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16 May 1949

Original: English


Description of Lines and Areas that
may become the subject of Discussion
Between Israel and the Arab States.

(Working Paper prepared by the Secretariat. All figures given in this paper are close approximations.)

The old frontier between the mandated territories of Lebanon and Palestine ran from the sea almost due east for about forty kilometres. It then turned north and followed parallel to the upper reaches of the Jordan for about twenty-five kilometres to Metulla, where it veered eastward till it joined the Syrian border. This frontier coincides with the Armistice demarcation lines agreed to between Israel and Lebanon.

Western Galilee is a more or loss hilly territory of 1.035 square kilometres, inhabited in 1947 by 104,000 Arabs (Moslem and Christian), 8,500 Jews and 7,600 others, mostly Druses. It contains the towns of Acre and Nazareth. It was awarded by the General Assembly’s resolution of 29 November 1947 to the Arab States of Palestine. A part of it, consisting of the coastal belt about twelve kilometres wide and including Acre, was occupied by the Jews before the first truce, leaving the so-called Galilee pocket, which included Nazareth, under Arab occupation (by the irregular Arab Liberation Army under Kaujki and some Syrians). This pocket was first reduced by Jewish occupation of Nazareth and its surroundings in the period between the truces and was finally completely wiped out by an Israeli offensive which was launched at the end of October 1948, during the second truce.

A great proportion of the Arab villages in this area have been destroyed or have fallen into ruin by neglect. Most of the refugees have fled to the Lebanon. There are fairly large numbers of Arabs still resident in Acre, Nazareth and some of the villages.

Western Galilee is bordered in the north by the Lebanese frontier. Elsewhere, except for a short length of coast line, it is bounded by Israeli territory which it penetrates in the form of a wedge. Its juncture with the rest of the Arab State according to the Partition Plan was effected at a point a few kilometres northwest of Afula.

The old frontier between the two mandates runs eastwards from the river Hasbani at its intersection with the Palestine-Lebanon border until it reaches the Banyasi river, a tributary of the Jordan. It then turns south and runs parallel to the Jordan at an average distance of six kilometres up to the height of Lake Hula, thus leaving the marshlands of Arab al Qhawarina within Palestinian territory. It then skirts Lake Hula at a few hundred metres from its eastern shore and follows the Jordan down to Lake Tiberias, leaving a very narrow strip of land up to the river’s eastern bank. At Lake Tiberias it continues south a few metres from the eastern shore up to about the middle of the lake. There it turns sharply inland about a kilometre and then runs south again along the crest of the escarpment of Abal ash Shararat until it meets the Transjordanian border at the Yarmuk, thus leaving an arm of Palestinian land which runs half way up the eastern shore of Lake Tiberias.

Since no armistice has been signed between Israel and Syria, the military positions are still those that were established by the Mediator and are embodied in a Truce line partly imposed by the Truce Supervision Organization and partly agreed to by the contestants themselves. This Truce line runs more or less as follows:

From the Lebanese border to Lake Hula, the old frontier forms the dividing line between the opposing forces except for two small Syrian penetrations of two or three square kilometres at the extreme north, with their attendant no-man’s lands. The strip between the frontier and Lake Hula is also a no-man’s land. South of the lake the Syrians occupy a salient extending at its deepest point about four kilometres into Palestinian territory and including the Jewish settlement of Mishmar Hay Yarden which lies astride of the main road from Safad and Tiberias to Damascus. This salient covers an area of about sixteen square kilometres from the frontier and about fourteen east of the Jordan. Southward to Lake Tiberias the Truce line is the river, except for a small Syrian outpost half a kilometre west of the river’s mouth. The Syrians also hold the eastern shore of Lake Tiberias except for a salient around the Jewish settlement of Ein Gev, about six kilometres long and extending eastward to the frontier.

Thus, the Syrians are in occupation of about thirty-eight square kilometres of Palestinian territory while the Israelis are at no point beyond the Syrian border.

