428. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State 1

1027. In yesterday’s session with Nasser I raised subject of Alpha in order ascertain Nasser’s personal position as requested Deptel 1035.2 He aware of talks of Trevelyan and I with Fawzi and took same general line. Wishing however be more specific, stated felt it important that I be able report he fully aware of and stood behind specific positions given by Fawzi on November 16. He said he thought so, but perhaps I had better outline for him my understanding of Fawzi’s position.

I thereupon read to him full contents of paragraphs on tactics and substance of Embtel 9763 (omitting only sentences enclosed in parentheses in subparagraph c on subject Eilath). We went through contents sentence by sentence discussing their implications in sufficient detail to insure against lack of understanding.Nasser agreed message accurate and expressed his own views with one reservation on subject of refugees.

He agreed majority of refugees would no longer desire return Israel or would not remain after they saw present conditions. (He referred to lot of the Arab in Israel as that of “Class B” citizens.) He thought however it would be most difficult for any Arab leader to take a position which deprived the refugee of his right to return. He [Page 808] therefore favored an approach which would allow the refugee to make his own decision about repatriation vis-à-vis resettlement and compensation. He agreed that this would be most difficult for Israel and wondered whether some impartial sensing of the real refugee opinion was possible through an agency such as UNRWA which could relieve both Israel and Arabs of difficult political problem. Told him I feared any such poll would indicate a far greater desire to return to Israel than would be actual case if opportunity were in fact presented.

It is probably academic to attempt pursue this particular question much farther at moment. I found it encouraging however that Nasser would endorse, with this reservation, such a specifically worded message to Department. It is hardly a surprise however as both Trevelyan and I felt Fawzi would not have been so forthcoming on his own.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/11–2755. Top Secret; Priority, Alpha. Received at 1:16 p.m. Repeated to London.
  2. Dated November 19, not printed. (Ibid., 684A.86/11–1955)
  3. Document 416.