SEVEN years after its war of independence the State of Israel still faces a security problem of unusual complexity. The area of the country is only 8,100 square miles. But owing to the configuration of its territory there are 400 miles of frontier. Three-quarters of the population of Israel lives in the coastal plain, running from north of Haifa to south of Tel Aviv, with a slender salient branching off to Jerusalem. This densely settled area has an average width of no more than twelve miles between the Mediterranean and the Jordanian border. From the Israel Parliament buildings in Jerusalem the armed sentries of the Jordanian Arab Legion can be seen a few hundred yards away. The headquarters of the Israel General Staff in the coastal plain are within clear view from the hills which mark the Jordan frontier. The country's main roads and railways are exposed to swift and easy incursion. Scarcely anywhere in Israel can a man live or work beyond the easy range of enemy fire. Indeed, except in the Negev, no settlement is at a distance of more than 20 miles from an Arab frontier.

Thus the term "frontier security" has little meaning in the context of Israel's geography. The entire country is a frontier, and the whole rhythm of national life is affected by any hostile activity from the territory of neighboring states. On the other hand, the Arab states are in no such position. Border tensions affect a narrow fringe of their territories, beyond which stretch deep hinterlands entirely remote from the hazards and strains of frontier life. An American citizen who can cross a vast continent without seeing a foreign, let alone a hostile, face may require an unusual measure of imagination and humility to understand the unique vulnerability which geography imposes upon the people of Israel.

The effects of geographical vulnerability are aggravated by the fierce antagonism directed against Israel across her embattled frontiers. There is no other state in the world community whose very right to existence is so persistently challenged by all its contiguous neighbors. This is not the classic pattern of international conflict in which neighboring peoples recognize each other's statehood but are divided by specific disputes which they have failed to reconcile. The hostility of the Arab Governments towards Israel is more fundamental. It has passed through three phases: first, before 1948, there was a determination to prevent the establishment of an independent Israel; second, in 1948, there was an unsuccessful attempt to destroy Israel's independence at its birth by armed assault; and third, in the period 1948-1954, there has been an attitude of inveterate revenge based on non-recognition and the undying hope of Israel's extinction. The elementary duty of members of the United Nations to recognize each other's right to sovereignty and integrity has never found any reflection in the relations of the Arab world with Israel.

More than fifteen years ago a British Royal Commission had recorded the official Arab view presented by the Mufti of Jerusalem that the Jewish population of Palestine was "too large" and should be reduced by military action. In November 1947 the United Nations' recommendation for the establishment of a sovereign Jewish State in Palestine was the signal for a purposeful attempt to put this doctrine into effect. In the General Assembly, Arab spokesmen frankly asserted their refusal to acquiesce in the new international policy or even to abstain from using force against it. Six delegates mounted the rostrum of the world peace organization to announce their intention of violently destroying the community whose right to independence had just received international confirmation. On November 30, 1947, this assault began with the slaughter of 36 Jews in the first week of hostilities commenced by Palestinian Arab guerrillas. A "Liberation Army" organized by Arab Governments moved into Palestine to continue the carnage. Finally, on May 15, 1948, when the British Mandate expired, the armies of all the Arab states invaded Israel with the avowed aim of destroying her independence. Iraqi and Jordanian battalions took over the Arab half of Palestine, then pressed on toward the coastal plain while Israel stood with her back against the sea. Syrian tanks crashed into farming villages in the Upper Jordan valley. Lebanese regulars and irregulars from Syria converged upon Galilee. Egyptian forces began what was intended as a triumphal march on Tel Aviv, coming within nine miles of the city's suburbs. Aircraft bombed Israel's undefended cities. A ring of fire encircled Jerusalem and exposed its population to the horrors of bombardment, famine and siege.

There has never been any serious dispute about the origins of this assault or its aggressive character. In the spring of 1948 a United Nations Commission reported: "Powerful Arab forces are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and attempting to overthrow by force the recommendations contained therein." The authoritative international view was further expressed in the United Nations by Ambassador Warren Austin, speaking for the United States, in the Security Council, on May 22, 1948:

. . . Probably the most important and the best evidence we have on that subject is contained in the admissions of the countries whose five armies have invaded Palestine that they are carrying on a war.

