Hammarskjold Reports Cease-fire Pacts with Israel, All Arab Countries
Menu JTA Search

Hammarskjold Reports Cease-fire Pacts with Israel, All Arab Countries

Download PDF for this date

United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold today informed the Security Council by cable that he has concluded new cease-fire agreements affecting the Israel borders not only with Egypt but also with Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

In a long “interim report” cabled to the president of the Security Council, Mr. Hammarskjold said that he also obtained agreements between Israel, on one hand, and the four Arab countries, on the other, with regard to other aspects of the armistice agreement. He emphasized that he expects to submit a full report on his “peace mission” achievements next week.

(In Jerusalem today, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Mr. Hammarskjold’s discussion with Premier David Ben Gurion yesterday, following the Secretary General’s return from Damascus, had been held in a “spirit of understanding.” The spokesman added that “positive results” had been achieved at the conference at which all four armistice pacts were discussed. Mr. Hammarskjold left Israel today and is expected back in New York early next week.)

“In carrying out my mandate,” the UN Secretary General cabled, “I have stayed strictly within the scope set by the Security Council resolution. I have considered it appropriate to give the aim of the resolution an interpretation according to which I should not merely survey and report on the state of compliance which existed at the time of my arrival in the region, but also try to get the parties to re-establish compliance to the greatest extent possible.

“Thus I have felt free to read into the Security Council resolution a mandate to negotiate for such re-establishment of compliance. In that spirit, I have regarded the question of local arrangements as subordinate to the general effort. I have submitted proposals for such specific arrangements as could serve to support and protect the degree of compliance achieved.

“I have considered the basic clauses of the General Armistice Agreements to be those which establish a general cease-fire. It has to me, been obvious that no measures for establishing full compliance with procedural or substantive clauses of the General Armistice Agreements would be fruitful and lasting unless firmly anchored in a reaffirmation of the duty of all parties concerned to observe a cease-fire.

“You have already circulated documents indicating that, at an early stage, I received such assurances from the Governments of Egypt and Israel. These reciprocal assurances served to relieve the threatening situation in the Gaza area, where conditions have since considerably improved as a result of strict orders issued by the two Governments. I have already informed you that I received notification that such orders were in force as of 6 p.m., 18 April 1956, and from that time on.


“Negotiations for similar reciprocal assurances unconditionally to observe a cease-fire, with a reservation as to self-defense, have been conducted with the parties to the other three Armistice Agreements. The negotiations have in all cases been concluded with positive result. The texts of the messages exchanged will be annexed to my final report.

“I wish to draw attention to the difference in character between previous cease-fires, which have been established locally, or between military commanders, and a cease-fire of the character envisaged in my negotiations. The cease-fire I have aimed at under my mandate from the Security Council is one governed by a reaffirmation by the Governments, given to the United Nations, to comply unconditionally with he fundamental clause of the various Armistice Agreements and establishes anew the leg, situation on which the Armistice regime was to be founded. It furthermore expresses a recognition in this particular situation of the obligation to observe a fundamental principle of the Charter.

“With the intended background of such reaffirmations of a cease-fire covering the whole region. I have studied with the Governments concerned the possibility of re-establishing full compliance with the various other clauses of the General Armistice Agreements. The wish to reach such full compliance has been shared by all parties.


“The problems presenting themselves have been of three main kinds. One is the difficulty of maintaining a balance between the remedial action required of one party and that required of the other in a gradual approach to full compliance. Another difficulty arises from the necessary and natural relation in the time between the re-establishment of compliance with the several clauses. Other difficulties have their origin in differences of opinion as to the interpretation of various obligations, or their mutual-relationship.

“As a third stage in the approach to the task set by the Council for the Secretary-General, I have, together with the Chief of Staff, Major-General Burns, put before the Governments proposals for local arrangements within the framework of the Armistice Agreements and the relevant Security Council resolutions. In important cases agreement has been reached with the parties concerned. In other cases negotiations are still continuing. In still other cases the final decisions should be postponed.”

The Secretary General concluded his report by stating that the wide field of study and consultation resulting from his interpretation of the aim of the Security Council mandate, and the difficulties of several of the problems, together with the fact that no less than five member nations are party to the consultations, explain why these have been more time-consuming than anticipated. “A further reason why it has proved impossible fully to observe the time limit set by the Security Council has been the need first of all to try to stop the dangerous developments which dominated the situation in the region on my arrival” he explained. The time limit set by the Security Council was a month.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund