482 Critchley to Kirby and Burton

Cablegram K26 BATAVIA, 22 December 1947, 1.25 a.m.


My immediately preceding telegram [1] sets out the Dutch position on the truce plan. Today Van Zeeland [2], Graham and self discussed informally the crisis which had developed and the Dutch memorandum.

2. Van Zeeland argued strongly that the Republic must accept what it can get now in order to preserve its position. He claims that reference back to the Security Council will not help the Republic and that in the latter's interest the Committee must seek an immediate armistice on the best terms the Dutch will give and press on with substantive talks immediately after with a view to improving the Republic position. He has promised me a detailed statement of his views tomorrow which I shall summarize and cable.

[3] It follows that he would accept the Dutch paper with some further tightening up of provisions to assist the Republic.

3. Graham's position is still uncertain. He would, I think, go along with me on a strong report but is inclined to be swayed by Van Zeeland's arguments. The latter has thrown in for good measure a threat of resignation but only to Graham. Scott put little faith in further action by the Security Council except in the event of another police action.

4. Clearly, we are at the cross roads and an early decision will have to be made as to whether we are to continue a strong line through to the Security Council or whether we should compromise and continue to seek a minimum status for the Republic. The decision will obviously depend on what we can expect from the Council and I should appreciate information and instructions as early as practicable. You will no doubt consider the very real desirability of Kirby returning immediately (before Christmas) in view of the crucial situation this week. This would encourage Graham and perhaps Van Zeeland.

5. I shall endeavour to keep the position fluid but failing contrary instructions from you will proceed on the following basis:-

(a) As the cease fire resolution offers the best opportunity for strengthening the 1st November position, that reply [4] [of] the Netherlands special committee on truce plan unsatisfactory. It contains far too many opportunities to crucify the Republic and I do not see how we can put any faith in the good intentions of the Dutch. The main dangers are in paragraphs 5, 6, 7, 10 and 14 of my previous telegram. In particular proposals for demilitarized zones would provide the Netherlands with just the opportunity they would seek to claim that the Republic was failing to observe the armistice and they would be able (perhaps even on evidence of the Committee) to justify further military action. I believe that we must seek at all costs to ensure that the demilitarized zones are really demilitarized and that under international authority.

(b) That we must, therefore, continue to push for acceptance of the truce plan.

(c) That as a last resort we could agree to accept the Van Mook line as a demarcation line on the basis that areas between Van Mook's line and positions occupied on 4th August would constitute demilitarized zones and with the express provision that this was without prejudice to the Security Council resolutions on the cease fire. There is every indication that the Dutch are adamant about the Van Mook line and it would be a pity if we allowed the Republic to go under while we haggled over temporary or even semi permanent status of these territories.

(d) That we press on with report to the Security Council. The draft prepared today was unsatisfactory. It was not full enough to show the Netherlands tactics of delay. Unfortunately a fuller report will mean an extra day or two for preparation and it will be too bulky to telegraph. We shall endeavour to have it sent by air mail to reach New York by 29th December, and have a summarized version telegraphed on completion more than 72 hours in advance.

Neither the Americans nor the Belgians wish to hurry and there is added burden of new important material which has been received over the weekend.

(e) That I recommend in report if necessary as a minority- (1) That the Netherlands be instructed by the Council to accept unconditionally the Committee's truce plan.

(2) That in the event of disagreement between parties they shall accept suggestions of the Committee regarding demilitarized zones.

(3) That both parties shall agree to the Committee's making suggestions for the administration of the demilitarized zones.

(4) That in the event of disagreement between the parties they shall accept the Committee's proposals for the administration of the demilitarized zones.

(I am only convinced that we must seek at all costs international control of demilitarized zones. The proposal of joint police force under the control of a military assistant of the Committee seems particularly appropriate. In this event additional military staff would be required from Australia among others.) (f) As an alternative to (e) and only if the Americans will not come with me, it may be preferable to leave these recommendations to our representative on the Council.

6. I should appreciate summary of debates in the Council.

7. Sjarifoeddin's letter on West Java Conference and Beel's speech was received today. It was along the lines of paragraph 4 of my telegram K.24 [5] and included a request that the contents be forwarded to the Security Council. Van Zeeland on basis of paragraph 2 of this telegram thought the letter most ill advised.

1 Document 481.

2 Van Zeeland had returned to Batavia on 18 December.

3 No such cablegram has been located. The promised memorandum by Van Zeeland (dated 21 December) was tabled at a meeting of the Committee of Good Offices on 25 December.

4 A sign here indicates that the text was corrupted in transmission.

5 Document 479.

[AA:A1838/283, 403/3/1/1, xiii]