Thursday, August 4, 2016

99 - Report of Gen. Burns' Conversation with FM Sharett, February 29, 1956

American Consul-General’s report of his conversation with Burns about the Burns-Sharett meeting of February 29

            Burns has given me following account his conversation with Sharett February 29 with further reference UN SYG proposals El Auja D/Z. Burns regards Sharett’s remarks as amounting to Israeli withdrawal tacit acceptance proposals.
            In course discussions Sharett indicated Israeli viewpoint was that UN SYG proposals envisaged compliance by GOE with article VIII paragraph 3 of GAA, which not forthcoming. Burns referred to a conversation between Hammarskjold and Ben Gurion during UN SYG’s recent visit Israel from which Hammarskjold understood Ben Gurion had given assent orally to proposals. Sharett replied that Ben Gurion viewed matter as mere conversation about the proposals not involving any commitment. Sharett again argued that while GOI had accepted proposals they had not given any undertaking to “implement” them and that in any case a new situation has now arisen owing to increased arms available to Egypt. In addition, he said Egypt has increased numbers her troops in Gaza strip and neighborhood D/Z thus making withdrawal IDF from D/Z impracticable. Burns commented that GOI was aware any increase Egyptian forces in area at time proposals accepted.
            There was some further conversation about the GAA with Burns pointing out that if Israel felt it necessary hold out for Egyptian compliance article VIII paragraph 3 Egypt would undoubtedly link that with observance by GOI of article VII. Matters would thereupon become somewhat complicated in view of impediments placed in way of observers who are not able in existing circumstances to verify compliance with article VII, for instance. The role of observers should be to observe and not merely to await an invitation to check upon an allegation made by one party against the other. Sharett agreed to send Burns a letter outlining present GOI position with regard proposals.
            In talking to me today Burns expressed opinion that Israeli attitude possibly related in some way to continuing failure obtain arms from US, or possibly merely result fact that original acceptance not in good faith but made simply with idea Egyptians would not accept proposals. [- - -]

SOURCE:  FRUS 1955-1957 XV, doc.154.