|Issue Date: October 29, 1953
The U.S. resumed economic aid to Israel October 28 immediately after Israel had agreed to stop work on its controversial Jordan River hydroelectric project. State Secretary Dulles said $26 million was ready for Israel for the first half of fiscal 1954. This was in addition to $1 1/2 million in technical aid.
Dulles explained that the U.S. had withheld the funds for about a month because "it seemed that if the U.S. granted economic aid" while work on the Jordan project continued, "it would tend to undermine the authority of the UN Truce Organization" which had asked Israel to suspend the project.
Many Jewish and other pro-Israel groups and individuals in the U.S. had protested the cutting off of aid to the Jewish state. (It was praised by the anti-Zionist Amer. Council for Judaism.) The CIO denounced October 28 the Government's "shockingly strong action" against Israel during the Jewish-Arab crisis and said the suspension of aid was "an affront...to the cause of world democracy." Harold Riegelman, GOP nominee for Mayor of New York, had conferred with Dulles October 26 on restoring the aid. [See 1953 Western Big 3: New Bid to Soviets; Other Developments]
Israel Halts Jordan Work
Israel stopped the Jordan River work at midnight October 28, pending UN investigation of a Syrian complaint that the project altered the river's course. The UN Security Council, noting Israel's action "with satisfaction," adopted a resolution October 27 stating that the suspension was without prejudice to either side. [See 1953 Western Big 3: New Bid to Soviets; Other Developments]
UN Truce Chief Reports
In a detailed report on strife between Israel and its 4 Arab neighbors, Major General Vagn Bennike, chief of the UN Palestine Truce Supervision Organization, told the Security Council October 27:
The UN General Armistice Agreements* "have lasted too long not to have lost part of their effectiveness." But they "still constitute a barrier to breaches of peace in the Middle East" and should not be "discarded before they can be replaced by final peace settlements." Israel was "impatient" because the armistice treaties had not yet been replaced by final settlements. The Arab nations felt the armistice had not given them security and the Truce Organization was "too weak to prevent what they consider to be Israeli breaches" of the agreements.
Referring to the October 14 Israeli attack which precipitated the Council's inquiry, Bennike said:
The raid on the Jordan village of Kibya and other Israeli-Arab clashes were the culmination of tension that reached the "breaking point," when "guns go off by themselves or temptation to resort to force may prevail over wise counsels and restraint."
The Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Comm. which investigated the Kibya raid reported: a force "approximating" half a regular Israeli Army battalion (250-300 men) attacked Kibya, killing 42 persons, wounding 15 and destroying 41 houses and a school building; "part of the same group" entered Shaqba and a "supporting unit" shelled Budrus, damaging "some houses and a bus" and wounding a Jordanian soldier. [See 1953 Western Big 3: New Bid to Soviets; Other Developments]
* Signed by Israel in 1949 with Egypt February 24, Lebanon March 23, Jordan April 3, Syria August 20. [See 1949 United Nations: Labor, Slavery Probes; Other Developments]
Bennike's analysis of major causes of tension between Israel and each of the 4 Arab states:
The principal problem, infiltration, was "particularly difficult" because the demarcation line was long (620 km.) and divided Palestine "haphazardly, separating...many Arab villages from their lands." Israel filed 178 infiltration complaints, Jordan 167 from January 1 to October 15. The Mixed Armistice Comm. found Israel guilty of 21 truce violations, Jordan 20. "Persistence of tension" made Jerusalem "a dangerous powder keg" which must be watched closely. [See 1953 Western Big 3: New Bid to Soviets; Other Developments; 1953 World News: Israel-Jordan Border Tension]
(The Armistice Comm. condemned "armed Jordanians" October 23 for blowing up an Israeli freight train between Haifa and Tel Aviv October 22.)
Application of truce provisions was complicated by the economic situation of Arabs in the Israeli-Syrian truce zone, encroachments on Arab lands, control by Israeli police of most of the zone, "Israeli opposition to the fulfillment by the truce chairman and the UN observers of their responsibility" for implementing the armistice pact.
Main difficulties were along the Gaza Strip (just north of Rafa shown on map) and, recently, in the El Auja demilitarized border zone (southeast of Rafa). Most Israeli complaints were against infiltration and thefts from Negev settlements. Israelis retaliated by shooting at Arabs who crossed the truce line; Arabs, in turn, retaliated by laying mines on roads and tracks in Israeli territory. Presence of 200,000 Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip made it "particularly difficult" for Egypt to curb Arab infiltrators. [See 1953 Egypt: News in Brief]
There were "relatively few and minor difficulties"; the truce line coincided with the Lebanon-Israel frontier. But there were cases of infiltration, "almost all from Lebanon into Israel."
Jordan Strengthens Army
Jordanian Prime Minister Fawzi el Mulki revealed October 28 his Government was rapidly strengthening its armed forces because it was convinced that another Israeli raid would inevitably lead to a full-scale conflict.
The Arab League's Political Com., in an emergency meeting in Cairo October 25, increased its $1.4 million military allocation to $5.6 million. [See 1953 Western Big 3: New Bid to Soviets; Other Developments]
Israel Charges Arab Plot
Israeli Ambassador-to-the-UN Abba Eban accused the Arab nations October 28 of plotting "not to make peace with Israel and not to let Israel live in peace." He charged that they had formed a plan at a meeting in Amman last November whereby Egypt blockaded Israeli-bound shipping in the Suez Canal, Lebanon maintained an economic boycott of Israel, Syria tried to prevent Israeli development of Jordan River resources and Jordanians harassed Israeli frontier settlers. [See 1953 Middle East: Arabs Warn Anti-Communists on Israel; Other Developments; 1952 Israel: News in Brief]
New Arab Aid Plan Proposed
33 U.S. civic leaders proposed to the UN October 25 a 6-year $800 million program for Arab refugees resettlement, to be undertaken only after the armistice agreements were replaced by permanent peace treaties. The plan required $500 million for development of natural resources in the Arab nations, $300 million for resettlement of refugees in Arab lands capable of receiving them. Israel would make a financial contribution to the resettlement fund and Arab states receiving large oil royalties would give to the development fund.
Ask More UN Aid for DPs
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees reported October 27: reluctance of Arab refugees to cooperate in rehabilitation projects had shattered the agency's plan to make them self-supporting by 1954. The report asked the General Assembly to extend the program to June 30, 1955 and increase the original $250 million allocation to $293 million. [See 1952 United Nations: Arab Refugees; Other Developments]
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