Their statements are the best evidence we have of the international character of this aggression. . . . They tell us quite frankly that their business in Palestine is political and that they are there to establish a unitary State. Of course, the statement that they are there to make peace is rather remarkable in view of the fact that they are waging war.[i]

The American representative then invited his colleagues to determine that this "aggression of international character" constituted a breach of the peace within the meaning of Article 39 of the U.N. Charter. The fighting between May 15 and June 13, when a 30-day truce was concluded, had involved the Arab Governments in the open rejection of the Security Council's three cease-fire orders.

When the 30-day truce expired, the United Nations ordered its renewal. The Arab states refused to accede, arguing with frankness that if there were no fighting it would be impossible to prevent the State of Israel from continuing to exist. In a resolution adopted on July 15, 1948, the Security Council renewed its verdict of Arab responsibility by resolving that the Arab refusal to prolong the truce constituted a breach of international peace and security. This was the first time that such a determination under Chapter VII of the Charter had been made by the United Nations on any issue.

The repulse by ill-equipped defenders of this assault was Israel's first achievement, and it won her high renown. But both the army and the civilian population sustained cruel loss of life. Some of the patient rewards of five decades of pioneering had been ravaged. The state of Israel had come into existence in the shadow of imminent destruction, and the memories of escape from fearful dangers have attended the people of Israel from the very dawn of their independence. These memories abide with us still, and go far to explain the depth of our preoccupation with security. Nor have the Israel people ever forgotten that in their supreme ordeal they received no direct assistance from outside, although waves of sympathy flowed in from free peoples everywhere and provided a valued consolation.

The acceptance of a permanent truce in July 1948 did not signify the end of the war. Contrary to the terms of the truce and to the rulings of the United Nations Truce Supervision Board, the Egyptian Army blocked the supply road to the Jewish villages in the south and renewed the attack on Israel positions in the Negev. A convoy was sent to supply the Negev villages. It was heavily attacked by the Egyptian forces from positions secured after the truce. Seven days' more fighting ensued, which gave to the Israel forces control of Beersheba, center of the Negev, as well as of the northern Negev with the exception of the Gaza strip and the Faluja pocket. In a statement made on October 25, 1948, by the United Nations Chief of the Truce Supervision Board to the Egyptian Commander-in-chief in Gaza, he attributed the renewal of the fighting in the Negev primarily to the failure of the Egyptians to comply with Ruling No. 13 of the Truce Supervision Board regarding the passage of convoys to the Jewish villages in the south. In March 1949 the Israel forces occupied the Wadi Araba up to the Gulf of Elath and thus gained control of the Negev--a desert area which had been part of Israel since her establishment but had been unoccupied by any forces up to that time. Neither the Egyptians nor the Jordanians had ever possessed international sanction to occupy this part of Israel in the first place, and if their patrols had ever crossed or scantily supervised it prior to its occupation by Israel--a claim that was never substantiated--their expulsion was a blow against aggressive conquest.

The purpose of the Arab invasion had been the destruction of the state of Israel and the ejection of the Jewish population from the soil of Palestine. In a statement made by Azzam Pasha, then Secretary General of the Arab League, on May 15, 1948, the eve of the invasion of the Arab armies, the Arab war aim was formulated in unambiguous terms: "This," he said, "will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the crusades." Indeed, the Arab attack, especially in its first guerrilla stage, did not lack cases of disregard of the rules of war.

There are at present more than 180,000 Arabs living in the state of Israel, but not a single Jew survives in any part of Palestine that came to be occupied by the invading Arab armies. The Jewish quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, with its ancient synagogues and monuments, was completely destroyed; even the Jewish Cemetery of the Mount of Olives was desecrated and laid waste.


In 1949 a series of armistice agreements were concluded under United Nations auspices between Israel and each of the Arab states which had participated in the war, with the exception of Iraq. It was assumed that this step marked the conclusion of the war and that the armistice would herald the early advent of a lasting peace. Indeed, in their preambles, the Armistice Agreements were described as designed "to facilitate the transition from the present truce to permanent peace in Palestine." They provided that no aggressive action should be undertaken or threatened by either party against the other and that the right of each party to "its security and freedom from fear of attack by the armed forces of the other" was to be "fully respected." The conclusion of the armistice was described as "an indispensable step toward the liquidation of armed conflict and the restoration of peace in Palestine."

