Monday, May 30, 2016

26 - P. Lavon to E.L.M. Burns, September 8, 1954

Hakiryah, 8th September 1954
Major-General E.L.M. Burns,
Chief of Staff, UNTSO

Dear General Burns,
The Prime Minister has referred to me your letter of September 5th, 1954, in answer to which I wish to make the following observations:
a) The investigation carried out by UN observers in connection with the Khirbet-Sikha and Deir-el-Asal incident was[,] as a matter of fact, one sided and limited to the Jordan side only. It could not, therefore, establish which party opened fire first.
b) If manoeuvres are a cause for sensitiveness [sic] and for firing across the lines, then it could be argued with the same logic that any appearance of soldiers in the vicinity of the borders might irritate the other side and cause an exchange of fire.
c) The standing orders of the Israel Defence Forces specifically prohibit firing in the direction of the borders at any time, including manoeuvres, unless when attacked from that direction. I am entirely confident that in this particular case our soldiers did not open fire nor did they provoke the Legionnaires in any other way.
d) As I have already informed you in the name of the Government of Israel, we are willing to contribute towards the alleviation of tension along the borders in any way which is compatible with Israel’s sovereignty and with her obligations under the Armistice Agreements.
However I cannot accept the advice, which you offer in your letter, as being compatible with either the authority of the Chief of Staff, UNTSO, or with Israel’s sovereign rights.
It would be appreciated if any communication you may wish to send to the Government of Israel would be addressed either to me or to the Chief of Staff.
Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.
P. Lavon
Minister of Defence

Copy of letter in ISA FM 130.02/2425/9