254. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1

212. For the Secretary. At request Sharett I met with him in Jerusalem to receive comments in reply to Secretary’s message (Embassy telegram 1992) and to hear anything he might care to say about last night’s retaliatory raid in Gaza (Embassy telegram 200).3 He left special Knesset session for half hour to give me the following:

He attached full importance to Secretary’s personal message and wanted him to know that it receiving serious consideration. At time message received Israel troops already cross Gaza border. But now, Israel “not engaged in firing” and would not resume firing unless Egypt provoked such action. He referred to my visit to him on August 28 (Embassy telegram 1814) when I told him of strong hope of US Government that GOI would not permit Egyptian actions August 25 to start vicious circle reprisals and counter-reprisals. At the time I had expressed hope that GOI was holding up action on Gaza border to await indicative actions by Egypt as next two or three nights might give direct reflection our counseling to Nasser to abandon aggressive program. He said during that period of time that there was in fact no retaliation. Now, Israel plans to make no further military reprisals unless Egyptians engage in provoking actions and serious sabotage and murder incidents in Israel continue. He expressed hope that some means could be found whereby all provoking actions could be stopped and to that end had sent direct to Nasser two proposals (Embassy telegram 2115) via Elmore Jackson. (He confirmed substance of the proposals as described in reference telegram as I repeated them to him). In reply to my reference your feeling as expressed final paragraph Department telegram 1666 and in obvious effort to underscore the sincerity of his desire to find an effective formula, he dwelt at some length on the continued and varied means he had used to send messages to Nasser in past with [Page 442] regard to Israel’s genuine desire to end trouble on the border. He named several members of British Parliament who acted as intermediaries and referred to occasions on which he had described to me his desires and efforts along that line, with implication that Israel position must have been transmitted to Nasser through our Embassy Cairo. He said he was still at loss to understand why Nasser has initiated incidents and permitted the operation of Egyptian gangs of trained saboteurs in Israel. In response to my final question he again declared firmly that Israel plans no further retaliatory actions unless Egypt provokes them.

He seemed impressed with fact you had telephoned personally.7

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/9–155. Secret;Niact. Received at 2:49 a.m., September 2. Repeated niact to Cairo, Paris, and London.
  2. Document 246.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 251.
  4. Document 234.
  5. Supra.
  6. In the referenced paragraph of telegram 166,Dulles asked Lawson, in his conversations with Israeli officials, to underscore his belief that the present round of hostilities had to stop promptly. Regardless of who was responsible for the current trouble along the border, a continuation of the present situation could only result in disaster to each side. (Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/8–3155)
  7. See Document 242.