The events of the past five years have belied these hopeful expectations. No sooner had the Arab states recovered from the shock of Israel's successful resistance than they began to question the character of the Armistice Agreements as a phase in the progress towards a final settlement. So far from regarding them as an arrangement "to facilitate the transition to permanent peace," the Arab signatories, in a joint statement issued on April 1, 1950, pledged themselves not to conduct peace negotiations with Israel and declared that any Arab state doing so would be treated as a traitor and an outcast. Subsequent policy has been in full accord with that declaration. Instead of abstaining, as required by the terms of the armistice, from all threats of aggressive action, their spokesmen in parliament, press and radio have incessantly warned Israel of a coming "second round."

This concept of Israel as a temporary bridgehead to be eliminated by war or blockade still dominates Arab official utterances. "In demanding the restoration of the refugees to Palestine," wrote Muhammad Salah-ad-Din, a former Foreign Minister of Egypt, ". . . the Arabs intend to annihilate the State of Israel."[ii] No less outspoken was King Saud in a statement made in Riadh soon after his accession to the throne: "The only way which the Arab states must go is to draw Israel up by her roots. Why should we not sacrifice 10,000,000 out of 50,000,000 Arabs so that we may live in greatness and honor?"[iii] Against this mood of war and revenge, reason has little chance of prevailing. "The Jews are our enemies," Baghdad Radio told its listeners on June 28, 1949, "and it does not matter how peace-loving they may be. We shall never cease to prepare for the day of reckoning, for the second round, when the Jews will be driven off our soil."

In this matter, the new régime in Egypt, contrary to early expectations, has not diverged from the traditional slogans. In his opening address to the Arab Armistice Delegations, made in Cairo on April 18, 1953. Mohammed Naguib, then President of Egypt, said: "The existence of Israel is a cancer in the body of the Arab nation." Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, Prime Minister of Egypt, was equally frank: "Israel is an artificial state which must disappear," he said on May 8, 1954, to a representative of the Greek newspaper Kathimerini. During his visit at the Lebanese Parliament on July 1, 1954, the Egyptian Minister of National Guidance, Major Salah Salem stated: "The evacuation of the occupation forces from our country will free essential forces of ours. We shall then be able to raise our voice and to liberate Palestine. We shall prepare the forces that will liberate Palestine. And, with the help of God, there will be a great revival."[iv]

It has been a habit of Arab propaganda to assert that their refusal to make peace is justified by the prior demand to have the original recommendation of the United Nations fulfilled. There is no juridical or moral force in the contention that Israel has a duty to set aside its rights under existing treaties in favor of the recommendations which Arab governments themselves destroyed by force. Indeed, it was because of Arab opposition that the United Nations abandoned its 1947 resolution and called upon the parties to reach their own binding agreements. This they have done; and nothing in the armistice system may now be changed without consent. In December 1952 the General Assembly of the United Nations rejected by vote the Arab thesis that fulfilment of old recommendations was a prior condition of a negotiated peace. But in any case, this argument belongs to the tactics of controversy, not to the reality of the Arab position. Mohammed Salah-ad-Din said recently: "The Arabs will not be satisfied with the implementation of United Nations resolutions. We shall only have complete satisfaction when Israel is finally blotted out from the map of the Middle East. The Arabs will find no rest until this cancer has been removed from their heart."[v] While on November 3, 1954, the Syrian Prime Minister, Faris Al Khoury, declared in Parliament:

Certain Arab leaders say that there can be no peace with Israel before the implementation of the U.N. resolutions. . . . They link peace with Israel with these terms. I denounce such a statement, and I say that there is no connection between peace with Israel and the return of the refugees and the U.N. resolutions. . . . Whether they return the refugees or not, peace must not be concluded with Israel in any form. I do not believe that the Arabs would approve peace so long as the Jews remain settled in that spot--the heart of the Arab states--threatening all those around them, and spreading corruption and evil. . . . How can we possibly make peace with them while they remain there? This was the first round and, unfortunately, it was not successful. The Arabs--we included--should prepare for a second round and do their utmost. . . .[vi]

In such an atmosphere, the idea of progress towards peace with Israel is regarded as a form of treason: "Whoever thinks of making peace with the enemy signs the death warrant of all the Arab nations," said Dr. Fadhil Jamali, the Foreign Minister of Iraq, on his way to Washington to negotiate for the receipt of weapons for the Iraq Army.[vii]

Such statements cannot be lightly regarded in any discussion of Israel's security problem. No other state has Israel's experience of being constantly threatened with violent destruction by hostile neighbors a few miles away.

