357.AC/10–2352: Telegram

No. 505
The Ambassador in Israel (Davis) to the Department of State1


665. During recent months there has been marked improvement in attitude of Israel leadership and [garble] interest in making peace with neighbors and becoming integrated in region. Israelis have commenced develop plans for all-out effort this direction, and have taken some important steps such as announcement of their readiness make available one million pounds sterling toward unblocking Arab accounts, confirmation of their acceptance in principle of obligation to pay compensation outside general peace settlement, PriMin’s public peace bid to Egypt, change of policy to one of readiness to meet Arab reps at any time to discuss any subject, removal of Sgan Aluf Shaul Ramati who in past represented “treat [Page 1038] em rough” school (Embtel 6382 and Jerusalem ConGentel 43 to Dept)3 and compliance last Sunday to UNTSO Chief of Staffs request re Mt. Scopus (Embtels 6354 and 648).5 In addition foregoing, highest officials of IG have taken occasion to make public govts interest in regional peace, e.g. acting Pres’s New Years Msg (Embtel 486).6

This change in policy and interest confirmed by Eban and Kollek, who in past have cooperated to bring about such change and who discussed with me last year desirability seeing IG become more sensitive to Arab opinion and avoid conduct that needlessly worsens relations (Embtel 627 Dec 27, 19517 and 725.8 Both have told me recently formerly negative attitude towards seeking improved Arab-Israel relations has given way to different atmosphere stemming directly from PriMin who dominates polit thinking of govt. Eytan tells me Shiloah is to be utilized in carrying out plans for implementation new policy, and latter said yesterday Arab broadcasting facilities are being increased and improved.

Several Israelis including Kollek estimate lifting blockade wld enable IG pay substantial compensation. They believe they cld save in transportation and services alone 20 to 30 million dollars per annum, half of which wld result from POL shipments if permitted come through canal. Real savings of course wld result from lessened mil expenditures and benefits of two way trade.

Foregoing is good as far as it goes, but as long as no Arab leader dares conclude any agreement with Israel even if clearly to advantage of Arabs (Embtel 105),9 advantage of Israel change may be lost. It has been suggested to Israelis that they may have underestimated importance to them of Pal Arabs, who have been active in influencing Arab Govts and Arab League to assume uncompromising position and yet who stand to benefit most if Israel is enabled to negot directly with them and settle local national and regional [Page 1039] problems. This aspect of matter was discussed recently with Fritzlan during his visit to Tel Aviv. It becomes important therefore to endeavor convince Arabs of desirability reach agreements before another period of discouragement and defeatism sets in in Israel.

  1. Repeated to Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, London, and Paris; sent by pouch to Jidda, Ankara, and Jerusalem.
  2. Telegram 638 from Tel Aviv, Oct. 17, reported on the replacement of Lieutenant Colonel Ramati by Lieutenant Colonel Chaim Gaon as Senior Israeli Delegate to the Mixed Armistice Commission. (674.84A/10–1752)
  3. In telegram 43 from Jerusalem, Oct. 19, Consul Tyler reported on a conversation with Ramati. (357.AC/10–1952)
  4. Document 502.
  5. Telegram 648 from Tel Aviv, Oct. 21, contained the text of a message of Oct. 20 from the Israeli Government to General Riley indicating Israeli compliance with his requests concerning Mount Scopus, on the condition that they did not prejudice Israel’s rights in the Mount Scopus area. (357.AC/10–2152)
  6. Telegram 486 from Tel Aviv, Sept. 24, contained an excerpt from the Jewish New Year’s message of Acting President Sprinzak to the citizens of Israel expressing the wish for peace with Israel’s neighbors. (780.00/9–2452)
  7. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. V, p. 1332.
  8. Document 385.
  9. Document 458.