20. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Telephone Conversations with regard to Israeli Plans to hold Military Parade in Jerusalem

Monday, April 21, 1958—6:25 p.m.

Ambassador Eban telephoned from New York City with regard to Mr. Herter’s conversation with the Counselor of the Israeli Embassy, Mr. Yohanan Meroz, at 5:30 p.m. today.2 Ambassador Eban said he was deeply disturbed by our proposed press release. The Acting Secretary said the Department felt that, having been forewarned of the possible dangers in the situation by such people as Hammarskjold, we had a duty to alert American citizens in that area and would, in fact, be remiss in not warning our citizens should any shooting occur since the parade will be held so near the armistice line. Ambassador Eban said he did not think there is any danger at the parade since there are almost no arms involved. Ambassador Eban said he had an appointment to see Hammarskjold tomorrow morning and planned to ask him to again give assurances to Jordan in this regard. Ambassador Eban said he felt the repercussions of our statement would be very untoward and asked if, since the parade will not be held until Thursday, our statement could be held up at least until he had seen Hammarskjold. The Acting Secretary agreed that we would hold up the release until Ambassador Eban had had his meeting, following which Ambassador Eban will telephone.

[Page 47]

Tuesday, April 22, 1958—9:00 a.m.

Ambassador Eban telephoned from New York City to say that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Israel are very shocked by the prospects opened up by such a statement as was discussed yesterday.3 They consider it the first thing of comparable gravity which has occurred in American-Israeli relations and the Ambassador said he had been instructed to say it would not only be interpreted as an unfriendly act but would create tension which, in turn, would create an atmosphere of panic and suspense which they seek to avoid. The Ambassador said to have this occur on the eve of the anniversary of Israel’s independence would be most unfortunate, and that he had been asked, therefore, to appeal most earnestly for avoidance of this statement. The Ambassador said they are going to see Hammarskjold right away and suggested the Acting Secretary might wish to talk to Hammarskjold immediately after that meeting to get his impressions. The Acting Secretary said he would do so, and also said that Ambassador Lawson has been trying to get through on the telephone but there has been trouble with the circuits.

Tuesday, April 22, 1958—10:25 a.m.

The Acting Secretary telephoned Ambassador Cabot Lodge in New York with reference to Mr. Herter’s conversation with Ambassador Eban, and Ambassador Lodge’s telegram number 11814 on this same subject. It was agreed that Ambassador Lodge would get in touch immediately with Mr. Hammarskjold with regard to his talk with Ambassador Eban and would telephone Mr. Herter as to Hammarskjold’s reactions.

Tuesday, April 22, 1958—10:45 a.m.

Ambassador Lodge telephoned to say he had just finished talking with Hammarskjold who feels quite strongly that the U.S. should not make the proposed press release. Ambassador Lodge quoted Hammarskjold as having said “it would not be a good idea; it would make the Israelis very unhappy; and it would increase tensions”. Ambassador Lodge said the Armistice Commission met early this morning and that Hammarskjold expects its report today. As soon as the report is received, Ambassador Lodge will get it to the Department.

[Page 48]

Tuesday, April 22, 1958—10:50 a.m.

Ambassador Eban telephoned from New York and the Acting Secretary told him we had communicated with Hammarskjold. Mr. Herter said he was glad to be able to tell Ambassador Eban that for the moment we were holding off the press release until we hear the results of the Armistice Commission discussions. Ambassador Eban said he did not have all the details but that he knew the Armistice discussions included types of equipment and the fact it was unarmed; having special observers on each side; and certain routing of the armored part to keep it away from the line. The Acting Secretary reiterated that we would make no release at least until receiving the report from the Armistice Commission.

Tuesday, April 22, 1958—12:00 noon

Ambassador Lawson telephoned from Tel Aviv to stress how strongly he felt about our not making the proposed press release as indicated in his telegrams. Mr. Herter told Mr. Lawson that Ambassador Eban had been advised we would hold up on the issuance of any statement at least until we had seen the report from the UN Armistice Commission which we understand will be sent to Hammarskjold today. Ambassador Lawson said he felt the fact we had proposed to put out a release had accomplished the purpose we wanted without actually making a release and said there are a definite number of bad effects we would have to take along with the good if we did make the release.

Tuesday, April 22, 1958—2:55 p.m.

Mr. Barco called from New York to say he had just spoken with Hammarskjold. Hammarskjold said there still had been no report from Von Horn on the MAC meeting but that he still felt it would be unwise for the U.S. to make a statement. Mr. Herter said if the report indicates everything is going all right we probably will not put out a statement but if the report indicates there are still unresolved problems which might lead to provocative action we might still want to make our statement. Mr. Barco said Hammarskjold had said he might change his view after seeing the report but, in any event, Hammarskjold has promised to get word to the USUN as soon as he receives information and they, in turn, will get word to the Department. Mr. Herter also mentioned that he had spoken to Ambassador Lawson on the telephone and had told him we were holding up the statement, and the same information in more guarded terms had been conveyed to Ambassador Eban.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers. No classification marking. No drafting information is given on the source text.
  2. See supra .
  3. Lawson also reported Meir’s views on the proposed statement in telegram 933 from Tel Aviv, April 22, received in the Department of State at 8:10 a.m. (Department of State, Central Files, 884A.424/4–2258)
  4. See footnote 2, supra .