674.84A/8–1054: Telegram

No. 858
The Chargé in Israel (Russell) to the Department of State1


150. At Prime Minister’s invitation, I paid visit at his home Jerusalem yesterday afternoon (Deptel 792, paragraph 3),2 first of such informal exchanges of views since he moved his residence from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (Embtel 82).3 He was in relaxed and cordial mood. He referred to Eban’s meetings with Secretary and said Eban’s cables had been encouraging. He expressed no views concerning specific items of Washington discussion, saying he was awaiting full report from Eban following his arrival here within next few days. He said he had reported on conversations to Cabinet. It was obvious Secretary’s statements to Eban had had ameliorating effect on Sharett’s general view of Israel’s situation.

Although I had not then received Deptel 77,4 I took advantage of what seemed especially favorable opportunity to develop points outlined last paragraph Embtel 1255 and last half last paragraph Embtel 131.6 I said that all our efforts during past few years to [Page 1609] induce Egypt to relax blockade and assert its leadership of Arab world pointed toward improved relations with Israel had been put off with statement all GOE energies had to be concentrated on Suez base solution. As result our known influence in achieving agreement on that and as result of contribution United States willing to make to assist GOE in improving economic conditions in Egypt we are now at point we have for so long been working toward. Opportunity of present moment further strengthened by arrival new Chief of Staff of UNTSO and tripartite border proposals. Said I felt Israel could not lose if it helped create atmosphere in which our efforts would be most likely to succeed. If we did succeed, Israel would be nearer to normal relations with its neighbors which it so much needs and desires. If we did not succeed, Israel’s thesis re impossibility of doing business with Arabs would have been given substantial added weight. And in any event no significant power changes would have taken place during period in which effort being made. On other hand, if this unique opportunity failed due to Israel’s obstruction on any one of numerous possible fronts, US public would attribute large share of blame for free world’s difficulties in area to her. (My remarks accorded with caution contained in Deptel 77.)

Sharett said line of thought was of greatest interest, expressed appreciation and said he would report conversation to next meeting of Cabinet. He expressed fear, however, that US would become so involved with Egypt that it would after a while be impossible for us to exert any pressure upon Egypt to change its attitudes and policies towards Israel, citing Britain’s relationship with Jordan as example; said he felt, therefore, US should announce immediately no US aid of any kind would be forthcoming until Egypt had fully complied with certain specified demands, such as Suez passage. I pointed out that this constituted difference of view only with respect to tactics and manner of approach, that we felt GOE entitled [Page 1610] to time in which to take steps to work out a constructive approach and prepare Egyptian public opinion.

Meeting lasted more than an hour and ended with Sharett’s expression of greatest appreciation of Secretary’s and Chargé’s awareness of Israel’s situation and sincere desire to help her deal with it, though he feels US overestimates possibility of obtaining Arab cooperation.

  1. Repeated to Cairo, Amman, London, and Jerusalem.
  2. Document 825.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed, but see footnote 3, Document 848.
  5. Document 848.
  6. The last paragraph of telegram 131 from Tel Aviv, Aug. 5, began with a list of opportunities for progress in solving problems of the area:

    “(a) Tripartite border proposals; (b) Arrival of new Chief of Staff of UNTSO; (c) Improved standing of US with Egyptian Government as result its role in assisting Suez arrangement, possible willingness build high dam on Nile and give other economic and military aid. IG cannot lose if it should cooperate fully by word and deed during next six months (during which, in any event, no significant power changes would be completed) to capitalize on latter. If we succeed, we shall have secured cooperation of leading Arab nation in steps toward peace Israel wants. If Egyptian cooperation not forthcoming it will have been demonstrated that Israel was right that Arabs are unreliable and review of US position will presumably be necessary. If, however, during this critical period Israel continues its policy of obstruction, hinders implementation tripartite proposals, pursues policy of reprisals, recommences construction in Banat Yaacov demilitarized zone, issues statements attacking US and Egypt or attempts unrealistically to insert itself into negotiations, then onus for failure of what may be best opportunity to move toward peace in the area will rest with Israel.” (741.5637/8–554)