Saturday, August 13, 2016

115 - FM Sharett Report to the Knesset FADC, April 23, 1956

            I will start with the Soviet communiqué. Generally, there is no place for surprises, and if they do occur it is always due to some negligence or lack of sensitivity. Nevertheless, surprises do occur in our world and this justifies the existence of this word. I know, for instance, that MK Namir happened to be talking with a Soviet representative at the very moment that the communiqué became known, and he saw how this diplomat’s face expressed sheer shock and confusion.
            I have closely studied this document in its Russian original and I would like to draw your attention especially to 15 points stressed in it:
            1. The main root of evil is not found in basic contracts between states such as Israel and the Arab countries, or between India and Pakistan. It is found in the Western policy of establishing alliances, thus creating mutual pressures.
            2. The deterioration of the Israeli-Arab conflict is the most dangerous factor in the Middle East.
            3. There is a dangerous trend of exploiting this conflict with the purpose of introducing foreign armies into the Middle East.
            4. An admission that there is a looming danger of war. But this cannot be permitted, by any means. It is possible and incumbent [on people] to prevent it.
            5. An underlining of the Soviet Union’s record of supporting independence and of buttressing it. The communiqué enumerates such states not alphabetically nor chronologically, and Israel is last on this list. My feeling is that this list was given for the purpose of including Israel on it, for there is no need to name all these states – they are long known to be independent.
            6. Praise for England and France for their international position, whereas the United States is condemned.
            7. A number 0f praises for the Arab states and an expression of preparedness to help them buttress their independence, while not mentioning Israel.
            8. A sentence which I interpret as a justification of the Czech deal. Arming is presented as a buttress for independence and as an economic aid.
            By the way, I was recently informed by a very trustworthy source about the first step of the Czech deal. It turns out that in May or June 1955 [in fact, around June 22], when Molotov was in San Francisco, he summoned Egypt’s representatives and for the first time offered them military and economic aid. This was on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations, several months before the deal was clinched.
            9. The Soviet Union’s policy aims at de-escalation of tension in the Middle East.  It is bent on preventing any action which may cause conflagration of an armed conflict in the region. This is somehow not in contradiction with the Czech deal.
            10. Staunch support of the United Nations, including Security Council resolutions. I interpret this as unreserved support of the Secretary-General’s mission.
            11. Support of the Bandung principles. Here one should differentiate between Bandung’s 10 principles, which are all a paragon of virtue, and the series of resolutions adopted in Bandung which included an anti-Israel resolution.
            12. A call for avoiding any change by force of the existing lines recognized by the Armistice Agreements signed by the Arab states and Israel.
            13. A concern for the refugees. It is necessary to ease the situation of hundreds of thousands of refugees, assure their accommodation and means of survival. This with no mention of their return or re-settlement.
            14. A demand for peace between Israel and the Arabs [based] on the usual principles by both aides. The wording here is not “accepted” but “usual”. Nothing is said here about direct negotiations.
            15. The Soviet Union is prepared to aid in the achievement of peace together with other nations.

            Let me now move to interpretation. Here too I have 15 points in mind:
            1. Here, for the first time, is an admission of the possible eruption of war. Clearly the Soviets realized that a situation might be created whereby the they would be seen as responsible for such a war. They are admitting it, but claiming that it’s possible and incumbent to prevent it.
            2. It is clear to me that they have been impressed by western public opinion’s support for Israel, especially the circles which they are endeavoring to come to terms with. There is now a Soviet tendency to develop ties with the western socialist camp such as the French socialist government, the socialist opposition in England and the socialist governments of Scandinavia.
            3. Certainly the most serious Soviet fear is of an American military intervention in the Middle East, which should by all means be blocked. The Soviets are worried lest the Czech deal has contributed to closing the lines within the western bloc, especially between Britain and France. Now they are worried that, by their admission of the possibility of war, they may again cause wedges [to be driven] between Britain and France, on the one hand, and Britain and the United States, on the other. In view of this they took some measures, including the two Soviet leaders’ visit in London and the approaching visit of French leaders in Moscow.
            4. Here there is a justification of the Czech deal – a justification of their penetration into the Middle East in the guise of their buttressing Arab independence. Still, they sound here like they are defending themselves – they are aware of being culprits here and thus are in need of justifying themselves. Nevertheless if one reads their communiqué carefully one is aware that they leave the door open for continuing the arming of Egypt.
