226. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at the United Nations1

709. Re USUN 6352 deliver following orally to SYG:

“The United States greatly appreciates being consulted by the Secretary General, prior to his departure for Cairo, regarding negotiations that he will undertake there. We are in agreement regarding difficulties and dangers inherent in this situation. As the Secretary General is aware, the United States has in the last few months taken positions counter to those held by some of its close associates among members of the United Nations out of the conviction that it was necessary to do so in order to restore and preserve peace and to uphold the Charter. The United States position on the issues involved has been stated in numerous public pronouncements. Our position in response to the Secretary General’s inquiry can be summarized as follows:

We consider that UNEF is to remain in the area of Sharm el Sheikh and Gaza ‘until its task is completed’ (A/3375).3 This means that Egypt is not entitled unilaterally to terminate the mission of UNEF. UNEF should be withdrawn only when the United Nations is satisfied that it should be. There ought to be ample opportunity for consideration by the General Assembly prior to any decision on withdrawal.
No Egyptian force should return to the Sharm el Sheikh area until it is clear that non-exercise of any claimed belligerent rights has established in practice peaceful conditions that must govern navigation in waters having such an international character.
We firmly believe that no Egyptian military or paramilitary forces should return to the Gaza Strip, and the UNEF should remain in Gaza until there is a definitive settlement respecting the Gaza Strip or some final general agreement between the parties.
Regarding civil administration in the Gaza Strip, it was our understanding from the Secretary General’s statement of February 22 that in the initial period the United Nations takeover would be exclusive and there would be no elements of Egyptian administration present. We very much regret the arrival of the Egyptian administrative governor and his staff. However, the presence or these individuals will e less damaging so long as it is only symbolic. Responsibility for administration in the Gaza Strip must remain in United Nations agencies until there is a definitive settlement respecting Gaza or some final general agreement between the parties. There is otherwise not only the danger of some Israeli reaction but also the prospect of a renewal of fedayeen raids and the outbreak of serious disorders in the Strip. While the United Nations maintains UNEF in Gaza and continues to care for the Arab refugees, such developments must not be allowed to occur.
We believe that any recessions from above positions would seriously undermine confidence in the United Nations since these positions were reasonable to expect from the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Secretary General’s statements to the General Assembly.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/3–1557. Confidential; Niact. Drafted by Dillon; cleared by Herter, Phleger, Rountree, and Elbrick; and approved by Wilcox who signed for Herter. Repeated Priority to Cairo.

    After transmitting telegrams 708 (supra) and 709, Herter instructed that the texts of the two telegrams be repeated urgently, for information and possible comment, to President Eisenhower and that the President be informed that Hammarskjöld would not leave for Cairo until March 16. Howe forwarded the texts of the messages to the White House under cover of a memorandum to Goodpaster, which repeated Herter’s directive, and promised that the President’s comments would be conveyed promptly to Lodge. Howe’s memorandum to Goodpaster of March 15 and the attached texts of the two telegrams are in the Eisenhower Library, White House Central Files, Suez Canal Crisis. Also in the file is a message from Hagerty to Goodpaster, dated March 15, indicating that Eisenhower approved of the two telegrams and had no changes to make in a message to Ben Gurion, which he had approved earlier. The message to Ben Gurion is printed as Document 229.

  2. See footnote 1, Document 222.
  3. Reference is to Hammarskjöld’s report of November 20, 1956, on UNEF.