160. Telegram From the Consulate General at Jerusalem to the Department of State1

11. I saw General Burns this morning and found him now cautiously optimistic regarding Gaza talks. He is reporting to UNSYG along following lines relative past 3 days meetings:

Begin Paraphrase

Although there is still considerable suspicion atmosphere now improved. It should be possible achieve certain results in course next few weeks, barring occurrence some extraneous incident. With regard to “arrangement for maintaining security along the D/L” all clauses now agreed except important ones relating to position officers representing parties and means communication between them. Appears possible obtain consent both parties to telephone line to UN observer stationed at kilo 95, who would relay messages or arrange for commanders to converse. Regarding question level local commanders for purposes agreement, Israel wants commander specified while Egypt willing agree only specify “senior officer with authority to ensure required action.” However, Egypt gave unofficial assurance that this officer will have status of staff officer to local commander with power issue orders (in absence his superior) on subjects within scope arrangement.

There was considerable “shadow-boxing” with reference question joint patrols and border obstacle. Gohar wished discuss patrols first, in hope that Israel would refuse unqualified agreement. He would then be in good position raise objection proposals regarding obstacle.Burns will try to advance modified proposal combining the two concepts, and believes Egypt will stand by undertaking made in Security Council to erect obstacle along portions D/L. Owing questions internal politics and Arab States relations, Egypt finds it difficult agree effective continuous barrier.

End Paraphrase.

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Burns said clauses of commanders arrangement upon which agreement reached are:

Obligation regarding recovery and return stolen property,
Settlement minor incidents within framework of arrangement,
Exchange of information regarding persons crossing D/L,
Enforcement strict measures re prevention such crossings,
Periodic meetings of local commanders, and
Return of infiltrators at meetings of commanders.

Gohar unwilling make commitment about punishment of returned infiltrators, and likewise would not agree to proposal providing for exchange of information concerning or giving publicity to such punishments.

Both parties agreed refrain from controversial publicity pending next meetings which scheduled for July 20. In Burns opinion there is fair possibility to conclude local commanders arrangement next week. He said Gohar somewhat more cooperative is still very slow and cautious. Tekoah seemed very reasonable to deal with and possibly subject some criticism from Israelis for not being “hard-boiled” enough.2

Referring incident Gaza border, July 14,Burns explained this involved some Egyptian shepherds who crossed D/L, rather than soldiers as has been reported. He regarded SY as “minor”.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/7–1655. Confidential; Priority. Received at 11:26 a.m. Repeated priority to Cairo, Tel Aviv, Amman, London, Paris,USUN, Beirut, and Damascus.
  2. On July 18, Secretary-General Hammarskjöld in Geneva gave Secretary Dulles the text of General Burns’ report. It was transmitted to the Department of State in Secto 38 from Geneva, July 18;ibid., 396.1–GE/7–1855.