon both sides; still
less .. to concentrate it mainly upon us" (M. V, p. 278; emphasis
Eighth, and finally, Eban reflected the historic Zionist-and now Is-
raeli-awareness of the importance of public opinion and the necessary
attention to it as a responsibility for all engaged in Israeli diplomacy.
Because of British support, "Transjordan will no doubt have a better
press than did the Egyptians. Our delegation at Rhodes would accord-
ingly be well advised to watch Bilby, Sam Brewer, and company more
vigilantly than was necessary before."29
In view of the Israeli insistence that, as a starting point, the negotia-

80 Peace for Palestine

tions with Egypt should accept Israeli claims to territory beyond the
partition-recommended borders, Eban's advice to Eytan said a good deal
about the Israelis' proclivity for operating on a double standard and
managing the news: "It is urgently necessary to implant the view that
Transjordan has no automatic right to any of the territories it now oc-
cupies west of the Jordan; and that anything conceded to them there is
in reality a substantial concession even if they occupy it already. The
impression is too strong that their occupation forms the starting-point
of negotiations and that the margin for bargaining concerns only the
territory occupied by Israel in excess of the November 29th Resolution"
(M. V, pp. 275-78).
Eban's activities had been concentrated in New York, with occasional
trips to support Elath in Washington. The two journalists he specifi-
cally mentions worked for the leading morning newspapers in New
York, "newspapers of record." It is obvious that Eban's offered advice on
the subject of public opinion had the American public primarily in mind.
Attentive to public opinion as the Israelis were in 1949-particularly to
American public opinion-just as oblivious were the Arabs to the im-
portance of merchandising their diplomacy.
Arab derelictions with respect to publicity and their own explanation
of their case has improved little four decades later. The American com-
munication media are biased, but not all the bias is attributable to built-
in mendacity. The ineptness, the inadequacy, the grudging, miniscule
funding of any public relations programs, and the lack of competent
personnel are devastating flaws in Arab diplomatic efforts.
Eban's March 3 letter to Eytan is the last document in the Israeli
archival collection pertaining to the Egyptian negotiations. Some gen-
eralizations about Israeli negotiating strategies may therefore be in order.
Those strategies were frequently predicated on U.S. support at critical
points and therefore some notice must be taken of American conduct.
Before engaging in this exercise the caveat made early must be kept in
mind: There is no available English record of intragovernmental Egyp-
tian memoranda and conversations. Consequently, there is no authori-
tative or official evidence of their negotiating strategy except as reported
by the Israelis and the FRUS records of the United States. That defi-
ciency should be remedied. Whenever and however this happens, future
historians should be able to draw a more complete picture than is now
possible of Egypt's motivations. As matters now stand, what must be
characterized as only hearsay evidence (even if of a high quality) in the

Israeli and American records is available. With these cautions, the fol-
lowing conclusions seem supportable by evidence in Israeli and FR US
1948 and 1949 volumes.
(1) From the first sessions with Bunche, Israel resisted any multi-
lateral, coordinated Arab negotiations. This strategy was consistent
with the old Zionist maxim that "Arab disunity is one of Zionism's
most reliable allies."
(2) Throughout its pre-state history, Zionism had successfully prac-
ticed what has come to be called "fait accompli diplomacy."30 After the
state was established, Moshe Dayan used a less self-incriminating phrase,
"establishing facts on the ground." By whatever name, the process
meant to take by financial or military force any property that would be
of strategic importance in the long-term planning for attainment of the
ultimate goal. Israel deployed its military forces beyond the partition-
recommended borders during the 1948-49 fighting, confronting the
Egyptians-and Ralph Bunche-with territorial faits accomplish. These
forward positions served either as jumping-off bases for further, already
planned expansions or as defensive points for territory the Israelis had
already acquired, to which they had no legal claims but thought the
Egyptians might attempt to regain by force or diplomacy. Auja was an
example of this kind of diplomacy. Beersheba was a base essential for
Operation Uvda to take the entire Negev.
(3) Before the negotiations, Israel had a clear picture of the Palestine
it eventually wanted to govern as the Jewish state. The Egyptians, on
the other hand, had no clear vision of the proposed Arab state and no
military plan to defend the territory from an Israel on the offensive. The
original motivation of Egypt-and the Arab League states that joined in
the fighting-was to assist the Palestinian Arabs to defend themselves
against Zionism. But there was no effective organization to mount and
sustain a credible defense by the indigenous population. As the fighting
progressed, disadvantaged by longer lines of supply and communica-
tions, the Egyptian strategy became essentially incapable of protecting
the rights and properties of the Palestinians.
(4) And, finally, it bears repeating that the sophisticated Zionist-
Israeli use of public information and the unrelenting application of
political pressures, particularly in the United States, combined with
Arab derelictions and virtual ignoring of public opinion, made the polit-
ical struggle in both U.S. and UN decision making grossly unequal.
These ingredients of the Palestine problem are still operative in Israel's