Nor has Arab hostility been confined to warlike propaganda. From the very inception of the state of Israel, an economic boycott has been enforced against it by the Arab states, of which the most significant aspect is the closing of the Suez Canal to all Israel shipping and the interference with the passage of ships of other nations carrying cargoes to Israel. This action of the Egyptian Government is a violation of the Constantinople Convention of 1888 under which the power contiguous to the Suez Canal is bound to keep the Canal "always . . . free and open in time of war as in time of peace to every vessel of commerce or of war without distinction of flag." The Security Council of the United Nations on September 1, 1951, ruled that under the Armistice Agreement neither party could assert that it was actively a belligerent or entitled to exercise the right of visit, search and seizure. The Council found that Egyptian interference with the passage through the Suez Canal of goods destined for Israel was "inconsistent with the purpose of the Armistice Agreement" and "an abuse of the exercise of the right of visit, search and seizure." It called upon Egypt to terminate all such restrictions. No heed has been paid to this decision and the Egyptian blockade has recently taken the form of the flagrant seizure of an unarmed Israel ship in the international waterway.

A widely ramified boycott machinery has been set up with headquarters in Cairo to prevent trade between the Arab states and Israel, indeed between Israel and other countries. International firms trading with Israel are blacklisted, airlines and shipping companies are denied servicing in Arab airports and harbors if they maintain contact with Israel. A conspicuous example of this policy was the campaign of intimidation conducted by the Arab states against the German Federal Republic which had signed a reparations agreement with Israel. Danger to international air traffic has been caused by the refusal of Arab airports to provide flight information to aircraft proceeding to or from Israel. The boycott of the Arab states against Israel extends even to the denial of information on the movement of infectious diseases or locusts. Neither considerations of humanity nor the common ills of nature have prevailed against this intense hostility.


The facts already enumerated would themselves be sufficient to give a disquieting picture of the threat to Israel's security. No state is as vulnerable as Israel in the configuration of its frontiers; none has such memories of recent aggression; none is beset by the nerve-racking experience of hearing the renewal of aggression repeatedly threatened; none is assailed even now by every form of hostility short of regular warfare. But the picture is still not complete without reference to the wider international context, which subjects Israel's fragile security to additional strains.

Israel, while subjected to regional hostility, is not immune from any of the dangers which might ensue from a world conflict reaching into the Middle East. Indeed, a Great Power conflict in the Middle East would face Israel with a double peril--attack by an invading Great Power and a simultaneous assault by neighboring Arab states.

Moreover, Israel faces these manifold dangers with no sure prospect of assistance from any quarter. Israel is not integrated into any system of defense pacts or security guarantees. The Arab League Collective Security Pact, the British treaties with Iraq, Jordan and Egypt, the defense association growing up around Turkey and Pakistan, and American arms and agreements in the Middle East are all oriented exclusively towards the Arab states and are based on Israel's exclusion. There is thus not a single country in the world which has contracted a firm unequivocal obligation to help defend Israel by armed force in the event of aggression. Recourse to the United Nations Charter which in 1948 had some effect in limiting the duration of the war and localizing its effects is now a dubious safeguard. In the present conflict between the Great Powers and in the light of the veto provision twice exercised in the Arab-Israel context by the Soviet Union, it may be doubted whether Israel, if attacked, could even obtain a cease-fire resolution from the Security Council. Six years ago the Security Council was able to adopt five such resolutions, two of which the Arab states obeyed and three of which they defied. Thus, not only does Israel face formidable dangers; she also faces them in unusual solitude.

