June 16, 1970
Congressional Record - Senate: Pages 19900 - 19918
SEARCH FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, each day, we hear of the escalating violence and warfare in the Middle East. The precarious balance that many have relied on to control the hostilities no longer seems capable of deterring conflict and war.
Political conditions have dramatically deteriorated in recent days creating an even more intense polarization and a more insurmountable impasse between these divided peoples. The tragic plight of Jordan during these past few days only demonstrates the threats to the survival of the voices of reason and moderation in this troubled region.
At the beginning of this year, I took a 3-week trip to the Middle East in order to learn more fully the issues and problems confronting these peoples. Because of the critical escalation of tensions during these past days, I would now like to set forth my impressions and perspectives of this turbulent area of our world.
Any observations, however, cannot be accurate without examining them in the context of history. Consequently, I ask unanimous consent to have a compilation of the history of the Middle East printed in the Record at this point of my remarks.
There being no objection, the compilation was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE EAST
EARLY HISTORY OF PALESTINE
The original inhabitants of the area that was later to be called Palestine were the Canaanites and the Philistines; Semitic tribes probably from the Northeastern Arabian peninsula. These people, comprised of nomadic tribes, settled in the area in 3000 B.C. Some historians record that some 1200 years later Abraham, patriarch of the Hebrew people, led a small band of Jews into the area of Palestine, then called Canaan. When they saw that their small tribe could not contend with the tribes already warring for land in the area, Abraham’s descendants led the people out of Canaan in 1600 B.C. into Egypt and settled peacefully in the Nile Delta for the next three hundred years. The Hebrew people remained unmolested by the Egyptians until the 13th Century B.C. when, with the ascendancy of Ramses II (1292 B.C.-1225 B.C.) to the throne in Egypt, a courvet (a system of forced labor) was imposed on all the able-bodied men of the lower classes, including the lower classed Hebrews. This system lasted until Rames’ death in 1225 B.C. This period in history is often called the Hebrew enslavement, although it must be remembered that every healthy man of the lower economic status in Egypt suffered the same fate. Biblical history tells us that Moses led the Hebrew People out of Egypt during the Great Exodus in the 12th century B.C. For some 40 to 100 years, the Hebrew tribes wandered in the Sinai desert until Joshua led the people across the Jordan river back into Canaan at the end of the 12th century B.C. The situation in Canaan had not changed much since Abraham had left the area in 1800 B.C. The tribes were still warring among themselves for land right and grazing areas. In order to obtain their own piece of land, the Hebrews joined in the warfare and subjected the indigent tribes in portions of the land. The area of Canaan was governed for the next several hundred years by tribal organizations and rule of the Judges. Finally, however, in the 11th century B.C., a threat by the Philistines brought the tribes of Hebrews together and in 1030 B.C. they banded together as a Hebrew kingdom under Saul. Saul’s son, David, succeeded him, and it was under David that the Philistines were finally defeated. David captured a Jebusite, a tribe of Canaan, stronghold at Jerusalem and established the first capitol of the Hebrew kingdom there.
Solomon succeeded David and was best noted for his establishment of the Temple at Jerusalem in which the Arc of the Covenant was placed. A hundred years after the establishment of the Hebrew Kingdom, in the year 930 B.C., the Jewish tribes began to fight among themselves and the kingdom was finally divided into two states, Judah and Israel. In 721 B.C., the northern state of Israel, composed of ten tribes, was defeated and its population dispersed by the Assyrians.
Then, as today, the Middle East was often in a state of turmoil with states rising and falling and boundaries constantly changing. Israel was under Jewish rule from the conquests of Joshua until the two remaining tribes of Judah were conquered by the Babylonians and the Jews were exiled in Mesopotamia in 586 B.C. Fifty years later the Jews were released from the Babylonian captivity and returned to rebuild their homeland, establishing at this time in 538 B.C. the second Temple at Jerusalem.
In 168 B.C., there was the revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucids and then from 168 B.C.—63 B.C. an independent Hebrew state existed in Palestine. In 63 B.C., the Romans conquered the area and ruled until the Hebrew rebellion in 66 A.D. The second Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. and the Hebrew revolt put down in 73 A.D. by the Romans.
Autonomous and independent governments controlled the Holy Land until the uprisings of Bar Kochba in 132 A.D. A temporary independence was won by the Jews by these uprisings, but Rome again defeated the Jews and restored Roman authority in 135 A.D. This final and forced relinquishment of Jewish sovereignty wrought great upheaval on Jewish life and the people spread throughout the world. But although the Romans were able to quickly destroy the Jewish state, the Jewish community lived on. Held together by their common body of customs, knowledge and beliefs, Jewish communities bound by their shared concept of their own history and destiny, refusing assimilation in the nations to which they fled. They waited for a return to Palestine.
In 395 the land fell to the Byzantine empire, which held it under Christian rule until the coming of the Persians in the early years of the 7th century. The Persians were replaced by the Arabs and Islam in 639.
From 639 A.D. to 1071 A.D. Palestine was part of the Arab caliphate; between 1071 and 1561, Palestine was ruled by the Crusaders, the Seljuk Turks of Syria and Egypt, the Mongols and the Mamluks; and from 1517 until World War I the Ottoman Turks controlled Palestine and most of the Middle East.
Despite the historic claim the Jews lay to the land of Palestine, the Arabs constantly deny its validity. They point out that Palestine bas been an Arab land since the 7th century. A large portion of the Arab inhabitants are the descendants of the Canaanites who lived in the country at the time of the Hebrew invasion in the 19th century B.C. and who remained there until the Jews left nearly 2000 years ago. The “continuous occupation” of Palestine by the Arabs is the argument advanced for support of their entitlement to the land. While the Jews have been going in and out of Palestine for some 3000 years, the Arabs assert the fact that they never left.
The Jewish claim to Palestine stems from a Biblical guarantee. God said to Abraham (Genesis XV: 18): “I give this country to your posterity from the river of Egypt up to the great river Euphrates.” This is the Jewish people’s mandate from which their struggle for the land originates. The Arabs, too, have borrowed this argument and the opening article in the Arab section of Les Temps Modernes clarifies the “posterity” referred to in the Genesis passage to include the descendants of Ishmael, since he was the son of Abraham by his wife, Hagar, and the ancestor of all Arabs, Christians and Muslims. In today’s material and secular world, much of this seems anachronistic, but then in many aspects this is, and continues to be, an anachronistic quarrel in which the Bible serves as guide.
THE RISE OF ZIONISM
In the late 19th century a wave of anti-semitism swept Europe and gave impetus to the longing for a return to the “homeland” of the Jewish people. A group composed of Jewish intellectuals met in Switzerland in 1897 and sought to promote the idea of a national homeland for the Jews. The leader of the group was Theodore Herzl, a Viennese Jew, who established the World Zionist Organization. The organization’s goal was to create for the Jewish people a permanent homeland, preferably in Palestine, secured by public law.
Herzl did not deem it essential that the state be created in the Middle East, and urged the Zionists to accept a British offer to settle in Uganda. However, negotiations for the territory were not completed before Mr. Herzl died, and this proposal was rejected. Under new leadership, the goal of the Zionists became nothing less that Palestine. At the same time Arab nationalism, a wish to be free of the oppressive Turkish rule, began to develop at the turn of the century. These rival nationalisms of the Zionists and Arabs, were to conflict during the 20th century.
WORLD WAR I ----“BROKEN PROMISES”
The First World War was a period of “broken promises” where both Arab and Zionist nationalists were deceived by the major powers. This did much to sow the seeds for the present impasse in the Middle East.
In the beginning years of the war, the Allies, unknown to the Arabs, concluded a series of secret treaties over the division of the Ottoman Empire, the most important of which was the Sykes-Picot Treaty of May 16, 1916, in which France and Britain divided the Middle East into their own spheres of influence. In 1917, however, the Bolsheviks published the secret treaties denouncing Russian concessions in these treaties and the Arabs were optimistic that with the statements made by Lloyd George and Bonar Law in 1917 and President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, their territorial integrity would be upheld and the secret treaties denounced at the peace talks at Versailles.
During this time, the Zionists, anticipating that Britain would get Palestine after the war, presented a proposal to the British government requesting a separate unit within Palestine as a Jewish national home. On the basis of this report, and in order to gain the support of the Jewish people in the world after the war effort, Lord Balfour, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, issued the following statement on November 2, 1917:
November 2nd, 1917.
“Dear Lord Rothschild: I have much pleasure in conveying to you. On behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:
‘ “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the right and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’ “
“I shall be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
“Arthur James Balfour”
The direct origination of the doctrine is often attributed to Dr. Chaim Weizmann, one of the most important early members of the British Zionist Organization and later first president of the state of Israel. Dr. Weizmann had materially contributed to the British war effort by discovering a new method of producing acetone and was thus able to gain the attention of the British Government in pursuing his Zionist aspirations. It has also been suggested by some historians that President Wilson and American Jews were shown the Balfour Declaration and agreed to its substance before the letter was mailed. The two arguments advanced during the war years for the Zionist cause were the (1) favoring the Zionists might bring the Jews of Germany and other central powers to the side of the British and indirectly help in the allied war effort, and (2) Christian charity toward a persecuted people was a noble and deserving cause.
The circumstances were strange for the issue of the Balfour Declaration. When World War I started, Turkey declared a “Holy War” against Britain and France and appealed in vain to the Arabs to assist them against the allies. During the years of 1915 and 1916 Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner for Egypt, completed negotiations with Hussein, Sharif of Mecca, for the support of the Arabs in the Middle East theatre against the Turks and the Germans. As a result of the Hussein-McMahon letters, the Arabs agreed to assist the Allies in return for “recognition and support of the independence of the Arabs in all regions within the limits demanded.” When the Balfour Declaration was mailed in the form of a private letter to the Anglo-Jewish leader, Baron Lionel Rothschild, the Arabs had already declared themselves on Britain’s side in the war and were fighting side-by-side with the British, believing their cause to be freedom and independence from the Ottoman Empire.
The following letters delineate the agreements that were made during the Hussein-McMahon correspondence:
GREAT BRITAIN PLEDGES TO SUPPORT ARAB INDEPENDENCE: THE HUSSEIN-MCMAHON LETTERS, 1915-1916, AS APPEARS IN “DOCUMENTS ON THE MIDDLE EAST” BY THE AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH: NO. 1 --- TRANSLATION OF A LETTER FROM THE SHERIF OF MECCA TO SIR HENRYMCMAHON, HIS MAJESTY’S HIGH COMMERISSIONER AT CAIRO
JULY 14, 1915.
To his Honour:
Whereas the whole Arab nation without any exception have decided in these last years to live, and to accomplish their freedom, and grasp the reins of their administration both in theory and practice; and whereas they have found and felt that it is to the interest of the Government of Great Britain to support them and aid them to the attainment of their firm and lawful intentions (which are based upon the maintenance of the honour and dignity of their life) without any ulterior motive whatsoever unconnected with this object;
And whereas it is to their (the Arabs’) interest also to prefer the assistance of the Government of Great Britain in consideration of their geographical position and economic interests, and also of the attitude of the above-mentioned Government, which is known to both nations and therefore need not be emphasized;
For these reason the Arab nations see fit to limit themselves, as time is short, to asking the Government of Great Britain, if it should think fit, for the approval, through her deputy or representative, of the following fundamental propositions, leaving out all things considered secondary in comparison with these, so that it may prepare all means necessary for attaining this noble purpose, until such time as it finds occasion for making the actual negotiations:---
Firstly --- England to acknowledge the independence of the Arab countries, bounded on the north by Mersina and Adana up to the 37° of latitude, on which degree fall Birijik, Urfa, Mardin, Midiat, Jezirat (Ibn ‘Umar), Amadia, up to the border of Persia; on the east by the borders of Persia up to the Gulf of Basra; on the south by the Indian Ocean, with the exception of the position of Aden to remain as it is; on the west by the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea up to Mersina. England to approve of the proclamation of an Arab Khalifate of Islam.
Secondly --- The Arab Government of the Sherif to acknowledge that England shall have the preference in all economic enterprises in the Arab countries whenever conditions of enterprise are otherwise equal.
Thirdly --- For the security of this Arab independence and the certainty of such preference of economic enterprises, both high contracting parties to offer mutual assistance, to the best ability of their military and naval forces, to face any foreign Power which may attach either party. Peace not to be decided without agreement of both parties.
Fourthly --- If one of the parties enters upon an aggressive conflict, the other party to assume a neutral attitude, and in case of such party wishing to other to join forces, both to meet and discuss the conditions.
Fifthly --- England to acknowledge the abolition of foreign privileges in the Arab countries, and to assist the Government of the Sherif in an International Convention for confirming such abolition.
Sixthly --- Articles 3 and 4 of this treaty to remain in vigour for fifteen years, and, if either wished it to be renewed, one year’s notice before lapse of treaty to be given.
Consequently, and as the whole of the Arab nation have (praise be to God) agreed and united for the attainment, at all costs and finally, of this noble object, they beg the Government of Great Britain to answer them positively or negatively in a period of thirty days after receiving this intimation; and if this period should lapse before they receive an answer, they reserve to themselves complete freedom of action. Moreover, we (the Sherif’s family) will consider ourselves free in word and deed from the bonds of our previous declaration which we made through Ali Effendi.
NO. 2 --- TRANSLATION OF A LETTER FROM SIR H. MCMAHON, HIS MAJESTY’S HIGH COMMISSIONER AT CAIRO, TO THE SHERIF OF MECCA
AUGUST 30, 1915.
To his Highness the Sherif Hussein.
(After compliment and salutations.)
We have the honour to thank you for your frank expressions of the sincerity of your feeling towards England. We rejoice, moreover, that your Highness and your people are of one opinion---that Arab interests are English interests and English Arab. To this intent we confirm to you the terms of Lord Kitchener’s message, which reached you by the hand of Ali Eddendi, and in which was stated clearly our desire for the independence of Arabia and its inhabitants, together with our approval of the Arab Khalifate when it should be proclaimed. We declare once more that His Majesty’s Government would welcome the resumption of the Khalifate by an Arab of true race. With regard to the questions of limits and boundaries, it would appear to be premature to consume our time in discussing such details in the heat of war, and while, in many portions of them, the Turk is up to now in effective occupation; especially as we have learned, with surprise and regret, that some of the Arabs in those very parts, far from assisting us, are neglecting this their supreme opportunity and are lending their arms to the German and the Turk, to the new despoiler and the old oppressor.
Nevertheless, we are ready to send your Highness for the Holy Cities and the noble Arabs the charitable offerings of Egypt so soon as your Highness shall inform us how and where they should be delivered. We are, moreover, arranging for this your messenger to be admitted and helped on any journey he may make to ourselves.
Friendly reassurance. Salutation !
(Signed) A. H. McMahon.
No. 3 Translation of a letter from the Sherif of Mecca to Sir H. McMahon, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Cairo.
September 9, 1915.
To his Excellency the Most Exalted, the Most Eminent---the British High Commissioner in Egypt; may God grant him Success.
With great cheerfulness and delight I received your letter dated the 19th Shaval, 1333 (the 30th August, 1915), and have given it great consideration and regard, in spite of the impression I received from its of ambiguity and its tone of coldness and hesitation with regard to our essential point.
It is necessary to make clear to your Excellency our sincerity towards the illustrious British Empire and our confession of preference for it in all cases and matters and under all forms and circumstances. The real interests of the followers of our religion necessitate this.
Nevertheless, your Excellency will pardon me and permit me to say clearly that the coolness and hesitation which you have displayed in the question of the limits and boundaries by saying that the discussion of these at present is of no use and is a loss of time, and that they are still in the hands of the Government which is ruling them, &c., might be taken to infer an estrangement or something of the sort.
As the limits and boundaries demanded are not those of one person whom we should satisfy and with whom we should discuss them after the war is over, but our peoples have seen that the life of their new proposal is bound at least by these limits and their word is united on this.
Therefore, they have found it necessary first to discuss this point with the Power in whom they now have their confidence and trust as a final appeal, viz., the illustrious British Empire.
Their reason for this union and confidence is mutual interest, the necessity of regulating territorial divisions and the feelings of their inhabitants, so that they may know how to base their future and life, so not to meet her (England?) or any of her Allies in opposition to their resolution which would produce a contrary issue, which God forbid.
For the object is, honourable Minister, the truth which is established on a basis which guarantees the essential sources of life in future.
Yet within these limits they have not included places inhabited by a foreign race. It is a vain show of words and titles.
May God have mercy on the Khalifate and comfort Moslems in it.
I am confident that your Excellency will not doubt that it is not I personally who am demanding of these limits which include only our race, but that they are all proposals of the people, who, in short, believe that they are necessary for economic life.
Is this not right, your Excellency the Minister?
In a word, your Excellency, we are firm in our sincerity and declaring our preference for loyalty towards you, whether you are satisfied with us, as has been said, or angry.
With reference to your remark in your letter above mentioned that some of our people are still doing their utmost in promoting the interest of Turkey, your goodness (lit. “perfectness”) would not permit you to make this an excuse for the tone of coldness and hesitation with regard to our demands, demands which I cannot admit that you, as a man of sound opinion, will deny to be necessary for our existence; nay, they are the essential essence of our life, material and moral.
Up to the present moment I am myself with all my might carrying out in my country all things in conformity with the Islamic law, all things which tend to benefit the rest of the Kingdom, and I shall continue to do so until it please God to order otherwise.
In order to reassure your Excellency I can declare that the whole country, together with those who you say are submitting themselves to Turco-German orders, are all waiting the result of these negotiations, which are dependent only on your refusal or acceptance of the question of the limits and on your declaration of safeguarding their religion first and then the rest of rights from any harm or danger.
Whatever the illustrious Government of Great Britain finds conformable to its policy on this subject, communicate it to us and specify to us the course we should follow.
