443. Staff Paper Prepared in the Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs1


  • Hammarskjold Mission to Palestine in Relation to Fawzi Suggestions Regarding Arab-Israel Settlement

While we can not fail to consider most carefully any indigenous initiative toward a Palestine settlement, we remain highly skeptical of Egyptian intentions in suggesting at this time a move toward such a settlement. Despite Ambassador Byroade’s talk with Foreign Minister Fawzi (Cairo’s 462), the Egyptian position is by no means clear. It appears doubtful that the Egyptians have worked out in detail a method of procedure or the substance of a possible settlement. Fawzi’s remarks about finding the proper time and references to the US elections in this connection indicate that any progress is likely to be slow.

We have discussed the matter with the UK along the lines of the talking paper approved by the Secretary on July 103 and have concurred in the UK proposal that the British Ambassador should reply to Fawzi to the effect that: we welcome his initiative; we agree with the first stage and suggest the idea be put to Hammarskjold on the latter’s visit to Cairo; we are considering further his ideas on the second stage which will necessarily depend in part on the success of the first. The British informed us that their Ambassador was scheduled to see Fawzi on July 11 and presumably he has spoken along [Page 816] these lines. We have instructed Ambassador Byroade to take a similar position in any further talks he may have with Fawzi.4

The British have undertaken to advise Hammarskjold of the approach by Fawzi and of the response which the UK and US Governments plan to make.

The position adopted gives us an opportunity to assess all the facts before committing ourselves, and avoids premature support of what may well be a devious Egyptian initiative. We think it is preferable for the SYG to serve as the intermediary between Israel and Egypt at least at this stage. He would probably resent the intrusion of any other person, and if an American were substituted it would unnecessarily commit us to the operation before its nature has become clear. We do not think that there is any appreciable possibility of matters moving quickly to the second stage or to any agreement on how to proceed in the second stage. Fawzi’s idea for a conference, including the US, UK, USSR, India, and Pakistan is not acceptable to us on first examination, but there appears to be ample time later on to make this known.

On the other hand, Ambassador Bohlen reports that Hammarskjold during his visit to Moscow was convinced that the USSR did not wish to see hostilities precipitated in the Near East and that it is prepared to cooperate in working toward a settlement. Hammarskjold is known to incline to the belief that more direct USSR participation in efforts towards a settlement is probably necessary. We are not too sure that the British are as reluctant as we are to acquiesce in more direct USSR involvement in the Palestine matter. These factors raise the question of whether it might be prudent at this stage to make known to Hammarskjold our lack of enthusiasm for a conference on Palestine outside the UN including the USSR. This could presumably be done by a message to Hammarskjold in Geneva through USUN and Cordier at the same time stressing our hopes for a successful result to his efforts in the first phase.

Our conclusion is that the action we have already taken is adequate to meet the present situation and that we should await the results of Hammarskjold’s trip before taking further steps. We attach importance to avoiding at this stage indications of undue interest in the project or giving it an aura of US sponsorship. Any more detailed approach to Hammarskjold now would inevitably have such an effect.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNEA Files: Lot 61 D 417, Omega #8. Secret. Drafted by Burdett, Bergus, and Ludlow on July 11. Prepared for a meeting with Secretary Dulles on Middle East problems scheduled for the afternoon of July 12. See footnote 1, Document 445.
  2. Document 440.
  3. See Tab A to Document 437.
  4. See Document 438.