The effect of Great Power policies in the present international situation has been to increase this already grave disadvantage. For, while the Soviet Union has twice prevented any action in the Security Council favorable to Israel's security, the Western Powers have embarked upon a policy of unilateral Arab rearmament. The British treaties with Jordan, Iraq and Egypt constitute guarantees of Arab security of a kind which Israel entirely lacks. But now, in addition, Egypt under the new treaty with Britain is about to inherit one of the greatest military bases in the world, with its airfields, installations and factories. Iraq has signed an agreement for military aid from the United States, and a similar agreement has been offered to Egypt. In thus increasing the strength of Israel's neighbors, the Western Powers have so far failed to maintain the principle of equality by offering similar arrangements to Israel. Nor have they sought from Arab governments any relaxation of their hostility to Israel as a condition of Western assistance. This policy of one-sided reinforcement of Israel's neighbors appears to the Israel people as a deviation from the best standards of international morality or prudence. It also implies a retreat by the Western Powers from the undertakings contained in the Tripartite Declaration of May 1950, under which they pledged themselves to maintain the military balance between the Arab states and Israel and to enable "Israel and the Arab states" (not the Arab states alone) to contribute to the defense of the area against aggression.

These policies increase the existing advantage which the Arabs possess as a result of their geographic and demographic preponderance. They have vast expanses of territory and vital strategic strongpoints. They have huge resources of oil. They have enormous reserves of manpower. Their financial and economic resources are vastly superior to those of Israel. These advantages may or may not be reflected in their current military posture. But this is of small moment. In discussing a regional security problem the criterion is one of basic potential, not of current military strength; and in such terms the Arab states possess an advantage even without the treaties and arms agreements showered on them and withheld from Israel by the United States and Britain. In recent years, all the Arab states have been strengthening their armies, their military industry and their equipment. Huge military budgets, that cannot be matched by Israel's struggling economy, have enabled them to purchase modern Western equipment such as jet planes, artillery, tanks and armored war machines. The military budgets of the Arab states in the current year exceed the total of Israel's entire budget for all purposes, civil and military.

It is against this background that the specific problem of border insecurity, of marauding and infiltration, should be viewed. An intermittent guerrilla war on Israel's borders, especially those with Jordan and the Egyptian-occupied Gaza-strip, is the spearhead of comprehensive hostility. It is difficult to imagine that a quiet border could coexist with the political and emotional attitudes of the Arab leaders which I have described. An improvement of relations between governments is a prerequisite of a more peaceful frontier life. Yet specific consideration is needed for the movement of Arab "infiltration" which is acknowledged by both parties and by the United Naitons to be the primary specific cause of recent outbreaks.

The process of "infiltration" began in the period immediately following the conclusion of the Armistice Agreements. It was at first a sporadic trickle of illegal crossings actuated in part by motives of family reunion. Efforts made by Israel to regulate this movement by agreement with the Arab states failed owing to the Arab refusal to legalize any transit of persons between their respective territories and Israel. As a result, these illegal crossings became a regular practice, which after a time degenerated into wholesale infiltration accompanied by theft and smuggling. The Government of Israel first took no steps to suppress this movement, regarding it as a temporary phase. It also put into operation an official scheme of its own for the reunion of Arab families separated by the war, and as a result several thousand Arabs have rejoined their kinsfolk in Israel. Contrary to expectations, however, the movement showed no sign of abating. Thefts, robbery, hold-ups and eventually murder and sabotage became of frequent occurrence. As the border region became more tense with constant violence, the Israeli villagers in the area were authorized to organize their own defense against invaders.

It has been asserted quite wrongly that this infiltration is conducted primarily by refugees. The nightly incursions into Israel territory, which in most cases show careful planning, are not the work of destitute refugees but of highly trained gunmen acting on paramilitary lines. They openly sell their booty in the markets of the Arab border towns, not infrequently sharing their gains with the appointed organs of security. In a number of cases, where the Israel authorities supplied to the Arab Governments data on the identity and the crimes of the infiltrators, these were not brought to trial, and only rarely have the stolen goods been returned.

There can be little doubt that much of this guerrilla war is of a military character. The targets chosen, the form of attack, the types of arms used and the methods employed indicate that many of these raids are planned on military lines. The setting of mines, the ambushing of watchmen and firing at guards are clearly not the work of hapless refugees. In more than one case the raids have been well synchronized and carefully planned military operations executed with a high degree of precision. This campaign affords first class opportunities for instructing men in guerrilla tactics, gathering military information and making the raiders familiar with the territory in which the "second round" may one day be fought.

