674.84A/8–2454: Telegram

No. 871
The Chargé in Israel (Russell) to the Department of State


196. At luncheon, at his invitation, this noon Jerusalem with Gideon Rafael, adviser to Foreign Ministry on Middle East affairs, he said:

While division of counsel within IG, he feels there is chance of convincing Foreign Policy Committee of Knesset, which is meeting tomorrow to hear him and Eban, that present moment offers opportunity for moving in direction of area peace.
Three times in past year representative of responsible Egyptian official had contacted him and asked that IG use its influence in US to obtain our help in getting Suez base settlement and promise of economic aid to Egypt (6); IG attempted utilize this bargaining position to obtain promise of Egyptian move toward peace; last such meeting took place in Europe in June, but came to nought when base agreement announced.
Program Rafael was urging upon Egyptian representative included: free passage through Suez Canal, cessation official belligerent [Page 1625] statements toward Israel, quiet along border, recognition sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, refraining from instigation of subversive activities within territory of other, periodic secret meetings of representatives both governments to continue discussions of steps leading toward peace.
Feels present moment can only be successfully exploited if US insists upon immediate specific undertaking by Egypt to take such steps; vague conversations, strung out over period of time, will result in US becoming committed to economic aid without any quid pro quo.
IG would place great importance upon any action US could take that would serve to allay feeling of insecurity which is increasingly gripping country and playing into hands of extremists. He stressed “actions not words”; when I queried him on “actions” he said border guarantee would be “action”.
There is feeling in some quarters in Israel that US does not really desire peace in area and is content to have present situation continue.

I said only a person of malice could assert US did not put peace at top of its area agenda; only difference between his suggestions and our current thinking is with respect to approach most likely to be effective with Arabs—we do not believe bludgeon approach would be effective but that with emerging good will which has been developed with Arabs during past year, coupled with lively hope on part of some of them of aid to come, we have bargaining position for first time, recent indications of interest of Arabs in aligning themselves with West could mean that period we would have to wait before pressing for peace and broadening area defense plans would be shorter than we had previously thought; most important that Israel allow US, and if possible Egypt, to take initiative and that Egypt not have to be in position of complying with IG demands (most desirable situation of all in fact would be for Fawzi to emerge as candidate for Nobel peace prize—Rafael agreed). I emphasized nothing likely to eventuate unless IG helped in creating most favorable possible circumstances in which effort to be made. Even if effort failed for time being, it would be gainer in its position with US public.1

  1. The Department responded in telegram 111 to Tel Aviv, Aug. 26, 7:02 p.m., as follows:

    “Dept expresses its satisfaction at line you took with Rafael urtel 196. We are interested Israel’s efforts maintain secret contacts Egypt leaders. Are convinced that as IG develops more first hand information re situation in Egypt through this and other means, value USG advice favoring careful and gradual measures as opposed to bludgeon approach will become apparent.” (674.84A/8–2454)