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

1107. General Burns met Foreign Minister Fawzi 7 December and sought Egyptian approval SYG proposals re El Auja D/Z.Fawzi who not particularly forthcoming indicated GOE might be willing drop proposal demarcate entire D/Z and work out formula withdrawal few meters checkpost now encroaching on D/Z if Major General Amer was satisfied maintenance of 30 police in D/Z on conditions approved by Burns did not present threat security Egyptian forces.Burns saw Amer December 8.Amer stated GOE could not accept maintenance of police in D/Z for reasons of security and because acceptance would be unfavorably received by Egyptian army as representing “concession.”Amer called police “screen” preventing Egyptians obtain intelligence information re Israeli forces in Western front area and indicated such intelligence necessary view Israeli unwillingness permit movement observers when Israelis had operation in mind.

(Burns explained to us that police in his view counter-balance personnel of GOE checkposts on Western side D/Z. He noted that special committee had not yet decided their status but he felt that principle of police in D/Z depended essentially on status Kibbutz which SC has never decided. He speculated SC might eventually have to decide status police but he had observed no enthusiasm for SC consideration problem at present time.)

Burns saw Fawzi again later same day. View Amer’s position Fawzi withdrew suggestions previously made re demarcation and checkpost.Burns clearly disappointed Egyptian position. He points out that by sticking to technicalities GOE in effect leaving Israelis in military occupation D/Z.Burns hopes situation will remain “fluid” and mentioned Amer had assured him Egyptian troops in region D/Z had strict orders hold fire unless attacked. However Burns fears Israelis may take advantage GOE “rejection”SYG proposals to try mark unilaterally Western side D/Z.Burns said he would forbid such action but is not hopeful Israelis will desist. In that event further clashes likely.

Comment: Problem is that each side fears attack by other but neither for political reasons seems prepared grant free movement UN observers in disturbed area. (Burns admitted Israelis still restricting movements of observers in Western front area to main roads,[Page 841]although they are permitted move freely in D/Z. In return GOE prohibits movement observers in area west of D/Z.) This would appear best means solve problem which is essentially fear of both sides of concealed military build-up. Hope to see Nasser within next few days and will endeavor persuade him reexamine GOE position. In meantime, hope Israelis can be persuaded not to go ahead with marking and to make some progress on observer movement in Western front area.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/12–955. Confidential. Received at 6:17 p.m. Repeated to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, London, and USUN.