Try AbeBooks Description This book is an account of the highly secret relationship between Abdullah, the Hashemite ruler of Jordan, and the Zionist movement. Spanning three decades, from the appointment of Abdullah as Emir in to his assassination in , this work focuses on the clandestine diplomacy and the political and military processes which determined the fate of Palestine between and , and which left the Palestinian Arabs without a homeland. King Abdullah has been widely suspected of collaboration with the Zionist enemy; using British, American, Arabic and Israeli sources and recently declassified official documents, the author presents a case to prove that Abdullah not only colluded with the Zionists to gain control over as much of Arab Palestine as possible, but that he also received occasional payments for his collaboration. The author describes secret meetings between Abdullah and Golda Meir and between Ernest Bevin and Tawfiq Abul Huda, the Jordanian Prime Minister, in an a attempt to illuminate the past and to add to an understanding of present, with implications for the quest for peace in the Middle East.

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These illicit arms acquisitions enabled IDF to tip the scales decisively in its own favour. In the second round of fighting IDF moved on to the offensive and in the third round it picked off the Arab armies and defeated them one by one. The final outcome of the war was thus not a miracle but a faithful reflection of the underlying Arab-Israeli military balance. In this war, as in most wars, the stronger side ultimately prevailed.

The Origins of the Palestinian Refugee Problem A third bone of contention between the old and the new historians concerns the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem.

The question is: did they leave or were they pushed out? Ever since Israeli spokesmen have maintained that the Palestinians left the country on orders from their own leaders and in the expectation of a triumphant return. Accounts written by old historians echo the official line.

Arab spokesmen have with equal consistency maintained that Israel forcibly expelled some , Palestinians from their homes and that Israel , therefore, bears the full responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. The question of origins is thus directly related to the question of responsibility for solving the Palestinian refugee problem. Benny Morris in his book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem investigated this subject as carefully, dispassionately and objectively as it is ever likely to be.

On the Israeli side, he found no blanket orders handed down from above for the systematic expulsion of the Palestinians. He therefore rejected both the Arab order and the Jewish robber state explanations. It was largely a by-product of Arab and Jewish fears and of the protracted, bitter fighting that characterized the first Arab-Israeli war; in smaller part, it was the deliberate creation of Jewish and Arab military commanders and politicians.

Anyone who believes that will believe anything. Some orientalists, like Yehoshua Porath, have been highly supportive. Others, like Asher Susser, Emmanuel Sivan and Avraham Sela, have written in a more critical vein while giving credit where credit is due.

The recurrent criticism from this professional quarter is that Morris has made very little use in his book of Arabic sources. In response to this criticism, Morris posed a question: would the consulting of the Arabic materials mentioned by the critics have resulted in a fundamental revision of the analysis of the Palestinian exodus or added significantly to the description of this exodus given in his book?

But he goes on to argue that neglect of the available Arabic sources and heavy reliance on the Israeli documents is liable to produce an unbalanced picture.

An observation which is frequently made, by Western as well as Palestinian reviewers, is that the evidence presented in the body of the book suggests a far higher degree of Israeli responsibility than that implied by Morris in his conclusion. Israeli - Jordanian Relations A fourth issue which gave rise to a lively controversy in Israel is the nature of Israeli-Jordanian relations and, more specifically, the contention that there was collusion or tacit understanding between King Abdullah and the Jewish Agency in That there was traffic between these two parties has been widely known for some time and the two meetings between Golda Meir and King Abdullah in November and May have even featured in popular films.

Nor is the charge of collusion a new one. Baer condemned Ben-Gurion for forming an unholy alliance with Arab reaction and British imperialism. A number of books and articles on Zionist-Hashemite relations have also been written by Israeli scholars, the most recent of which are by Dan Schueftan and by Uri Bar-Joseph.

The central thesis advanced in my book is that in November an unwritten agreement was reached between King Abdullah and the Jewish Agency to divide Palestine between themselves following the termination of the British mandate and that this agreement laid the foundation for mutual restraint during the first Arab-Israeli war and for continuing collaboration in the aftermath of this war.

A subsidiary thesis is that Britain knew and approved of this secret Hashemite-Zionist agreement to divide up Palestine between themselves rather than along the lines of the UN partition plan. This thesis challenges the conventional view of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a simple bipolar affair in which a monolithic and implacably hostile Arab world is pitted against the Jews.

It suggests that the Arab rulers were deeply divided among themselves on how to deal with the Zionist challenge and that one of these rulers favoured accommodation rather than confrontation and had indeed cut a deal with the Jewish Agency to partition Palestine at the expense of the Palestinians.