In all cases it is only God’s will which shall be executed, and it is God who is the real factor in everything.
With regard to our demand for grain for the natives, and the moneys (“surras”) known to the Wakfs’ Ministry and all other articles sent here with pilgrims’ caravans, high Excellency, my intention in this matter is to confirm your proclamations to the whole world, and especially to the Moslem world, that your antagonism is confined only to the party which has usurped the rights of the Khalifate in which are included the right of all Moslems.
Moreover the said grain is from the special Wakfs and has nothing to do with politics.
If you think it should be, let the grain of the two years be transported in a special steamer to Jedda in an official manner, in the name of all the natives as usual, and the captain of the steamer or the special “Mamur” detailed as usual every year to hand it over on his arrival at the port will send to the Governor of Jedda asking for the Mamur of the grain at Jedda or a responsible official to take over the grain and give the necessary receipt signed by the said Mamur, that is the Mamur of the grain himself. He should make it a condition that he would (? not) accept any receipt but that signed by this Mamur.
Let the captain of the steamer or the “Mamur” (detailed with the grain) be instructed that if he finds anything contrary to this arrangement he should warn them that he will return home with the cargo. Thereupon the Mamur and the special committee detailed with him, which is known as the committee of the grain for the natives, will take over the grain in the proper form.
Please accept my best regards and salutations.
If you choose to send a reply to this, please send it with the bearer.
29th Shawal, 1333.
No. 4 --- Translation of a letter from Sir H. McMahon, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Cairo, to the Sherif of Mecca
October 24, 1915.
I have received your letter of the 29th Shawal, 1333, with much pleasure and your expressions of friendliness and sincerity have given me the greatest satisfaction.
I regret that you should have received from my last letter the impression that I regarded the question of the limits and boundaries with coldness and hesitation; such was not the case, but it appeared to me that the time had not yet come when that question could be discussed in a conclusive manner.
I have realized, however, from our last letter that you regard this question as one of vital and urgent importance. I have, therefore, lost no time in informing the Government of Great Britain of the contents of your letter, and it is with great pleasure that I communicate to you on their behalf the following statement, which I am confident you will receive with satisfaction:---
The two districts of Mersina and Alexandretta and portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo cannot be said to be purely Arab, and should be excluded from the limits demanded.
With the above modification, and without prejudice to our existing treaties with Arab chiefs, we accept those limits.
As for those regions lying within those frontiers wherein Great Britain is free to act without detriment to the interests of her ally, France, I am empowered in the name of the Government of Great Britain to give the following assurances and make the following reply to your letter:---
(1) Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs in all the regions within the limits demanded by the Sherif of Mecca.
(2) Great Britain will guarantee the Holy Places against all external aggression and will recognize their inviolability.
(3) When the situation admits, Great Britain will give to the Arabs her advice and will assist them to establish what may appear to be the most suitable form of government in those various territories.
(4) On the other hand, it is understood that the Arabs have decided to seek the advice and guidance of Great Britain only, and that such European advisers and officials as may be required for the formation of a sound form of administration will be British.
(5) With regard to the vilayets of Bagdad and Basra, the Arabs will recognize that the established position and interests of Great Britain necessitate special administrative arrangements in order to secure these territories from foreign aggression, to promote the welfare of the local populations and to safeguard our mutual economic interests.
I am convinced that this declaration will assure you beyond all possible doubt of the sympathy of Great Britain towards the aspirations of her friends the Arabs and will result in a firm and lasting alliance, the immediate results of which will be the expulsion of the Turks from the Arab countries and the freeing of the Arab peoples from the Turkish yoke, which for so many years has pressed heavily upon them.
I have confined myself in this letter to the more vital and important questions, and if there are any other matters dealt with in your letters which I have omitted to mention, we may discuss them at some convenient date in the future.
It was with very great relief and satisfaction that I heard of the safe arrival of the Holy Carpet and the accompanying offerings which, thanks to the clearness of your directions and the excellence of your arrangements, were landed without trouble or mishap in spite of the dangers and difficulties occasioned by the present sad war. May God soon bring a lasting peace and freedom to all peoples!
I am sending this letter by the hand of your trusted and excellent messenger, Sheikh Mohammed Ibn Arif Ibn Uraifan, and he will inform you of the various matters of interest, but of less vital importance, which I have not mentioned in this letter.
(Signed) A. Henry McMahon.
No. 5 --- Translation of a letter from the Sherif of Mecca to Sir H. McMahon, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Cairo
November 5, 1915.
(In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate!)
To his Excellency the most exalted and eminent Minister who is endowed with the highest authority and soundness of opinion.
May God guide him to do His Will!
I received with great pleasure your honoured letter, dated the 15th Zil Hijja (the 24th October, 1915), to which I beg to answer as follows: ---
1. In order to facilitate an agreement and to render a service to Islam, and at the same time to avoid all that may cause Islam troubles and hardships—seeing moreover that we have great consideration for the distinguished qualities and dispositions of the Government of Great Britain—we renounce our insistence on the inclusion of the vilayets of Mersina and Adana in the Arab Kingdom. But the two vilayets of Aleppo and Beirut and their sea coasts are purely Arab vilayets, and there is no difference between a Moslem and a Christian Arab; they are both descendants of one forefather.
We Moslems will follow the footsteps of the Faithful Omar Ibn Khattab, and other Khalifs succeeding him, who ordained in the laws of the Moslem Faith that Moslems should treat the Christians as they treat themselves. He, Omar, declared with reference to Christians: “They will thus enjoy their civic rights in as much as it accords with the general interests of the whole nation.
2. As the Iraqi vilayets are parts of the pure Arab Kingdom, and were in fact the seat of its Government in the time of Ali ibn Abu Talib, and in the time of all the Khalifs who succeeded him; and as in them began the civilization of the Arabs, and as their towns were the first towns built in Islam where the Arab power became so great; therefore they are greatly valued by all Arabs far and near, and their traditions cannot be forgotten by them. Consequently, we cannot satisfy the Arab nations or make them submit to give us such a title to nobility. But in order to render an accord easy, and taking into consideration the assurances mentioned in the fifth article of your letter to keep and guard our mutual interests in that country as they are one and the same, for all these reasons we might agree to leave under the British administration for a short time those districts now occupied by the British troops without the rights of either party being prejudiced thereby (especially those of the Arab nation; which interests are to it economic and vital), and against a suitable sum paid as compensation to the Arab Kingdom for the period of occupation in order to meet the expenses which every new kingdom is bound to support; at the same time respecting your agreements with the Sheikhs of those districts, and especially those which are essential.
3. In Your desire to hasten the movement we see not only advantages, but grounds of apprehension. The first of these grounds is the fear of the blame of the Moslems of the opposite party (as has already happened in the past), who would declare that we have revolted against Islam and ruined its forces. The second is that, standing in the face of Turkey which is supported by all the forces of Germany, we do not know what Great Britain and her allies do if one of the Entente Powers were weakened and obliged to make peace. We fear that the Arab nation will then be left alone in the face of Turkey together with her allies, but we would not at all mind if we were to face the Turks alone. Therefore it is necessary to take these points into consideration in order to avoid a peace being concluded in which the parties concerned may decide that fate of our people as if we had taken part in the war without making good our claims to official consideration.
4. The Arab nation has a strong belief that after this war is over the Turks under German influence will direct their efforts to provoke the Arabs and violate their rights, both material and moral, to wipe out their nobility and honour and reduce them to utter submission as they are determined to ruin them entirely. The reasons for the slowness shown in our action have already been stated.
5. When the Arabs know the Government of Great Britain is their ally who will not leave them to themselves at the conclusion of peace in the face of Turkey and Germany, and that she will support and will effectively defend them, then to enter the war at once will, no doubt, be in conformity with the general interest of the Arabs.
6. Our letter dated the 29th Shauâl, 1333 (the 9th September, 1915), saves us the trouble of repeating our opinions as to articles 3 and 4 of your honoured last letter regarding administration, Government advisers and officials, especially as you have declared, exalted Minister, that you will not interfere with internal affairs.
7. The arrival of a clear and definite answer as soon as possible to the above proposals is expected. We have done our utmost in making concessions in order to come to an agreement satisfying both parties. We know that our lot in this war will be either a success, which will guarantee to the Arabs a life becoming their past history, or destruction in the attempt to attain their objects. Had it not been for the determination which I see in the Arabs for the attainment of their objects, I would have preferred to seclude myself on one of the heights of a mountain, but they, the Arabs, have insisted that I should guide the movement to this end.
May God keep you safe and victorious, as we devoutly hope and desire.
27th Zil Hijja, 1333.
No. 6 --- Translation of a letter from Sir H. McMahon, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Cairo, to the Sherif of Mecca
December 13, 1915
To Sherif Hussein:
(After customary greetings and acknowledgement of previous letter.)
I am gratified to observe that you agree to the exclusion of the districts of Mersina and Adana from boundaries of the Arab territories.
I also note with great pleasure and satisfaction your assurances that the Arabs are determined to act in conformity with the precepts laid down by Omar Ibn Khattab and the early Khalifs, which secure the rights and privileges of all religions alike.
In stating that the Arabs are ready to recognize and respect all our treaties with Arab chiefs, it is, of course, understood that this will apply to all territories included in the Arab Kingdom, as the Government of Great Britain cannot repudiate engagements which already exist.
With regard to the vilayets of Aleppo and Beirut, the Government of Great Britain have fully understood and taken careful note of your observations, but as the interests of our ally, France, are involved in them both, the question will require careful consideration and a further communication on the subject will be addressed to you in due course.
The Government of Great Britain, as I have already informed you, are ready to give all guarantees of assistance and support within their power to the Arab Kingdom, but their interests demand, as you yourself have recognized, a friendly and stable administration in the vilayet of Bagdad, and the adequate safeguarding of these interest calls for a much fuller and more detailed consideration than the present situation and the urgency of these negotiations permit.
We fully appreciate your desire for caution, and have no wish to urge you to hasty action, which might jeopardize the eventual success of your projects, but, in the meantime, it is most essential that you should spare no effort to attach all the Arab peoples to our united cause and urge them to afford no assistance to our enemies.
It is on the success of these efforts and on the more active measures which the Arabs may hereafter take in support of our cause, when the time for action comes, that the permanence and strength of our agreement must depend.
Under these circumstances I am further directed by the Government of Great Britain to inform you that you may rest assured that Great Britain has no intention of concluding any peace in terms of which the freedom of the Arab peoples from German and Turkish domination does not form an essential condition.
As an earnest of our intentions, and in order to aid you in your efforts in our joint cause, I am sending you by your trustworthy messenger a sum of twenty thousand pounds.
(Signed) H. McMahon.
No. 7 --- Translation of a letter from the Sherif of Mecca to Sir H. McMahon, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Cairo
January 1, 1916.
(In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate!)
To his Excellency the eminent, energetic and magnanimous Minister.
We received from the bearer your letter, dated the 9th Safar (the 14th December, 1915), with great respect and honour, and I have understood its contents, which caused me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction, as it removed that which had made me uneasy.
Your honour will have realized, after the arrival of Mohanned (Faroki) Sherif and his interview with you, that all our procedure up to the present was of no personal inclination or the like, which would have been wholly unintelligible, but that everything was the result of the decisions and desires of our peoples, and that we are but transmitters and executants of such decisions and desires in the position they (our people) have pressed upon us.
These truths are, in my opinion, very important and deserve your honour’s special attention and consideration.
With regard to what had been stated in your honoured communication concerning El Iraq as to the matter of compensation for the period of occupation, we, in order to strengthen the confidence of Great Britain in our attitude and in our words and actions, really and veritably, and in order to give her evidence of our certainty and assurance in trusting her glorious Government, leave the determination of the amount to the perception of her wisdom and justice.
As regards the northern parts and their coasts, we have already stated in our previous letter what were the utmost possible modifications, and all this was only done so to fulfill those aspirations whose attainment is desired by the will of the Blessed and Supreme God. It is this same feeling and desire which impelled us to avoid what may possibly injure the alliance of Great Britain and France and the agreement made between them during the present wars and calamities; yet we find it our duty that the eminent minister should be sure that, at the first opportunity after this was is finished, we shall ask you (what we avert our eyes from to-day) for what we now leave to France in Beirut and its coasts.
I do not find it necessary to draw your attention to the fact that our plan is of greater security to the interests and protection of the rights of Great Britain than it is to us, and will necessarily be so whatever may happen, so that Great Britain may finally see her friends in that contentment and advancement which she is endeavoring to establish for them now, especially as her Allies being neighbours to us will be the germ of difficulties and discussion with which there will be no peaceful conditions. In addition to which the citizens of Beirut will decidedly never accept such dismemberment, and they may oblige us to undertake new measures which may exercise Great Britain, certainly not less than her present troubles, because of our belief and certainty in the reciprocity and indeed the identity of our interests, which is the only cause that caused us never to care to negotiate with any other Power but you. Consequently, it is impossible to allow any derogation that gives France, nor any other Power, a span of land in those regions.
I declare this, and I have a strong belief, which the living will inherit from the dead, in the declarations which you give in conclusion of your honoured letter. Therefore, the honourable and eminent Minister should believe and be sure, together with Great Britain, that we still remain firm to our resolution which Storrs learnt from us two years ago, for which we await the opportunity suitable to our situation, especially in view of that action the time of which has now come near and which destiny drives towards us with great haste and clearness, so that we and those who are of our opinion may have reasons for such action against any criticisms or responsibilities imposed upon us in future.
Your expression “we do not want to push you to any hasty action which might jeopardize the success of your aim” does not need any more explanation except what we may ask for, when necessary, such as arms, ammunition, etc.
I deem this sufficient, as I have occupied much of your Honour’s time. I beg to offer you my great veneration and respect.
25the Safar, 1334.
No. 8 --- Translation of a letter from Sir H. McMahon, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Cairo, to the Sherif at Mecca
January 25, 1916.
(After customary greetings)
We have received with great pleasure and satisfaction your letter of the 25th Safar (the 1st January) at the hands of your trusty messenger, who has also transmitted to us your verbal messages.
We fully realize and entirely appreciate the motives which guide you in this important question, and we know well that you are acting entirely in the interests of the Arab peoples and with no thought beyond their welfare.
We take note of your remarks concerning the vilayet of Baghdad, and will take the question into careful consideration when the enemy has been defeated and the time for peaceful settlement arrives.
As regards the northern parts, we note with satisfaction your desire to avoid anything which might possibly injure the alliance of Great Britain and France. It is, as you know, our fixed determination that nothing shall be permitted to interfere in the slightest degree with our united prosecution of this war to a victorious conclusion. Moreover, when the victory has been won, the friendship of Great Britain and France will become yet more firm and enduring, cemented by the blood of Englishmen and Frenchmen who have died side by side fighting for the cause of right and liberty.
In this great cause Arabia is now associated, and God grant that the result of our mutual efforts and co-operation will bind us in a lasting friendship to the mutual welfare and happiness of us all.
We are greatly pleased to hear of the action you are taking to win all the Arabs over to our joint cause, and to dissuade them from giving any assistance to our enemies, and we leave it to your discretion to seize the most favourable moment for further and more decided measures.
You will doubtless inform us by the bearer of this letter of any manner in which we can assist you and your requests will always receive our immediate consideration.
You will have heard how El Sayed Ahmed el Sherif el Senussi has been beguiled by evil advice into hostile action, and it will be a great grief to you to know that he has been so far forgetful of the interests of the Arabs as to throw in his lot with our enemies. Misfortune has now overtaken him, and we trust that this will show him his error and lead him to peace for the sake of his poor misguided followers.
We are sending this letter by the hand of your good messenger, who will also bring to you all our news.
(Signed) H. McMahon.
No. 9 --- Translation of a letter from the Sherif of Mecca to Sir H. McMahon, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Cairo
February 18, 1916.
(In the name of the Merciful, the Compassionate!)
To the most noble His Excellency the High Commissioner. May God protect him.
(After compliments and respects.)
We received your Excellency’s letter dated 25th Rabi El Awal, and its contents filled us with the utmost pleasure and satisfaction at the attainment of the required understanding and the intimacy desired. I ask God to make easy our purposes and prosper our endeavours. Your Excellency will understand the work that is being done, and the reason for it from the following:---
Firstly.---We had informed your Excellency that we had sent one of our sons to Syria to command the operations deemed necessary there. We have received a detailed report from him stating that the tyrannies of the Government there have not left of the persons upon whom they could depend, whether of the different ranks of soldiers or of others, save only a few, and those of secondary importance; and that he is awaiting the arrival of the forces announced from different places, especially from the people of the country and the surrounding Arab regions as Aleppo and the south of Mosul, whose total is calculated at not less that 100,000 by their estimate; and he intends, if the majority of the forces mentioned are Arab, to begin the movement by them; and, if otherwise, that is, of the Turks or others, he will observe their advance to the Canal, and when they begin to fight, his movements upon them will be different to what they expect.
Secondly.---We purposed sending our eldest son to Medina with sufficient forces to strengthen his brother (who is) in Syria, and with every possibility of occupying the railway line, or carrying out such operations as circumstances may admit. This is the beginning of the principal movement, and we are satisfied in its beginning with what he had levied as guards to keep the interior of the country quiet; they are of the people of Hejaz only, for many reasons, which it would take too long to set forth; chiefly the difficulties in the way of providing their necessities with secrecy and speed (although this precaution was not necessary) and to make it easy to bring reinforcements when needed; this is the summary of what you wished to understand. In my opinion it is sufficient, and it is to be taken as a foundation and a standard as to our actions in the face of all changes and unforeseen events which the sequence of events may show. It remains for us to state what we need at present:
Firstly.---The amount of £50,000 in gold for the monthly pay of the troops levied, and other things the necessity of which needs no explanation. We beg you to send it with all possible haste.
