26 MARCH 1954, Page 4

Ten days ago, a party of Israelis were returning in

a bus from a carnival at Elath. Nearly all' the people in the bus were murdered by some men who entered it with machine-guns and left it, without stealing anything, in the direction of Jordan. Their trail faded out somewhere short of the frontier, but Israel claims to have identified them, and has supplied the Mixed Armistice Commission (MAC) with some names. To the people of Israel this was more than a personal tragedy. It looked like an attempt to terrorise the single road to the south and to interfere with the development of Israel's Negev desert—the Negev being that part of Israel that cuts off Jordan from Egypt. F'or this reason, and because it is the worst of a mounting number of murderous incidents, and because of extremist pressure, Israel felt it was important that Jordan should be condemned for the massacre. But con- demnation does not prevent incidents on either side, and neither the MAC or the Security Council can do more than con- demn. Therefore Israel also wanted further measures to be taken, to reduce the frontier 'tension. Since last November Israel has been trying to convene a conference with Jordan to review the entire armistice arrangements on their mutual frontier. Under the terms of the armistice, Jordan is obliged to attend such a conference. So far she has refused three invitations, including one that was made in the name of the UN Secretary General. Then came the attack in the.Negev; then came the Meeting of the MAC last Tuesday, where the UN observer found the evidence insufficient to condemn Jordan; then came the Israeli withdrawal from the MAC. Israel's intention is clearly to make Jordan (and Jordan's British sponsors) condemn the MAC as impotent and join Israel in a conference. The intention may be right; the method is wrong. The way to reduce tension cannot be to increase it; but it is, on the other hand, the way to dissipate world. sympathy which was just beginning to recover from the Qibya massacre for which the Israelis were condemned in terms which they would