The thesis also detracts from the heroic version which pictures Israel as ringed by an unbroken circle of Arab hostility and having to repel a concerted all-out attack on all fronts.

Not surprisingly, the official history of the War of Independence fails to even mention the unwritten agreement with King Abdullah.

There was nothing in such an understanding to suggest collusion designed to deceive a third party, in this case the Palestinian Arabs. If all that transpired between Israel and Jordan was a dialogue, then it was a rather curious kind of a dialogue because it lasted thirty years, because it was clandestine, because it was directed against a common rival, and because money changed hands.

That the dialogue broke down between May and August is not in doubt. But surely, if one takes a long-term view of this relationship, a strategic partnership, if not an unholy alliance, would be a more appropriate term than a dialogue. He has made up his mind and he does not want to be confused by the facts. His article provides a fine example of the absurd lengths to which the old historians are capable of going to suppress unpalatable truths about the way in which Israel came into the world.

Judged by the rough standards of the game of nations, the dalliance between the Zionists and the Hashemite king was neither extraordinary nor particularly reprehensible. Both sides acted in a pragmatic fashion to advance their own interest. The relations between and Israel in the War were reviewed recently by Avraham Sela in a page long article in Middle Eastern Studies.

It does not lead me, however, to revise any of the arguments I advanced in Collusion Across the Jordan. Even if this is a valid conclusion regarding Israel , it is emphatically not valid, in my view, in relation to Jordan. Although the accord was no longer binding and contact was severed, each side, and especially Jordan, continued to pursue limited objectives and acted with restraint towards the other until the war ended.

In conclusion, Sela tells us that war is a complex and intricate phenomenon. This is indisputable. One reason for this complexity is that war involves both politics and the use of force. The old historiography deals mostly with the military side of the war. I tried to redress the balance by looking at the political side of the war and more particularly at the interplay between politics and strategy. On the contrary, precisely because the Palestinians rejected partition, I consider collaboration between Abdullah and the Jewish Agency to have been a reasonable and realistic strategy for both sides.

In other words, I accept that in the period Israel had no Palestinian option or any other Arab option, save the Jordanian option. King Abdullah was the only Arab head of state who was willing to accept the principle of partition and to co-exist peacefully with a Jewish state after the dust had settled.

From March-April this understanding was subjected to severe strain as the Jews went on the offensive. In the period May-July , the two sides came to blows. And after the initial outburst of violence, both sides began to pull their punches, as one does in a family quarrel. There remains the question of whether the term collusion is appropriate for describing the relations between Abdullah and the Jewish Agency and later the State of Israel.

Some of the criticisms of the book were directed at its title rather than its substance. It was for this reason that for the abridged and revised paperback version of the book I opted for the more neutral title The Politics of Partition. The original title was an apt one. Collusion is as good a word as any to describe the traffic between the Hashemite king and the Zionist movement during the period , despite the violent interlude in the hot summer of Arab War Aims Closely related to Israeli-Jordanian relations is the question of Arab war aims in , a fifth bone of contention between the old and the new historians.

The question is why did the Arab states invade Palestine with their regular armies on the day that the British mandate expired and the State of Israel was proclaimed? The conventional Zionist answer is that the motive behind the invasion was to destroy the newly-born Jewish state and to throw the Jews into the sea. The reality was more complex. It is true that all the Arab states, with the exception of Jordan , rejected the UN partition plan. It is true that seven Arab armies invaded Palestine the morning after the State of Israel was proclaimed.

It is true that the invasion was accompanied by blood-curdling rhetoric and threats to throw the Jews into the sea. More importantly, it is true that the military experts of the Arab League had worked out a unified plan for the invasion and that this plan was all the more dangerous for having had more limited and realistic objectives than those implied by the wild pan-Arab rhetoric.

But King Abdullah, who was given nominal command over all the Arab forces in Palestine , wrecked this plan by making last minute changes. His objective in sending his army into Palestine was not to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state, but to make himself master of the Arab part of Palestine which meant preventing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Since the Palestinians had done next to nothing to create an independent state, the Arab part of Palestine would have probably gone to Abdullah without all the scheming and plotting, but that is another matter. What is clear is that, under the command of Glubb Pasha, the Arab League made every effort to avert a head-on collision and, with the exception of one of two minor incidents, made no attempt to encroach on the territory allocated to the Jewish state by the UN cartographers.

There was no love lost between Abdullah and the other Arab rulers who suspected him of being in cahoots with the enemy.

Abdullah had always been something of a pariah in the rest of the Arab world, not least because of his friendship with the Jews.

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Collusion Across the Jordan : King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement and the Partition of Palestine



Avi Shlaim


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