Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Spook's Report

Here's another installment based on our Sadat-in-Jerusalem publication.

On September 16th 1977, though none of us mortals knew it at the time, Israel's Foreign Minister, Moshe Dayan, flew to Morocco and met Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Hassan Tuhami in the Royal Palace. According to the English-language summary of the meeting - which one really ought to read if one likes behind-the-scenes documentation - the first substantial thing Tuhami had to say to Dayan was that Sadat hadn't trusted the previous Israeli government (led by Yitzchak Rabin), but that he did trust his ability to reach an agreement with Begin. It's hard to know what to make of that statement: was it true? was it flattery? was it a negotiating ploy? Whatever it was, it was not what any pundit was writing in any newspaper in those days.

The really dramatic document, however, in terms of skulduggery and cloak-and-dagger, is the next one in our publication: a top-secret report written on September 8th by an unnamed Mossad agent who was present in the meeting, and reported "to your eyes only" - probably to Ytzchak Hofi, at that time Head of the Mossad. It's not an everyday event that Mossad documents get declassified and put online, even here at the ISA, so if you've got the Hebrew, you really ought to meander over and have a peek.

Much of the content of the meeting is similar in both reports, which, given the gravity of the matter, isn't that surprising. Everyone present was trying to make sure everyone present was hearing the same content. Unlike media reports or memoirs of politicians, which have different goals, these documents needed to be accurate or they were worthless. Yet the Mossad report has some color and context which the dry English-language summary didn't have; partially this was because the Mossad person was trained to see things diplomats might not have cared about.

1. FM arrived in Rabat on a special flight 19:15 on 16th Sept. 77, accompanied by his bodyguard, Dalimi's deputy and our representative in Morocco. The group left Rabat on a special flight to Le-Bourget at 03:30 on sept. 17th.

2. Upon arrival the guests were taken by Dalimi to the personal guest house of the king, near his private home.

3. After a short rest, Dalimi took Dayan and our representative at 20:45 on 16 to the king's domicile, where they were let in through a back door which Dalimi told us is reserved for secret guests.

4. The group was received by [deleted] who allowed Dayan to take off his disguise and return to his normal appearance. The group was brought into a room with modern furniture, where the king and his group were waiting for Dayan.

5. As Dalimi explained, Tohami had requested to talk to the king before our arrival, so he was there already.

6. Those present were the king, his prime minister, his foreign minister, the minister of the court, Dalimi, Tuhami, Dayan and our representative. We sat in half a crescent, with tea tables spread in front of us. We were served by two servants who had already seen Dayan in his natural appearance, back at the king's palace. Other than them and Dalimi, who personally escorted us, no-one saw Dayan without his disguise.

7. The meeting went on without any break for four hours. At one point it continued without the king, who explained that he had to go see his mother who had come to visit him.

8. The entire time the atmosphere was pleasant and cordial, which expressed itself in a collegial tone, courtesy and a degree of humor. The king himself set this tone.

9. After the meeting the king led us to a nearby dining room for a meal, shortly before 01:00; over the meal we discussed personal and political matters.

10. At 01:45 Dalimi led us back to the guest house at the palace, and from there, after an hour of rest, his deputy [name deleted] led us to the Rabat airport and at 03:30 we flew back to LeBourget.

11. At the beginning of the meeting with Tuhami, Dayan presented the king with some Canaanite-era weapons from his personal collection.* No other presents were exchanged.

12. All the administrative, logistical and security matters passed with no hitches. [deleted] suggested, "with all due respect", that next time Dayan ought to wear darker glasses.

13. Dayan promised to send Tuhami an English copy of his book.
The rest is similar to the English language summary.

At the end, the author of the report notes that Dayan promised to send an updated map of Jerusalem so that Tuhami might see the extent to which it has become one single city.

* Were the archaeological artifacts really Dayan's private possessions? From today's perspective?

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