This stretch of about thirty kilometres of the Jordan and ten of the Yarmuk rivers is the only part of the old frontier between the Emirate of Transjordan and the mandated territory of Palestine across which Jews and Jordanians face each other. Here Partition boundaries, Truce lines and armistice lines coincide with the frontier which is the Jordan.

The Armistice lines turn west at the confluence of the Yabes and the Jordan while the Partition boundary begins its westward course a few kilometres to the south. It then turns north to intersect the Armistice lines and afterwards to join them further west, thus forming a figure eight. One loop of this figure represents territory occupied by the Arabs beyond the Partition border, the other, territory held by the Jews in the same manner. Since these areas are very small and almost equal in extent, covering something like twenty square kilometres apiece, any rival claims might be expected to cancel out. The area is of no particular military significance except as regards the hill of Tal al Radgha which dominates the region for a few kilometres around it, including the Jewish settlement of Tirat Tzvi. This hill is at present within Israeli territory by virtue of the Armistice Agreement but in the past has been the cause of numerous incidents between the Iraqis and the Jews which were not satisfactorily settled during the Truces.

From the figure eight described above, up to Tulkarm, the Israelis hold a crescent of 326 square kilometres beyond the Partition boundary. This crescent, with its horns turned Southward, was a solidly Arab-inhabited area except for a couple of Druse villages. About a fourth of it was occupied by the Jews before the first truce. The rest was ceded to them by Transjordan as part of the secret arrangement by which the coastal plain was widened in exchange for certain areas in Hebron, and permission to the Arab Legion to replace Iraqi troops in the triangle. By this advance the Israelis gained possession of the whole length of the Hadera-Afula road which was severed both ray the Partition boundary and the Truce line.

South of the western horn of the above described crescent and between the towns of Tulkarm and Qalqiliya, there is a further Jewish penetration inside the Arab State of the Partition Plan, covering an area of thirty-four square kilometres and including two Arab villages. This pocket includes a segment of the main Lydda-Afula road and of the Cairo-Haifa railroad both of which are interrupted by minute tongues of Arab territory west of Tulkarm and Qalqiliya. These towns, so close to the Israeli frontier and deprived of their favourable position on the main arteries of communication and of their fertile fields, are now simply the dead ends of roads that lead to nowhere and seem to be condemned to wither and degenerate.

South of Qalqiliya the Israelis are in occupation of 244 square kilometres of territory alloted to the Arabs by the Partition Plan and containing the Arab towns of Lydda and Ramle which are road, rail and air communication centers of considerable importance. The Arab population of this area was about 65,000. The Jewish occupation took place between the two truces except for the northern tip of the pocket which was ceded to the Jews by the secret agreement with Transjordan, later embodied in the Armistice Agreement.

South of the Lydda-Ramle pocket, the Jews occupy another and much larger crescent of land beyond their borders, covering an area 1672 square kilometres and extending from Jerusalem through Hebron and Beersheba to the Dead Sea. The northern horn of this crescent is the Jerusalem corridor and includes about thirty-five square kilometres of the international area of Jerusalem according to the Assembly’s resolution of 11 December 1948.

Along this corridor the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway runs uninterrupted. The main road between these two cities however, is interrupted by an Arab Legion outpost at Latrun. This outpost is the extreme western tip of an Arab salient of about twenty-five square kilometres that juts out westward in the Armistice lines and includes five Arab villages.

The Jews are in occupation of all the southwestern portion of the Arab State of the Partition Plan except for the coastal strip from the vicinity of Gaza to the Egyptian border and a neutralized area around El Auja. The territory under Jewish control in this area amounts to 1717 square kilometres. By far the greatest part of this territory was occupied by the Jews after 14 October 1948.

This is a mainly Arab urban area adjacent to Tel Aviv and completely surrounded by Jewish territory. With its orchards and citrus groves, it covers less than ten square kilometres. In 1947 it had 101,000 inhabitants of which 70,000 were Arabs. It was awarded to the Arab State as an enclave by the resolution of 29 November 1947. It surrendered to the Jews on 13 May 1948.

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CCNUP - Lignes et zones soumises à de possible discussions - Document de travail du Secrétariat Français