20. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at the United Nations1
Re Straits Tiran, we believe SYG’s basis for stationing UNEF along coastal area is precisely fact that unless he does Egyptian and Israeli forces (i.e. Israeli Naval Units now in Gulf Aqaba) will confront each other and hostile actions likely ensue and thus endanger ceasefire which UNEF under GA resolutions authorized secure and maintain.
We agree not practicable seek assurances from Egypt re free passage through Strait until after Israeli withdrawal. But we do not agree that Egyptian military reoccupation coastal area might take place in hope Egypt will not interfere freedom passage. Egyptian record affords no basis such hope and once Egyptian military forces in occupation we foresee great difficulties in later positioning UNEF there.
As indicated para 3 Deptel 507 we prepared at appropriate time after Israeli withdrawal state US belief Gulf international waterway and freedom passage should be assured. We believe would be most unwise subject this issue, which we believe covered by established international law, to political decision GA in present emotional atmosphere.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/1–U57. Confidential; Niact. Drafted by De Palma; cleared by Rockwell, Murphy, and Meeker (in substance); approved by Wilcox who signed for Dulles.↩
- Delga 490 from USUN, January 11, contained Hammarskjöld’s account, as conveyed to Lodge, of his recent discussions with Israeli representatives. Hammarskjöld noted that as a result of the cool reception Meir had received from various groups, the Israeli attitude toward the withdrawal question had softened somewhat; that he expected that all Israeli forces would be out of Sinai (except for Sharm el Sheikh) by January 15. Otherwise, the Israelis had requested that UNEF be put at the Straits of Tiran, that guarantees be given ensuring free access to the Gulf of Aqaba, that Egypt guarantee an end to fedayeen raids, that Israel control administration in the Gaza strip while UNRWA continued its work with the refugees, and that guarantees be given that Egyptian forces would not return to the Sinai. (Ibid.)↩
- Document 17.↩