8. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel 1

406. In conversation with Secretary January 19 Ambassador Eban reviewed Israeli hopes and fears along lines his presentation to Hoover on December 17. (See memorandum of conversation.)2 Although he did not specifically warn against attempt at over-all peace settlement, he strongly implied that first and indispensable step should be satisfaction to Israel on three points:

Assurance balance of military power between Arabs and Israel would not be changed to disadvantage of latter;
Incorporation of Israel in some form of security arrangement;
Clear-cut and binding guarantee of Israel against Arab aggression.

The Ambassador emphasized that Israel did not oppose in principle development of security system such as that forecast by Iraqi-Turk announcement of January 13 but did feel anxious when such arrangements deliberately excluded Israel. Israeli Government did not agree with theory that association of Arabs with Turkey would bring benefits to Israel. On contrary, feared that Arabs would influence Turkey away from friendship with Israel. Pointed out Pakistan was linked to Turkey and to West but nevertheless had taken lead in opposing Israeli inclusion Afro-Asian Conference to be held Indonesia. Also pointed out Turkey had recently declined to speak in Security Council on Bat Galim case for fear of straining its new relations with Arabs. In any case Israel did not believe any splits in Arab League over collective security matters would affect solid front of Arab hostility toward Israel.

Eban concluded presentation by saying main elements of problem had now been clearly defined in course his talks with Department and he thought time had come to make effort to formulate solutions. Wondered whether he and Secretary could not work together on this. Believed our differences not so great as might appear even though we probably could not agree immediately.

Secretary commented that we placed very different emphasis on proposed Iraqi adherence to pact with Turkey and consequent filling in of northern tier. He thought this was extremely important and [Page 10] constructive development which should be warmly welcomed by Israel. Considered it would tend to weaken solidarity of Arab League against Israel. Sharp adverse reaction of Egypt was better indication of significance this development than attitude expressed by Israelis. Did not suggest that Israel should publicly rejoice; for diplomatic reasons it would probably be best that she maintain her present public attitude, but he was confident that as things developed Israel would realize this trend was to her benefit.

The Secretary continued that he had been giving Arab-Israel problem much personal thought and attention. Was not yet in position to say anything concrete, since matter was very difficult and success required balanced approach. We were reviewing all angles and trying to map out an approach which might be new in some respects. Until we could decide on certain moves, less known about our thinking the better. We did not want public to get excited and start trying to guess our plans. He believed we would come up with something useful but could not yet say precisely when.

Eban spoke of need for early action because of difficulty Israeli Government having in restraining extremist elements. Secretary replied he understood problem and appreciated restrained policy Israelis have followed past several months. Considered this real contribution to peace prospects and compared it to restraint being shown by US in case of Chinese imprisonment of American flyers. Ambassador made point that stories in American and Middle Eastern press recently had indicated US contemplated no new action re Israeli-Arab problem. He indicated this made things even more difficult for his Government. Secretary said he would consider whether at his next press conference he might answer question in way which would show Department actively studying matter and not just coasting.

It was agreed Ambassador and Secretary would meet again either just before latter’s departure for Manila Pact Conference Bangkok3 or just after his return. Secretary warned however he would probably still be unable say anything concrete at that time.

You are authorized convey to Sharett substance of Secretary’s remarks, with emphasis on our appreciation Israeli restraint and need for its continuance.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/1–1955. Confidential. Drafted by Jernegan who signed for, Dulles.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. IX, Part 1, p. 1720.
  3. Secretary Dulles attended the initial meeting of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization Council of Ministers in Bangkok February 23–25.
  4. Lawson reported on his subsequent discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Sharett in telegram 609 from Tel Aviv, January 22. (Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/1–2255) Ambassador Eban further explained the Israeli position on the proposed Turkish-Iraqi Pact in a letter to Secretary Dulles, January 31. (Ibid., 682.87/1–3155)