Secondly.---20,000 sacks of rice, 15,000 sacks of flour, 3.000 sacks of barley, 150 sacks of coffee, 150 sacks of sugar, 5.000 rifles of the modern pattern and the necessary ammunition, and 100 boxes of the two sample cartridges (enclosed) and of Martini-Henry cartridges and “Aza,” that is those of the rifles of the factory of St. Etienne in France, for the use of those two kinds of rifles of our tribes; it would not be amiss to send 500 boxes of both kinds.
Thirdly.---We think it better that the placed of deposit of all these things should be port Sudan.
Fourthly.---As the above provisions and munitions are not needed until the beginning of the movement (of which we will inform you officially), they should remain at the above place, and when we need them we will inform the Governor there of the place to which they may be conveyed, and of the intermediaries who will carry orders for receiving them.
Fifthly.---The money required should be sent at once to the Governor of Port Sudan, and a confidential agent will be sent by us to receive it, either all at once, or in two installments, according as he is able, and this (§) is the (secret) sign to be recognized for accepting the man.
Sixthly.---Our envoy who will receive the money will be sent to Port Sudan in three weeks’ time, that is to say, he will be there on the 5th Jamad Awal (9th March) with a letter from us addressed to Al Khawaga Elias Effindi, saying that he (Elias) will pay him, in accordance with the letter, the rent of our properties, and the signature will be clear in our name, but we will instruct him to ask for the Governor of the place, whom you will apprise of this person’s arrival. After perusal of the letter, the money should be given to him on condition that no discussion whatever is to be made with him of any question concerning us. We beg you most emphatically not to tell him anything, keeping this affair secret, and he should be treated apparently as if he were nothing out of the way.
Let it not be thought that our appointment of another man results from lack of confidence in the bearer; it is only to avoid waste of time, for we are appointing him to a task elsewhere. At the same time we beg you not to embark or send him in a streamer, or officially, the means already arranged being sufficient.
Seventhly.---Our representative, bearer of the present letter, has been definitely instructed to ensure that arrival of this, and I think that his mission this time is finished since the condition of things is known both in general and in detail, and there is no need for sending information, it will come from us; yet as our next representative will reach you after three weeks, you may prepare instructions for him to take back. Yet let him be treated simply in appearance.
Eighthly.---Let the British Government consider this military expenditure in accordance with the books which will be furnished it, explaining how the money has been spent.
To conclude, my best and numberless salutations beyond all increase.
14 Rabi al Akhar, 1334.
No. 10---Translation of a letter from Sir H. McMahon, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Cairo, to the Sherif of Mecca.
March 10, 1916
(After customary greetings.)
We have received your letter of the 14th Rabi al Akhar (the 18th February), duly delivered by your trusted messenger.
We are grateful to note the active measures which you propose to take. We consider them the most suitable in the existing circumstances, and they have the approval of His Majesty’s Government. I am please to be able to inform you that His Majesty’s Government have approved of meeting your requests, and that which you asked to be sent with all haste is being dispatched with your messenger, who is also the bearer of this letter.
The remainder will be collected as quickly as possible and will be deposited at Port Sudan, where it will remain until we hear from your officially of the beginning of the movement and of the places to which they may be conveyed and the intermediaries who will carry out the orders for receiving them.
The necessary instructions, as set forth in your letter, have been issued to the Governor of Port Sudan, and he will arrange everything in accordance with your wishes.
Your representative who brought your last letter has been duly facilitated in his journey to Jeizan, and every assistance has been given him in his mission, which we trust will be crowned with good results.
We have arranged that, on completion, he will be brought to Port Sudan, whence he will proceed by the safest means to join you and report the results of his work.
We take the opportunity, in sending this letter, to explain to you a matter which might otherwise not have been clear to you, and which might have given rise to misunderstanding. There are various Turkish posts and small garrisons along the coasts of Arabia who are hostile to us, and who are said to be planning injury to our naval interests in the red Sea. We may, therefore, find it necessary to take hostile measures against these posts and garrisons, but we have issued strict instructions that every care must be taken by our ships to differentiate between the hostile Turkish garrisons and the innocent Arab inhabitants, towards whom we entertain such friendly feelings.
We give you notice of this matter in case distorted and false reports may reach you of the reasons for any action which we may be obliged to take.
We have heard rumours that our mutual enemies are endeavouring to construct boats for the purpose of laying mines in the Red Sea, and of otherwise injuring our interests there, and we beg of you that you will give us early information should you receive any confirmation of such reports.
We have heard that Ibn Rashid has been selling large quantities of camels to the Turks, which are being sent up to Damascus.
We hope that you will be able to use influence with him in order that he may cease from this practice and, if he still persists, that you will be able to arrange for the Arabs who lie between him and Syria to seize the camels as they pass, a procedure which will be to our mutual advantage.
I am glad to be able to inform you that those misguided Arabs under Sayed Ahmed el Senussi, who have fallen victims to the wiles of Turkish and German intriguers, are now beginning to see the error of their ways, and are coming in to us in large numbers, asking for forgiveness and friendship.
We have severely defeated the forces which these intriguers had collected against us, and the eyes of the Arabs are now becoming open to the deceit which has been practiced upon them.
The capture of Erzerum, and the defeats sustained by the Turks in the Caucasus, are having a great effect in our favour, and are greatly helping the cause for which we are both working.
We ask God to prosper your endeavors and to further the work which you have taken in hand.
In conclusion, we beg you to accept our warmest salutations and expressions of friendship.
6 Jamad Awwal, 1334.
(Signed) A. H. McMahon.
Despite the strange nature of the letter to Baron Rothschild, there was no carelessness involved in the wording of the document. Mr. Lloyd George, himself, speaking in Wales in 1930, assured his listeners in curious terms that the Declaration “was prepared after much consideration, not merely of its policy, but of its actual wording.” Whatever is to be found in the Balfour Declaration was put there deliberately. If the wording seemed ambiguous, it was an intentional ambiguity. It is interesting to note the reference to the “non-Jewish communities.” At the time the Declaration was issued, the population in Palestine was about 91% Arab and 9% Jew. Purportedly the use of “home” rather that “state” was a type of safeguard clause inserted to protect and reassure earlier pledges made by Britain to the Arabs. Due to just such ambiguity found in both the Balfour Declaration and the Hussein-McMahon letters, the Jews and Arabs alike were left with the impression they were to receive the Palestine area as a part of a political state at the conclusion of World War I.
Britain’s reasons for making such conflicting and ambiguous declarations are still only a matter of conjecture. The pronouncement came at a time when Allied support in the war effort was in its darkest period.
Palestine was a strategic area for Great Britain in terms of long-range imperialistic considerations. The London Agreements signed in 1915 and 1916 had divided the Ottoman Empire into spheres of influence to be claimed at the end of World War I. With both the Arabs and the Jews feeling that Palestine would eventually become their independent state, perhaps Great Britain felt that the Zionists and the Arabs would remain dependent on her for future political considerations in return for present favors rendered in the war effort.
Whatever the rationale, Arthur Koestler, British Journalist/Essayist and novelist, has described the British maneuver in this succinct fashion:
“In the Balfour Declaration, one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third. No second thoughts can diminish the originality of this procedure. The Arabs had been living there for centuries, and the country was no doubt theirs in the generally accepted sense of the word. It is true that the Arabs had vast under-populated territories at their disposal and the Jews had none; that the Arabs were a backward people, the Jews a forward people, and that the latter claimed to have received that country only 3000 years earlier from God himself, who had only temporarily withdrawn it from them.”
Although there seems to be little reason to dwell longer on the topic of the Balfour Declaration, the circumstances surrounding its creation of a national Jewish home should be well noted. Aside from that more ancient doctrine as recorded in the Bible, the Balfour Declaration is publicly cited as the Zionist’s title to Palestine. The conclusion of the First World War left the future of Palestine in question.
THE VERSAILLES PEACE CONFERENCE AND THE KING-CRANE COMMISSION
Due to the fact that nine-tenths of the Palestinian population was not Jewish and Palestine was the recognized Holy Land for the Jews, Christians and Muslims, the Versailles
Peace Conference of 1919 opposed turning Palestine into a Jewish State.
The policy of the United States with regard to the Middle East at the Versailles Conference was one of support for self-determination, based on Wilson’s 14 Points. In 1919 President Wilson sent two commissions: The King-Crane Commission to the Arab lands and the Harbord Commission to Armenia. The instruction of these commissions was to determine the wishes of the local people. Since this was the United States first direct political involvement in the Middle East, the findings and recommendations of the King-Crane Commission are a significant indication of the position this country enjoyed in the Arab world a half a century ago.
After lengthy interviews with a large number of Palestinian and Syrian people, the King-Crane Commission turned in the recommendation that the unity of Syria (meaning Syria, Lebanon and Palestine) be preserved and that if a mandate was necessary, the overwhelming preference of the population of these areas was for the United States to assume a single mandate over the entire area.
The report stated:
“They declared that their choice was due to knowledge of America’s record; the unselfish aims with which she had come into the war; the faith in her felt by the multitudes of Syrians who had been in America; the spirit revealed in American educational institutions in Syria, especially the college in Beirut, with its well-known and constant encouragement of Syrian national sentiment; their belief that America had no territorial or colonial ambitions, and would willingly withdraw when the Syrian State was well established as her treatment of both Cuba and the Philippines seemed to illustrate; her genuinely democratic spirit; and her ample resources.
The Commission recommended that if the United States did not accept the mandate then it should be assigned to Great Britain. The Commission declared that it could not recommended that the mandate be given to France due to the fact that such a move might precipitate a war between France and Syria. The Commission also at this time expressed concern over the “Zionist aspirations in Palestine.”
Unfortunately, President Wilson became inflicted with his fatal illness shortly after the issue of the Commission report and more than likely never saw their recommendations. He did send over to Congress a proposal for an American mandate over Armenia, but this was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 52 to 23. As the United States returned to an isolationist policy after the death of Wilson, our nation forsook for a time, the possibility of establishing a real political or strategic role in the area.
POPULATION MOVEMENTS AND PARTITION PLANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Both the Arabs and the Jews were denied their dream of an independent state in Palestine at the conclusion of the war. The newly created League of Nations established a mandate system (tutelage for independence) for the countries in the Middle East. Great Britain was given mandatory responsibility for Palestine and Iraq. France was given mandates for Syria. (Lebanon was created out of Syria in 1920 by France.) Britain’s intentions, however, were clear. In July of 1922, the Balfour Declaration was directly incorporated, almost verbatim, in the League of Nations’ mandate. The Arabs who did not want the mandate and who had no say in its formulation have refused to recognize its validity. In order to quiet the Arabs’ fear of Jewish domination, the Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill, issued a statement of policy on July 1, 1922, that attempted to resolve the ambiguity of the Balfour Declaration by saying that the “national home” of the Jews was not meant to be a Jewish state. The statement also guaranteed the autonomy of the Jews and assured them of continued immigration within the confines of the time of Great Britain’s acceptance of the economic capabilities of Palestine. At mandate, the first census of the Palestine region showed a Jewish population of 84,000, and an Arab population of 650,000. This census was done on a confessional basis, so the number of Arabs was an arbitrary figure, deduced from the numbers of Christians and Muslims.
On September 21, 1922, the United State Congress approved the Balfour Declaration. That joint resolution of the Congress as printed in “Documents on the Middle east’ published by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research is as follows:
“NO. 73, 67TH CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION, SEPTEMBER 21, 1922
“Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled.
“That the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected.”
As the influx of Jewish immigrants into Palestine began to largely increase, soon after the First World War, riots erupted among the Arab population. The idea of partitioning the Palestinian area was first introduced by the British in 1936-37 in the Peel Commission Report. According to the Report, the principal causes of the Arab-inspired riots of 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1933 were the rise of Arab nationalism and the fear of Zionist designs for political control of Palestine. The report recommended dividing Palestine into two regions and separating the two peoples with the area around Bethlehem and Jerusalem with a corridor extending to Jaffa to remain under British mandate. The Peel Commission’s recommendations were rejected by both the Arabs and the Jews. As the exodus from Germany, a result of Hitler’s rise to power, brought a continued increase in the Jewish population of Palestine, friction intensified. Out of fear that they were going to become a minority in what had been an Arab state, the Arab resistance started in 1937 and lasted until 1939.
In 1938, another attempt by the British was made to restudy the problem and find a solution to the grown friction between Arab and Zionist. The 1938 Woodhead Commission considered the proposal of removing the Arabs to either an Arab State or other Arab countries. The Report was not accepted unanimously by members of the Commission, nor was acceptance from the Palestinians any more favorable. As a result of the Arab reaction, the British were forced to restrict her immigration laws into Palestine. In 1939 a “White Paper” was issued by the British which restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine, reaffirmed the 1922 policy and set a date for independence in 1949. A conference was held in London with representatives of the Arabs and the Jews to test their acceptance of the 1939 White Paper. The Zionists rejected the idea of restricting immigration outright and rejected the White Paper in its entirety. Arab spokesmen were willing to use the White Paper proposals as a basis for discussion of a solution to the problem, although they did not feel the paper presented an acceptable solution in its original state.
In 1940, the British introduced the Land Transfer Regulations whereby no land could be sold to non-Arab Palestinians without approval of the British Government. Britain was trying to stop the sales to the Zionists that provided more settlement space for more immigrants coming from Europe in defiance of British policy. While the Arabs accepted the land transfer regulations, the Zionists did not and further accused the British of trying to appease the Arabs at the expense of the Jewish settlement program. At a time when the Nazi regime of Germany was persecuting Jews and the need for additional land for immigrants was acute, the Zionists felt justified in rejecting the White Paper.
As World War II approached, the Allied Powers again turned to the Levantine states for support. In return they would receive independence which was eventually granted under the terms of the peace treaty. Egypt had been granted nominal independence in 1922, but maintained British presence until 1956; Iraq had been released from its mandate in 1932; Lebanon achieved her independence in 1943; Syria in 1954; and Jordan in 1946.
The Palestine question reached international proportions during the course of the War and the years that followed. Pressures from the outside world were marked by strong pro-Zionist leanings in the United States. The Presidency, Congress, and the communications media were susceptible to Zionist pressure which focused on traditional American support for the minority and on the strong feelings of guilt which prevailed over our failure to alleviate the plight of the Jews in Europe during the ruthless Nazi purges. There is no denial that the suffering and terrible oppression experienced by the Jews under Nazi rule were one of the blackest pages ever to be written in the history of man. However, it must be said that following World War II there was no legal precedent for the international community to consent to the creation of a state without the agreement of the existing majority of the inhabitants in the area affected. It is oddly ironic that Allied forces did not have open immigration for the persecuted Jews. Public outrage and sympathy for the suffering of the Jews in Germany was matched by a refusal to assimilate these tragic people into their own nations. Yet from the immediate point after the War, until the Jews declared the state of Israel, in May of 1948, the sympathies of the world obscured the moral and legal obligations incumbent in partitioning Palestine.
After World War II, the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry sought a solution to the Palestine question and to the problem of the displaced Jews of Europe. The Anglo-American Committee Report of April 30, 1946, rejected the idea of the partition of Palestine and suggested a state that should either be Arab or Jewish. Special protection, presumable under the auspices of the United Nations and various religious communities involved would be given to the Holy Shrines and venerated places of Palestine to insure their open character. The Committee suggested a provincial arrangement for the division of the land in Palestine where each community would have control over the local affairs of their respective groups.
The findings of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry were accepted by the British, but rejected by the United States. Arabs believed that the provincial arrangements would lead to a partition of the area between the Jews and the Arabs; so they offered their alternative plan whereby a proportional representation system would guarantee the Jews at least 1/3 of the seats in government with the United Nation’s protection of the Holy Places. The Zionists countered with a plan of their own calling for Palestine to become a Jewish Commonwealth with open immigration, and with the Jewish agency (formed after the Mandate of 1922 to act as the operational arm in Palestine of the World Zionist Organization) in charge of the Palestinian government. Neither of these alternatives proved to be acceptable.
With the Palestinian question further and further from settlement, with no agreement being reached between either the United States or Great Britain or between Arabs and Jews and with Zionist terrorist organizations in Palestine harassing the British over the latter’s opposition to Jewish immigration, the British Government on February 18, 1947, turned the problem of Palestine over to the United Nations. According to British figures at this time the population of the two communities were 625,000 Jews and 1,262,000 Arabs. The United Nations had estimated the population of Palestine in 1946 based on the 1936 census and the known birth, death and immigration rates, to be 1,230,000 Arabs, 608,000 Jews and 35,000 others. In the period from 1920 to 1946, the British had recorded 376,000 legal Jewish immigrants to Palestine.
UNITED NATIONS AND THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
The end of the Second World War signaled the entry of the United States into the affairs of the Middle East. While some Jewish leaders opposed the creation of a separate Jewish state in Palestine, and other suggested a bi-national state; the Zionists were able to influence the U.S. government’s policy even against the advice of U.S. diplomats and other governmental officials who were experts on the Middle East. The U.S. government in turn brought pressure to bear on its allies and member states at the U.N. and influenced the outcome of U.N. deliberations on the subject. In contrast, the Arabs had little voice in the U.S.
A U.N. Special Conciliation Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created, but was unable to present a unanimous report. The majority report favored partition; a minority report suggested a single state with a federal structure. When the partition plan came before the General Assembly, it was uncertain whether it would pass. However, due to delay in voting as a result of a Thanksgiving recess, the U.S. and other influential governments and groups favoring creation of the State of Israel lobbied it into existence, thereby changing the decisive votes of three states who had previously opposed the majority plan. Although the General Assembly recommended partition, it had no enforcement power.
