Thursday, July 14, 2016

48 - Ambassador Lawson, Comments following Interview (April 4, 1955) with PM Sharett.

            Sharett yesterday afternoon gave the impression of a man under great emotional strain who had been subjected to strong pressures from his colleagues during the morning Cabinet session. His demeanor and his words gave the impression that he may have been given a last chance within a limited time period to achieve a settlement with Egypt, failing which military means might be adopted to effect a transition from an armistice to a peace arrangement between Israel and Egypt. [- - -]
            Sources available to the Embassy within and without [the Israeli] government point to the conclusion that Ben-Gurion, supported by the IDF and such Mapai “old guard” members as Aran and Eshkol, is dominating the formulation of foreign policy. Their activist propensities may be somewhat strengthened during this election period by the growing appeal to the younger voters of Achdut Haavoda with its militant foreign policy program. [- - -]
            Finally, the failure of Sharett to make any reference to [- - -] General Burns[’] program [for de-escalation of border tensions] may be symptomatic of a general Israel feeling, particularly within the IDF, that UNTSO is not and will not be in the future an effective instrument and that real stability on the border can only be achieved by creating the will among Egyptians as the Israelis say they have already done in the case of the Jordanians to control effectively the borders situation. [- - -]
            While the Embassy does not want to be unduly alarmist, its conclusion is that I-E situation has changed from [a] static to [a] dynamic one and that the possibilities [of] military operations should not be minimized if Sharett’s new effort through U[nited] S[tates] G[overnment] and [the UN] security council does not result [in a] quick and effective improvement [of the] border situation.

SOURCE: Lawson to USSD, April 5, 1955, FRUS 1955-1957, XIV, doc.66. In Washington, Eban echoed Sharett’s concerns and requests in a meeting with George Allen at the State Department, following which Dulles communicated, on April 6, with the Cairo embassy. Ibid., doc.68.