228. Telegram From the Mission at the United Nations to the Department of State1

644. Re (1) Gaza; (2) Interim arrangements for Suez.


Lodge delivered copy memorandum U.S. position (Deptel 709)2 to SYG this afternoon, reading it aloud to him.

Hammarskjold first noted his timetable changed because of arrival Israeli Foreign Minister. Since she going Washington for discussions, he felt it very unwise depart prior knowing outcome those talks. He intended see her probably Monday morning,3 and depart for Cairo 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.

For our very private information, he said it very unlikely he would now go Jerusalem and therefore it essential he have contact with Israelis at some point and this provided obvious opportunity.

Then commenting upon U.S. memorandum, Hammarskjold said “it is understandable that is what is desired. What remains is to get it.” Lodge pointed out it obviously difficult for us prescribe any exact course action for him, particularly since he had not given us any list various matters on which decisions would be required. Hammarskjold replied he had given good deal thought to matters involved, but had intentionally not presented us with list because he had not wanted influence kind reply we would give him.

Commenting on text, Hammarskjold noted U.S. believed positions set forth therein were “reasonable.” He agreed they were reasonable per se, but pointed out resolutions and his statements had not covered Gaza in any explicit fashion. He noted his statement February 22nd spoke of “first instance”, i.e., initial takeover period, and also referred to “helpful arrangements”. These two sentences required very careful examination since they were crux his February 22 statement. Question therefore was what sort arrangements would be helpful and what would not.

Turning to paragraph 4 of memorandum, Hammarskjold indicated it stated quite well desideratum. How to achieve that was another matter. Egypt in exercise its rights could reduce UN control in Gaza practically to nothing. Contrasted to that on other extreme, he said, was Israeli public position. In this connection he said in conversation today Eban (Israel) had been “very moderate” and appeared have swallowed token element of Egyptian element civil administration already present. Eban had accented Timing consideration rather than [Page 426] substance. Hammarskjold noted Eban said they regarded matters as primarily between Israel and Washington in connection assumptions under which Israel had withdrawn.

Hammarskjold returned to question of how achieve desired results. He said he could use only persuasion, with or without governmental support. He said it might be possible get some help from India. He must seek substantial UN element in Gaza which would mean more UN there than in past and as much as possible. But, he reiterated, it was only persuasion which he could bring to bear upon Egypt.

Hammarskjold referred to UK Foreign Secretary’s statement on internationalization of Gaza, saying it was “bad luck” to have been made at this time. He also felt Washington announcement regarding renewal economic talks with Israel would be “counterproductive” in Cairo.4 His whole problem boiled down, he said, to point at which he should make “drama” out of matter.

Lodge referred to paragraph 4 of memorandum saying “responsibility” for administration Gaza which U.S. believed must remain in UN agencies referred to “major” responsibility. In such circumstances, Lodge said, Hammarskjold himself would obviously have to be guided by common sense as to whether this basic objective attained.

Hammarskjold said it natural for him seek fill gaps in UN’s role in Gaza but it equally natural for Egypt seek push UN back as far as possible. Within that range there was wide margin in which Egypt could assume civil administration tasks without any real risk resumption raids and without Egypt appearing to be unreasonable. Hammarskjold said his only political tool was referral to GA. This would have to come at point when Egyptian position had become “nonsubstantive and foolish”.

In considering referral back to GA, Hammarskjold said he would have to bear in mind need for getting through GA with two-thirds backing for whatever he decided was reasonable. So many factors governed this it would be very subtle calculation. If he went too far in Egypt’s direction, he said, there would be explosion from Israeli side, backed up by Israel supporters. If he tried break off at point of having given in very little to Egypt, then he ran equal risk not being backed up by GA majority.

Hammarskjold concluded this part of discussion by saying he inclined stage matters so his talks in Cairo appear to be somewhat exploratory, giving impression he not expecting come out of them with final agreement. This would fit in with his desire to check as much as possible status of his talks with U.S.


Re interim arrangements, Lodge delivered orally message contained Deptel 708.5

Hammarskjold said he could not at this moment turn on more pressure on Egypt than he now had. With regard paragraph (4) he not at all sure situation described therein covered by six principles adopted by SC.

Hammarskjold said he expected, as he had all along, obtain counter-proposal from Egypt. It was his own feeling Egypt should accept something like our four-power proposal. However, there was serious problem in connection total blockage 50 percent until final settlement reached. From various comments and reactions in conversations with Fawzi, Hammarskjold understood Egypt to feel acceptance of this stipulation was tantamount to putting Egypt’s neck in noose. In other words, Egypt would in effect be accepting in advance any conditions which “other side”, i.e., users, might put forward because otherwise 50 percent would be held indefinitely. Fawzi had said to him “how can any government put itself in position of accepting in advance ultimate defeat?” In order to meet this argument, which he felt could not be brushed aside, it would be, in his opinion, better to have time limit for duration of blockage or, as British had once proposed, attaching certain conditions regarding dispersal of blocked 50 percent, such as specific purposes for which blocked part could be spent.

Hammarskjold said he would of course try to play his negotiations in way Department desired. If, as he expected, Egyptians came up with counter-proposal, he would ask them show it to us directly. If they would not, he would do so. He said Egypt would undoubtedly not be willing give it to all four powers because they could not recognize British and French as empowered speak for users. Hammarskjold said Egypt had put him in between themselves and four powers as kind of screen or buffer. It was possible, therefore, they would agree only to having SYG relay counter-proposal to U.S.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/3–1557. Confidential; Priority.
  2. Document 226.
  3. March 18.
  4. On March 15, the Department of State notified the Israeli Government that it was prepared to resume consultations on economic problems and aid. (Telegram 879 to Tel Aviv, March 15; Department of State, Central Files, 784A.5–MSP/3–1557)
  5. Document 225.