Thursday, August 4, 2016

97 - Note on the UN Secretary-General’s Efforts to Resolve the Egyptian-Israeli Frontier Dispute

On November 3, 1955, following secret consultations with the British, French and American ambassadors to the United Nations, the UN Secretary-General had addressed a note to the Governments of Egypt and Israel – reproduced as WebDoc #65. 

In a conversation with the US Consul-General in Jerusalem on February 24,
Burns said Sharett appeared to have little enthusiasm for [the] subject under discussion, and described him as somewhat evasive. Sharett had observed at one point that ‘he only came into this business in the later stages,’ indicating possibly that he shouldn’t be blamed for [the] mess made by Eytan. Latter [was] conspicuously absent from Burns-Sharett meetings. [- - -] [Burns] gained [the] impression [that] Sharett [was] doing his best [to] enmesh them in broader context [of] provisions [of the] GAA.

During their meeting, Burns handed Sharett a 6-page aide-mémoire [copy in UNA S-0163-0002-01].

            In a follow-up report to Hammarskjöld, Burns reviewed previous correspondence and commitments which he described as

an Israeli effort to evade implementation of the three proposals contained in your letter of 3 November, which they accepted not only in the letter written on 4 January 1956 which was stated to be unconditional acceptance, but [also] in conference with you on 24 January when they agreed to the communique referring to the above-mentioned letter. [- - -] The present position is that I am hoping to have a further interview with Mr Sharett, or possibly Mr Ben Gurion, early next week, to find out exactly what their position is. They may refuse implementation on the grounds that the situation has changed to their detriment since they accepted the proposals (which is not really true); they may assert they are prepared to give effect to the three proposals if, after further negotiation, a full compliance by both sides with Articles VII and VIII can be agreed to, or they may adhere to the contention that their acceptance was conditional on Egypt’s observance of Article VIII, paragraph 3 - no defensive positions east of the line El Quseima - Abu Aweigila. The latter contention would be contrary to the explicit assurances that this was not a condition, which was given to me by Mr Eytan.

SOURCES: FRUS 1955-1957 XV, doc.129. See also ibid., doc.128; Burns to Hammarskjöld, February 24, 1956, copy forwarded by UK Delegation at the UN to the FO, March 5, 1956, TNA FO371/121733 VR1074/69.