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

366. Re Contel 351.2 Burns has given me following account his conversation with Sharett February 29 with further reference UN SYG proposals El Auja D/Z.3 Burns regards Sharett’s remarks as amounting to Israeli withdrawal tacit acceptance proposals.

In course discussions Sharett indicated Israeli viewpoint was that UN SYG proposals envisaged compliance by GOE with article VIII paragraph 3 of GAA, which not forthcoming. Burns referred to a conversation between Hammarskjold and Ben Gurion during UN SYG’s recent visit Israel from which Hammarskjold understood Ben Gurion had given assent orally to proposals.4 Sharett replied that Ben Gurion viewed matter as mere conversation about the proposals not involving any commitment. Sharett again argued that while GOI had accepted proposals they had not given any undertaking to “implement” them and that in any case a new situation has now arisen owing to increased arms available to Egypt. In addition, he said Egypt has increased numbers her troops in Gaza strip and neighborhood D/Z thus making withdrawal IDF from D/Z impracticable. [Page 284] Burns commented that GOI was aware any increase Egyptian forces in area at time proposals accepted.

There was some further conversation about the GAA with Burns pointing out that if Israel felt it necessary hold out for Egyptian compliance article VIII paragraph 3 Egypt would undoubtedly link that with observance by GOI of article VII.5 Matters would thereupon become somewhat complicated in view of impediments placed in way of observers who are not able in existing circumstances to verify compliance with article VII, for instance. The role of observers should be to observe and not merely to await an invitation to check upon an allegation made by one party against the other. Sharett agreed to send Burns a letter outlining present GOI position with regard proposals.6

In talking to me today Burns expressed opinion that Israeli attitude possibly related in some way to continuing failure obtain arms from US, or possibly merely result fact that original acceptance not in good faith but made simply with idea Egyptians would not accept proposals.

Burns had intended going to Cairo now that GOI attitude proposals reasonably clear. However, he has just received message stating Fawsi and Amer will not be able to see him for next ten days but that Gohar prepared receive him instead. Burns has replied to effect he considered it important that he meet with Amer and Fawsi without delay.7 He told me that he does not wish to see Gohar in Cairo, or even Gaza for that matter. Since Gohar never assumes any responsibility talking to him is largely a waste of time.

Burns said there were no new developments with respect suggestions for improving situation Lake Tiberias (Contel 358).8

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/3–256. Confidential. Received at 12:38 p.m., March 4. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, London, Paris, and Tel Aviv.
  2. Presumably reference should be to telegram 361, Document 129. Telegram 351 from Jerusalem, February 13, deals with separatist sentiment and separatist political activity in the West Bank area along the Jordan River. (Department of State, Central Files, 784A.00/2–1356)
  3. See telegrams 395 and 398, vol. XIV, pp. 690 and 702.
  4. No record of this conversation has been found in Department of State files.
  5. For the text of Article 7 of the Egypt-Israel General Armistice Agreement, see U.N. doc. S/1264/–Corr. 1 and Add. 1.
  6. No copy of such a letter has been found in Department of State files.
  7. Cole subsequently reported that Burns was proceeding to Cairo on March 6, and that Burns had also expressed the opinion that “Israeli position El Auja proposals remained as described Contel 366. He recently saw Eytan who had informed him in that sense.” (Telegram 371 from Jerusalem, March 6; Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/3–656)
  8. Cole informed the Department in telegram 358, February 23, that Burns believed that “Israelis displaying no great interest suggestions for improving situation which he had made pursuant SC resolution January 19.” (Ibid., 674.84A/2–2356)