To: The Prime Minister
From: The Foreign Minister
Following are my comments on your letter to Ambassador Eban of May 27 concerning the United Nations Secretary General’s report.
In the main this will be a repetition of what I said at the last Cabinet meeting following your lecture on the report.
The justified accusations against Hammarskjöld are serious enough and it would be better not to weaken them by adding accusations which miss the target.
When you write on page 4: “But in the report he [Hammarskjöld] forwarded to the Council we were required to withdraw from Nitzana,” you are establishing a fact which in my opinion you are unable to corroborate on the basis of the written report.
The chapter in the report regarding Articles VII and VIII of the Armistice Agreement with Egypt ends not with a demand to withdraw, but with pointing to the assumption that the execution of these articles “has to find its place in relation to other steps in fulfillment of the aims of the Armistice Agreement.”
Earlier the report states: “I have specific assurances from both sides of their willingness to establish full compliance with Articles VII and VIII, within the framework of a full return to the state of affairs envisaged in the Armistice Agreement.”
In my opinion, by this kind of formulation the SG has fulfilled, albeit in his way, the promises he gave to us in the course of our talks. He said that he would point out the problem of Articles VII and VIII, would not reach any conclusion regarding their implementation, and would hint that the matter depends on the fulfillment of certain conditions, without interpreting the issue of free passage. He can certainly claim that he has done exactly that.
Indeed, he wanted to insert among the appendices Burns’ memorandum regarding the procedure for implementing those two articles. One can complain against the publication of this document, and one would be correct to see here an intention to give the Security Council an opening for dealing with this matter in its deliberations. But there is a long way between this and the claim that the Secretary General’s report demanded that we withdraw from Nitzana. Appendices do not constitute an “operational” part of the report; and the SG can claim, with a certain measure of logic, that he attached the memorandum in order to show how the Articles be implemented when matters reach the implementation stage. But there was no intention here on his part to present a demand for the implementation of the Articles.
In view of this analysis it is of course obvious that by no means do I share your conclusion on page four [of your letter to Eban] that there is here “a crass breach of a clear commitment” by Hammarskjöld. As far as it is possible to understand from the last passage of that page, you alluded to the SG’s commitment to not resist, but indeed to even support, the return of the IDF to Nitzana if, after the withdrawal, Nasser would not fulfill his promise regarding free passage, or if he fulfills it but [then] reneges. If so, where is there a denial of the commitment? Did Hammarskjöld demand our withdrawal from Nitzana with no connection to free passage? Did Nasser agree to avoid interfering with free passage? Did he agree, and change his mind? Had the question regarding the returning of the IDF to Nitzana arisen, and did Hammarskjold not fulfil his promise? The answer to all these questions is in the negative, and thereby the basis of the claim of a breach of commitment is annulled.
SOURCE: ISA FM 130.02/3/5936/57.