            5. Here there is an aim for balancing their account between us and the Arabs. First of all, they mention Israel, which they avoided doing on past occasions, as if Israel had been erased from the world’s map. There was also a mention of their positive attitude towards Israel’s independence. They avoided [leveling] all kinds of accusations against Israel, again, contrary to former Soviet announcements in which Israel was defined as an aggressor, as a western satellite and an instrument of western domination over the Arabs.
            6. There is here for the first time an approval of the Armistice Agreement lines, and talking about a peace acceptable to the two sides.
            7. There is no inkling of direct negotiations, but at the same time there is some opening for not the imposing of a settlement but rather recommending ones. This is seen also in their talking about a “normal," not an “accepted,” agreement, and in the support of the United Nations. There is here an opening for a recommendation, not an imposition, by the United Nations General Assembly.
            8. There is in the communiqué no trace of the fact that we are prepared to enter into negotiations and the Arabs are not.
            9. The [Arab] refugees are mentioned without mentioning their return. It is said, however, that they lost their homes.
            10. One cannot argue that there is in the communiqué any warning to the Arabs, but there is a statement against war and a mention that they would by no means allow a war to erupt.
            11. The backbone of the whole communiqué is the demand for recognition of the Soviet Union’s standing in the Middle East, not only as a world power for which nothing in the world is without interest, but because it has a say regarding the Middle East, a region in which it is active and in which it took part in the process of achieving its independence.
            12. An additional appeal for the abrogation of the Tripartite Declaration of 1950.
            13. A staunch strengthening of the United Nations.
            14. Strengthening the United Nations is at the same time a strengthening of the Security Council and of the Secretary-General.
            15. The arms problem. Possibly, the intention here is to prevent us from being supplied with arms. Anyway, this could be the result, for the obvious conclusion would be: Now that tension is decreased, the danger of war has passed.

            The reactions of the Arab states to the Soviet communiqué were late and reserved. None were enthusiastic. As to ours, I am going to see Ambassador Abramov tomorrow and Ambassador Avidar will see Molotov’s aide [in Moscow].
            Meanwhile there is a slowing of the pace of readiness to supply us with arms, persuading us to first of all try to conclude a deal with Canada. France is unwilling to be our only supplier.
            Regarding the recent meeting of the World Peace Movement Council in Stockholm, we did some leg work but have not succeeded in having them condemn the Czech deal from the meeting’s podium. However, we did get them to demand peace through direct negotiations without prior conditions or outside intervention.
            Generally speaking, there seem to be signs of a positive change in the climate of Soviet relations towards us, but the decisive question is: how would this influence the real weapons balance. Security is a question of balance of power. Declarations, with all due respect to their importance, do not change the security situation.

            Let me now move on to Hammarskjöld.    
            As you well know, the special authority of the Secretary-General in his present mission emanates from the Security Council’s resolution of April 4 1956 in which his mission is defined by two sentences. One says: the Council “requests the Secretary-General to undertake, as a matter of urgent concern, a survey of the various aspects of enforcement of and compliance with the four General Armistice Agreements and the Council's resolutions under reference;” the other states that the Council “requests the Secretary-General to arrange with the parties for the adoption of any measures which, after discussion with the parties and with the Chief of Staff, he considers would reduce existing tensions along the armistice demarcation lines, including the following points: (a) Withdrawal of their forces from the armistice demarcation lines; (b) Full freedom of movement for United Nations observers along the armistice demarcation lines, in the demilitarized zones and in the defensive areas; (c) Establishment of local arrangements for the prevention of incidents and the prompt detection of any violations of the Armistice Agreements.” Then there is a paragraph saying that the Security Council appeals to the signatories to these agreements to cooperate with the Secretary-General in the implementation of this resolution.
            The resolutions to which the Council refers are those of 30.3.55, 3.9.55, and 19.1.56. These dates speak for themselves. The first was that adopted by the Security Council following [IDF’s] Gaza [operation]. The second - following [IDF’s] Khan Yunes [operation], the third -  following [IDF’s] Kinneret [operation].
