244. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State1

352. Tel Aviv’s 1942 and 1963 arrived just prior appointment with Fawzi arranged for Eric Johnston. Prior discussion Johnston’s business stated new matters had arisen of such urgency that I must request him again to see Prime Minister and/or Minister of War without delay.Fawzi started immediately arrange appointment with General Hakim Amer but recalled he had left for border.

Gave Fawzi my view situation nearly out of hand. He stated he had authority to assure me that Egypt doing everything within its power to live up to unequivocable commitment given yesterday to General Burns.Hakim Amer had gone to border to personally do everything within his power to get word to commando types inside Israel. I stated it of utmost importance that Israel know without [Page 428] delay Egypt really trying to prevent further incidents. He stated he had given me his statement with thought that perhaps we could see it got to right places. I asked if such a statement could be made to General Burns as well in any communication they might send him. He replied that it could.

I said I unaware of any communication Burns might have made to them but asked their reaction as to how to treat last paragraph Israeli statement Tel Aviv’s 196.Fawzi replied that obviously they could not accept responsibility that things had gotten to point they now were. I therefore replied it best ignore this part of Israeli statement and in addition to new assurances to Burns make an immediate public statement of their position. This would merely take note of the Israeli statement but not attempt to refute allegation last paragraph.Fawzi replied their position would be well known to Burns and Secretary General.Johnston and Ahmed Hussein who present joined me in urging a public statement with high authority be made without delay.Fawzi said it might be possible and they would consider it carefully.

From other sources close to Nasser situation here seems quite clear. Some of the National Guard types and commandos who took off with specific harassing missions are to an extent at least untraceable at moment. I do not doubt slightest that every effort is being made to stop it. Egyptian acceptance of cease fire was broadcast yesterday evening and this morning in hope it would be heard by Egyptian commandos still in Israel (now believed to number about 5). On other hand Government here now believes that Israel may attack tonight or tomorrow and possibly make real effort regarding Gaza. Egypt would feel impelled react (probably elsewhere). No one in authority here really wants this to happen and while Egyptians over optimistic and not apparently too concerned at their ability militarily make good showing initially there is a real realization that it would be a defeat for Egypt and Nasser no matter what happens. They also now thinking in terms of what it would do to U.S.-Egyptian relations and our past support for this regime regardless of who won first round.

In spite of seriousness of situation Nasser content with second hand contact with me at moment due to his internal problems. Salah Salem’s wild accusations before RCC colleagues during resignation scene that he being tossed over at insistence this Embassy has made him cautious until he can be more at ease over this split of RCC.4 Mohamed Haikel who spending most his time now in this crisis [Page 429] with Nasser personally is now enroute to see whether we have further ideas.

Can only hope way can be found to convince Israel (in manner which she will not misuse) of what I at least believe to be Egypt’s real desire get things back under control.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/8–3155. Secret;Niact. Received at 10:47 p.m. Also sent niact to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and priority to London and Paris.
  2. The Embassy in Tel Aviv reported earlier on August 31 in telegram 194 that at 6:50 p.m. the previous evening two Israeli civilians were found shot to death at a point 3 kilometers from Kfar Menachem, indicating that the commandos were moving toward the Jordanian border. Moreover, the Israelis were referring to this incident as evidence that Egypt was not conforming to Burns’ request for a cease-fire. (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 242.
  4. Salah Salem’s resignation as a member of the Revolutionary Command Council and as Minister for Sudanese Affairs as well as Minister for National Guidance had been announced earlier that day.