As the partition plan emerged, between November, 1947, and May 1948, events in Palestine escalated. The fighting continued between the British and the underground Zionist movement and as the Arabs sought to organize their strength, they too were confronted by the Zionist extremist groups organized by Abraham Stern and Irgun Zvai Leumi. An endless cycle of retaliation and counter-retaliation resulted in anarchy. While the British were theoretically the mandatory power, they had in fact relinquished their responsibility.
CREATION OF ISRAEL
Meanwhile, disappointed by the failure of agreement between the Arabs and the Zionist, the U.S. Department of State submitted a plan for U.N. Trusteeship for Palestine to the United Nations General Assembly on April 20, 1948. The shift of U.S. policy from partition to trusteeship was unfavorably received by the Zionists who were prepared to proclaim the state of Israel. As British rule dissolved at midnight on May 14, 1948, Israel proclaimed itself an independent state. Approximately thirty minutes later, President Truman extended de facto recognition to the state. (Soviet Russia was the second nation to do so.) The hasty recognition came as a surprise to the U.S. Department of State officials who were debating the trusteeship concept at the United Nations General Assembly. It then became a matter for the United Nations to achieve an armistice to end the subsequent war between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Regardless of the merits of the cast of the creation of Israel, in the Arab eyes the United States’ action indentified American with what the Arabs considered a serious breach of commitments.
THE WAR OF 1948 AND ITS RESULTS
Shortly after Israel proclaimed its statehood, the regular Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq attacked Israel. The causes for the attack were cumulative, but the immediate reasons given by the Arabs and Zionists conflicted. The Arabs claimed that before any soldiers from the regular Arab armies had entered Palestine from the neighboring Arab countries, the Zionists had already occupied some territories which had been earmarked for the Arabs under the U.N. recommendations of November, 1947. The Zionists, on the other hand, claimed that the Arabs attacked their newly formed nation without provocation.
By June 11, 1948, a truce was signed which was breached intermittently throughout the year. After the truce, the Zionists occupied much of the area of Palestine which had been allocated to the Arabs in the partition plan. Although Jerusalem was supposed to become an international territory, corpus separatum, as a result of the war it was divided. The Old City remained in Arab hands while the New City was in the hands of the Israelis.
Count Folke Bernadotte was selected as the U.N. truce mediator, but was assassinated in Israeli-held Jerusalem on September, 1948. By November the U.N. called upon all parties to agree to an armistice and separate agreements were drawn up between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon by the following year (1949). In May, preceding the armistice, Israel was admitted to the United Nations.
Eventually the armistice lines became international frontiers. The 1948 hostilities had brought Israel some 2,493 square miles more that what the United Nations’ Partition Plan had envisioned in 1947, which was a Jewish state of 5,500 square miles. It was also at this time that the Middle East began to experience the problems of large numbers of refugees. Following the 1948 war, some 500,000 Jews migrated from Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to Israel between 1949 and 1952. Many of these Jewish immigrants came from homes which were in now hostile Arab states. However, by far, the Palestinian Arabs were the group which suffered the greatest. The United Nations reported that approximately 750,000 Palestinian Arabs were left homeless by the 1948 conflict.
THE UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY
On the basis of a resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 8, 1949 (302/IV/) the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) was established to provide form emergency shelter and food for these displaced people.
Prior to that time, the needs of the refugees had been met through the Disaster Relief Project (1948) and voluntary agencies like the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the American Friends Service Committee, whose activities were coordinated by the United Nations Relied for Palestine Refugees (UNRPR, 1949-1950). UNRWA was not established to “solve” the refugee problem, much less the more general Palestine problem. As defined by the resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly, its functions were and are (1) to provide relief, medical care, and education for refugees, and (2) to assist them to become self-supporting. These services have been rendered efficiently and well at an average annual cost of some $40.00 per capita, or about 7 to 10 cents per capita per day.
Today UNRWA is the largest of the United Nations subsidiary agencies, with a staff of some 12,434, of whom 98% are Palestinian refugees. There are 108 international staff members. About 6,892 members of the staff are engaged in education and training and 2,998 in the health services. The Commission-General is an American, Dr. Laurence Michelmore, and Sir John Rennie (British) the Deputy Commissioner-General. The annual UNRWA budget, in recent years, has averaged some $37,000,000, with 44.5% going to relief services, 12.6% to health, and 42.9% to education and training. Due to the failure of contributions to match expenditures by 1966-67, there was a threatened deficit of more than $3,500,000, even before the conflict of June 1967 had added the increased burden of additional refugees and displaced persons who needed emergency international assistance.
Because a major portion of its work has been devoted to relief, with all the connotations involved in the term, the technical assistance aspects of UNRWA’s activities often passed unnoticed, especially in the fields of public health and education and training. In 1950 there was a project to develop UNRWA into the United Nations center for Middle Eastern technical assistance. By 1969 there were more than 200,000 children in UNRWA’s 466 schools, and some 57,000 refugee children in other schools, government and private. By 1969, UNRWA had assisted some 1,200 students to attend Middle Eastern universities, at an average cost of $500.00 per student per year, of whom more than 200 were graduated in medicine and a somewhat larger number in engineering and other skills needed in the Middle East. Better known were the eleven technical, vocational and teacher training centers, which, by 1969, had a capacity of some 4,000 students and an annual output of some 3,000 with training as teachers, and as workers in the building, electrical, metal, and automotive fields as well as in business and office practice. By 1969 some 12,000 refugee young men and children had received various types of training and most of them had found suitable employment.
During the period since 1948 (to 1969) some $723,847,000 have been contributed to the relief and rehabilitation of the refugees, primarily through UNRWA, whose total income since 1950 was $695,767,000 (1969). Expenditures totaled $714,626,000 by the end of 1968. The contributions of several of the countries in the Middle East as well as the United States to UNRWA in the period of 1950-1969 is given below:
Israel, $2,435,160 (inconsistent; nothing given in 1965 and 1966)
Jordan, $2,195,174 (consistent between 1965 and 1969).
Lebanon, $828,516 (consistent between 1965-1969).
Syria, $2,700,909 (consistent between 1965-1969)
U.A.R., $5,475,576 (inconsistent; no money given in 1969).
United States, $455,618,069 (consistent between 1965-1969).
Mention should also be made, however, of the direct contributions made by some of these countries to the refugees (non-UNWRA funds given directly by the countries to the refugees for educational services, social welfare services, and miscellaneous and administrative costs.) For the year of 1969, these direct contributions to the refugees are as follows:
United Arab Republic 3,132,922
Since June of 1967, Israel’s direct contributions to UNWRA have been in the neighborhood of some $2,500,000 and those of the Arab Host Governments to which the Palestinians fled about $9,000,000 annually. Voluntary organizations have contributed in the neighborhood of some $50,000,000 over the years, although it is difficult to make precise estimates in their instance.
THE UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTION 194 (III)
Following the hostilities of 1948, the United Nations immediately recognized the gravity of the refugee situation. On December 11, 1948, the General Assembly passed Resolution 194 (III) establishing a Conciliation Commission for Palestine (which members comprised France, Turkey, and the United States) to assist the parties toward a general settlement, but, while it produced a general formula in September, 1951, it was not acceptable to either side. During the years that followed, the Conciliation Commission was able to only unfreeze some $10,000,000 in blocked Arab bank accounts in Israel. The Resolution itself stated:
Resolved that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.
Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement, and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriation organs and agencies of the United Nations.
This resolution has been reaffirmed annually since 1948 by the General Assembly.
In actuality very few Palestinians were repatriated by Israel and none received compensation for the lands and homes they lost during the war. As was mentioned previously some money was unfrozen, but this could hardly cover the losses suffered by the refugees of the war.
In December of 1949 the United Nation’s General Assembly also voted to establish a permanent international authority for Jerusalem. However, the Israeli Prime Minister subsequently announced that Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel despite the U.N.’s actions. The United States and other western governments never recognized this act and have kept their embassies in Tel Aviv.
U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST
America’s first commitment to the Middle East came after World War II. Soviet moves in Iran and Turkey and her encouragement of the Communist rebellion in Greece convinced President Truman that a new Russian offensive was in the making. When Great Britain abdicated her role of financial aid to Greece, the principal task of containing Soviet expansion fell to the United States. On March 12, 1947, President Truman asked Congress for $400 million for economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey to strengthen these countries against Communist aggression. This resulted in the Truman Doctrine of March 12, 1947, enunciating our policy of containment. Then in 1950, on May 25th, a Tripartite Agreement (France, Great Britain and the United States) was announced which stated that France, Britain and the U.S. would not permit any armed aggression across the armistice lines in Palestine; and if it took place, appropriate action against the aggressor would be taken “both within and outside the U.N.” They also committed themselves to strive to maintain a balance in the supply of arms to Israel and the Arab states.
The Korean War confirmed U.S. suspicions of the Soviet’s policy and resulted in an effort for the first time to create general defense arrangements in the Middle East. In the early 1950’s under the leadership of then Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, the United States tried to draw the Arab states into a western alliance without considering the Palestine problem. According to a study of this time by Ralph Magnus, Department of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley:
“In 1953 Dulles personally visited the Middle East. His analysis emphasized the basic purpose of strengthening the area against Soviet aggression. There was, however, a new initiative to be taken toward this goal. Dulles reports: (1) that a regional defense organization must spring from the desires of peoples and governments; (2) most of the Middle East was unwilling at this time to join in a Western sponsored defense organization; and (3) the states of the “northern tier” closer to Russia and more fearful of aggression would be willing to form a regional defense organization.”
Dulles’ report, of course, was the origin of the Baghdad Pact, later transformed into the Central Treaty Organization (CENTRO). The speech given by the Secretary of State upon his return from the Middle East is excerpted as follows from “Documents on the Middle East.” United States Interests in the Middle East as edited by Ralph H. Magnus and published by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy research:
SIX MAJOR POLICY ISSUES
(Speech by Secretary of State Dulles (excerpts), June 1, 1953)
About 3 weeks ago, the Director for Mutual Security, Mr. Harold Stassen, and I and our associates set out, at President Eisenhower’s request, on a trip to 12 countries which lie in between the Mediterranean in Europe and China in Asia. I shall give you our country-by-country impressions and then our general conclusions.
First, let me say that everywhere we were well received. This was encouraging, for several of the countries feel that the United States policies have, in recent years been harmful and even antagonistic to them. The Communists have vigorously exploited this feeling. They staged some hostile demonstrations. But these were inconsequential. The governments received us with warm hospitality, and as we drove through the streets, the people usually greeted us with friendly smiles and applause. The political leaders talked intimately with us, and we gained new friendships and new understanding which will stand us in good stead for the future. Also in each capital I spoke to all of the United States Foreign Service personnel. They are a fine body of men and women of whom we can be proud.
It is high time that the United States Government paid more attention to the Near East and South Asia, which, until our trip, no United States Secretary of State has ever visited. Our postwar attention has been primarily given to Western Europe. That area was and is very important, but not all-important.
It came as a surprising shock when the 450 million Chinese people, whom we had counted as friends, fell under Communist domination. There could be equally dangerous developments in the Near East and South Asia. The situation calls for urgent concern.
The area we visited contains about one-fourth of the world’s population. It represents about one-half of the people of the world who are still free of Communist domination.
The Near East possesses great strategic importance as the bridge between Europe, Asia, and Africa. The present masters of the Kremlin, following the lead of past military conquerors, covet this position. In 1940 Soviet leaders specified, in secret negotiations with the Nazis, that Soviet “territorial aspirations center . . . in the direction of the Indian Ocean and . . . the Persian Gulf.”
This area contains important resources vital to our welfare --- oil, manganese, chrome, mica, and other minerals. About 60 percent of the proven oil reserves of the world are in the Near East.
Most important of all, the Near East is the source of three great religions---the Jewish, the Christian, and the Moslem---which have for centuries exerted an immense influence throughout the world. Surely we cannot ignore the fate of the peoples who have first perceived and then passed on to us the great spiritual truths from which our own society derives its inner strength.
Let me turn now to conclusions.
1. Colonialism. Most of the peoples of the Near East and South Asia are deeply concerned about political independence for themselves and others. They are suspicious of the colonial powers. The United States too is suspect because, it is reasoned, our NATO alliance with France and Britain requires us to try to preserve or restore the old colonial interests of our allies.
I am convinced that United States policy has become unnecessarily ambiguous in this matter. The leaders of the countries I visited fully recognize that it would be a disaster if there were any break between the Unites States and Great Britain and France. They don’t want this to happen. However, without breaking from the framework of Western unity, we can pursue our traditional dedication to political liberty. In reality, the Western powers can gain, rather than lose, from an orderly development of self-government.
I emphasize, however, the word “orderly.” Let none forget that the Kremlin uses extreme nationalism to bait the trap by which it seeks to capture the dependent peoples.
2. Living Standards. The peoples of the Near East and Asia demand better standards of living, and the day is past when their aspirations can be ignored. The task is one primarily for the government and the peoples themselves. In some cases they can use their available resource, such as oil revenues, to better advantage. There are, however, ways in which the United States can usefully help, not with masses of money but by contributing advanced technical knowledge and transport, communication, fertilization and use of water for irrigation. Mr. Stassen and I feel that money wisely spend for this area under the mutual security program will give the American people a good return in terms of better understanding and cooperation.
3. Arab Good Will. The United States should seek to allay the deep resentment against it that has resulted from the creation of Israel. In the past we had good relations with the Arab peoples. American educational institutions had built up a feeling of good will, and also American businessmen had won a good reputation in this area. There was mutual confidence to mutual advantage.
Today the Arab peoples are afraid that the United States will back the new State of Israel in aggressive expansion. They are more fearful of Zionism than of communism, and they fear lest the United States become the backer of expansionist Zionism.
On the other hand, the Israelis fear that ultimately the Arabs may try to push them into to sea.
In an effort to calm these contradictory fears the United States joined with Britain and France in a Declaration of May 25, 1950 which stated that “the three Governments, should they find that any of these states (of the Near East) was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines, would, consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within and outside the United Nations, to prevent such violation.” That Declaration when made did not reassure the Arabs. It must be made clear that the present U.S. administration stands fully behind that Declaration. We cannot afford to be distrusted by millions who could be sturdy friends of freedom. They must not further swell the ranks of Communist dictators.
The leaders in Israel themselves agreed with us that United States policies should be impartial so as to win only the respect and regard of the Israeli but also of the Arab peoples. We shall seek such p0lices.
$. Peace Between Israel and the Arab Nations. There is need for peace in the Near East. Today there is an uneasy military armistice between Israel and the Arab States, while economic warfare is being conducted by the Arab States, in retaliation for alleged Israeli encroachments. The area is enfeebled by fear and by wasteful measures which are inspired by fear and hate.
Israel should become part of the Near East community and cease to look upon itself, or be looked upon by others, as alien to this community. This is possible. To achieve it will require concessions on the part of both sides. But the gains to both will far outweigh the concessions required to win those gains.
The parties concerned have the primary responsibility of bringing peace to the area. But the United States will not hesitate by every appropriate means to use its influence to promote a step-by-step reduction of tension in the area and the conclusion of ultimate peace.
5. Middle East Defense Organization. A Middle East Defense Organization is a future rather than an immediate policy. Many of the Arab League countries are so engrossed with their quarrels with Israel or with Great Britain or France that they pay little heed to the menace of Soviet communism. However, there is more concern where the Soviet Union is near. In general, the northern tier of nations shows awareness of the danger.
There is a vague desire to have a collective security system. But no such system can be imposed from without. It should be designed and grow from within out of a sense of common destiny and common danger.
While awaiting the formal creation of a security association, the United States can usefully help strengthen the interrelated defense of those countries which want strength, not as against each other or the West, but to resist the common threat to all free peoples.
6. Friendly Understanding. In conclusion, let me recall that the primary purpose of our trip was to show friendliness and to develop understanding. These peoples we visited are proud peoples who have a great tradition and, I believe, a great future. We in the United States are better off if we respect and honor them, and learn the thoughts and aspirations which move them. It profits nothing merely to be critical of others.
President Eisenhower’s administration plans to make friendship---not faultfinding---the basis of its foreign policy. President Eisenhower brought with him from Europe an unprecedented measure of understanding and personal friendships. Before he was inaugurated, he went to Korea. Twice since inauguration, Mr. Stassen and I have been to Europe. Now we have been to the Near East and South Asia. Later this month, the President’s brother, Dr. Milton Eisenhower, and Assistant Secretary of State Cabot will go to South America.
Thus your Government is establishing the worldwide relationships and gathering the information which will enable us better to serve you, the American people.
The Baghdad Pact was initiated by a bilateral treaty between Turkey and Iraq (February, 1955), which were later joined by Iran (October, 1956), Pakistan (September, 1955), and Britain (April, 1955). It should also be noted that the States of the northern tier had already accomplished defensive arrangements in 1954. In April of 1954, Turkey and Pakistan signed a mutual defense compact. Then in September of 1954, Pakistan joined SEATO. Turkey was already a member nation of NATO.
The United States, the originator of the concept behind the Baghdad Pact, never formally joined the pact. The inclusion of Iraq and the attempted recruitment of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and the obvious exclusion of Egypt had led some historians of the Middle East to consider the Pact a divisive force in the Arab world.*
On September 27, Egypt announced that she was accepting a $200 million arms aid offer by the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. This action was the first time that western nations lost a major initiative in the Middle East to the East. Shortly after this move, the United States offered to finance the building of the Aswan Dam project in Egypt on December 17, 1955.
From February to April, 1956, tensions increased along the Israeli-Egypt border. The United States sent additional destroyers into the Mediterranean. Egypt received Czech torpedo boats; Israel received British and French arms; and the United States sent arms to Saudi Arabia. The United Nations attempted to reduce tensions in the area but with little success, and military pacts were formed between Arab nations.