            In our first meeting with the SG we found him stressing mainly the second item of his mission regarding steps aimed at lessening tension along the border and certain local arrangements referred to in the decision, and not the general investigation of what has happened to the Armistice Agreements, that is, have they been carried out or not? what has been carried out and what not? We made an effort to move the center of gravity to the second item, but tried to find an equilibrium between the two. I have no idea what was going in his heart and whether he is happy about this, but he understood that he cannot follow any definition which would make it possible for us to allow him to make light of this matter. The argument between us on this question quickly concentrated around one point, that of free passage [through the Suez Canal]. We said that while free passage was not specified black on white in the Armistice Agreement, it is obvious that interfering with it is a violation of the Agreement, and that this interference is obviously an act of hostility. We argued that the Agreement covers not only military actions but non-military ones which are hostile, as well.
            I have said already on a certain occasion that if the sailing of an Israeli vessel from one port to another is not a legitimate act, then I do not know what a legitimate act is; and if forceful interference with the sailing of an Israeli vessel to an Israeli port is not a hostile act, I do not know what a hostile act is. Moreover, the real author of the Armistice Agreements and the architect of the whole armistice regime, Dr. Ralph Bunche, at a solemn meeting of the Security Council in August 1949, at which the Council approved all these agreements, said that it was clear that the Armistice Agreements meant the return to normal way of life and the eradication of any aggression and interference, and this obviously includes all limitations on passage to Eilat and all limitations on free [maritime] passage. I should add in parenthesis that the truth is that at the time Bunche, when talking about sailing, had in mind sailing in the Mediterranean, for then there were such cases of interference, and this is written in the Council’s protocols. He could not then envisage problems  of sailing through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.
            Moreover, a resolution adopted by the Security Council [on September 1, 1951] stated that interfering with free passage is contrary to the armistice regime. The Council could declare that this constitutes a threat to peace; it could say it is contrary to the Suez Treaty. But it did not make do only with that, and said it is contrary to the armistice regime. The Secretary General nevertheless argued that free passage was not included in his terms of reference and relied on the following: (a) The Security Council’s resolution [on his mission] refers to past resolutions, but not to the one regarding free passage; (b) It is true that Eban declared in the Security Council that we include in this resolution the matter of free passage, and that when he said so no opposition was heard from either the Council’s president or from Hammarskjöld himself who was present and listened to Eban. However, we know that behind the scenes the Western [powers] discussed this matter and decided not to  include this point. Hammarskjöld also argued that in the said resolution [of 1951] it was stated that it is contrary to the armistice regime but it was not stated that it is in violation of any articles of the Armistice Agreement.
            Hammarskjöld is a highly learned man and one of the most brilliant minds I have ever met in my life. He is endowed with a talent for meticulously wording texts. He is extremely adept at splitting hairs [Heb. pilpul]. But he was faced here with a very staunch position on our side, and as a result he announced that, in his capacity as UN SG, he was of course bound to respond to a demand forwarded by a member state of the United Nations, even more so when the government of this state is relying on a SC resolution, whether or not this is included in his mission’s terms of reference. Consequently, he would raise this question in Cairo not on the basis of his mission’s terms of reference but by virtue of his general authority as United Nations Secretary-General. He endeavored to convince us that it would be better if he took this line so as not to allow the Egyptians to argue against our interpretation. As Secretary-General he would be able to silence them and tell them to stop talking nonsense.
            In view of all this, both on account of the SG’s initiative first and foremost raising the subject of Article II (2) – arguing that first of all, before any negotiations regarding other issues, let there be a cease-fire and stoppage of border crossing – and also on account of our raising such a difficult question [of free passage] for which it seems he was not fully prepared when starting his mission. Even if Eban had said what he said, he was not prepared for us to raise it in such a clear manner and with such pressure. It is because of this that a differentiation was made between Article II (2) and all the rest, and thus it seemed as if we were discussing two Armistice Agreements with each of the Arab states – that we had not three agreements but four: one that forbids shooting and border crossing and one including all kinds of other issues such as avoiding making threats and any hostile acts. We claimed that these included interfering with free passage as well.
            Our position was that Article II (2) means an absolute and unconditional commitment; it is conditioned only by mutuality. We are allowed to cross the border if they cross it. By this kind of conditioning we do not mean that if they interfere with our free passage we would be allowed to shoot. Hammarskjöld differed. He said that if we are shot at, we should table a complaint.