The dimensions which the guerrilla war against Israel has assumed in recent years may be gathered from the following data. From 1949 to the middle of 1954 there have been an average of 1,000 cases of infiltration per month along the several frontiers, the majority of them on the Israel-Jordan border. The number of clashes with armed marauders on the latter border alone amounted during the last four years to 1,069, the incidents of theft, burglary and armed robbery to 3,573. Livestock, seed, fertilizers, agricultural implements and irrigation pipes have been among the principal booty of these marauding expeditions. Miles of telephone wires have been stolen and telephone poles destroyed, while the cutting of electric wires has seriously interfered with agricultural and industrial activities. All this material damage, however, is overshadowed by the fearful toll of human life. On the Jordan border alone 513 Israelis were killed and wounded during the past four years. The Commander of the Arab Legion proclaims the innocence of a process which, unless checked, may bring ruin to the whole Armistice régime.

A summary of incidents within a brief period of time and along a single sector of the Jordan frontier was presented by the Israel Representative at the United Nations to the Security Council on November 12, 1953. The nightly attacks there recorded, with their ever-increasing toll of lives, have created nervous tension in the Israel border villages which militates against the self-restraint maintained during the early phases of this war. It is not the first time that the Jews of Palestine have been exposed to this trying ordeal. In 1920, 1921 and 1929 there were serious Arab attacks in Jerusalem, Jaffa, the coastal plain, Hebron and Safad, in which hundreds of Jews were massacred and a number of Jewish villages destroyed. In 1936, country-wide disturbances began which lasted intermittently until the outbreak of the Second World War. In these conflicts it was the policy of the Jewish authorities, upheld by the bulk of the community, to abstain from retaliation. The same restraint was maintained when after the establishment of the state of Israel, the old guerrilla attacks and marauding expeditions were resumed. Tension in the border areas, however, has of late become so acute as sometimes to result in a breakdown of that traditional attitude.

Many of the attacks have occurred not along the "frontier" but deep inside Israel territory. The innumerable wadis and tracks covered by sand make it easy for raiders to enter and escape undetected. Not infrequently Israel watchmen and border police wounded by shots have been dragged across the frontier and cruelly done to death, their mutilated bodies then being presented as evidence of Israel aggression against Jordan. The Jordan Government has distributed arms and ammunition to village youths in the border areas, labelling them "National Guards," without effective control or training. Its agreement has not yet been received for any radical measures to stop guerrilla activities along the border, such as the regular policing of the area, the division of no man's land or the marking of the armistice line. According to a report of the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization to the Secretary-General of the U.N., dated October 30, 1952, no effective system of frontier demarcation could be set up "since the Jordan authorities have been unwilling to agree to any 'permanent' scheme for the marking of the demarcation line." According to the same report, "an Israel survey team engaged in the marking of the border was fired on from Jordan-controlled territory," and the "officer in charge of the surveying team was seriously wounded." This has happened in many instances. The case of the Lebanese frontier, which is clearly marked by cairns placed every few hundred yards and where the local gendarmerie maintains order, indicates that where there is a will, an end can be put to violence across the border. In articles and interviews[viii] the Commander of the Arab Legion has said that "in international practice every nation is responsible for the prevention of illegal entry into its frontiers" and that "the Israelis must deal with such incidents in their country and not expect the military command in Jordan to do so"--the implication clearly being that notwithstanding the terms of the Armistice Agreement, the Jordan military authorities do not feel obliged to stop the evil at its source. In July 1954 the United States, Britain and France proposed the demarcation of the frontier and the erection of barriers as a measure to prevent infiltration and reprisals. This suggestion was accepted by Israel and again rejected by Jordan. It is hard to see how refusal to mark the border and consolidate its defenses can be reconciled with peaceful intention or purpose.

A serious situation, second in gravity only to that on the Jordan frontier, has developed in recent months on the Egyptian border. Though the constant raids into Israel territory across the Egyptian armistice line do not, like those from Jordan, operate in populous areas, they have created in the wide expanses of the Negev a state of insecurity necessitating exceptional measures of vigilance to safeguard the lives and property of the rural population. Many of these raids reveal paramilitary training and careful reconnaissance of the ground and of the local farmers' habits. Flocks numbering many hundred heads of sheep have been driven off, plantations uprooted and vital communications mined. A special problem is presented by the Bedouin in the area. The Egyptian authorities frequently employ their own Bedouin for attacks on the Israeli Bedouin, particularly at times of political tension.


