683.84A/1–952: Telegram

No. 381
The Minister in Syria (Cannon) to the Department of State2


408. We fully endorse views expressed Emb Tel Aviv tel 57 [67],3 December 27 and are encouraged to find Eban and other senior Israeli leaders are beginning to realize importance of taking Arab public opinion into account. We recognize that it two-way proposition and we believe that as time goes on and Eban’s attitude proves catching we can persuade Syrian leaders adopt similar realistic attitudes.

Meanwhile, now that emergency meetings have been held on Baniyas and Tiberias report Iberias incidents we think much depends on persuading both parties to resume formal meetings MAC. However, we are concerned lest Israel should insist as previously on inclusion of broader subjects on MAC agenda. Should this intransigeant attitude re agenda be maintained it is unlikely that Syrians will see much point to holding formal meetings. In Syrian eyes there is always good rationalization for their negative attitude toward resumption formal MAC meetings in fact that Israel has not fully complied with May 18 Security Council res4 and seems have no intentions further compliance.

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We have never misled Shishikli about what can be done re Israel (para 5b Deptel 2385) but we wonder if US silence re Israel’s noncompliance with May 18 res which US cosponsored has not misled both parties. If that silence were compounded, for example, with US intercession to obtain release of Israeli prisoners held by Syrians (Tel Aviv tel 65 Dec 13, 1951)6 our position re impartiality would be seriously jeopardized. We appreciate difficulties involved in persuading parties to negotiate on reasonable basis. Perhaps some clarification, for Arab consumption, of US attitude toward Israel’s misdeeds in demil zone dispute and expression of our belief in need for mutually satisfactory solution of whole zone question (Legtel 319, Dec 3, 1951)7 would help us to obtain Syrian cooperation. Such clarification our attitude, and that of other powers, if based on impartial consideration of issues involved, should not mislead either Syrians or Israelis.

  1. Repeated for information to Tel Aviv.
  2. Telegram 67 from Tel Aviv to Damascus (here misidentified as telegram 57) was a repeat of telegram 627 from Tel Aviv to Washington, Dec. 27, in Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. V, p. 973.
  3. For the text of the Security Council Resolution of May 18, 1951 (U.N. doc. S/2157), see ibid., p. 693.
  4. Dated Dec. 14, 1951; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. V, p. 1090.
  5. Telegram 65 from Tel Aviv to Damascus, not printed, was a repeat of telegram 578 from Tel Aviv to Washington, Dec. 13, 7 p.m. It reported that the Israeli Foreign Office had presented an aide-mémoire to the Embassy requesting assistance in obtaining the release of five young Israelis detained in Syria since August. The aide-mémoire stated that efforts to secure their release through the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization had been unsuccessful, and that it was to be expected that the continued failure of the Syrian authorities to release and return the Israelis would obstruct the working of the Syria–Israel Armistice Agreement and aggravate the border situation. (683.84A/12–1351)
  6. Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. V, p. 950.