            Regarding other articles, our position is that they constitute one whole entity. If they violate any article, then we are not committed to all the others. [- - -] Besides Article II (2) there is a limitation on the size of forces allowed inside the defense zones – these are the areas close to the [armistice demarcation] line. We argue that the Egyptians have surpassed this limit and are maintaining much bigger forces both in the Gaza Strip and close to the Sinai border. The Egyptians claim that we have exceeded this limit and thus the problem is how to go back the size permitted. Meanwhile we have postponed discussion of this problem until it becomes clear that the Egyptians are prepared to implement other articles.
            Then there is the problem of the demilitarized zones. Regarding Egypt, there is such a zone in Nitzana. We are at present there [in force], while admitting that by this we are violating the Armistice Agreement. Our justification for this situation is that they too are unlawfully holding defense positions on the their side of the border. We argue that if they vacate their area we shall do the same in ours.
            On the other hand, Hammarskjöld has brought up Burns’, the Security Council’s and his own proposals aimed at strengthening the implementation of avoiding opening fire and border crossing in connection with Article II (2). Here we responded to Hammarskjöld by claiming that it was the Egyptians who first opened fire. In view of this, it has been proposed by the United Nations that they establish observation posts. The very fact of the existence of such posts, they argued, would act as a deterrent, since the observers would be able to detect who shot first.
            I would like to remark in parenthesis that, generally, one of perturbing questions arising in such tense situations is the clear determination of the identity of the aggressor, hence the natural tendency of the Security Council to build an instrument for that purpose. In Korea this proved to be of decisive importance in the Council’s resolution that the North was the aggressor.
            In short, the following plan, consisting of five articles, was proposed to us: (a) observation posts would be established along both sides of the Gaza Strip line, to be freely approached anytime by UN personnel; (b) UN observers would be allowed to patrol anytime along the Gaza Strip line; (c) UN observers would move freely inside the defense zones for investigating whether the size of the forces there is within what is allowed; (d) The UN observers would be allotted roads of approach to these posts and zones; (e) UN observers would be allowed to move freely anywhere inside an area within five km. of both sides of the border.
            Our response was as follows: we absolutely rejected the fifth point, and it was removed for the time being. Regarding point (d) we clarified that inasmuch as we allotted UN observers approach roads, we would specify them. The discussion of point (c) was postponed pending clarification of the question of defense zones. As to the remaining two points – observation posts and patrols – we said we accepted them in principle but with certain reservations. But before dealing with these an introduction is necessary.
            There is between us and the United Nations a theoretical dispute as old as the Armistice Agreements signed in 1949, which continues to this very day, regarding the source of the UNTSO’s authority in our country. It first started with the cease fire decided upon by the Security Council, and then the late count Bernadotte was appointed mediator. He was followed by Bunche and later we moved from the truce regime into the Armistice regime. We were of the opinion, well propped by our legal experts, that the truce regime was totally superseded by the Armistice Agreements regime, while the United Nations argued – and it had quite a strong basis for their position, and our experts admit behind closed doors the validity of this position – that the truce regime was not superseded by the next regime but was only added to it.
            Therefore the UNTSO staff’s authority stems from two sources, not from just one: that is, from the Armistice Agreements which were agreed upon by the signatories but also from the earlier source emanating from the Security Council decisions of the truce period which are not dependent on the agreement of the two sides. Up to the present, whenever faced with this problem, we succeeded in extricating ourselves from it by some practical arrangement within the framework of the Armistice regime. We have not faced up to now a case regarding which we had to agree with the exercising of the authority which the United Nations claims it has. Now, when the Secretary-General forwarded his proposals with the intention of implementing them, he relied in fact on the first source. We, on the other hand, said that, inasmuch as we would have to agree to any proposal, it would only be on the basis of the second source, and therefore we made it a condition that anything agreed upon had to be based on a decision taken within the framework of the mixed armistice commission. In other words, the validity of what is agreed upon would emanate from its being accepted by both sides at the MAC. This would be an agreement between the two sides, valid only if accepted by these two. It would not be something decided upon by the United Nations. This, then, a general reservation regarding the legal standing of the source of UNTSO's authority. In addition, this whole arrangement is for six months, after which we would be free.
              In addition to this general reservation there are also practical reservations regarding observation posts: (a) Their placing would be established with our consent; (b) Their number would be the same on both sides of the border; (c) It should be clear that the observers would come to these posts and stay in them only if accompanied by our people, unless we deemed this unnecessary; (d) The observers manning these posts would be reporting only on violations of Article II (2) such as opening fire , border crossing, mine laying and reaping; (e) These reports would be discussed in the MAC on the basis of complaints [by the sides].
