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Digital Archive International History Declassified

August 04, 1948

THE IRAQI PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION'S VISIT TO JORDAN AND SYRIA, AND KING ABDULLAH’S ATTEMPTS AT ANNEXING PALESTINE TO JORDAN BASED ON BERNADOTTE'S PLAN

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    Description of an Iraqi parliamentary delegation's visit to Jordan and Syria, and King Abdullah’s intent to annex the Arab areas of Palestine to Trans-Jordan.
    "The Iraqi Parliamentary Delegation's Visit to Jordan and Syria, and King Abdullah’s Attempts at Annexing Palestine to Jordan based on Bernadotte's Plan," August 04, 1948, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 11, File 1/11, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/176072
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1/11

4/8/1948

The Iraqi parliamentary delegation's visit to Jordan and Syria, and King Abdullah’s attempts at annexing Palestine to Jordan based on Bernadotte's Plan.

This past 28 July an Iraqi parliamentary delegation made up of Mawloud Mukhlis, Ismail Namek, Mohammad Mahdi Kubba, Abdel-Hadi al-Jaddal al-Jalabi, Jazi Shamdeen, Arkan Badi, Ali Haidar Sulaiman, Ahmad al-'Ojeil, Rafael Bacci, Saalan Salman al-Thaher, and Nour-Eddin Daoud arrived in Amman to visit the Palestinian front.

On the 29th, the delegation paid a one-and-a-half hour visit to King Abdullah bin al-Hussein at Raghadan Palace during which they discussed the Palestinian cause and the latest Arab attitudes regarding it, in particular the issue of accepting the truce. King Abdullah explained to the delegation the real reasons behind the Jordanian Government’s call for accepting the truce, including the pressure that Britain is bringing to bear on Trans-Jordan, withholding the third instalment of British annual financial aid, and the current power of the Jews; he also told them that the present situation favours the Arabs. Members of the delegation then asked the King several questions regarding the facts about the Arab Armies and he gave them figures that painted a different picture from what they had heard in Iraq. The delegation then heard from a number of Jordanian parliamentarians in Amman about why they, and the political committee, had in effect put all their trust in King Abdullah's policy of pursuing a truce with Israel. On that same day, King Abdullah was received by the Iraqi Regent, and members of his delegation, at the Iraqi Legation where he made several statements about the Arab military situation in Palestine saying that it was in a very good shape and that the truce would be beneficial to it.

The delegation left Amman on 30 July on an inspection visit to the Arab fronts with Palestine, and returned to Amman feeling more at ease.

The Delegation arrived in Damascus on Sunday 8 August and undertook an official round of visits. Some members of the delegation did not conceal the aim behind their visit. One of them, Mr Ahmad al-'Ojeil, said that their visit to Arab capitals and battle fronts aiming at taking stock of military operations in Palestine and getting in touch with decision-makers and parliamentarians in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Trans-Jordan to urge them to unite and coordinate their military efforts, once fighting resumes, and work at strengthening the Arab Armies.

Members of this delegation were actually not able to visit Egypt and Lebanon, and only managed to speak to a handful of Jordanian parliamentarians. The dean of the delegation, Mr Mawloud Mukhlis, apologised for not being able to visit Lebanon due to time constraints and to the advent of 'Eid al-Fitr. Members of the delegation paid a visit to the office of Hizb al-Watani and met its President, Secretary General, and prominent members, and I can confirm chat members of the Iraqi delegation held a totally different opinion, except for Mohammad Mahdi Kubba who agreed with the President of Hizb al-Watani, Mr Nabih al-'Azama and some of his colleagues, that the truce was and still is the bane of the Arab countries and of Palestine itself.

I tried my best to learn if the delegation had held secret talks with any members of the Syrian Hizb al-Watani but was not successful. However, the political attitude and demeanour of most members of the delegation, after their visit co Jordan and their meeting with the King and the Regent, were positive. But based on their demeanour and my conversations with them, they also seemed negative towards accepting the truce.

I can also confirm that rumours to the effect chat this delegation has paid money to a number of newspapers are totally untrue, and that all that it was is that a number of Syrian newspapers, or all of them, were just being very complimentary to the delegation, no more no less. On the other hand, King Abdullah and his Government are prepared to pay any necessary amount of money to buy a number of newspapers in Damascus to advance the chances of making Bernadotte's Plan, of annexing Arab areas of Palestine to Jordan, a reality, at such a time when King Abdullah sees fit.

As is well known, the delegation visited the Syrian front yesterday morning in the company of HE the Prime Minister and returned to Damascus in the evening; it will leave today to return to Iraq.

Many rumours, statements, and speculations were circulating when the delegation arrived and during its stay here, especially in relation to a military and economic union between Syria and Iraq. I did not detect anything that confirms this save for the talks that were held between Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, and culminated in an economic conference to discuss the difficulties that impede economic relations between the three countries.

What is beyond doubt is that King Abdullah is still trying very hard to annex the Arab areas of Palestine to Trans-Jordan based on Bernadotte’s Plan. No sooner been announced and Count Bernadotte arrived in the Levant, than King Abdullah approached him directly about the matter. He had previously discussed it with David Ben-Gurion, President of Israel’s accursed Government, to try and find a bilateral solution without the help of intermediaries. This is when this Jew declared 'The Jews are ready to hold direct talks with the Arabs regarding the Palestinian issue without the need for intermediaries or go-betweens', and if the Arab League does not agree with King Abdullah’s policies, then Jordan will withdraw from the League. Bernadotte will present his plan for resolving the problem, which calls for the annexation of Palestine to Jordan and recognition of the existence of the so-called State of Israel contingent upon a referendum among the Palestinian people, directly to the United Nations. This is what King Abdullah is currently preparing for with help from the British: to win the Palestinian people's vote in favour of annexing their homeland to Jordan and entrusting King Abdullah with the implementation of whatever solution he sees fit.