France, during this period, was antagonistic to Nasser over his intransigency on the Algerian question. In the spring and summer of 1956, France began selling arms and planes to Israel. The United States facilitated the financing of these sales to Israel.
During this time Nasser recognized Red China on May 16, 1956. And, meeting reaction with reaction, Dulles, possibly under Congressional pressure, canceled the United States’ offer to assist in the building of the Aswan Dam. As Magnus stated: “The stage was set for Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal and the Suez War of 1956.”
Objecting to Egyptian nationalization of the Suez Canal Company on July 26, 1956, and Egyptian aid to the Algerian rebels, France and Britain on October 31 joined Israel in attacking Egypt. The brief fighting resulted in Israel opening the Strait of Tiran (which Egypt had refused to let Israel use since 1948) along with the Suez Canal. With U.S. and Soviet pressure (coupled with the Soviet threat to use nuclear weapons on Paris and London unless France and Britain withdraw from the Canal Zone), the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution for an immediate cease-fire and called for withdrawal of Israeli forces from behind the Egypt-Israeli armistice line. By November 7, Britain and France agreed to a cease-fire and to withdraw their troops as soon as the newly formed United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) could take over their position. On November 8, Israel agreed to withdraw its troops as soon as “satisfactory arrangements” were made with UNEF. On November 15, advance units of UNEF arrived in the Suez Canal Zone with the permission of Egypt and were stationed on the U.A.R. side of the Canal. The U.S. supported the arrangements of the U.N. Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold, to have a U.N. Emergency Force placed on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal to guarantee rights of passage. The aide memoire regarding this arrangement indicated that the U.N. Force was in the U.A.R. with the consent of the host country and could be removed at the request of the U.A.R. Israel would not permit a similar U.N. presence on her soil.
*For a full discussion of the Baghdad Pact, see John C. Campbell, Defense of the Middle East, 1960, Harper, New York, Chapter 5.
Dag Hammarskjold stated before the General Assembly in January, 1957, that:
“The United Nations cannot condone a change of the status juris resulting from military action contrary to the provisions of the Charter. The organization must, therefore, maintain that the status juris existing prior to such military action be reestablished by a withdrawal of troops and by the relinquishment of nullification of rights asserted in territories covered by the military action and depending on it”
The 1956 hostilities brought the Middle East further from peace. Israel opened the Strait of Tiran and announced that any future Egyptian attempts to close the Strait of Tiran would be a casus belli (occasion for war). The hostilities between the Arabs and Jews deepened.
On January 5, 1957, President Eisenhower requested that Congress give him authority to provide American economic aid and armed support to any Middle East nation desiring protection against “overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international Communism.” A resolution expressing the Eisenhower Doctrine was approved by the Senate in March. The Doctrine was supported by Saudi Arabia and the Baghdad Pact members, but was repudiated by the Soviets, Syria, Egypt, and the Labor Party leakers in London.
THE PERIOD BETWEEN 1956 AND 1967
The period between 1956 and the June war of 1967 was one of unrest and constant turmoil between Israel and the Arab states. Among the Arab countries many internal upheavals were experienced especially in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. There were a number of incidents among the Arab nations and Israel with the primary infractions involving Israel and Syria.
The United States again played an important part in Middle Eastern affairs during the Lebanese Crisis of May, 1958. Rioting took place in Lebanon which was blamed on outside Arab agitators from Syria. On July 4th, a U.N. investigation team reported that there was no evidence of Syrian incursions in Lebanon and called the conflict a civil war. On July 15, 1958, on day following the revolution in Iraq, the Lebanese Government requested U.S. help and Marines were sent to assist the troubled area. On the same day British troops entered Jordan at the request of King Hussein.
The military coup which happened simultaneously in Iraq toppled the regime of King Faisal and the new Iraqi Government denounced the Baghdad pact mentioned earlier. Shortly thereafter, the new government concluded a mutual defense pact with the U.A.R.
On February 25, 1965 Secretary of State Dean Rusk said that the United States’ policy in the Middle East was to maintain a military balance between the Arab countries and Israel.
According to a Committee on Foreign Relations Committee Print #28-406 Israel requested the United Nations on May 9, 1966 to list all the incidents that had occurred since the establishment of the Mixed Armistice Commission in 1949. U Thant refused claiming that such a report would be too long and unusable. The Committee print states that over 100,000 incidents had been reported since 1949.
THE SIX DAY WAR
The events leading to the outbreak of hostilities in June of 1967 are still not fully known. The most authoritative article on the causes of the 1967 war appeared in the January 1968 issue of Foreign Affairs, written by Ambassador Charles Yost. In order to allow a better understanding of this period in the history of the Middle East, I request unanimous consent that Ambassador Yost’s article be printed in its entirety at this point:
THE ARAB-ISRAELI WAR: HOW IT BEGAN
(By Charles W. Yost)
The recent Six Day War in the Middle East grew out of the sterile confrontation to which the peoples of the region had committed themselves over the past twenty years. Both parties had frequently proclaimed their intention to go to war under certain circumstances. It seems unlikely, however, that any of them plotted and planned war for 1967. It seems more likely that they blundered into it.
Both sides might on many occasions have moved to end their confrontation by compromise, but this neither side showed the slightest willingness to do. The Israelis, feeling themselves beleaguered by fifty million hostile neighbors, acutely conscious of the recent fate of six million Jews in Europe, believed any significant concession would merely whet insatiable Arab appetites and start Israel down the slippery slope to extinction. The Arabs, looking upon the establishment of Israel as the latest in a series of imperialist occupations of their homeland, of which the presence of a million Palestine refugees was a constant reminder, found i8t emotionally and politically impossible to accept Israel as a permanent fact of life or to forego harassing it and conspiring against it.
This common intolerance and mutual harassment had brought on war in 1956. It is pertinent to note that, in his “Dairy of the Sinai Campaign” published in 1966, General Dayan wrote that the three major objects of that campaign from the Israeli point of view were “freedom of shipping for Israeli vessels in the Gulf of Aqaba; an end to the Feydayen terrorism; and a neutralization of the threat of attack on Israel by the joint Egypt-Syria-Jordan military command.” With slight variations, these were the issues that brought on war again eleven years later.
Through the latter part of 1966, so-called “El Fatah” incursions into Israel, sometimes carried out by Palestinian refugees, sometimes moving through Jordan or Lebanon, but for the most part mounted in Syria, grew in numbers and intensity. In October two particularly serious incidents in which several Israelis were killed caused Israel to Appeal, as it often had before, to the U.N. Security Council. However, a relatively mild resolution proposed by six of its members, calling on Syria to take stronger measures to prevent such incidents, was, as on previous occasions, vetoed by the Soviet Union in the supposed interests of its Arab friends.
A new and more radical Syrian government had come to power by coup d’état earlier that year. It enthusiastically supported the claims and machinations of the so-called Palestine Liberation Army which mobilized and inflamed the refugees and carried out some of the raids. The Syrian Prime Minister declared in a press conference in October: “We are not sentinels over Israel’s security and are not the leash that restrains the revolution of the displaced and persecuted Palestinian people.” Early in November, moreover, a “defense agreement” was concluded between Syria and the United Arab Republic, involving a joint military command and other measures of “coordination and integration” between the two countries.
It had long been Israel’s practice, whenever it judged that Arab raids had reached an intolerable level, to retaliate massively. It did so on November 13 against Es Samu in Jordan where, according to U.N. observers, eighteen Jordanian soldiers and civilians were killed and fifty-four wounded. The fact that moderate Jordan rather than extremist Syria was the target of retaliation seemed ill-judged to most of the world but was executed by Israel on grounds that there had recently been thirteen acts of sabotage committed on Israeli territory from Jordanian bases. Be that as it may, the consequences, in and out of the region, of this disproportionate and misplaced retaliation were considerable.
The U.N. Security Council, by a vote of fourteen to one abstention (New Zealand), censured Israel “for this large-scale military action in violation of the U.N. Charter and of the General Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan” and emphasized to Israel “that actions of military reprisal cannot be tolerated and that if they are repeated, the Security Council will have to consider further and more effective steps as envisaged in the Charter to ensure against the repetition of such acts.”
Perhaps more important in its effect on subsequent events, the Jordanian Prime Minister in a press conference charged the U.A.R. and Syria, which had been denouncing King Hussein’s government, with failing to bear their share of the confrontation against Israel. He accused the U.A.R. of failing to supply promised air cover and urged that Egyptian troops be withdrawn from Yemen and sent to Sinai on Israel’s southern flank. The U.A.R. Commander-in-Chief of the Arab Command replied publicly with similar recriminations but the charges must have struck home to a régime so peculiarly sensitive to face and prestige.
From January to April 1967 the Syrian-Israeli frontier was agitated by an ascending series of clashes ranging from potshots at tractors plowing to exchanges of fire between tanks, artillery and aircraft. These clashes were primarily caused by the refusal of both sides, at different times, to permit the U.N. Mixed Armistice Commission even to mark the armistice line at disputed points and the insistence of both parties on farming and patrolling disputed areas.
On April 7, 1967, one of these clashes escalated into what in retrospect appears to have been the curtain-raiser to the six-day war. An exchange of fire between tanks gave rise to intervention first by Israeli and then by Syrian aircraft. This led by the end of the day to the appearance of Israeli planes over the outskirts of Damascus and to the shooting down of six Syrian planes.
The most serious aspect of this affair was that for the second time in six months Arab forces suffered a very bloody nose at the hands of Israel without the “unified Arab Command” in Cairo lifting a finger. President Nasser, who aspired to be leader of the Arab world and who had formally established a military apparatus at least for the containment of Israel, had sat quietly by while first his rival and then his ally had been conspicuously and roundly chastised. Neither the rival nor the ally hesitated publicly and privately to point out this dereliction. Nasser could of course reply, and perhaps did, that the El Fatah raids were excessive and untimely, that the Arabs must not be provoked into fighting before they were ready, and that the U.N. Emergency Force standing between his army and Israel blocked its coming to the rescue of his Arab allies. These excuses, however genuine and well-founded they may have been, were quite clearly wearing thin in the eyes of the Arabs after the April 7 affair. Those knowing President Nasser’s temperament could hardly have felt any assurance that he would hold aloof a third time.
Yet the respite was brief. A month later, on May 11, the U.N. Secretary-General declared at a press luncheon: “I must say that, in the last few days, the El Fatah type of incidents have increased, unfortunately. Those incidents have occurred in the vicinity of the Lebanese and Syrian lines and are very deplorable, especially because, by their nature, they seem to indicate that the individuals who committed them have had more specialize training than has usually been evidenced in El Fatah incidents in the past. That type of activity is insidious, is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Armistic Agreements and menaces the peace of the area”
On the same day, May 11, Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol was saying in a public speech in Tel Aviv that this government regarded this wave of sabotage and infiltration gravely. “In view of the fourteen incidents of the past month alone,” he said “we may have to adopt measures not less drastic than those of April 7.” In a radio interview two days later he declared: “It is quite clear to the Israeli Government that the focal point of the terrorists is in Syria, but we have laid down the principle that we shall choose the time, the place and the means to counter the aggressor.” Eshkol went on the say that he intended to make Israeli defense forces powerful enough to deter aggression, to repel it and to strike a decisive blow within enemy territory.
It would appear that a senior Israeli military officer also made a public comment on or about May 12, the exact text of which it has not been possible to find but which, whether or not correctly understood, significantly contributed to Arab apprehensions. President Nasser referred to it in a speech on May 23, saying, “On May 12 a very important statement was made. . . . The statement said that the Israeli commanders have announced they would carry out military operations against Syria in order to occupy Damascus and overthrow the Syrian Government.”
These Israeli exercises in verbal escalation provoked far more serious repercussions than they were no doubt intended to do and, are from sobering the exuberant Syrians and their allies, raised probably genuine fears in Damascus, Cairo and Moscow to a level which brought about the fatal decisions and events of the following week. Indeed the Secretary-General, disturbed that his statement of May 11 on the El Fatah raids might stimulate Israeli military action, announced on May 13 that that statement “cannot be interpreted as condoning resort to force by any party.”
On the same day the Syrian Foreign Ministry summoned ambassadors from countries which were members of the Security Council and told them that a plot against Syria was being concocted by “imperialist and Zionist quarters.” The Ministry described “the prearranged aggressive role Israel is preparing to play within the framework of this plot” which, it declared, “began with the abortive April 7 aggression” and was revealed by “statements of Zionist Chief of Staff Rabin.”
Another component in the accumulating mass of explosive elements was mentioned by President Nasser in the famous speech of June 9 in which he offered to resign. He declared at that time: “We all know how the crisis began in the first half of last May. There was a plan by the enemy to invade Syria, and the statements by his politicians and his military commanders declared that frankly. The evidence was ample. The sources of our Syrian brothers and our own reliable information were categorical on this. Even our friends in the Soviet Union told the parliamentary delegation which was visiting Moscow last month that there was a calculated intention.”
There seems little doubt that the Soviets did transmit warnings along these lines to the Syrian and Egyptian governments. Eastern European sources have justified these warnings on the grounds that the Israeli Government itself advised Soviet representatives that, if the El Fatah raids continued, it would take drastic punitive action against Syria. This was of course no more than they were saying publicly, but the Israelis may have hoped that direct notice to the Soviets might induce them to persuade their Syrian friends to stop the raids.
Indeed there is evidence that Israeli officials were at this time disseminating their warnings rather widely, The New York Times correspondent, James Feron, in Tel Aviv reported on May 12: “Some Israeli leaders have decided that the use of force against Syria may be the only way to curtail increasing terrorism. Any such Israeli reaction to continued infiltration would be a considerable strength but of short duration and limited in area. This has become apparent in talks with highly qualified and informed Israelis who have spoken in recent days against a background of mounting border violence.”
However, these private warnings, coupled with the provocative pronouncements by Eshkol and others, would seem to have backfired by convincing the Soviets, Syrians and Egyptians that a major retaliatory strike against Syria was fixed and imminent. In a speech to the United Nations on June 19 Premier Kosygin declared: “In those days, the Soviet Government, and I believe others too, began receiving information to the effect that the Israeli Government had timed for the end of may a swift strike at Syria in order to crush it and then carry the fighting over into the territory of United Arab Republic.”
On the other hand, the Israelis state that on May 12 the Director General of the Israeli Foreign Minister, on May 19 the Foreign Minister and on May 29 the Prime Minister each invited Soviet Ambassador Chuvakhin, who had accused Israel of massing forces on the Syrian border, to visit the area and see for himself, but that in each case he refused to do so. Furthermore, in his report to the Security Council on May 19, Secretary-General Thant had referred to allegations about troop movements and concentrations on the Israeli side of the Syrian border but concluded: “Reports of UNTSO observers have confirmed the absence of troop concentrations and significant troop movement on both sides of the line.” U.S. representatives in Israel at the time also saw no evidence of the alleged troop concentrations. Moreover, on May 15 the Israeli Government, observing that Egyptian forces were crossing the Suez Canal into Sinai in considerable strength, instructed its Representative at the U.N., Ambassador Rafael, to request the Secretary-General to assure Cairo on its behalf that it had no intention of initiating any military action. The Secretary-General immediately complied with the request.
Nevertheless, it should also be noted that in the May 19 report referred to above the Secretary-General remarked: “Intemperate and bellicose utterances . . . are unfortunately more or less routine on both sides of the lines in the Near East. In recent weeks, however, reports emanating from Israel have attributed to some high officials in that state statements so threatening as to be particularly inflammatory in the sense that they could only heighten emotions and thereby increase tensions on the other side of the lines.” Press accounts of these statements also seemed so inflammatory to U.S. State Department officials that they expressed concern to Israeli authorities.
The situation in mid-May was therefore the following: The aggravation of the El Fatah raids originating in Syria would seem to have brought the Israeli Government to the decision, announced publicly in general terms by responsible officials and confided in more specific terms to journalists and perhaps to foreign diplomats including the Soviets, to retaliate sharply and substantially if the raids continued. There is no solid evidence, however, that they intended anything so massive as a drive on Damascus. Nevertheless, this prospect had in both Moscow and Cairo an impact which the Israelis probably did not fully anticipate or correctly assess.
The Soviets had particular reason for not wishing to see the Syrian Government humiliated, defeated and perhaps overthrown. The increasingly radical Syrian governments which had assumed power during the previous eighteen months, though they were far from being communist (the Communist Party was and still is banned), had come to rely more and more on Soviet military and economic aid, to permit increasing numbers of Soviet advisers to be stationed in the country, and all in all to offer the most promising field for Soviet penetration and influence to be found anywhere in the Middle East. The particular Soviet concern for Syria was dramatically shown at the end of the six-day war when the prospect that Israeli forces might then drive to Damascus caused the Soviets suddenly to join in a demand, which they had up to that point stubbornly opposed, that U.N. observes police the cease-fire. It may well have been that by mid-May they genuinely feared massive Israeli retaliation which might topple the Syrian Government and that they therefore spurred the Egyptians on the vigorous counteraction, the full repercussions of which they did not foresee. In fear of “losing” Syria they overreached themselves and urged the Arabs to take action which resulted in much more disastrous losses for their side.
Nasser, for his part, saddled with responsibility for the unified Arab Command which was supposed to protect all the Arab States from Israel, Jealous of this already damaged position as would-be leader of the Arab world, having been ridiculed by this allies and rivals for his failure to stir at the time of the Es Samu and April 7 affairs, categorically assured by Syrians and Soviets that Israel was about to attack Syria, for which public statements by Israeli leaders seemed to give warrant, may well have felt that he could no longer stand aside without fatal loss to his prestige and authority.