            As regards observers’ patrols, each must take place accompanied by our people, and  patrolling observers would report only on violations of Article II (2). The patrols would move only between observation posts, not simply freely along the line.
            I will now move to agreements with Jordan and Syria.
            Regarding Jordan we concentrated in our talks with Hammarskjöld on two points: (a) The issue of Article VIII which clearly states our rights in Latrun, the holy places in Jerusalem and Mount Scopus. He took it upon himself to seriously raise these questions on his visit to Amman. (b) The situation along the border and the recent incidents. Here we have pointed out to the possibility that, if indeed the situation along the Gaza Strip calms down, Nasser would be able to shift his anti-Israeli activity to the arena of the Jordan border. Moreover, Jordan itself may serve as a base and as a source for terrorist gangs operating from its territory.
            We based our contention regarding the [dredging of the] Jordan channel on the Armistice Agreement and argued that according to it life inside the demilitarized zone must return to normalcy, and normalcy means development. We relied on the precedent of Lake Huleh, where we continued our drainage works, which had also taken place inside the demilitarized zone, and which we have completed without interruption in spite of Syrian interference. This fact is indisputable.
            We strongly demanded that Hammarskjöld agree and inform the Syrians that any forceful attempt by them to interfere with our work would be seen as a violation of the Armistice Agreement. Moreover, a threat of using force, which has been made already, is by itself such a violation.
            Hammarskjöld accepted our condition but found it necessary to add: “Whether your activity is legal or not, they are not allowed to disturb it or threaten to disturb it. Such actions would be considered as a violation of the Armistice Agreement.”
            As to the question of our freedom to resume work [on the Jordan channel], he thought that it needed clarification. He himself was not convinced of our freedom to do that. There is a possibility of yes or no here. If the Syrians ask him what the situation is according to the Security Council resolution, he would answer them that he was not authorized to interpret the Council resolution. Only the Council can interpret its resolutions.
            Now, what was the Security Council resolution? In fact, there should have been two resolutions. One [Resolution 100 (1953) of October 27, 1953] says that the Security Council notes with satisfaction Israel’s preparedness to stop work for the duration of the Council’s urgent discussion, and we contend that the urgent discussion has long been terminated – it started in December 1953 and ended inconclusively] in January 1954. Another resolution was about to be adopted but fell because of a Soviet veto, and therefore we claimed that the Syrian complaint fell as well. The Council did nothing further, and Hammarskjöld said that there could be different opinions regarding this issue. He will tell the Syrians that he himself cannot decide, while they are not allowed to interfere. It was clear that he, from the view point of political wisdom, was of the opinion that we should not renew work on the channel, but he would not take it upon himself to decide.
            As for the Kinneret, I would first of all like to bring to your attention that the legal situation regarding the Kinneret is that a resolution was adopted by the Security Council [i.e., Resolution 111 (1956) of 19 January 1956; WebDoc #85], and it referred to that decision in its instructions to the Secretary General when asking him to take on his mission, in which it was said that the two sides should cooperate with General Burns in implementing his proposals. Following that session of the Security Council, General Burns approached the two sides with five proposals: (a) The Syrians are forbidden to fish in the Kinneret; (b) The Syrians are forbidden to open fire on Israeli fishermen in the Kinneret; (c) Israeli forces are forbidden to open fire on the Syrians; (d) Israel would allow, out of a free agreement, that her police boats would not go closer than 250 meters from the Kinneret shores – no limitation was made regarding Israeli fishing boats; (e) The Syrians are allowed to drink from the Kinneret’s waters and water their herds.
            We completely accepted the first three proposals. As to the fourth, we said that generally a police boat should maintain some distance from a fisherman’s boat in order to be able to protect her, but it should be clear that this doesn’t invalidate our right to get close to the shore when protection of our boats necessitates. Hammarskjöld was satisfied with this position. As to the proposal regarding drinking water we said we were not going to be strict aboout drinking and watering herds, but it should be clear that we shall by no means agree to the Syrians setting up water pumping machinery.
            On this ended our talks regarding the five proposals. It remains to be seen what would the Syrian reaction would be.
            On this occasion I would like to complete the picture regarding Gaza. We told Hammarskjöld that we have no interest in getting closer to the border line there; however, it should be clear that whenever security needs call for our military to move up to the line, they would do so, and this is how we operate there.
