4 MARCH 1949, Page 2

Palestine Armistice Broadens

After Egypt, it is the turn of Transjordan and the Lebanon to discuss armistice terms with Israel. In the case of Lebanon there

should be no great difficulty in reaching an agreement ; the only mili- tary point at issue between the two countries is the nine villages on the Lebanese side of the old Palestine-Lebanon border which Jewish forces have been unobtrusively occupying for many months. The Lebanese want these villages back (naturally enough, as they belong to the Lebanon), and the Israeli authorities will no doubt use them as a bargaining-counter during the discussion of other questions. The case of Transjordan is a much harder nut to crack, and the delay which has already occurred in getting the negotiations started is a foretaste of the lengthy wrangling and hitches which may be expected. If the only business was to convert the present state of truce which exists between the armies of Transjordan and Israel into an official armistice, then there would be no great reluctance on either side to reach a settlement. But there are more contentious issues which cannot be any longer set aside, of which the Arab refugees and the British troops in Transjordan are likely to be heard of most. It is unfortunate, to put it very mildly, that the Israeli authorities have shown such a marked indifference to the suffering which the birth of their State has caused to its former Arab. inhabitants. There is now talk of compensation being paid to the Arabs for the seizure of their homes and property, but to be effective it would have to be on a much larger scale than Israel could afford. The Gentile world will have to play its part, and it would be a sensible step if a large propor- tion of any loan which may be granted to Israel, either internationally or by the United States, was earmarked for • the resettleotent of refugees. The status of British troops in Transjordan will probably be used by the Israeli delegates as a debating point to divert attention from the refugee problem, but it has no real relevance to the con- clusion of an armistice. Nor has the most contentious and difficult problem of all—the boundaries between Arab and Jewish Palestine and who is going to rule the former.