Israeli public statements between May 11 and 13, therefore, regardless of how they may have been intended, may well have been the spark that ignited the long accumulating tinder. On May 14 the Egyptian Chief of Staff to Damascus and, according to the Syrian official spokesman, discussed with Syrian officials “important matters concerning joint defense against Israel.” On May 16 the Cairo radio announced that the United Arab Republic had declared a state of emergency for its armed forces because of “the tense situation on the Syrian-Israeli armistice lines, Israel’s large, military concentrations, its threats and its open demands for an attack on Damascus.” On that same day, according to the Cairo radio, Foreign Minister Riad received the Soviet, Syrian and Iraqi Ambassadors in separate audiences and Minister of War Badran received the Soviet Ambassador accompanied by his military attaché. The fourth act of the tragedy was about to begin.
At 2200 hours local time that evening, May 16, General Rikhye, Commander of the U.N. Emergency Force in Sinai, was handed the following letter from General Fawzi, Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces: “To your information, I gave my instructions to all U.A.R. Armed Forces to be ready for action against Israel the moment it might carry out an aggressive action against any Arab country. Due to these instructions our troops are already concentrated in Sinai on our eastern borders. For the sake of complete security of all U.N. troops which install O.P.s along our border, I request that you issue your orders to withdraw all these troops immediately. I have given my instructions to our Commander of the eastern zone concerning this subject. Inform back the fulfillment of this request.”
Secretary-General Thant received General Rikhye’s report at 1730 hours New York time that same evening and an hour and a quarter later (at 1845 hours) at his urgent request received the U.A.R. representative to the U.N., Ambassador El Kony, to whom he presented the following views: (1) General Rikhye could not take orders from anyone but the Secretary-General; (2) if General Fawzi was asking for a temporary withdrawal of UNEF from the Line this was unacceptable because UNEF “cannot be asked to stand aside in order to enable the two sides to resume fighting”; (3) if General Fawzi was asking for a general withdrawal of UNEF from Gaza and Sinai the request should have been addressed by the U.A.R. Government to the Secretary-General; (4) the U.A.R. Government had the right “to withdraw the consent which it gave in 1956 for the stationing of UNEF on the territory of the U.A.R.”; (5) if the U.A.R. Government addressed such a request to the Secretary-General he “would order the withdrawal of all UNEF troops from Gaza and Sinai, simultaneously informing the General Assembly of what he was doing and why”; (6) a U.A.R. request for a temporary withdrawal of UNEF from the Line would be considered by the Secretary-General “as tantamount to a request for the complete withdrawal of UNEF from Gaza and Sinai, since this would reduce UNEF to ineffectiveness.”
Early the next morning, May 17, Egyptian troops began to move into and beyond some UNEF positions along the Armistice Line. At noon G.M.T. that day General Fawzi conveyed to General Rikhye a request that the Jugoslav detachments of UNEF (which occupied the main portion of the Sinai Armistice Line) be withdrawn within 24 hours, adding, however, that the UNEF Commander might take “24 hours or so” to withdraw the UNEF detachment from Sharm el Sheikh (which commands the Straits of Tiran but is far distant from the Armistice Line).
Space permits only the briefest summary of the events which followed in rapid succession. On the afternoon of May 17 in New York the Secretary-General consulted with representatives of countries providing contingents to UNEF (Brazil, Canada, Denmark, India, Jugoslavia, Norway and Sweden). According to his subsequent report to the General Assembly, two of them expressed serious doubts about complying with “a peremptory request” for withdrawal and suggested reference to the Assembly, whereas two others maintained the United Arab Republic had the right to request withdrawal at any time and that request would have to be respected regardless of what the Assembly might say. Later that afternoon the Secretary-General presented to the U.A.R. representative an aide-memoire reiterating the points he had made the previous evening and concluded that, if Egyptian troop movements up to the Line were maintained, he would “have no choice but to order the withdrawal of UNEF from Gaza and Sinai as expeditiously as possible.”
The next morning, May 18, Foreign Minister Riad informed representatives in Cairo of nations with troops in UNEF that “UNEF had terminated its tasks in the U.A.R. and in the Gaza Strip and must depart from the above territory forthwith.” At noon New York time the Secretary-General received a formal request from the Egyptian Foreign Minister to the same effect. That afternoon he met with the UNEF Advisory Committee where he encountered the same divergence of views as at the meeting the previous day but where the members finally acquiesced in his belief that, in the absence of any proposal to convene the Assembly, he “had no alternative other than to comply with the U.A.R.’s demand.” He did so that same evening by a message to Foreign Minister Riad and by instructions to the UNEF Commander.
The immediate reaction of Israel also deserves mention. On the morning of May 18 the Secretary-General received the Israeli representative who presented his Government’s view “that the UNEF withdrawal should not be achieved by a unilateral U.A.R. request alone and asserting Israel’s right to a voice in the matter.” When, however, the Secretary-General raised the possibility of stationing UNEF on the Israeli side of the line, the Representative replied that this would be “entirely unacceptable to his Government,” thus reaffirming the position in regard to UNEF which Israel had taken ever since the establishment of the Force in 1956.
The intend and rationale of the decisions taken in Cairo during those critical days in mid-May are still shrouded in obscurity, while those taken in response in New York are still bedeviled by controversy. What seems reasonable clear is that, as so often in the prelude to war, the control of events slipped from everyone’s hands and limited decisions hastily taken had sweeping consequences no one desired.
No doubt the Egyptian Government decided sometime between May 13 and 16 that, in view of tis assessment of the threat to Syria, it must move some of its armed forces up to the Sinai Armistice Line in order either to deter Israel or to come to Syria’s assistance if deterrence failed. Reliable Arab sources maintain that: (1) the U.A.R. Government had as late as May 16 no intention to request the withdrawal of UNEF; (2) it desired merely the removal of several UNEF posts along the Sinai Line which would inhibit the contemplated redeployment of Egyptian forces; (3) it saw no incompatibility between this redeployment and the continuance of UNEF in its other positions including Sharm el Shiekh; (4) the implementation of the redeployment was left to the military leaders who failed to consult the civilian authorities, including the President, about either the copy of the redeployment they intended to carry out or the demand addressed to General Rikhye on May 16; (5) when the Secretary-General confronted the U.A.R. Government with the naked choice between reversing the redeployment, to which its military leaders had publicly committed it, and requesting the withdrawal of UNEF, it felt obliged to choose the latter; (6) furthermore, when it unexpectedly found its forces once more in possession of Sharm el Sheikh, it felt it could not fail to exercise, as it had from 1954 to 1956, its “belligerent right” to forbid the passage of Israeli vessels and “war material” through the Strait.
As to the decisions taken in New York, the U.N. authorities have maintained that: (1) the indicated redeployment of U.A.R. forces was incompatible with the continuance of UNEF since it deprived UNEF of its essential function as a buffer between Egyptian and Israeli forces; (2) UNEF had hitherto been able to function effectively only because of an informal U.A.R. agreement that its forces would be held 2000 meters back from the Armistice Line in Sinai (Israeli forces patrolled right up to the Line); (3) once confrontation between the two forces was reestablished, conflict between them was, in the existing state of tension, very probable and UNEF units scattered among them would be wholly unable to prevent it: (4) two of the troop-contributing states, India and Jugoslavia, had made clear their intention to withdraw their contingents whatever the Secretary-General decided and others were likely to follow suit, with the probable result that UNEF would disintegrate in a disordered and ignominious fashion; (5) the U.A.R. Government had the legal right both to move its troops where it wished in its own territory and to insist on the withdrawal of UNEF at any time, just as Israel had the right to refuse it admittance; (6) if the U.N. contested that right, peacekeeping would become “occupation” and other governments would not in the future admit U.N. peacekeeping forces to their territories; (7) a reference of the Egyptian request to the Security Council or the Assembly would merely have produced, as subsequent events proved, a prolonged debate during which UNEF would have either disintegrated or been helplessly involved in war.
No conclusive judgment can be pronounced on these two line of argument. What does seem apparent is that both the U.A.R. and the U.N., like Israel as few days before, acted precipitately and with little resort to diplomacy. If the Egyptian account is accurate, temporization on the part of the U.N. might conceivably have led to some modification in U.A.R. military dispositions which had not been authorized by its own government. It seems very doubtful, however, that in the prevailing state of emotion dispositions once taken, even without full authorization, could have been reversed. By May 17 the crisis had already acquired a momentum which seemed inexorably to sweep all parties toward and over the brink.
Nevertheless, we can hardly fail to note parenthetically the serious shortcomings of a peacekeeping procedure whereby, as in this case, a U.N. force can be ordered out of a critical area at the very moment when the danger of war, which it is stationed there to prevent, becomes most acute. The fault, however, lies not with the U.N. but with the great powers whose rivalries ever since 1945 have blocked the application of the enforcement procedures provided by Chapter Vii of the Charter, under which a U.N. military force could be, for example, interposed between two prospective combatants regardless of the objections of either or both. In the absence of great-power willingness to permit the Security Council to apply compulsion of that type, the U.N. has been obliged for many years to rely on a much more fragile form of peacekeeping where under a U.N. force, whatever may have been the arrangements under which it entered the territory of a state, can in practice remain there only so long as its government consents. Such was the situation in Sinai before May 16.
To return to the concluding events of that month: President Nasser on May 22 announced his intention to reinstitute the blockade against Israel in the strait of Tiran. This was the final fatal step. Whether, in whatever advance planning did take place, it was contemplated that Sharm el Sheikh would be reoccupied and the blockade reimposed, or whether the military exceeded their orders and one stop led to another in dizzy and unpremeditated succession, is not certain. There can hardly have been any doubt at any time, however, about the grave risks involved in restoring the blockade. It seems probable that the Russians were consulted about the redeployment of Egyptian forces and perhaps the subsequent request for the withdrawal of UNEF. Reliable Soviet sources have claimed, however, that they were not informed in advance of the reimposition of the blockade, implying that they would have objected had they known.
In any case, the reaction in Israel and elsewhere was immediate. On May 23 Prime Minister Eshkol declared in parliament: “The Knesset knows that any interference with freedom of shipping in the Gulf and in the Straits constitutes a flagrant violation of international law. . . . It constitutes an act of aggression against Israel.” On the same day President Johnson declared in Washington: “The United States considers the Gulf to be an international waterway and feels that a blockade of Israeli shipping is illegal and potentially disastrous to the cause of peace. The right of free, innocent passage of the international waterway is a vital interest of the international community.”
Unavailing efforts were made to persuade President Nasser to revoke, suspend or moderate the blockade but, the action once taken, he did not feel politically free to reverse it, even had he so desired. Equally unavailing were efforts made to forestall a unilateral Israeli response by organizing a group of maritime powers to issue a declaration reaffirming the right of free passage through the Strait and presumably, if passage continued to be denied, to take effective multilateral action to reopen it. Very few maritime powers showed any interest in participating in a confrontation with Nasser and the Arab world, not did members of the U.S. Congress who were consulted manifest any enthusiasm for risking another conflict in addition to Viet Nam. The exploratory dialogue between the U.S. and the U.A.R., however, continued up until the outbreak of war; as late as June 4 an agreement was announced that U.A.R. Vice President Mohieddin would visit Washington within the next few days and Vice President Humphrey would later return the visit.
In the meantime, however, the crisis had assumed proportions far beyond an argument over maritime rights. The advance of the Egyptian forces to the Armistice Line, the custer of UNEF and the reimposition of the blockade were received with enormous enthusiasm throughout the Arab world. All the pent-up emotions which had been accumulating for twenty years, and which were continually refreshed by armed clashed, inflammatory propaganda and the presence of a million refugees, erupted in paeans of triumph from Baghdad to Marrakesh.
Nasser’s prestige, which had been falling from some time, rebounded overnight. Expressions of solidarity poured in. Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait and Sudan promised troops. In a startling reversal of long-standing hostility, King Hussein of Jordan appeared in Cairo on May 30 and concluded a mutual defense pact with the U.A.R. which a few days later was extended to Iraq. The armed forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria were more and more concentrated around Israel’s frontiers and there seemed every likelihood they would soon be reinforced by other Arab states.
The Arab euphoria, moreover, led also to verbal exaltation which could not have been without its effect on Israel. For instance, the Syrian Chief of State, Dr. Al-Atasi, said in a speech on May 22: “Arab Palestinians who were expelled from their homeland now realize that armed struggle is the only way to regain their homeland. . . . The State of gangs [Israel] will not benefit by blaming others for inciting fedayeen activities. The cause of these activities is the aggressive Zionist existence itself. Let Israel know that the Palestinian fedayeen activities will continue until they liberate their homeland.” In a speech addressed on June 1 to troops departing for the “frontlines” in Jordan, President Arif of Iraq declared: “It was treason and politics that brought about the creation of Israel. Brethren and sons, this is the day of the battle to revenge your martyred brethren who left in 1948. It is the day to wash away the stigma. We shall, God willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa.”
Yet even at this late date, despite all these verbal pyrotechnics and concentrations of force, there does not seem to have been any intention in Cairo to initiate a war. In reply to a question by British M. P. Christopher Mayhew interviewing Nasser on June 2, “And if they do not attack, will you let them alone?” the President said, “Yes, we will leave them alone. We have no intention of attacking Israel.” Similar assurances were repeatedly given the United States by the highest Egyptian authorities.
There seems little reason to doubt them. Nasser had up to that point achieved a spectacular victory. Arab unity seemed closer to reality than it had ever been. Israel had suffered a serious setback in prestige, power and security. The mood in Cairo was an odd mixture of exaltation and fatalism, exaltation over what had been achieved, fatalism before the inescapable realization the Israel might prefer war to a political defeat of this magnitude. There was a clear understanding that Israel might attack at any time, no overweening confidence as to the outcome, but a determination to defend, whatever the costs, the intoxicating gains which had been won. Whether this determination might have been overcome by negotiation over a period of time, for example by the visits of the Vice Presidents between Cairo and Washington cannot be known for certain. In view of the support which the Soviet Union was providing its Arab friends, this seems unlikely.
In any case, the Israeli Government obviously decided that it could not wait. All the factors which had induced it to go to war in 1956---a multiplication of raids into its territory, a substantial build-up of Egyptian and other hostile forces on its borders, the blockade of the Strait---had reappeared in even more aggravated form. Efforts of the U.N. and the U.S. to relieve them by international action seemed unavailing. On May 30 Foreign Minister Eban said in a press conference in Jerusalem: “Less than two weeks ago a change took place in the security balance in this region. The two most spectacular signs of this change were the illegal attempt to blockade the international passageway at the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba and the abnormal buildup of Egyptian troops on the Israeli frontier. The Government and people of Israel intend to insure that these two changes are rescinded, and in the shortest possible time.” Six days later Israel struck with this end in view; twelve days later it had achieved its objective, and much more beside.
It is not difficult in retrospect to identify the ventures and responses on both sides which over preceding months and weeks, compounding the hatreds which had been allowed to fester for twenty years, led almost inevitably to war.
First were the El Fatah raids, organized from Syria, involving the “Palestine Liberation Army,” subjected peaceful Israeli villages to recurrent jeopardy and terror, building up through the months from October to May, unpunished and, because of the Soviet veto, even uncensored by the U.N. Security Council. Remembering the history of the previous twelve years it is difficult to see how any Arab or Soviet leader could have failed to realize that this murderous campaign would eventually bring forth a murderous response.
Second were the Israeli “Massive retaliations” at Es Samu in November and in the air over Syria and Jordan in April, designed to punish and deter, but disproportionate in size, visibility and political impact, causing also the death of innocent people, condemned by the Security Council in the strongest terms in November, as similar disproportionate retaliations had been repeatedly condemned in the past. It is difficult to see how any Israeli leader could have failed to foresee that such repeated massive reprisals must eventually place the leader of the Arab coalition in a position where he would have to respond.
Third were the public and private statements of high Israeli authorities in mid-May which indicated the probability of even more drastic retaliation against Syria in the near future if the El Fatah raids continued. These statements, even though no doubt designed to deter the raids, almost certainly convinced the Syrian and U.A.R. Governments that such retaliation was definitely projected and may well have persuaded them and the Soviets that the Syrian régime itself was in jeopardy.
Fourth was the decision by the U.A.R. Government presumably encouraged by Soviets and Syrians, to move its armed forces up to the Sinai Armistice Line, thus reestablishing at a moment of acute tension the direct Egyptian-Israeli military confrontation which had been the major immediate cause of the 1956 war. This redeployment of Egyptian forces was under the circumstances critical whether or not it was originally intended to be accompanied by a demand that UNEF be withdrawn.
Fifth and finally was the decision of the U.A.R. Government, finding itself whether by intent or accident once more in command of the Strait of Tiran, to exercise its “belligerent rights” by reimposing the blockade, thus reproducing the third of the elements which had brought on the 1956 war. The likely consequences of this step were indeed foreseen but, in the climate of fear, passion and “national honor” which by then prevailed, were faced with fatalism and desperation.
It remains, however, the thesis of this article that no government plotted or intended to start a war in the Middle East in the spring of 1967. Syria mounted raids against Israel as it had been doing for years, but more intensively and effectively; Israel retaliated disproportionately as it often had before, but in more rapid succession and in a way that seemed to threaten the existence of the Arab government; Nasser felt his responsibilities and ambitions in the Arab world did not permit him again to stand aside in such a contingency and took hasty and ill-calculated measures which made major conflict, already probable, practically certain. All concerned overreacted outrageously. Yet there is no evident---quite the contrary---that either Nasser or the Israeli Government or even the Syrian Government wanted and sought a major war at this juncture.
Of course the fault of all of them, and indeed of the great powers and the United Nations, lay not so much in their actions or omissions in May and June 1967 as in their failure, indeed their common blunt refusal, to face the facts of life in the Middle East during the twenty years before that date.