            A few words regarding our conception of Hammarskjöld’s mission. We regarded it with special interest in terms of our stature in the United Nations as well as in the eyes of world public opinion. It is we who are directly involved here; the chisel is felt in our own flesh. We are aware of what important issues are at stake and of the possibility of falling into an attitude of contempt or cynicism regarding the United Nations or its Secretary-General. I think such an attitude is by and large unjustified. This is an extremely unrealistic attitude, which time and again has harmed us. True, I do understand its psychological background. However, inasmuch as we are part of this world and, in view of the various aspects of our dependence on the outside world, it would be extremely serious if we ignored the huge moral and political importance which the world attaches to the UN and to the high and revered stature of the SG who epitomizes this institution and its authority.
            While we are not accusing other governments of having too much international idealism, we should bear in mind and take into consideration their ability to exploit international emotions against us, so that we should not be faced with totally unnecessary surprises when we can in fact envisage them in time.
            Moreover, we [ourselves] are the very factor which has been focusing the world’s attention on our security problem, on the problem of peace and stability in the ME. If complaints arise among us – why is the world paying so much attention to us, with such intensity? – then we should be aware that we are to blame for this, for we have caused this. We have achieved this by making the Czech arms deal the terrible and dangerous threat which it is. It was we who cried out that our security is endangered. It was we who raised the slogan of “arms for Israel!” And the world, in quite large measure, has responded to it by becoming alarmed and calling for help for us. Throughout all this, at times explicitly, at times by implication, a tone of censure has been heard against the UN – what is it doing in view of such a situation? What is the purpose of its existence if not to be on guard and to prevent aggression? Even if we have not put our faith in the UN but always stressed our power of self-defense, even if we constantly claim that no action taken by the UN can serve as a substitute for our own guarantees of our security, we have not released the UN from all responsibility. True, we cannot always control the reactions and conclusions of others in face of the steps taken by us. Others have concluded that, while Israel should certainly be given freedom of action, still the UN should do something as well. If the UN says something – and even if this is a result of some machination by this or that power – the fact remains that, as far as the world is concerned, the UN has woken up. It has taken a highly incongruous, unusual step; it has sent the SG himself to our region for a whole month. It has put on the agenda the whole question of the armistice and the most urgent task of immediately relaxing tension.
            If the main result of this initiative, given wide publicity, is that the SG has clashed with us and that we responded to his initial proposals clearly in the negative, this would constitute a very grave failure of Israeli foreign policy and a drastic weakening of our international position, as well as of our defense [i.e., arms procurement] prospects. Consequently we should, inasmuch as possible, [- - -] keep our main interests intact and do the utmost to avoid bringing matters to such a head-on clash.
            I would like to say to the Committee members that, so far, a frontal clash has been avoided. First of all, we have no idea of what will happen with the SG’s proposals – what he is going to bring us back from the Arab countries. That’s the reason for the special secrecy of all my analyses and reports regarding these proposals before you. Possibly, we will face proposals from the other side which would compel us to retreat. Possibly, we will be faced with issues still unknown to us today. We are not standing on guard on the frontline. Anyway, it should be assumed that regarding the main issue which we have raised – the inclusion of the free passage issue within the framework of the commitments required by the Armistice Agreement – a clash may occur, but then this clash would arise around a matter that is highly crucial for us.
            The same is true, as he told us, regarding another issue: “Remember that you have an international front and that you are requesting arms. You are putting forward claims [for arms], you are conducting negotiations [for arms]. How is your situation going to be influenced by your taking this or that position?”
We told him: “There is [also] public opinion about you. What would people think if it turns out that you have been burdened with such an extraordinary mission, once in seven years, to investigate the Armistice Agreements, but that you avoided dealing with a question [i.e., of free passage] which the world at large is aware of as being crucial? I don’t know whether the world will be impressed by legal niceties here. It is clear to the world that there is here a case of violation, of aggression, and you shall have to stand trial before the world.” Here, on this issue, we have a weapon in our hands [i.e., his sensitivity to public opinion]. In case there is no alternative, then come what come may, we would possibly have to appear before the Security Council and there do battle with the SG. But in view of this possibility we should endeavor inasmuch as possible to narrow, not widen, our front against the SG, and inasmuch as possible concentrate our arguments with him on issues most crucial for us, issues whose justification of our position is self-evident.
