501.BB Palestine/4–2849: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Switzerland


544. Unpal 85. For Ethridge. Elath Apr 28 gave Dept copy cable sent by Sharett Apr 27 to Dr. Mohn1 and you. Fol salient points.

Israeli Govt much concerned over Syrian unwillingness to withdraw forces occupying Israeli territory. Israel agreed withdraw forces from Leb during Israeli-Leb armistice negots and negot with Syria can make no progress unless Syrian Govt prepared accept same principle. Syrian delegation appears using presence Syrian troops on Israeli soil as means bringing pressure on Israel agree to what is liable become permanent alteration in frontier between two countries. Israel bound insist withdrawal Syrian troops as essential condition conclusion armistice agreement. Israeli Govt also disturbed by press reports concerning Syrian intention mobilize immed 20,000 additional men and inclined view this may be cover for new aggressive action contemplated against Israel. Under circumstances Israel sees little profit in discussing final settlement with Syrian delegation Lausanne and so long as no progress is made in Israeli-Syrian armistice negots owing Syrian Govt refusal accept polit boundary as armistice demarcation line [Page 957]Israeli delegation Lausanne will be instructed not enter formal or informal conversations with Syrian reps.2

Elath bespoke Dept’s assistance persuading Syrian Govt agree withdrawal troops. Dept stated US only recognized Syria Apr 27 and Dept doubted advisability approaching Syrian Govt this matter at present. Informed Elath that believed preferable await outcome such efforts as Dr. Mohn might make this regard but would reconsider situation if no progress made Israeli-Syrian negots next few days. Dept stated belief it essential Israeli-Syrian armistice agreement be speedily concluded so that Syria could effectively participate in Lausanne talks.

  1. Paul Mohn, Chief Political Adviser to Mr. Bunche.
  2. Mr. Sharett’s message of April 27 was summarized by Mr. Ethridge in his telegram from Lausanne of April 29. Mr. Ethridge also added that “PCC decided April 29 inform Foreign Minister that SC and Bunche were responsible for armistice agreements and PCC had no jurisdiction.

    “My personal opinion is armistice agreement between Syria and Israel should if possible be concluded prior Lausanne but that Israel argument without validity based on understanding Syrian line in Israel established before truce whereas Israel’s line in Lebanon established after truce. Furthermore past armistice agreements were concluded without prejudice political settlement.” (Palun 138, 501.MA Palestine/4–2949)

    This telegram was repeated to Damascus as No. 184 and to Tel Aviv and New York. Mr. Bunche informed the United States Mission at the United Nations that private military talks between the Israelis and Syrians to discuss armistice lines and reduction of forces had broken down at the first meeting on April 27 (telegram Delga 63, April 29, 5:32 p. m., from New York, 501.BB Palestine/4–2949).