There will be no peace there, no security for its inhabitants or for the great powers involved there, until the Arabs recognize that Israel, however unjust its creation appears to them, is a fact of life, that it has as much right to exist as they have, that to threaten and harass it, to arouse among their people false hopes about its dissolution, is actually as much a threat to Arab as to Israeli security, that the two equally have more to gain than lose by peaceful coexistence. On the other hand, there will also be no peace in the Middle East until the Israelis recognize that the condition of their long-term survival as a nation is reconciliation with their much more numerous Arab neighbors, that survival cannot indefinitely be preserved by military force or territorial expansion, that displays of inflexibility and arrogance are not effective modes of international intercourse, and that in particular there will be no security for Israel until, whatever the political and financial cost, the million or more Palestine refugees have been compensated, resettled and restored to dignity.
THE AFTERMATH OF THE SIX DAY WAR
Approximately thirty-six hours after the fighting started, in June 1967, a cease-fire resolution was unanimously adopted by the Security Council containing the request for a cessation of hostilities. No reference was made to withdrawal to boundaries prior to the war, which has been a common element of U.N. resolutions in conflict situations.
According to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Print of May 1969 the losses on both sides of the conflict amounted to the following: Israel lost 679 men and compared to the death of 15,000 Arabs. Aircraft losses compared 21 to 441; tanks, 61 to 670.
Whether it was the superior quality of the weapons or the dedication and competence of the military leaders that brought Israel her overwhelming victory is of little importance. Of more significance is the outcome of the conflict. Actually the dispute settled little, except to intensify the bitterness and tensions between the Arabs and the Israelis. The boundaries of Israel were even more in dispute with the West Bank of Jordan, the Gaza Strip, and the Sharm-al-Sheikh sector of the Sinai Peninsula added to Israeli territory. The war left Israel with the firm intention of holding all of the occupied territory as a bargaining device for treaties and guarantees that it believed would insure peace and security. The refugee problem was enhanced rather than subdued adding an additional 150,000 Palestinians to the refugee roles for the first time. And not only was there a failure to reopen the Strait of Tiran to international shipping but the Suez Canal remained blocked and shut down. In fact even arms shipments resumed in a matter of months. The Soviet Union was reported to have replaced over half of the Egyptian armament losses by September 1967, and in October the United States announced its decision to resume its arms shipments to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
Debate soon began over the conditions for the establishment of a formula for peace. The Israelis, supported by the United States, United Kingdom, and other Western Powers, wanted to guarantee their security through, among other things, a binding commitment by the Arabs to end their state of belligerency. The Arabs, supported by the Indians, many developing countries, and the Soviets, urged that withdrawal should be a prerequisite to the establishment of a lasting peace and the settlement of outstanding issues. This general lineup continued through the Security Council meetings and the emergency special session of the General Assembly which was held during the summer. At this session, a draft resolution submitted by the Latin American countries and containing many of the elements of the later November resolution was rejected by the Arab states. Other resolutions on special aspects of the crisis, such as the refugees and the status of Jerusalem, had been passed by the UN immediately following the June war, but were not implemented.
THE NOVEMBER 22D RESOLUTION
In November 1967 the Security Council met again, and the United Kingdom proposed a compromise resolution which couples withdrawal with the achievement of a just and lasting peace, taking into consideration the position of all parties. The United States was one of the major architects of the resolution which embodied many of the same points President Johnson had enunciated in his speech of June 19, 1967. Specifically, the Security Council Resolution states that:
TEXT OF UNITED NATIONS SECURTIY COUNCIL
RESOLUTION 242 OF NOVEMBER 22, 1967
The Security Council,
Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,
Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,
Emphasizing further that all Member State in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,
1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;
2. Affirms further the necessity
(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
(c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles of this resolution.
4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.
Shortly after its formulation the governments of Jordan and the United Arab Republic accepted the resolution in toto as self-fulfilling; as a literal formula for peace; Syria rejected it entirely. The Arabs claimed that withdrawal should be total and the refugees should have the option of repatriation or compensation in accordance with past United Nations resolutions.
The Israelis, on the other hand, delayed acceptance of the resolution. Israeli acceptance included the stipulation that implementation should be by agreement, which to them meant direct talks between the parties. In addition, they stressed terminating the state of belligerency through a formal peace treaty contractually agreed upon through direct negotiations. Emphasis was placed on “secure and recognized boundaries.” They stated that the status of Jerusalem was not negotiable and no indication was given regarding the right of the original inhabitants to return to occupied territory. Their position was generally supported by the Johnson Administration in spite of the advice of many United States Government experts in Middle East affairs who warned that an early settlement was desirable to avoid prolonged occupation which would incite the Arab states; endanger the prospects for a lasting settlement; and threaten the long-range security of Israel in the area as well.
Had the resolution been implemented immediately the tragedy of the past three years would have been avoided. However, the major powers agreed that the United Nations mediator should alone, “promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in the resolution.” While providing behind-the-scenes advice, the major powers nevertheless played a passive role for a year and a half as Ambassador Gunnar Jarring commuted from one Middle East capital to another in search of a breakthrough.
Meanwhile, events on the ground outpaced the progress of diplomacy.
While Arab governments continued to voice their acceptance of the November resolution and a political solution, the Arab masses and intellectuals became incited over the continuing presence of Israel in occupied Arab territory, her annexation of Jerusalem; and the critical condition of the refugees, whose numbers had increased since the June War. The frustration was demonstrated by the increased growth of a “third force”, the commando---or resistance movement---which has rejected the United Nations Resolution and a political solution. The continuing thrust of this movement is to de-Zionize Israel, to re-create a state where Jew, Muslim and Christian could live as equals as they had prior to 1947. Disillusioned by the failure of the United Nations and the Arab governments to achieve a political solution to their problem, the Palestinian commandos appeared in the forefront of the Arab world as a revolutionary, political and social movement in opposition to the status quo.
The existence of the commandos set a limit on the flexibility of the Arab governments who think they have compromised as much as they can without losing their power. The commandos present a challenging case that as Palestinians they are the core of the Middle East problem and should therefore be consulted on the solution.
Meanwhile, as the diplomatic impasse continued the resistance-retaliation cycle escalated and hung over the area like a threatening storm---with all parties to the conflict hardening their positions.
With the realization that time was running out, the Nixon administration accepts the proposal of the French to engage in four power talks to assist Ambassador Gunnar Jarring in delineating procedural and substantive areas of agreement vis à vis the November Resolution. The Arab States welcomed the involvement of the major powers in the hope that as “honest brokers” they could exert their influence to obtain a binding peace settlement. Moreover, it would provide a face-saving device and would be in keeping with the Arab tradition of third party mediation.
The Israelis objected to the Big Four meetings on the grounds that the intervention of the major powers would let the Arabs off the hook, would be a substitute for direct negotiations, and would tend to have results that favored the Arab States. They claimed that while the Soviets and the French were entirely pro-Arab, the United States and the United Kingdom were anxious to remain friends of both Arab and Israeli, and they would have no outspoken advocate for their own position.
In the past months military activities in the Middle East have escalated for a point short of full scale war. Meanwhile, acrimonious debate wages not only in the international area, but in the domestic life of nations, where partisan groups increase the polarization of views. Americans must ask themselves what is in the interests of not only the United States, but world peace, and then support conciliatory steps through bilateral and multilateral channels that will bring this about. Such a peace must be based upon trust between the parties concerned, which is, in itself, the only guarantee for security for any nation and people.
As the current 24th session of the General Assembly progresses, renewed efforts are underway by the United Nations, the Big Four and through bilateral talks between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. But time has almost run out. (As U Thant stated in the introduction to his annual report: “What is now at stake is the future of the whole Middle East area and everyone in it. This somber fact alone should discourage any tendency towards either too much bargaining over substance or bickering over procedure. The issues, admittedly, are extremely vital to the parties. But given the alternative, can any issue be more vital than peace?”)
1. For the documents used or referred to in this paper see also, Walter Laqueur, Editor, Israel-Arab Reader, New York, Bantam, 1969 and J. C. Hurewitz, Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East, Two Volumes, Princeton, Van Nostrand, 1956.
2. Kennett Love, Suez: The Twice Fought War, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1969, p. 118.
3. “A Select Chronology and Background Documents Relating to the Middle East”, Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, May 1969.
4. Dr. Harry N. Howard, Adjunct Professor of Middle East Studies, The School of International Service, American University, Washington, D.C.
5. “United States Policy in the Near East Crisis”, reprint from the Department of State Bulletin as revised July 1969, publication 8269.
6. The Foreign Affairs Division of the Legislative Reference Service.
7. “Documents on the Middle East”, edited by Ralph H. Magnus, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy research, July 1969.
8. Don Peretz, The Middle East, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1969.
9. John s. Badeau, The American Approach to the Arab World, New York Harper and Row Inc., 1968.
10. John C. Campbell, Defense of the Middle East: Problems of American Policy, New York, Frederick A. Praeger, 1961.
11. George Lenczowski (ed), The United States Interests in the Middle East, Washington, D.C., American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1968.
12. Nadav Safran, The United States and Israel, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Press, 1963.
13. John Davis, Evasive Peace, London, John Murray Ltd., 1968.
14. Elmo Hutchinson, Violent Truce, New York, Devin Adair Co., 1956.
15. A. J. Arberry (ed.), Religion in the Middle East, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1969.
16. Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, New York, Schocken Books, Inc., 1966.
17. Foreign Relations of the United States. 1945, Volume VIII.
18. U.N. Yearbooks, 1948-68.
19. Royal Institute of International Affairs, George Kirk, The Middle East, 1945-50, Oxford 1954.
20. Christian H. Jones, Ten Years of Service: Near East Christian Council Committee for Refugee Work, Jerusalem 1960.
21. State Department.
22. Final Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East, Part I. The Final Report and Appendices Part II.
23. I. F. Stone, “For a New Approach to the Israeli-Arab Conflict”, reprinted in Walter Laqueur, ed., The Israel-Arab Reader, New York, Bantam, 1969.
24. United Nations Relief and Works Agency publications.
25. Richard H. Pfaff (ed.), Jerusalem: Keystone of an Arab-Israeli Settlement, Washington, D.C. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, August 1969.
Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, culturally, historically, economically, and militarily the United States is deeply involved in the Middle East. In addition to our well-known religious roots in the area, American interests took a new stop in the form of educational, philanthropic and missionary efforts as early as 1819. By the turn of the century there were nearly 300 privately funded and operated American schools in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. By the end of World War II, public funds were being spent to support such institutions as the American University of Beirut, 1866, Robert College, 1863, and the American University in Cairo, 1919.
With the Second World War, our economic interest also increased. Although the United States only imports 5 percent of its oil from the Middle East, private investment and trade with the area have resulted in substantial income to American businessmen and a favorable balance of trade to the United States---over $656.2 million in 1969 alone.
For three decades, the Middle East and the Mediterranean region have been of great strategic importance to the United States. In 1947, the Truman Doctrine was enunciated, and in 1953 our country helped foster the Baghdad Pact, transformed in 1959 into CENTO, as a containment policy directed against the Soviet Union. Most important, however, has been our interest in the creation and the continued existence of Israel.
In my 1968 visit to Israel, I had the privilege of meeting with Abba Eban, Jerusalem’s Mayor Teddy Kollek, and then Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. A year later, this last December, I was the first U.S. official to speak with Prime Minister Golda Meir after Secretary of State Rogers’ statement of December 9, 1969, on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Mrs. Meir exuded the strength of character and independence for which she is well known and she told me that Israel is a land of miracles and has had to depend on miracles for its continued existence. Israel can only lose once in a military confrontation, the Prime Minister stressed; there is no second chance.
During my recent trip to Israel, I went to the Gesher Kibbutz. There, a short distance from the Israel-Jordan border, the inhabitants’ homes and buildings are connected by trenches because of almost daily shelling. Every night of their lives, the children of this kibbutz have slept in underground shelters in fear of artillery fire. It is conditions like these on the Israel side of the border that are breeding hatred and bitterness in the lives of such people.
The economic burden of Israel’s military posture has been staggering. This year she is spending approximately 25 percent of her gross national product on defense. This would be equivalent to the United States tripling its present defense budget. The price she is paying in loss of manpower, the losses to her economy, and the debilitating effects of maintaining a wartime psychology, is taking its toll.
On the other side of the Israel-Jordan border, I visited Baqa, one of six refugee camps outside Amman, Jordan. Between 35,000 and 40,000 refugees live in this one camp. These people eat and sleep in one-room tents which house 10 or 11 individuals. Many of the tents do not have floors, so the inhabitants live in dirt and mud. One can easily understand why these factors as such could be the breeding ground for hatred and animosity.
But these Palestinians assert that even a greater wrong has been perpetrated against them. They feel that they were immorally and illegally driven from their homes in Palestine by the Zionists in 1948; some of these Palestinians became refugees for a second time in 1967.
These various factors have formed the basis of the creation of the Fedayeen, the Palestinian guerrillas. It is through these commando groups that some refugees express their hostility and despair as well as their hope for the future. This animosity is being directed not only at Israel, but also at the United States, other great powers and even certain Arab governments.
It is my view that we in the United States tend to look at the Arab countries as a monolith, similar to the mistaken monolithic perspective we have had toward Communist countries. This is a false impression, for each of the Arab countries is unique.
In Jordan the refugees comprise over one-half of that nation’s 2.2 million population. For the 4 years prior to the 6-day war in June 1969, Jordan was averaging a growth rate in the per capita gross national product of 8.8 percent per year. At that time the West Bank was producing 40 percent of the national income, contained about one-half of Jordan’s industrial establishments, and one-quarter of her cultivable land. Jordan lost the West Bank in the 6-day war. Her economy was devastated. These events have contributed to a highly delicate balance within the country---a balance which now appears to be thoroughly eroded and shattered.
Lebanon, historically a close friend of the United States, also is plagued with grave internal tensions. Eighty-six percent of its people are literate. Fifty-one percent are Christian and 49 percent Moslem. The majority of the seats in their legislature are held by Christians, the President is Christian, and the Prime Minister is Moslem. Palestinians comprise more that 10 percent of the Lebanese population. In October 1969 battles between the government and the guerrillas took place, resulting in a compromise allowing the guerrillas freedom to operate in southern Lebanon. But this tense relationship continues to undermine the internal stability of the country.
In both Jordan and Lebanon there are deep divisions and conflicting loyalties; but the growing strength of sentiment for uncompromised Arab nationalism is clearly evident. Deep concern over the policies of the U.S. Government was expressed to me by people in both countries. This concern was based on a constantly repeated desire for friendly relations between these two countries---Lebanon and Jordan---and the United States. Leaders in both Lebanon and Jordan stressed that our country’s seeming insensitivity to the problems faced by the Arab countries and the Palestinians is alienating them from the United State and undermining our traditional friendship.
A similar situation exists in Kuwait, one of the most unique nations in the world. Because of her oil resources, she has created a per capita income of more than $3,200 and has perhaps the most comprehensive program of social welfare in the world. There is no poverty to speak of, no taxes, a guaranteed annual income for all citizens, universal medical care and free education---including study abroad---for as long as one wishes and succeeds in one’s studies.
Further, it is in Kuwait that I had an indication of the growing force throughout the Arab world: women. It is only recently that the women in Kuwait have removed the veil and have been granted semi equality with men. At Kuwait University they comprise almost one-half of the enrollment, but the interesting fact is that in certain areas they are excelling the men in their academic endeavors. The Arab woman has historically played a secondary role in society. But as she is unfettered from the old traditions, she is becoming a highly potent force, as is already proven by her dynamic role not only in Kuwait but in Lebanon, the United Arab Republic, and other Arab countries as well.
While I was in Kuwait, I talked with many officials, including the Amir, the Crown Prince, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. As did officials in Lebanon and Jordan, they expressed their dismay and regret about the U.S. policy in the Middle East. They warned me that our cultural, economic, and diplomatic interests in the Arab world are in the most serious jeopardy, as our policy appears too often to be insensitive to their interests and grievances.
Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait are four of the many host countries for the Palestine refugees. Refugee camps are provided for by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). In 1969 UNRWA’s meager resources made available only 10 cents per day per refuges: 5 cents for food, 4 cents for education and technical training, and 1 cent for medical care and sanitation.
Palestinians are historically an agricultural people. Those few, approximately 30 percent of the total, who had technical skills when they were displaced in 1948 were easily absorbed into the surrounding countries at that time. Most of the displaced Palestinians---there are approximately 21/2 million Palestinians in the world today---however, had no marketable skills and were consequently forced to stay in camps. Subsequently, during the past two decades, two generations of Palestinians have had little if any opportunity to learn the simple skills of their fathers and are now without any vocational abilities whatsoever. Only 2 percent of the refugees have been able to acquire marketable skills as a result of UNRWA projects. These conditions only intensify the radicalization that two decades of forced homelessness causes, and has formed the basis for the growth of the Palestinian refugees into a distinct political and military force in the Middle East.
One aspect of this question emerged during a conversation with Former Prime Minister Levi Eshkol during my visit to Israel in 1968. He told me that the Jews have been a minority wherever they have lived throughout history and that they will not be a minority again. Non-Jews cannot be allowed to live in large numbers in Israel, he said, let alone participate in the government. Thus, Israel cannot allow the Palestinians to return and grant them a vote for fear that the Jews again would be forced into a minority status within their own country. Yet, it is the denial, in principle, of the right for Palestinians to return to their former homelands which remains as the central grievance in the conflict.
The Holy Land is the birthplace of three of the world’s major religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. As a consequence, there are deeply felt emotions about the area by millions of people around the world. The Jews have for almost 2,000 years searched for a homeland, and they feel that they have one now. And as we well remember, this has been a quest of suffering and tragedy which was climaxed by World War II. The questions of theocracy and secularism in one that has serious implications for the entire Middle East, not only for Israel and the Arab States, but for the status of Jerusalem as well.