            We have insisted that this issue [of free passage] be included within the Armistice Agreements, and he had agreed with us. Suppose he had not agreed and wanted to bring us to our knees regarding an issue on which he has legal grounds to base his position. If so, I would have been quite skeptical regarding Eban’s ability to satisfy those who are sympathetic to us in the Security Council, as well as sympathetic public opinion in America, including American Jews, who are at the same time sympathetic to the United Nations. This public opinion still believes in the United Nations; it has always endeavored to connect its sympathy towards us with its loyalty to the United Nations, and to resolve disputes between the two. Then, when it sees a case of something very crucial for us, it thinks twice. However, in the present case [of free passage], which legally-speaking is not covered by the Armistice Agreements and over which the United Nations has authority, it is clear to public opinion that here indeed UN authority is supreme and, in any case, the Security Council as supreme institution is trusted by all. It is thus highly important that we avoid clashing with it on this issue. We must take this aspect into consideration all along our present battlefront. 

[Here the report ends. A short, unimportant debate ensued, at the end of which Sharett found reason to add the following:]

I would like to add that, inasmuch as the SG spoke about the fedayeen, I felt that I could fathom his thinking on this subject. He was of the opinion that we did something very wrong in our shelling the city of Gaza [on April 5]. According to his information, received from UN people there whom he fully trusts – perhaps he shouldn’t trust them, but it is clear to me that he does; and he told me specifically about one of them whom he considers objective, and this enlightened me that he is aware that among the UN people there can be some who are not objective – he, Hammarskjöld, could not accept our explanations given to the Security Council, i.e., that the shelling of Gaza was a defensive act aimed at silencing a certain Egyptian gun battery. He said that this man told him that the shelling was characterized by clear signs of shelling across the whole city, that it could not have been the shelling of a specific Egyptian position. There is a disagreement regarding that position. The UN Observers claim that they have not found [IDF] shells near it, while we claim that we have seen exactly where our shells had hit. The Observers say that, besides the Egyptian position, the shelling had hit the city and the majority of casualties were hit in the city, and thus there was no justification for the shelling. Hammarskjold probably would argue, for there is a UN report about it, that our settlements were shelled following our shelling of Deir El-Balagh. Our contention is that Deir El-Balagh is wholly surrounded by military posts, and thus that if these posts are shelled it is impossible to avoid shelling the town itself. Hammarskjöld assumed that the fedayeen attacks came as a response to our killing of women and children in Gaza.
            Anyway, it is clear to me that he is not willing to conclude that fedayeen activity is proof of Nasser’s intention to wage war against us. He is of the opinion, or perhaps has information, or knows – I have no idea what is the basis of his saying so – that following the shelling of Gaza he has come under pressure to use it as a casus belli, but he refused to do so. He is prepared to accept the possibility that he refuses [to wage war] not because he aspires for peace, but because he is not yet ready. He is not prepared to give Nasser a certificate of honesty. He thinks that just as there is logic in his going to wage war, so is there logic in his not doing so. He points out these two alternatives with much care and extreme reservation, for he admits that logically Nasser has reason to wage war and dominate the region. But at the same time he thinks that he must take into consideration the possibility of American intervention. And Nasser must have been impressed by the Soviet communiqué, which he, Hammarskjöld, sees as a positive step. He is also of the opinion that the economic situation of Egypt – he is possibly exaggerating in his Marxist outlook, even though he claims he is not a Marxist - is simply desperate and constantly worsening on account of Egypt’s population growth so that Nasser must realize that ultimately his future depends on whether or not he succeeds in achieving something in the [- - -] realm of Egypt’s economy. He, Hammarskjöld, assumes that Nasser, based on his own calculations, may reach the conclusion that he should go to war. Indeed, Hammarskjöld said all this with utmost care and reservation, and he was careful to take into consideration avoid saying one word about any other member of the Egyptian ruling military junta. He said he had not seen any of them and is ignorant of the situation in this respect. I seriously implore you to be very, very careful with all this information.
            I have nothing to report on our Afro-Asian front beside one top secret item which is that we have concluded with the King of Ethiopia [an agreement for] the establishment of an Israeli consulate in Addis Ababa. Our consul is going there this week in the hope that the King keeps his word to us. We wanted to establish diplomatic relations but he asked us to be satisfied for the time being with a Consul General. Reciprocally we shall recognize the Ethiopian Consul in Jerusalem who has so far not been recognized by us.