Friday, July 22, 2016

89 - Excerpts of Sharett’s Remarks, as Taken from R. Anderson’s Record of their Meeting, January 24, 1956

            1.  At Mr SHARETT’s suggestion we convened again at his home at 2030 hours. Mr SHARETT opened the conversation by stating that he and the Prime Minister had met with HAMMARSKJOLD and discussed a variety of problems, most of which concerned questions not directly related to my mission.
            2.  He could report that HAMMARSKJOLD had not obtained a cease-fire from NASR, SHARETT stated, but rather an explanation of why NASR could not issue one. He described NASR’s arguments as well known to the IG and regarded it ]sic[ as being without validity. Mr SHARETT stated that NASR had attributed certain border conflicts to the difference which existed in the employment ]sic. for deployment?[ of troops by the Israeli and Egyptian Armies. [- - -] Mr SHARETT stated that the Egyptian posts, which he described as “nervous and trigger-happy”, naturally began to fire whenever the Israeli patrols appeared unexpectedly. According to Mr SHARETT, NASR had informed HAMMARSKJOLD that he had once ordered a cease-fire which the peculiarity of Israeli defense tactics had rendered unworkable. NASR had therefore concluded that, given the existing situation, he could see no other course but to leave the border problems to General BURNS.
[- - -]
            7.  Mr BEN-GURION then proposed that I ask NASR to “make an experiment” by issuing a strict order for a cease-fire and by observing the results for one week. He argued that this would resolve the incidents there.
            8.  In view of HAMMARSKJOLD’s failure, Mr SHARETT stated, it would be most important if I could obtain a cease-fire from NASR. [- - -]
            15.  Referring again to my impending return to Cairo, I told Mr BEN-GURION that I believed it important for all of us to approach the problem by thinking of those things capable of execution and indicative of the climate we wish to create. Since their views of this basic problem would be helpful to me, I suggested that they might have proposals of a positive nature which I might adopt as my own. I reiterated that I fully realized the importance of time and that I also was aware that one does not desire to lay all the cards on the table at the time in achieving positions and making serious decisions. I requested BEN-GURION and SHARETT to give me constructive ideas which would advance the purpose of our meeting. I acknowledged that they might prefer that I keep certain recommendations in confidence, which I would do, but that I would prefer to be able to make use of them with NASR.
            16.  Mr SHARETT asked me to describe the nature of the contributions which the IG might make. I replied that thoughts as submitted on the “mobile troops”, suggestions for minimizing propaganda and enlarging the policy of readmitting Arabs to their families were all constructive and important in the progressive development of a favorable climate.
            17.  Mr SHARETT did not commit himself directly, saying instead that should the parties meet and “get down to brass tacks”, many suggestions would arise spontaneously in order to convince the other party. He took the occasion to observe that when I saw NASR I should not state “it is the IG’s desire” but “it is the IG’s firm belief” that a satisfactory and beneficial solution is possible.
[- - -]
            19.  Mr SHARETT proposed that I meet him for one-half hour the next day in order that he might explain the “past history” of Israel’s limited contacts with the Egyptians. [- - -]

SOURCE: Meeting with Israeli Officials: 24 January 1956 [Evening], USNA NEA Lot File 59D582 Box34.  Cf. Ben-Gurion, My Talks with Arab Leaders, 287-90 (incorrectly introduced as a “morning” meeting).