The prospects of removing such a profound tension by palliative measures are not hopeful. A development of the Armistice agreement into a peace settlement is the only radical cure. But if there were a desire to move progressively towards peace, many effective steps could be taken. The first would be to stop the campaign of incitement in the Arabic press and radio, and the public statements of political leaders. A second step would be the elimination of the economic boycott against Israel which is doing the Arab countries no less, if not indeed more harm than Israel. Third, a number of specific measures could be adopted for improving conditions on the border. A series of such proposals was submitted by Israel to Jordan in March 1953, but met with categorical rejection. The most important measure to prevent trouble in the border region would be the demarcation of the present lines by clearly visible signs on the ground. A further preventive measure would be the partitioning of the "no man's land" areas on the border which considerably hamper the effective policing of the frontier region. To remove the incentive of booty, searches should be carried out to discover goods stolen by marauders in Israel. At the same time, the responsibility of the local authorities to prevent the infiltration of marauders into Israel territory should be enforced by disciplinary measures. Firearms should be carefully registered and licensed and all unauthorized explosives and their detonating agents should be confiscated by the competent authorities in Jordan.

Another measure intended to stop infiltration was the Agreement reached on March 5, 1951, between Israel and Jordan for the holding of regular meetings of local commanders for settling border problems, exchanging information on marauders, arranging for the return of stolen property and providing for the return of persons who had inadvertently strayed across the unmarked line. After a year's trial it became clear, however, that the Jordanian authorities had no intention of coöperating effectively in the prevention of marauding. Stolen property was for the most part sold openly in Jordan market places and was returned only in very exceptional cases. On January 8, 1953, Israel informed the Jordanians that it saw no purpose in continuing this Agreement. In June 1953 Israel took the initiative in proposing a new Local Commanders' Agreement, following a suggestion made by Secretary of State Dulles. The Jordanians were reluctant, but in the end grudgingly signed it. The new Agreement, too, remained a dead letter. Very little was done by the Jordan police to return stolen property and apprehend marauders even when their names were officially communicated to them by the Israel authorities. Israel also proposed the setting up of telephone lines in exposed districts, such as the area of Al-Kubeibe-Latrun, to facilitate a speedy exchange of information. This proposal, too, was first held up and then rejected. The Israel authorities also suggested that in certain areas the armistice line be redrawn, so as to enable villagers to work on their fields without crossing the border. In this matter, too, the Jordanians have maintained their negative attitude.

Israel would welcome any measure, however temporary and palliative, that might help in some measure to reduce tension. In recent weeks, especially since the appointment of General Burns to lead the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, there has been a promising reduction of tension. Israel has no aggressive designs against her neighbors. If she had, she could have had many opportunities in recent years, when Arab states were weakened by internal disturbances and coups d'état. There has been a scrupulous abstention by Israel from exploiting these instabilities. Nor would an aggressive Israel support American and British proposals for reinforcing the armistice demarcation line as a tangible barrier to movement from either side. Israel urgently needs peace for economic development and for accomplishing the great task of absorbing the 700,000 Jewish refugees who have come from all parts of the world--including 350,000 immigrants driven by intolerance from Arab lands. Some Arab leaders must be aware that peace with Israel would benefit the Middle East and open out a new horizon of regional progress; but such moderation, if it exists, has not yet found tangible expression in official policy, the Arab leaders having become slaves of their own bellicose slogans which they cannot now recant.

Despite this negative attitude Israel has from time to time outlined concrete peace proposals. In the Seventh General Assembly of the United Nations in 1952 the Israel Government submitted an elaborate blueprint for a peace settlement and regional cooperation between Israel and the Arab states. These proposals were categorically rejected by the Arab spokesmen. In November 1953 the Government of Israel made another effort to seek an agreed settlement of outstanding issues with Jordan by requesting the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in conformity with Article XII of the Armistice Agreement, to convoke a conference of both parties for the purpose of revising and improving the Armistice Agreement in the light of past experience. Although the terms of the Armistice Agreement make attendance at such a conference obligatory, the request of the Secretary General, supported by the Western Powers, was rejected by the Government of Jordan. In October 1954, the Israel Government released the blocked accounts of Arab refugees and proposed the conclusion of non-aggression pacts as an intermediate stage between the armistice and a peace settlement.

