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Jordan And Israel (Government Decision)

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 27 April 1950

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(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in view of our military commitments to defend the frontiers of the Kingdom of Jordan, whether His Majesty's Government were consulted by our ally, King Abdullah of Jordan, before he annexed the Arab-held parts of Palestine and whether he will make a statement.

His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have been officially informed by the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan of the union of the Kingdom of Jordan and of that part of Palestine under Jordan occupation and control. The Jordan Government, in this communication, have stated that an Act providing for this union was unanimously adopted on 24th April by the Jordan Assembly, which is composed of representatives of both these territories, and received the Royal Assent on the same day. His Majesty's Government have decided to accord formal recognition to this union. They take this opportunity of declaring that they regard the provisions of the Anglo-Jordan Treaty of Alliance of 1948 as applicable to all the territory included in the union.

This action is subject to explanation on two points. The first of these points relates to the frontier between this territory and Israel. This frontier has not yet been finally determined. The existing boundary is the line laid down in the Armistice Agreement signed between Israel and Jordan on 3rd April, 1949, and is subject to any modification which may be agreed upon by the two States under the terms of that Agreement, or of any final settlement which may replace it. Until, therefore, the frontier between Israel and Jordan is determined by a final settlement between them His Majesty's Government regard the territory to which the Anglo-Jordan Treaty is applicable as being bounded by the Armistice Line, or any modification of it which may be agreed upon by the two parties.

The second point relates to Jerusalem. The part of Palestine which is now united to the Kingdom of Jordan includes a portion of the area defined in the Resolution on the internationalisation of Jerusalem adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9th December, 1949. His Majesty's Government wish to state that, pending a final determination of the status of this area, they are unable to recognise Jordan sovereignty over any part of it. They do, however, recognise that Jordan exercises de facto authority in the part occupied by her. They consider, therefore, that the Anglo-Jordan Treaty applies to this part, unless or until the United Nations shall have established effective authority there. His Majesty's Government's obligations under the Treaty are, of course, subject always to their overriding obligations under the United Nations Charter.

His Majesty's Government wish to add that they have no intention of requesting the establishment of military bases in peace time within the area of Palestine now united to the Kingdom of Jordan.

His Majesty's Government have also decided to accord de jure recognition to the State of Israel, subject to explanations on two points corresponding to those described above in regard to the case of Jordan. These points are as follows. First, that His Majesty's Government are unable to recognise the sovereignty of Israel over that part of Jerusalem which she occupies, though, pending a final determination of the status of the area, they recognise that Israel exercises de facto authority in it. Secondly, that His Majesty's Government cannot regard the present boundaries between Israel, and Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Lebanon as constituting the definitive frontiers of Israel, as these boundaries were laid down in the Armistice Agreements concluded severally between Israel and each of these States, and are subject to any modifications which may be agreed upon under the terms of those Agreements, or of any final settlements which may replace them.

In announcing these two acts of recognition, His Majesty's Government wish to reaffirm their conviction that the problem of Palestine is capable of solution by peaceful means, given good will and understanding on the part of all the parties concerned. It is their earnest hope that the steps they have now taken will help to create stability in the areas concerned, and will, therefore, make a contribution towards the peace of the Middle East as a whole.

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that Dr. Weizmann and King Abdullah have both, over the vicissitudes of 20 or 30 years, shown themselves always staunch friends to this country, and will he avail himself to the full of the possibilities of bringing these two eminent men into the closest harmonious contact? Am I right in assuming that that is the general path upon which the Government are embarked and which is expressed in the statement to which we have just listened?

Yes, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman is quite correct, and I am glad to associate myself with the remarks he made about His Majesty King Abdullah and Dr. Weizmann.

May I thank the hon. Gentleman for his very full and interesting reply, and ask if he would consider offering the services of the Government to call a conference of all the Middle East countries involved in an attempt to try to get a workable settlement of outstanding problems which he has mentioned, such as the future of Jerusalem and the closing of the canal and the pipe line, as no two of these Middle East countries seem to be agreed; and thereby make a positive contribution, as he has suggested, to the solidarity of the area, which is essential to resisting the spread of Communism in the Middle East?

We hope the action we are announcing today will help towards reaching agreement over some of the many problems in the Middle East, but I do not think I can commit myself to the view that a conference at the present moment is necessarily the best way of settling the outstanding difficulties we know to exist.

In view of the statement which has been made, will the hon. Gentleman and the Government reconsider the decision to give or sell 110 jet aircraft to the Egyptian Government?

I think the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the whole question of the supply of arms in the Middle East is one which is under constant consideration. I do not think I have got anything to add in that connection to the statement I have just made.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will bring it to the notice of the Prime Minister, who may possibly have heard the question? It is a very important one. Might he not discuss with the Egyptian Government the stoppage of tankers passing through the Canal, which are deeply needed to get the Haifa refinery into working order?

These are, of course, among the more important of the numerous difficulties to which I have referred, and which are still outstanding, and which are under consideration.

While congratulating my hon. Friend on the positive and constructive step forward in the announcement he has made, may I ask if he does not consider that the whole question of the supply of arms under our treaties with the surrounding Arab States might be reconsidered, and, indeed, suspended, until, at any rate, such time as they are prepared to negotiate treaties of peace with the State of Israel, to which we have now afforded de jure recognition?

I take note of my hon. Friend's views, but I do not think that any comment from me is called for in connection with the statement.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some of us who have had many intimate connections with these parts in the past, welcome his announcement, and are entirely in agreement with the point, which is an entirely non-party one, put by the Leader of the Opposition, and believe that the State of Israel and the State of Jordan are by far the most stable States in the Middle East, and that first things should come first, and that, a treaty between them should be the object of His Majesty's Government as far as His Majesty's Government are able to influence it?

Speaking strictly for myself, may I say to the hon. Gentleman that I consider the de jure recognition of Israel to be the most hideous betrayal of all those men who fought in Palestine in the past?

With regard to my question, does the hon. Gentleman agree that that should be the object of His Majesty's Government?

Of course His Majesty's Government wish to see an agreement between Israel and all the neighbouring States.

I hope that we may finish with this now without sounding any more discordant notes.