r--*__ f-- r T)I" TAT*./ 1- 0 1

82 Peace for Palestine

international conduct. Both the Israelis and later chroniclers agreed the
Egyptian armistice negotiations were an almost unqualified success for
Israel. With this first armistice concluded, the Israelis confidently turned
to the next stage. Although secret negotiations with Abdallah had been
in progress for some time, the next formal negotiations, following Shar-
ett's directive to Eytan, were with Lebanon.

chapter 7


First Try for the Litani

Compared to the complicated and protracted negotiations with Egypt,
Israeli negotiations with the Lebanese were fairly simple. They began
with a preliminary agreement, signed on January 14, 1949, in which
Israel agreed to evacuate its troops from five Lebanese villages if the
Lebanese agreed to enter negotiations for an armistice (M. V, p. 282;
C. V, p. 36). The agreement is described "as a good will gesture and a
prelude to further discussions" of the Security Council resolution of
November 16, 1948.
On January 30, Bunche invited Israel to begin the negotiations and to
name its delegation. He also recommended that the talks be held at Ras
en-Nakura (Rosh Haniqra), a village close to the international border, in
a kind of no-man's-land between the armed forces. Shabtai Rosenne, le-
gal advisor of the Israeli delegation, was pleased with the border site. He
emphasized that the talks were to be direct, with minimal participation
of the "UN representative," in contrast "to the almost total lack of direct
contact between the parties which characterized the talks with Egypt."
Bunche assigned Henri Vigier, a member of his staff, to serve as chairman.
Rosenne complained that "Vigier is biased in favour of the Lebanese, [but]
his predilection has no fundamental influence on the course of the dis-
cussions" (C. V, pp. 39-40).1 Bunche had prepared a "Draft Israel-Leba-
nese General Armistic Agreement" that he presented to both parties to
serve as a starting point for the negotiations (M. V, p. 285ff.).

84 Peace for Palestine

The preliminaries out of the way, on March 3 the two delegations
turned to the substance of the negotiations. The Israelis raised two
difficulties, not specifically addressed in the draft agreement: (1) "The
presence in Lebanese territory of certain military units [Syrians] .
under Lebanese command which ... do not belong to the national
Lebanese army" and, related to the first, (2) the signing of an armistice
between Lebanon and Israel which would call for "a complete with-
drawal of Israeli forces" from Lebanese territory. The Israelis wanted to
"link" the withdrawal from Lebanon to "the conclusion of an armistice
between Syria and Israel" (M. V, p. 295).
Vigier suggested that the second point be put aside until the armistice
with Lebanon was drafted, when the two governments would decide "if
and when it will be signed and when it will be applied." The proposal
was accepted on the condition that the final agreement contain a sen-
tence, proposed by the Lebanese, "guaranteeing the Lebanese territory
would not be used for any hostile purpose by a third party" (M. V, pp.
Implementation of this reservation proved to be more complicated
than stating it. It raised the question of whether a "third party" [Syria]
should be included in the agreement." This point was raised by General
Riley, an American who was serving as chief-of-staff of the United Na-
tions Truce Supervisory Organization. Vigier also opposed the reference
to a third party and accused Israel of "going back on its promise" to
proceed with a draft agreement, "through postponing the signing until
an agreement is reached with Syria." He threatened to adjourn the con-
ference. Riley saved the situation by organizing a meeting between the
parties at which the Lebanese legal advisor "agreed to convey the Israeli
position to his government." In return, the Israeli delegation was "to
inform its government Lebanon would not sign an armistice that per-
mitted Israeli soldiers to remain on Lebanese soil" (C. V., p. 40).
Bunche considered the impasse serious enough to telegraph UN head-
quarters on March 17. The text of the telegram was forwarded to the
U.S. Department of State on the same day: "Mr. Bunche stated that an
Israeli-Lebanese armistice agreement was 'held up solely by Israeli in-
transigence'; that he had informed Mr. Shiloah 'in most emphatic terms
that Israeli position in this regard is utterly unreasonable and that if it is
not changed before end of this week, I must report to SC [Security
Council] that Israelis are deliberately blocking Lebanese agreement in

