RHODES (Mar. 2)
The preliminary stages of the Trans Jordan-Israeli armistice negotiations here are proceeding at a snail’s pace, with numerous objections being raised by both parties. Despite intensive, day-long efforts by acting U.N. mediator Ralph J. Bunche not even the first point on a tentative agenda has been agreed to by either the Jews or the Arabs, and it is not considered likely that the negotiations will begin even tomorrow.
The Trans Jordanian delegation refuses to accept on the agenda a discussion of an armistice in that portion of the Negev not covered in the Israeli-Egyptian pact–the northern and eastern section of the desert. The reason advanced for this position is that the Trans Jordanians fear that consideration of the point “may create the impression that Trans Jordan recognizes the partition of Palestine,”
On the other hand, the Israeli delegation refuses to agree to the inclusion on the agenda of the question of the Arab “triangle”–the Nablus-Jenin-Tulkarm area. The Jews insist that discussion of this item “may create the impression that Israel recognizes King Abdullah’s right to a part of the territory of Palestine.”
(In Tel Aviv it was reported that both the Israeli and Lebanese delegations to the armistice talks at Ras el Nakura, on the northern Israeli border, are studying a draft agreement drawn up by United Nations mediation personnel and delivered to both parties yesterday at their first meeting. A second joint session is scheduled for tomorrow when both sides will comment on the U.N. draft.)
It was revealed here today that of the 525 observers originally on duty with the U.N. mediation staff in various parts of the Middle East only 125 remain. The “improvement of conditions” on the various battlefronts and generally throughout the Middle East was given as a reason for the decrease. A Col. Valentine of the U.N. staff has been named chairman of the seven-man Egyptian-Israeli armistice commission and he will have ten U.N. observers at his disposal.