Monday, May 30, 2016

27 - F. H. Russell Report of Conversation with PM Sharett, September 10, 1954

I called today, at his request, on Prime Minister at Hakirya, Tel Aviv. He referred to last three incidents along Israeli-Egyptian border which he said were particularly grave. [- - - A] number of infiltrators recently captured who admitted to being spies, which strengthens appearance of military preparation on part of Egypt. Prime Minister said special care is being taken to prevent any immediate and direct reaction to above incidents insofar as lies within power of organized authority. Prime Minister said “Now [that] US is connected with Egypt” [an allusion to growing ties following U.S.-inspired breakthrough in Anglo-Egyptian talks re: evacuation of Suez bases], what we say should carry more weight than before. Aid extended to Cairo behaving is one thing, to Cairo not behaving is another.
Prime Minister said he would like to make not a request but a query: Would USG call attention of Egyptian Government to this highly disturbing state of affairs, and publish the fact it has done so?
Prime Minister said theory is germinating in minds of some of people of Israel that recent developments are manifestations of plan to drive Israel into sharp and far-reaching action and this have Israel appear to world as aggressor, nullifying all of its efforts over past six years to bring about peace. Prime Minister suggested Egyptian Government might be told that this is seen through and that it cannot get away with such a game.
I told Prime Minister I had no evidence that incidents on Egyptian border related to Beit Liqya but I felt situation had deteriorated as a result of it. We had feeling that IG had given little cooperation in steps which Secretary and ChargĂ© had informed IG we were giving attention to – to improve prospects of peace and Israel’s security [an allusion to “11 Points” submitted in June; cf. diary entry for July 27, 1954]. Neither Prime Minister nor Eban had conveyed to Israel public the sentiments which Prime Minister had previously expressed to me; on contrary, attempt made to undermine our position. I said that we had received from responsible quarters intelligence to effect Israel would make attack on Jordan during maneuvers; that Embassy had recommended against an approach to IG on ground it was difficult to believe IDF would make attack in midst of extraordinary efforts towards peace we were undertaking; that incidentally Embassy’s ability to convey convincing assurances of IG’s cooperative intentions had, of course, been impaired [by the IDF attack on Beit Liqya on September 1/2]. Prime Minister expressed his regret at latter; said he “did not know who was responsible for Beit Liqya”. He hinted clearly, without actually saying, that attack was carried out by IDF, without his knowledge, in order to forestall increase of pro-Herut sentiment following attacks during previous weeks on two Herut settlements.

SOURCE: FRUS 1952-1954 IX, doc.892.