Thursday, July 14, 2016

72 - Exchange of Cables between W. Eytan and D. Ben-Gurion, December 12, 1955

Cables forwarded from Eytan in Jerusalem to Sharett in New York, December 12, 1955

To the Minister.
            Following consultation with Gideon [Rafael] & Yaacov [Herzog] I sent this morning the following letter to the PM.
            I want to express my sorrow that neither I, nor any other FM person, was a party to the considerations brought up regarding last night’s operation on the Syrian border. Had I been given an opportunity, I would have tabled the following considerations:
            a) Our main aim at this hour is to obtain defense weaponry. Important actions are being taken in both the US and France. According to what was said to the FM in his last conversation with Dulles, it could be expected that the Minister would be given an answer to our request for weapons before leaving the USA, i.e., today or tomorrow. On the French front matters are pending decision and only a few days ago Shimon Peres flew out to take part in a big operation the aim of which is to overcome difficulties that have arisen regarding clinching the deal on the jets. It is known that the French are especially sensitive to any blow against Syria. Our military operation will be exploited by those interested in preventing a response to our appeals for arms and will weaken our friends, Jews and non-Jews alike.
            b) Today is the opening of the debate in the British Parliament on the topic of the Middle East. Following a thorough political preparation, our friends were made ready for an all-out attack against Eden’s plans for reducing Israel’s territory and for criticism of the British government’s policy of supplying arms only to the Arabs.
            c) Any military action needs prior public relations activity – as was successfully done prior to [the] Khan Yunes [operation of August 31/September 1] – in order to prepare world opinion and prevent negative political results. Regarding the present case, the world was not aware of the latest Syrian provocations, the impact of which had not sufficiently penetrated world awareness.
            d) Our military action cannot but enhance Syrian-Egyptian military partnership when our main struggle flares up with Egypt.
            e) An Israeli attack against Syria at this juncture would enhance trends which are active there towards cooperation with the Soviet Union, this leading to various conclusions in the policies of the Arabs, the west and the Soviet Union itself.

To the Minister.
I received a written answer from PM as follows:
            Recent days have been hectic days and Golda’s trip yesterday scrambled my time even more, and I am indeed sorry that I did not converse and did not consult with you before the action, especially since I am aware that several of your considerations carry much weight, even if they do not exhaust them all – and it’s a pity.

Eytan to Israel Embassies Washington, London, Paris, Rome, 12.12.55
Personal for the Ambassador.
The action against Syria was executed without prior consultation with the Foreign Ministry. I expressed my regret to the PM. For your knowledge.

SOURCES: ISA FM 130.02/2454/11 and DFPI 10, doc.510.