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December 1, 1948

A Special Report

This document was made possible with support from Youmna and Tony Asseily



A special report


On 14/ 12/ 1948, Nouri al-Said Pacha, Jamil Pacha al-Madfa'i, Jalal Baban, and Saleh Beik Sa'eb, Commander of the Iraqi-Jordanian forces, arrived in Amman and met with King Abdullah. They told him that they were ready to improve their relations with the Arab countries and stressed the fact that the prevailing political situation in the Arab countries makes it necessary to preserve the Arab League.


Part of the delegation's missive was to endorse the telegram sent by the Iraqi Council of Ministers to King Abdullah on the 14th, that said:


'The Iraqi Government recognises the de facto situation on the ground; however, it cannot afford to announce it publicly since it had already recognised the Gaza Government in its effort to protect the Arab League.'


King Abdullah responded angrily to the delegation, saying: 'Egypt is defeated, parts of Lebanon are occupied by the Jews, Syria has no army, and calamities are piling up on the Palestinian people; in the meantime, the Arab League and its members are busy giving speeches, holding parties, and demanding that the United Nations force the Jews to adhere to the terms of the truce, no more no less. Besides, there is real fighting will ever resume or that Palestine will be saved; on the other hand, there is real fear that the Jews will launch another military operation and finish off the rest; it will be too late then for regret. During its meeting last year the Arab League has, as you well know, discussed the Palestinian problem from the military and political points of view and the delegates came to the conclusion that, for many reasons, they were incapable of launching a regular war against the Jews. However, fearing the wrath of the Arab masses, these politicians claimed as soon as they went back to their countries that they were going to throw the Jews into the sea and that they were ready to resume the fighting. Their lies were unmasked, the Palestinian problem is still unresolved, and the people remain in exile. Let me tell you in advance that if the Arab League meets under the present circumstances it will not depart from the original points of view, which the leaders have so far neglected co bring up, namely that Jordan and Iraq occupy one third of Palestine, and the other countries are expected to step forth and occupy the rest. I mean that Syria and Lebanon are expected to advance on Acre and Haifa and the Egyptian army should advance from the south cowards Rohovot. The Jordanian Army will be ready then to leave the areas which it now occupies and set up camp, together with the Iraqi Army, in front of Tel Aviv, all within the span of a single night. Only then can we impose our conditions on the Jews; any pretence or claim to the contrary is baseless.'


On 11/12/1948, King Abdullah sent a coded statement to all Jordanian Legations that said: 'The Palestinian people have convened two conferences when they realised that the Arabs were delaying keeping their promise to save Palestine, that the Egyptian Army had suffered a big defeat on the southern front, that there was proof that that neither Syria nor Lebanon had proper armies, and that the Jewish armies were increasing in strength and that the weapons they bring in by sea are far superior to anything Egypt has in the air or sea. In the first conference, which was held in Amman on 1 October they mandated us to solve the Palestinian problem as we see fit in the interest of the nation and the country. In the second, which took place in Jericho in the aftermath of all these defeats, they took the decision to annex Palestine to Trans-Jordan and declared us King of Palestine.


This outcome, which was expected by some countries, elicited an unfortunate reaction on the part of some Arab countries. If the situation stays as it is, and given the internal upheavals that plague Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon, the whole of Palestine will be lost. What is certain, however, is that they will not dare launch another war and that the Palestinian people have entrusted us to protect them and ourselves, draw the proper policy lines, and get ourselves out of the bottleneck in which we find ourselves. We should also avoid arousing the bitterness of the Arab people towards this friendship and this peace.'


The statement was signed by Tewfiq abou al-Huda, Foreign Minister of Jordan.

Meeting between Iraqi delegation and King Abdullah.


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Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 11, File 9/11, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford.


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Youmna and Tony Asseily