784A.00/3–1651: Telegram

The Ambassador in Israel ( Davis ) to the Department of State 1

confidential

567. During stay of Lewis Jones in Israel2 we called on PriMin Ben Gurion at Tiberias. He stressed the vital importance to his country of re-establishment of normal relations between Israel and Arab states. He was convinced that key to situation was Egypt because of its position or relative power prestige and leadership in ME. He stated that US and possibly UK cld be of extremely valuable assistance to Israel in this connection.

In developing this point, PriMin stated obviously great powers wld have to depend on persuasion but he felt there was such a good case for making peace with Israel in interests of regional and world peace that there shld be a good chance of getting Egypt to take lead in re-establishing normal relations with Israel. He was confident Jordan and Leb wld be glad follow suit but wld not venture in either case to take lead. He thought Syria and Iraq might be slower but wld eventually follow Egypt’s lead.

Discussion then turned to various things Israel might do to improve chances of reaching agreements with neighbors. Mention was made of release of blocked balances, dividing of no-man’s land in Jerusalem coupled with immed compensation of owners whose property remains on Israel side of line.

[Page 599]

PriMin said he recognized importance of world peace to his country since any major conflict might mean complete destruction of the state.

He confirmed Israel’s orientation toward West by saying that Israel and Turkey are 2 countries that can be counted upon to resist any aggression and that it might be a very real advantage to Allies to have his country’s trained army in strategic position. He stressed that none of us know how much time we have and urged prompt action to effect peace in ME, pointing out that Israeli force wld not be utilized outside Israel unless this country is at peace with its neighbors.

Davis
  1. Repeated to Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, and London.
  2. Information on dates of Mr. Jones’ stay in Israel has not been found in Department of State files.