At the time of writing, despite a comparative lull on the Jordan border, no long-term solution is in sight. It does not appear likely that local border incidents will develop into a general collapse of the armistice frontier; but the air is heavy on both sides of the frontier, and peace hangs on a tenuous thread.

No international question has been so much discussed and so little solved. The discussions have at least defined the three avenues of progress. The first and best alternative would be a negotiation between Israel and each Arab state with the object of making a transition from the armistice to permanent peace. There is nothing revolutionary or unreasonable in this suggestion. It expresses the duty of all civilized states to live together in neighborliness and tranquillity. It does not involve the Arabs in any new commitment; for the Armistice Agreements are defined in their own terms as acts of "transition to permanent peace." There is an impressive volume of world opinion in favor of the doctrine that the armistice system, with its many improvised and impermanent features, has lasted too long and should be succeeded by a more stable system of international relationships. The Great Powers and the United Nations would do well continually to articulate this as the determined will of the international community. Six years ago Mr. John Foster Dulles, addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations, clearly expressed the view that it would be perilous to allow a provisional military relationship to endure too long. He said: "Fighting must give way to truce, truce to armistice, and armistice to final peace." There can be no assurance that negotiations between Israel and her neighbors would lead to swift agreement; but a stubborn refusal even to negotiate is surely out of accord with any doctrine of international duty.

A second alternative, which might bring relief until a peace negotiation takes place, would be to utilize the opportunities of review and revision inherent in the Armistice Agreements themselves. Article VIII of the Armistice Agreement with Jordan provides for a Special Committee for settling many dangerous problems, especially in the Jerusalem area. In 1952 the United Nations Chief of Staff reported that Jordan refused to meet Israel in that Committee. This refusal still persists. There are articles in each Armistice Agreement which oblige either party to accept the U.N. Secretary-General's invitation to attend a conference, convoked at the request of the other party, for the purpose of reviewing, modifying or suspending any or each article of the Armistice Agreement. Here, too, Jordan has refused to honor its signature obliging her to meet Israel under the procedures laid down in the Armistice Agreement. It is extraordinary for a government to proclaim fidelity to an international agreement while declining to meet the central provision of that very agreement for revision or review. Recently, the policy of ostracism has been carried to even more extreme lengths by Jordan's refusal to attend meetings of the United Nations Security Council because the Charter makes such attendance conditional upon the acceptance of an obligation of pacific settlement.

A third and more modest line of possible improvement has recently been tried in the form of proposals for marking the border and erecting obstacles at suitable points. This too has been rejected on the Arab side.

The Israel Government and its Defense Forces will not neglect any idea or opportunity which seems likely to offer hope of a remedy. In these circumstances the basic question is clearly not one of procedure but of policy. Does there exist any international influence which can overcome the comprehensive negation which the Arab Governments have chosen to adopt? Refusal to discuss peace; refusal to develop the Armistice Agreement into more lasting accords; refusal to review the Armistice Agreement under Article XII; refusal to confer with Israel under Article VIII of the Armistice; refusal by Jordan to attend the Security Council's meetings under Article 35 of the Charter; refusal to mark the frontier; refusal to erect barriers to infiltration; refusal to restrain the eruption of marauding bands across the frontier; refusal to desist from inflammatory propaganda and incitement; refusal by Egypt to abandon an illicit blockade--all this together adds up to a political attitude which will surely have to be modified if the tension in the Middle East is to be relieved. Until then the Israel Defense Forces will face a heavy task, and face it virtually alone as the solitary effective means for safeguarding Israel's physical integrity.

[i] Security Council Official Records, 3rd year, No. 72, 301st and 302nd meetings.

[ii]Al-Misri, August 24, 1953.

[iii]Al-Ahram, January 10, 1954.

[iv]Al-Ahram, July 2, 1954.

[v]Al-Misri, April 12, 1954.

[vi] Radio Damascus, November 3, 1954 (from a verbatim recording).

[vii]Filastin, June 24, 1951.

[viii] General J. B. Glubb in Foreign Affairs, July 1954, and in an interview in The New York Times, July 17, 1954.

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