Thursday, July 14, 2016

47 - Ambassador Nicholls Report of Interview with PM Sharett, March 8, 1955

[- - -] Interview was reassuring in the sense that he firmly disclaimed any intention of embarking on further reprisals and confirmed both his dislike of the use of force and his conviction that it did not help in the long run. Since, however, he would not say that in no circumstances would another reprisal raid take place, I gave him, at dictation speed, a serious warning of the consequences to Israel-United Kingdom relations and Israel’s future.
2.   The Prime Minister said he would like me to know that it had been no part of Gaza plan to cause heavy Egyptian casualties and that he deeply regretted them. When I said that this demonstrated the danger of supposing that effects of using force could be calculated, he replied that this had been a “politico-military lesson” which would not be lost on the Israeli Government or Army.
3.   Turning to the Security Council aspect, Mr Sharett said he realised that Israel was bound to be condemned. He earnestly trusted, however, that the Council – and particularly representatives of the Western Powers in their speeches – would not ignore the Israel case and pretend that the Gaza attack had come out of a clear sky. He did not ask us to agree that Egyptian action justified Israeli action, but he hoped that in the interests of rebuilding confidence in the armistice machinery, some recognition would be given to the injuries Israel had suffered and the real difficulties of her position.
4.   I said that a third topic would no doubt be raised at the Security Council – namely the methods of preventing further trouble on the Gaza frontier. I hoped that Israel, whether or not she believed in the efficacy of the measures proposed by General Burns, would show herself willing to make a genuine effort to try these and any other constructive proposals.
5.   Mr Sharett took the point and said that Israel would certainly agree to consider in a constructive spirit any proposals which were put forward. His only reservation would be that they must not encroach on Israel sovereignty. When I said that General Burns had always shown understanding on this score, Mr Sharett said he entirely agreed.

SOURCE: Nicholls to Foreign Office, tgm.69, March 8, 1955, TNA FO371/115897 VR1092/69.