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Security Council Negev Unit Studies Reports of Arab Preparations for New Battles

The United Nations Security Council’s seven-nation sub-committee on the Negev adjourned this week-end as reports arrived here from southern Palestine indicating the probability of an imminent resumption of fighting in the Negev.

Details of those reports are being studied at the Palais de Chaillot. They show that the Arab League Council has evidently concluded that the Jews will stay in the Negev and they will be able to do so under acting mediator Ralph J. Bunche’s interpretation of the Security Council’s resolution.

This was the breaking point in the Arab League’s discussion in Cairo last week on its future policy, it was learned here. Up to this point, the growing weight of opinion among the Arab leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Transjordan and the Lebanon was for calling off the war. This view was strongly encouraged by the persuasion used by official. British sources in Paris and in Cairo, which assured the Arabs that the Council action initiated by Britain would lead to the forced withdrawal of the Jews and that in due course the Arabs would be reestablished in the Negev.

It was reported here that the Arab League decision, in the face of the Israeli occupation of the desert, was that it must be met by a counter-move by the Arab states. A concentration of Arab troops has been reported to be taking place at three main points:

The first is directed toward the area north of Gaza on the coast, apparently aimed at recapturing Majdal. A second, complementary concentration is also in this area, but directed at the relief of the encircled Egyptian brigade at Faluja. The third, and most serious, concentration is on the Beersheba front. Iraqi troops are reported to be moving into Bethlehem with Arab legion units, joining the Egyptians already in Bethlehem and Hebron.

ARAB ATTACK FEARED DURING PERIOD WHEN SECURITY COUNCIL CANNOT MEET

U.N. sources here see this as a prelude for a combined swift Arab thrust to recapture strategic points in the Negev. There is grave concern here that the Arabs may decide to use the dead period of the Security Council, between Dec. 16 and 32 when the Council will literally be at sea between Paris and Lake Success and no meetings will be held. That would give the Arabs about ten days to carry out concengrated operations.

Meanwhile, another complication has arisen. King Abdullah of Transjordan indicated to the British that he was not overjoyed by the proposed present of the Negev. It would add to the responsibilities of his already strained administration without bringing any cash or political benefit. This had led once’ more to a readjustment of Britain’s Negev policy. Egypt–not Transjordan–is now scheduled by the British to besoms the main guardian of the Negev.

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