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

43. Re Deptel 37.2 Inasmuch as fact information (Embtel 393) was obtained at Embassy initiative on highly secret basis with specific request by informant that it not be reported in Washington in his name and what we believed apparent desire we not report information coming from official source, do not see how I can emphasize concern to Myerson on Cabinet attitude which presumably secret.

At same time I desire to draw Department’s attention to what I believe may be certain misconceptions originating from UK sources. Firstly, according to British Chargé here, UK has never received any message from Eytan through Embassy regarding Cabinet decision authorizing Ben Gurion at his discretion take reprisal action. Eytan’s only recent discussion with British Embassy was on July 10, two days before Cabinet meeting under reference was held. At that time, according to British Chargé, Eytan took line similar to that of Ben Gurion with Burns,4 urging British use their good offices Amman with HKJ to bring Fedayeen activities under control. Furthermore, I wonder whether definite threat of US reprisal on arms aid question can be used effectively at this time unless we are in fact prepared to modify our present position and desire to use this moment to announce it. Department may feel that expression of US concern in general terms plus GOI realistic knowledge of probable effect of Dewrisah [?] raid before Hammarskjold’s visit may have tempering effect on Israel attitudes.

Embassy has difficulty understanding line taken by British Foreign Office reported London’s 253 to Department5 except as one of those flights from reality which has periodically characterized UK analysis developments in this area. Facts of case are that in past three weeks there have been several serious incidents resulting in [Page 846] death of five Israelis, including three civilians, and wounding of two others. Several of these incidents have resulted from incursions by armed bands well within Israeli territory and bear the earmarks of Fedayeen type activity, thesis supported both by Israel intelligence sources and by Amman’s 35 to Department.6 Embassy believes that Israelis want a quiet Jordan border; that warnings which they have transmitted to HKJ were designed to accomplish this and that they will adopt reprisals against Jordan only with reluctance and because there appears to be no practicable alternative method of insuring security of Israel citizenry from incursions from Jordanian territory.

In these circumstances, and if Department still feels approach should be made, would it not be advisable that I convey to Foreign Minister US concern in general terms, for example; pointing out that our people in Amman have again taken up with HKJ question frontier incidents and urged all possible restraint; reciprocally urging similar attitude on part of GOI, particularly in view its importance relative Hammarskjold’s visit; also acknowledge GOI posture towards Jordan and restraint it has exercised throughout 1955 and thus far in 1956 in avoiding reprisals against that country in spite of local pressures generated Israel, particularly in recent weeks, by Jordan’s unwillingness or inability to control murderous incursions.

Please instruct niact.7

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85/7–1656. Secret; Niact. Received at 11:25 a.m. Repeated to Amman, Jerusalem, and London.
  2. Document 461.
  3. See footnote 2, ibid.
  4. See Documents 417 and 418.
  5. Telegram 253, July 13, reported the British Foreign Office belief that the Israelis were trying to create “suitable atmosphere in which to engage in reprisal venture. Foreign Office points out that contrary to Israeli allegations, Jordan’s border has been relatively quiet in past few months with no incidents of magnitude sufficient to make Israelis feel that reprisal necessary. In fact Foreign Office says that Jordan complaints outnumber Israel complaints by two to one.” (Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85/7–1356)
  6. Not printed. (Ibid.)
  7. The Department responded as follows:

    “Department desires you emphasize to Myerson points Deptel 37. In view considerations urtel 43 you may omit mention Cabinet decision instead basing your approach on general situation re borders. You may recall to Myerson that matter also discussed Amman.” (Telegram 42 to Tel Aviv, July 16; Ibid., 684A.85/7–1656)