Through my talks with Prime Minister Meir and moderate Arab leaders I remain firmly convinced that they are genuinely searching for and desire a lasting peace in that troubled part of the world. But voices of moderation are diminishing and polarization is increasing. If countries which have heretofore been mollifying influences in the area are further alienated, chances for peace in a rapidly escalating confrontation will be severely curtailed. For instance, the governments of Jordan and Lebanon are in imminent danger of overthrow which if accomplished would not only increase polarization but draw the world closer to a major conflict as well.
U.S. policy and aid has had a major influence on the events in the Middle East and must bear part of the responsibility for the current situation. Prior to 1967, we had exchange programs with six Arab countries---Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Republic---with a total of 551 grants being given since 1949---92 to Israel during the same period. Since 1967 there have been no grants given to four of the six countries. There is further evidence of our inconsistency and inappropriate emphasis in aid policies to the countries in the Middle East. For fiscal 1967 our deliveries under our military assistance programs to Jordan and Lebanon were $11.9 million and $100,000, respectively. After the Six Day War this aid was reduced 80 percent in Jordan and remained the same in Lebanon. During the 14 years preceding the June 1967 war, the United States gave $500 million of AID to Jordan but these funds were drastically curtailed after the Six Day War when we completely terminated direct budget support. By contrast, as of December 1967, Israel had received since its formation approximately $1 billion in economic aid, about $1 billion in private purchases of Israel bonds and over $1 billion in private gifts from the United States. Although it might be pointed out that the United States has given to UNRWA over $455,000 since May of 1950, nearly 60 percent of its total income for the 20-year period, a better criteria is that of one’s ability to give, the gross national product.
In viewing the problems faced by the Palestinian refugees and the priorities which our Nation has given them, particularly when one compares the United States with other Western countries, an interesting picture develops. For instance, in 1968 Canada contributed 0.16 percent of its gross national product to UNWRA; France, 0.01 percent; Sweden, 0.01 percent; the United Kingdom, 0.004 percent; the United States, 0.002 percent. The United States, in other words is fifth in proportionate contributions of the Western countries in trying to aid the refugees---refugees which we have been, in part, responsible for creating.
In the extensive debate and analysis given to the problems of the Middle East, we have focused most of our attention upon the political and diplomatic complexities which seem to defy any resolution. Yet, there is another dimension to the enduring tensions in the Middle East which transcends the political difficulties. This is the tragic and intensive human suffering in this area. We must never forget that no mere diplomatic settlement on paper will be of any validity unless it is coupled with some hope for an end to the plight of millions who suffer under the current conditions of deprivation in these areas. Political tensions cannot be reduced without also defusing the underlying bitterness and hostility felt by those who suffer. People must not only have hope that they will live under a government that insures this security and expresses this national identity; they must also have the hope that they and their children will have enough bread to eat, clothes to wear, and the opportunity to become a productive member of society.
It is these human needs---needs that can be met through voluntary and official forms of aid and assistance---which have been neglected as we have sought for a way out of successive diplomatic mazes.
We can and must begin by realizing that actions which better the welfare of the people in the Middle East are just as essential as efforts to solve the political differences if our goal is a lasting peace.
There are, I believe, numerous initiatives that can and should be taken by the parties directly and indirectly involved in the Middle East dilemma.
The decisions to recognize Israel, establish boundaries, solve the refugee problem, settle the status of Jerusalem and passage through international water---the five key issues as I perceive them---will come as a result of numerous factors.
It is in the interest of all the parties concerned, including the Soviet Union, which now has great influence in the Middle East as well as access to the Mediterranean, to deescalate the arms race and decrease the trend toward military confrontation. The United States should do everything it can privately, and publicly, to seek Soviet agreement in arms limitation that will curtail the endless cycle of military escalation in the area. Any policy of arms sales to the countries there should be gauged with an eye to the territorial integrity of all of the countries involved.
We have justified past sales of arms to the region by attempting to maintain a delicate balance of forces in order to deter either side from provoking war. Yet, when we speak of “balance” what do we really mean? How is it to be formulated? Do we merely count the planes on one side and the antiaircraft guns on the other? Or must we also consider factors that cannot be easily programmed into our computers? Should we not examine the level of national unity, the political cohesiveness, the devotion to purpose, and the willingness to sacrifice? Does not the depth of feeling and the sense of injustice felt on either side contribute to this calculation? But what I am suggesting is that a true balance of forces means far more than some approximate equality in military might. The depth of feelings that underline the conflict makes any permanent peace sought through a balance of arms an impossibility. Even relative peace has remained illusive despite our past efforts to insure this kind of balance. We would be naïve to assume that the path to a permanent peace and to true security for all nations in the area lies in our unquestioning supply of military arms to those who ask.
Concurrent with the deemphasis on military assistance should be an increasing stress on technical and educational assistance through multilateral efforts. This has perhaps been the area of greatest inconsistency in our foreign policy in general and is certainly evident in the Middle East. As I pointed out earlier, our policy toward the Middle Eastern nations has vacillated greatly, not at all consistent with the realities within those countries. Our foreign policy must be revitalized and reoriented if we are to regain credibility with the people of that troubled land.
Within this context the United States should increase its support of UNRWA which is currently facing an almost $4 million debt. We should also stimulate those private organizations already participating in development programs with the Palestinians as well and the development of new organizations and projects. The value of this type of approach is evidenced by Oregon State University’s cooperative wheat project near Amman, Jordan. Jordanians and Oregonians together enthusiastically reported to me on my recent trip the progress made since the inception of the program. One hundred and sixty-three farmers working 1,675 acres of heretofore meagerly productive soil, with the help of know-how and technology, increased production in 1968 by 69 percent and in 1969 by 55 percent.
It is particularly with the refugees that success of peace initiatives rests. Israel, and the United States, must recognize and admit the basic injustice done to the Palestinians in 1948. This admission alone would be one of the greatest single steps that could be taken to defuse the present conflict. This in no way would threaten Israel’s territorial integrity nor external security. Quite the contrary, it would most likely curtail the present trend of radicalization and polarization on both sides of her borders. The next step in this question of the Palestinians would then be to settle the problem of repatriation, compensation, and resettlement.
There are forces for moderation within most of the countries directly involved in the Middle East conflict. And it is these forces that must be nurtured before there is total polarization. Within Israel there have been signs of increasing flexibility. And when I was in the Middle East recently, I encountered similar potential among certain Arab leaders and intellectuals as well. A first step might be to permit, in keeping with the many United Nations resolutions, the refugees from 1967 to return to the west bank and occupied territories. This could be undertaken in cooperation with the United Nations and with United Nations supervision.
There is also the political reality of the Palestinians to be considered: They are a major party in the dispute and must be consulted in the solution. Whether contacts are public or private, direct or indirect, increased communication between the concerned parties is of great importance.
Neighboring countries of the Middle East are paying increasing attention to their Arab and Israeli neighbors, realizing that their futures are directly related. Spain, Italy, and Turkey, most notable, have displayed an intensified interest in the Middle East and have indicated that this interest will continue to expand.
The Middle East conflict, in summary, poses the greatest danger to our own security and to the hopes of us all for peace in the world. Presently, there is the imminent danger of the radicalization and overthrow of existing moderate Arab governments. No one stands to gain from this eventuality. Such a development would only intensify the political polarization and lead us closer to world war III.
The interests of the United States in the entire Middle East are clear and compelling. We have deep cultural and economic ties with all the countries there. We have nurtured historic friendships throughout the region. We have made specific commitments there, and our own security is involved. Yet, as the situation has evolved toward cataclysm, we have been nearly ignorant of this deterioration, totally obsessed with our futile involvement in the quagmire of Southeast Asia. Such negligence has, at least in part, fostered the vacuum that has encouraged increasing, bold Russian involvement throughout the Arab world.
Our interests in the Middle East, and the hope we have for making peace a possibility, demand that we embark on new initiative, marked by heightened sensitivity to the roots of the conflict and bold vision of the role we can play in their resolution.
Any peace must begin by understanding the long evolution of events which has created the present hostility. Far too few of us have bothered to acquaint ourselves in depth with the history of these peoples and the factors that have caused such divisiveness and enmity. Such historical ignorance can easily condone diplomatic miscalculation.
We must squarely confront the third rising force in the Middle East, the Palestinian movement. The issue of Palestine must be understood and its meaning in the eyes of all the Arab world must be grasped. Our viewpoints must become sensitive to the injustice that the Palestinians feel so deeply, and our policies must be constructed to deal with this sense of injustice.
Further, as I have stated, peace in the Middle East will not be secured by totally relying on a supposed military balance. Arms given to the Middle East are eventually used there; a secure and enduring peace can never be won on the battlefields of these countries.
Finally true peace must even go beyond the resolution of diplomatic intransigence and include the alleviation of human deprivation. Peace is more than the absence of conflict; it is the fulfillment of human needs. It is “Shalom,” which means wholeness and completeness. The promise of such fulfillment must become the hope for all, both Arab and Jew, if peace is to ever be their common destiny---and our own.
Mr. AIKEN. Mr. President, will the Senator yield?
Mr. HATFIELD. I yield.
Mr. AIKEN. I would just like to say that, in the true humanitarian spirit which characterizes the senior Senator from Oregon, the Senator has pointed out to us a condition which should have been corrected two decades ago. I recall, when I was a member of the American Mission to the United Nations 10 years ago, that this same subject was very vital at that time. I recall the country of Yugoslavia insisting that something be done about the refugees, and offered a resolution which would provide for the care of the refugees. I also recall the vigor with which Russia opposed that resolution, Yugoslavia standing on one side, Russia on the other.
I believe that the deficit which the Senator refers to in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is due to the fact that certain countries have not paid their assessments, which they should have paid.
It is not to the credit of the United Nations, it is not to the credit of the United States, or to the world at large, that this refugee condition has been permitted to exist now for over 20 years.
I think the Senator from Oregon has really done a service, not only to the Palestinians but also to the rest of the world, in pointing out this sore spot, which so many would like to forget about at this time.
It was on November 22, 1967, that the United Nations Security Council passed another Middle East Peace resolution which stated that it was necessary to achieve a just settlement of the refugee problem. But nothing has been done. As a corrector of injustice, the United Nations has been a failure in this respect.
So I hope that what the Senator from Oregon has said will arouse public sentiment to the point where people will insist upon a correction of this very bad situation.
Mr. HATFIELD. I thank the Senator from Vermont, who is the ranking Republican member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and, of course, has been very much involved in matters of peace and war for many years. Also, I think it is interesting, and probably not coincidental, that he is the ranking Republican member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. I believe there is a direct relationship between the adequacy of food and the ability of people to feel and know security through the opportunity to supply the needs of their families. We have to start there if we are going to have peace. It cannot be imposed by military power or political fiat, but it has to be generated within the hearts and minds of people.
That is why I have felt so strongly that the leadership of the senior Senator from Vermont (Mr. Aiken) on both the Agriculture and Forestry Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee bridges an important gap that I think so often is not made---that is the necessary relationship between people’s needs and political policies.
Mr. AIKEN. Well, I say to the Senator from Oregon that I have done what I could, but it has not been enough. It needs more than my support to bring about a correction of this intolerable situation. They used to tell us, “Oh, those people would not work if they had a chance. They would not do anything for themselves if they had a chance.” That is not true.
I hope the United Nations, or whatever effectiveness remains of it, will again make an effort, and I hope that the surrounding countries will make an effort, to do away with the shameful conditions.
Mr. HATFIELD. I would certainly agree that the United Nations has an important role. I also would say that, in establishing our own policies as one nation toward this important area of the world, and as a large and powerful nation, we must become more aware of the dimensions of the problems there which relate to the refugees. I think the Senator would agree that we must assume that role.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. President, will the Senator yield?
Mr. HATFIELD. I yield.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. President, the distinguished senior Senator from Oregon and I have not always agreed on matters of national policy. I think we do share a number of concerns, however; and I take this occasion to compliment him on bringing much additional light to a better understanding of the very complicated and involved situation that we find confronting us in the Middle East.
I said yesterday that in my opinion that was far greater likelihood of our becoming involved in a very significantly expanded war in the Middle East then there is in Southeast Asia at the present time. As I sat here listening to the very scholarly presentation by my good friend from Oregon, I could not help thinking how true that is, when one reflects upon just one fact that he called to our attention this morning.
The Senator from Oregon said:
In Jordan the refugees comprise over one-half of that nation’s 2.2 million population.
He went on to point out---I do not recall just how long the Senator said those refugees had been in that situation. Was it since 1948?
Mr. AIKEN. It is 1948.
Mr. HANSEN. That those people, who are just surviving, receive from UNRWA, according to the 1969 budget, only 10 cents per day per refugee---5 cents for food, 4 cents for education and technical training, and 1 cent for medical care and sanitation---certainly underlines a very real reason for the distress, and for the growing emergence of a spirit of defiance and rebellion against a condition that has existed for a long time. Which I think the Senator speaks of as the Palestinian movement. Am I correct in that statement?
Mr. HATFIELD. Yes.
Mr. HANSEN. The Senator from Oregon has made a very scholarly presentation. Whether we agree with him as to Southeast Asia or whether we agree with him as to the Middle East I think is beside the point. I think all of us can be better informed, and I would hope might be able to made better judgments and better decisions as to what will best serve our purpose and the purpose of peace now, by understanding the situation in the Middle East more comprehensively, as I feel certain that now we will be able to do because of the efforts of our distinguished colleague from Oregon. I compliment him very sincerely on his speech.
Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, I am very grateful to the Senator from Wyoming. I should like to respond briefly on a point which I think is very important, that the Senator from Wyoming focused upon.
The Senator was correct when he said that over the number of years we have been associated as friends, as fellow Governors, and now as fellow Senators, there have been a number of occasions when we have found most hearty agreement, and have worked very closely together for a common purpose. And even where we have had our differences of viewpoint, we have still had commonality of purpose, perhaps differing more on tactic, technique, or procedure, than on the goal we have both sought to achieve.
I believe the most important thing we have to seek to create in this situation, both at home and in the Middle East, is a resistance to polarization. I have found the Senator from Wyoming, in his differences, to be at all times a gentleman. He has been able to disagree without being disagreeable. This is what I think is the epitome of the great pluralistic society that we have created here in America. We have not demanded uniformity, and we have not demanded conformity; we have shown that there is strength even in diversity.
Nevertheless, we have found, as to the present problem in the Middle East, the attitude that if you are not for Israel, then you have to be for the Arabs; or it you speak favorably of the Arabs; then you are against Israel. We are being judged by these parties, in some instances, not by how much we are for them, but by how much we hate the other side.
I fear this kind of polarization within our Nation, because it tends to reduce the possibility of solution, and inhibit the kind of frankness and honesty with which we must face these problems to find their ultimate solution. I, for one, feel that my credentials, as far as being a friend of Israel are concerned, are certainly in order. I have spoken at many Bonds for Israel programs. I consider myself an enthusiastic supporter of that example of democracy out in the Middle East, both of its people as individuals and of Israel as a State.
That does not mean that, by the same token, I must reject the possibility that there is Arab grievance, and that there are injustices that must be righted on both sides. That does not mean I cannot consider myself as a friend of the Arab countries also. I would hate to think America must become so locked into a polarized position that it completely and fully eliminates the possibility of a peacemaker role.
The United States has the power, the resources, the idealism---every one of the great ingredients to be a peacemaker. But if we are going to try to be a peacemaker there by standing purely on one side of the issue, with one group only, and say there is no cause and no justice on the other side of the argument, we totally eliminate that possible peacemaker role.
We have legal and political commitments to Israel. I, for one, would never stand aside to let Israel fall, no matter who her enemy might be. By the same token, I do not think we are doing Israel a favor, or really supporting Israel, by sustaining conditions which will create border areas of complete enmity, in place of forces in the Arab world, like King Hussein of Jordan or many elements in Lebanon, who would really attempt to seek solutions to these problems.
So I believe that best solution at the moment would be to help hold Hussein in power against the radical elements that seek to overthrow him. But we cannot do that merely by supporting this particular political figure. We can only do it successfully by solving the Palestinian issue, which is the basis of his political challenge today. It is a matter of eliminating the Palestinian problem that will strengthen Hussein, keep a friendly border between Jordan and Israel, and ultimately find a solution, as I see it.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. President, I am reminded of some observations the Queen of England made a number of years ago, when Great Britain was subjected to some great forces that were tearing her apart. The Queen spoke very bluntly and candidly, as I recall. She said essentially that there was no point in further denying that there were some deep divisions in that country. She recognized that they were there. But she said that in her judgment, the time had come when it was well to recall that it might serve England and Great Britain well to recognize these dissensions and problems as problems that can arise between members of a family, and that perhaps the time had come when the healing that follows compassion and love could again be brought to bear, and that each person or party to the conflict might recognize the possibility of right in others.
I suggest that if there is one thing that reaches me in the speech just made by the distinguished Senator from Oregon this morning, it is that we must try to contribute our determination to a solution of the problems as we try to work for peace---though I think we likely never will achieve that happy millennium when we can look forward to war no more, and be assured that peace will permanently prevail. I believe Plato said that only the dead have seen the end of war, and I am afraid he is right. Nevertheless, I subscribe to Browning’s observation that man’s reach should exceed his grasp. With that thought in mind, it certainly becomes our duty and our responsibility to do all we can to lessen tensions, to recognize the possibility of right in others, and to see whether we can help minimize the problems of frustration and deprivation from which we know strong pressures and strong forces always erupt to bring about further conflict.
Certainly, the Senator’s remarks this morning are typical of him. I would say, also, that I have known him for a long time, and among his many virtues is the added virtue of being consistent. I have not always agreed with him, as he knows, but I will say that he has followed the same line this morning that we have heard him espouse ever since I first knew him and for that I have great admiration for him.
Mr. HATFIELD. I am grateful to my colleague from Wyoming for his remarks.
Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
Mr. ELLENDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.