Lebanon 85

apparent attempt to bring pressure on Syria'; and that 'Israeli good faith
was involved'" (FR US 6 [1949], p. 846, n. 1).
Fraser Wilkins, the State Department officer in charge of Palestine-
Israel-Jordan affairs, was in Rhodes monitoring the armistice negotia-
tions. He also cabled Washington:

Bunche considers Israeli article introduces new element ...
which was not raised at time Lebanese and Israelis agreed to nego-
tiate under UN chairmanship in accordance with SC resolution
November 16. Lebanese delegation and Israeli delegation agreed on
March 15 to refer issue to their governments and meet again on
March 23. Bunche subsequently informed Israelis at Rhodes he
considers their continued insistence on Lebanese signing agree-
ment sanctioning presence Israeli troops on Lebanese soil for indef-
inite period so unreasonable that he feels compelled to report mat-
ter to SC and seriously to consider withdrawing from all negotiations.
In order avert threatened stalemate in Lebanese negotiations it
is recommended Israeli government be informed by Department
that proposed Lebanese clause seems to have same effect as pro-
posed Israeli article and that early acceptance would facilitate
Bunches task and commission's work. (FRUS 6 [1949], p. 846)

A footnote to Wilkins's message adds that, in his March 17 telegram
to the United Nations, Bunche stated that "if the Israeli position did not
change in the next few days, he would 'seriously consider' withdrawing
from both the Lebanese and Transjordanian negotiations and return to
New York" (FR US 6 [1949], p. 847, n. 2). The American volume contains
no record of any U.S. action on Wilkins's recommendation. But on March
19, Wilkins advised the department, "Israelis have informed Bunche
they are prepared to sign Lebanese agreement immediately with provi-
sion concerning Israeli troops on Lebanese soil" (FRUS 6 [1949], p. 847,
n. 3).

Syria: The Negotiator Who Was Not There

That information however, was premature. It had apparently been ob-
tained from Bunche who, in turn, had been informed on March 18 by
Shiloah on Rhodes of Israel's "willingness to sign an agreement with
Lebanon." Bunche, in return, informed Shiloah that an "affirmative

86 Peace for Palestine

reply" was expected from the Syrians "to begin talks with Israel." Bunche
also "hinted he would support Israel's demand for evacuation of the
Syrian army from its territory" (C. V., p. 42).
Shiloah had not been informed, however, of a meeting in Tel Aviv,
where Ben-Gurion had presided, in which it was determined that Israel
would "sign the agreement only if it included a paragraph concerning
the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanese territory." The Syrian
withdrawal "if possible" should "be completed concurrently with that
of the Israeli forces" from the occupied Lebanese villages. The Israeli
delegation was instructed to ensure "Israeli civilian traffic" on a road
between Metulla and Misgav Am (C. V, pp. 41-42). Both of these vil-
lages were barely on the Israeli side of the internationally recognized
border but well within the territory occupied during the fighting.
The point of the Israeli condition was that if Israel withdrew from all
the territory occupied during the fighting, Lebanese troops could be
deployed cheek by jowl with the road connecting these two villages and
could, theoretically, harass traffic on the connecting road. It was a rea-
sonable request, assuming an armistice terminating all fighting could
be agreed upon, particularly in view of the Israeli concern that an armi-
stice with Syria might not be arranged. Also, the Israelis were planning
to build a new road farther east, connecting Metulla in the north with
another village, Rosh Pina, which was well within the territory the
partition assigned to Israel. These new Israeli proposals also demanded
the withdrawal of the Lebanese army from all Israeli territory, specifi-
cally mentioning Rosh Haniqra (M. V, p. 314).
The new conditions threatened the promising atmosphere in which
the negotiations had been progressing, and Shiloah protested to Tel
Aviv that he regretted not having been informed of them "before he
informed Bunche of Israel's willingness to sign the agreement." Vigier
"declared that these new conditions frustrated all his efforts to bring
about an agreement" (C. V, p. 42).
Sharett was still in New York at the United Nations, and on February
19 Eban informed Walter Eytan in Tel Aviv that the secretary-general of
the United Nations "formally conveyed [his] concern" that the Leba-
nese negotiations were breaking down. He had also informed Eban of
Bunche's "threat [to] report [to] the Security Council, blaming us" and
threatening to withdraw from both the Lebanese and Transjordan nego-
tiations (M. V, p. 318).

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