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David Ben-Gurion: Letter Pledging Cooperation With US President Eisenhower

(March 8, 1957)

In reply to President Eisenhower's letter of March 2, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion again expressed Israel's hopes that the arrangements agreed upon would be carried out. Excerpts follow:

Dear Mr. President,

Now that we have withdrawn from the Sinai desert, as I promised in my letter of 8 November, and have also withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, which I profoundly believe we should not have done for both political and security reasons, please permit me to point out that we did so in large measure because of your letter of 2 March in which you expressed your conviction that "Israel would have no reason to regret" such an action and that the "hopes and expectations" expressed by its Foreign Minister "would not prove groundless." I must tell you how much we appreciate the continuation and deepening of US-Israeli friendship, and how greatly all of us, and myself in particular, value your noble and moral personality. I must explain to you why it was difficult for us, as you acknowledged in your letter, to evacuate the Gaza Strip. During the last few months the inhabitants of our villages in the South and the Negev could, for the first time in eight years, live in peace, knowing that grenades would not be thrown into their homes at night, and that they would not be ambushed on their way to work in the fields during the day. These pioneers, our finest youth, have left well-to-do families in Haifa and Tel Aviv, interrupted their education, and gone to settle in the border areas, risking their lives in order to populate the wilderness. You will therefore understand why, since yesterday, our hearts have been heavy and our villagers have been uneasy. We are particularly concerned at the fact that the Secretary-General, basing himself on his own formalistic interpretations, may try to bring the Egyptians back to the Gaza Strip, a place which never belonged to them. But we put our trust in the attitude expressed in your letter, and in your assurance that our Foreign Minister's hopes and expectations will not prove groundless.

I believe, as you have written, that we will have no reason to regret our decision.

I also believe that the declarations made by you and by your Secretary of State, Mr. John Foster Dulles, about Eilat and the Straits of Tiran will soon become a reality.

Rest assured, Mr. President, that we will cooperate with you to the fullest possible extent in your efforts to bring peace and tranquillity to our region, for the benefit of all its peoples and of world peace.

With best wishes, I remain, Sincerely yours,

D. Ben-Gurion

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs