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The Armistice Talks between Israel and Jordan, 1949: The View from Rhodes

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The article examines the armistice talks between Israel and Jordan (March–April 1949) from the perspective of the UN mediator, Ralph Bunche, who coordinated them. The period described was stormy and complex: at its start, Israel took control of the southern Negev. Later, the two countries conducted formal talks in Rhodes, under Bunche's watchful eye, in parallel to informal negotiations, without UN involvement, in Jordan. The article, based to a large extent on Bunche's unpublished diary, explains why Bunche, who maintained rigorous control of all of the other armistice talks, behaved differently in this case, giving his post factum seal of approval to the Israeli takeover of the southern Negev and allowing Israel to pressure Abdullah to hand over the Triangle. The thesis is that Bunche, who could have put an end to the talks by resigning, or drawn the US into the crisis (as he did in the other rounds of negotiations), recognized the complexity of the relations between Israel and Abdullah and chose to act in a way that would prevent a new eruption of hostilities. In effect he was protecting Abdullah, who would have been likely to lose the West Bank to Israel in another round of fighting.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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