357.AC/9–2051: Telegram

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


261. Further comment on subject Embtel 257 Sept 18.2 While Emb agrees close cooperation with UK in NE is essential, it believes cooperation with Fr and Turk also important. In recent conversations, [Page 871] my Brit, Fr and Turk colleagues expressed interest in outcome present PCC mtg in Paris, hoped progress cld be made toward area peace but saw little prospect of success. Adverse factors: Generally negative and irreconcilable attitude of Arabs on the one hand, and unconstructive, guarded, legalistic approach of Israel on the other.

As to Israel, it will be recalled FonMin had been apprehensive from outset over PCC mediatory role and undertook in his letter of acceptance to reserve Israel position re prospective PCC proposals. Prelim statement apparently confirmed suspicions, going beyond limits Israel hoped wld obtain, and running counter to this country’s determination establish (1) that she will not accept any substantial number of refugees for repatriation, nor (2) consider territorial concessions, particularly those that might affect water sources.

Emb comment: Since primary need of region is peace between Arab States and Israel, Emb believes supreme effort shld be made at present PCC mtg to bring about gen settlement; but feels that without all-out backing by UK as well as govts represented on PCC and unless alternative to gen settlement is made distinctly unattractive to countries concerned, chances of success at present mtg more remote. Failing success present effort make progress toward peace, Emb believes there shld be well-planned coordinated effort to alter basic attitude of both Arabs and Israelis through direct appeal to populations by every available means. For psychological approach to be effective however, much wld depend upon Israel Govt since it wld play leading part. Given this country’s able leadership and highly literate population, it shld be expected to show more statesmanlike and less pettifogging approach to problems vis-à-vis Arabs, Genuine, sustained and determined effort to lessen distrust and build confidence wld certainly increase Israel’s stature in world opinion and have calming effect in ME. An impeding factor at present is Israel’s self-righteousness and concentration on self-justification which obstructs any real understanding of Arab feelings and how they might be changed. Israel considers itself the injured party and finds it difficult understand, therefore, why it shld be expected placate Arabs. There is accordingly little interest manifested in making real effort to inspire in Arab peoples desire for peace, security and obvious advantages of return to normal relations.

It is believed further that policy of friendly helpfulness and impartiality on part of West Powers is good as far as it goes but unless supplemented by effective psychological approach it will not go very far; and that in absence of fundamental change in attitude of Arabs and Israelis toward each other, whether as result of present PCC mtg or otherwise, it wld be most unwise to build up armaments in this area.

  1. Repeated for information to Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, Jerusalem, London, and Paris (for Ambassador Palmer).
  2. Supra.