On the eve of Saturday/Sunday last, Radio Paris announced, based on Jewish sources, that a team of Arab politicians led by a well-known Palestinian personality intends to establish an Arab State in Palestine which would recognise Israel and be in favour of an economic alliance between the two states. I suspect that this news item is nothing more than an intrigue; King Abdullah, however, who is desperate to expand the area of his realm in a manner acceptable to the Jews, will not hesitate to commit the worst atrocities if it helps annex Palestine to Jordan, even the smallest village. This is what we shall soon see since what is important to King Abdullah, and ultimately to the British, is to win Palestine for itself at the hands of King Abdullah.

Tewfiq abou al-Huda, Jordan's Prime Minister, issued an order lifting all customs restrictions between Palestine and Trans-Jordan as a preliminary step towards the annexation of Palestine's Arab areas to Jordan. This implicitly sidelines the well-known plan of the go-between Bernadotte that foresees the annexation of Palestine’s Arab areas including the old city of Jerusalem, to Jordan. I learned that King Abdullah and the leaders of his Government have left the implementation of these proposals to circumstances, and placed the Palestinian Arabs in front of a fait-accompli that leaves them no option but to go along with King Abdullah's aspirations for a Great Jordanian State.

The Jordanian Government has openly and repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the Arab League, especially during the Political Committee's recent meeting in Lebanon, and the Syrian Prime Minister knows this very well. National Iraqi parties, and in particular Hizb al-Istiqlal, would not want that for Iraq, with the exception of the communist parties hidden behind a variety of names. The President of Hizb al-Ahrar al-Iraqi issued last 31 July a declaration in which it said: 'The Arab people demand the replacement of prominent leaders in League member countries who did not rule as well as they were expected to, and whose current policies will lead the Arab world down into dangerous chaos. The Arab League should be made up of new personalities who do not have contact with foreign governments, so that they can genuinely serve the Arab people and the Palestinian cause.'

King Abdullah now wants to dip his pitcher in Lebanon water after it came out empty from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The King needs a friendly gesture, even if a very small one, from any other Arab country towards the project he is working for. However, with the exception of the Iraqi Government, it would be very difficult for any Arab country to go along with that. However, the latter and the Regent know full well that they are bound to incur the wrath and retribution of the Iraqi public if they go along with Jordan’s policy according to the wishes of the King. This, the Regent and the Prime Minister, al-Pachachi, know full well; King Abdullah is therefore also bound to leave Lebanon empty-handed, and the same will happen in Iraq. As a consequence he will charge ahead all on his own, declare his acceptance of the terms of the United Nations resolution aimed at settling the Palestinian problem, and announce his withdrawal from the Arab League if it adopts a negative stance regarding his project.

There is a strong force standing in opposition to King Abdullah's plans in Iraq today, namely the agreement concluded between three Iraqi parties: al-Istiqlal, al-Ahrar, and al-watani al-Dimocrati to fight British and American policies in the Levant. Hizb al-Ahrar's President, Mr Abdel-Wahab Mahmoud, demanded during a meeting held by all three parties in Baghdad, that the British-Iraqi Pact be annulled on account of Britain's failure to adhere to commitments it undertook towards Iraq and the other Arab countries, and to pressures it openly brings to bear. The other party members agreed and decided to submit a petition to Prince Abdel-Ilah and his Government asking for the following:

The annulment of the British-Iraqi Pact.

Annulment of all agreements recently concluded with America.

Boycotting the products of countries that support Zionism.

Expelling all foreigners who displayed loyalty to the Jews from Iraq, and expropriating their property and wealth.

Imposing strict control over Iraqi Jews and, if necessary, confining them to a specific area under surveillance.

Members of the three above-mentioned parties undertook to raise these issues during the meeting which the Iraqi Parliament is due to hold on 10 August. They also declared their intention to ask the Government to explain the reasons behind the cessation of hostilities in Palestine, divulge the name or names of the country or countries that forced t the truce, reveal whether or not these countries threatened the Arabs with the use of force, and which country is negotiating with Britain on a two state solution, one Arab and one Jewish, to the Palestinian problem. After their joint meeting with al-Pachachi, the three party leaders, Mr Mohammad Mahdi Kubba (al-Istiqlal), Abdel-Wahab Mahmoud (al-Ahrar), and Kamel al-Jaderji (al-Watani al-Dimocrati), paid a visit to the Iraqi Prime Minister and informed him of their declaration. He accepted it and expressed his readiness to answer all the questions that will be put to him during the above mentioned parliamentary session. This shows the extent of negativity within Iraq vis-à-vis King Abdullah's policies.

After the session, a decision was taken in conjunction with the terms of the above-mentioned plan, to send an Iraqi parliamentary delegation comprising diverse elements, to tour the Arab fronts in Palestine. These Iraqi parties, which are seen as a unified national Arab front, are currently in contact with the Syrian Hizb al-Watani and with other nationalist Arab parties in the Arab countries. Their objective is to coordinate Arab national action to first save Palestine, then strengthen Arab potential and unite it in a manner to reflect in the future joint Arab military and foreign policy interests. The first objective is, however, to save Palestine and, with this in mind, the three national parties will steer their policies and coordinate them with other Arab national parties in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, and with the representatives of Palestine in Higher Arab Committee.

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