230. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State 1

1093. Reference Deptel 883.2 Ben Gurion interrupted Cabinet meeting to receive me and President’s letter at noon today. (Message delayed in transmission until 9 a.m. local time today.) His personal gratification obvious and after our quarter hour conversation he returned to Cabinet clutching letter under arm apparently pleased to have this evidence U.S. Government interest at time when his coalition more fractious than any he headed in years.

He said he most grateful and hoped President’s wishes and expectations would be fulfilled. “We terribly concerned with what is happening to us in Gaza much sooner than anyone expected. And these events did not transpire without participation of United Nations Secretariat (euphemism for SYG). You did not participate but your influence is great and can be decisive”.

He stated firmly “we will take no precipitate action. We going to do nothing to contribute to deterioration of situation. But United Nations administration must be established in Gaza pending peace and must do its full share to make its administration effective. I still think United States has enough influence to bring that about before it too late. As I told President in my letter we hope there will be no need to use freedom of action which we have reserved”.

I told Ben Gurion I thought Meir’s visit will be useful in obtaining clarification our position in light of what has happened. “It very laudable decision on part of Israel” I said “to make thorough exploration every possibility of progress through diplomatic action before coming to its decision”.

He repeated that if “United States does what I know it can do problem will be solved”.

He reiterated concern he constantly expresses for safety and livelihood of Gaza border settlements stating he planned visit them personally in next few days.

We agreed we would make no mention of Presidential communication merely stating I had called on my initiative to discuss current developments. This consistent with GOI’s desire not to reveal Ben Gurion had sent March 13 letter to President.

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Comment: I think President’s letter effective both in timing and content and will assist Ben Gurion in keeping his colleagues in check until Meir has thoroughly explored situation with Department. However both in acutely embarrassing position with their colleagues and Israel public which increasingly convinced Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were duped. This sort of reaction not one which Ben Gurion (Meir either for that matter) temperamentally equipped to endure quietly.

Lawson
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/3–1757. Secret; Niact. Received at 12:15 p.m.
  2. Telegram 883 to Tel Aviv, March 15, transmitted Eisenhower’s message to Ben Gurion, supra.