357 AC/2–551: Telegram

The Chargé in Israel (Ford) to the Department of State


452. I visited Riley in Jerusalem February 4 to ascertain condition his health and took occasion discuss Suez issue which he says continues plague him because of “conflicting opinions being expressed from all sides.” He referred to Deptels 306 and 310 to Tel Aviv1 (83 and 84 to Jerusalem) and declared vehemently that however much he and others might wish for MAC to be found competent to handle Canal restrictions issue, he still believed armistice terms sufficiently obscure and possibly even inapplicable to warrant careful consideration by UN [Page 570] legal authorities and even refer entire question to SC or other high-level if necessary. Riley made point that Egyptians are insistent on MAC noncompetence and that as neutral arbiter he cannot appear be taking sides unless he is securely supported by concrete legal phraseology which he believes is lacking in only terms reference available to him namely Israel–Egypt armistice agreement.

Comment: Embassy believes Riley’s position vis-à-vis Egyptians well taken. This is not so much quibble over words as careful concession to Egyptian sensibilities in interests NE peace generally and Riley’s meticulously maintained balance in particular. End comment.

New subject: Riley’s health not good and while he not in pain, he is bed-ridden and his doctor insists he must have operation for removal kidneystone within few days. Riley was yesterday undecided whether fly to US for operation or remain here.

  1. Neither printed.