190. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1

669. Your telegrams 8932 and 899.3 In reply to Sharett’s questions we suggest you make following comment:

We remain hopeful that Arab consent will be forthcoming as part of acceptance of overall Jordan Valley Plan. We are taking every step we deem desirable to convince Arabs to accept JVP. Contrary to GOI’s belief, threats and public indications of understandable Israeli impatience are making it difficult for us to persuade Arabs to accept plan. If Arabs should reject JVP, US policy will have to be reviewed at that time.
US hopes that GOI is prepared if necessary to wait longer than Sharett has indicated, i.e. “matter of couple of weeks”. US remains convinced that despite its advice to Syrians, Syrians will probably open fire on Israelis should they recommence work in DZ even if Chief of Staff agrees GOI may proceed with work.
Re absence of Syrian consent, US policy is as already indicated:
Consent to proceed with diversion project in DZ rests with Chief of Staff. Syrian consent is not necessary unless or until armistice agreement is further interpreted as requiring consent.
General Bennicke’s order to cease operations remains binding on Israel unless or until Chief of Staff revokes it or is convinced that GOI has met points raised in Bennicke’s order.

Confirmation by Security Council of order of Chief of Staff under Article 5 of General Armistice Agreement4 is not necessary, and it is our position that US and Security Council should and will support whatever decision Chief of Staff makes with regard to diversion project.

Re Security Council resolution of October 27, 1953, it is for Security Council alone to determine whether that resolution still binding or not. US does not hold the view that this resolution bars General Burns from making any decision at any time he may see fit.

United States cannot use its good offices with General Burns since he is agent of Security Council. However, US will make its position known to him if and when he should inquire. General Burns already knows that US will back his decision whatever it may be. We have taken this same position with Syrians.
GOI has yet to bring forward compelling economic reasons necessitating resumption of work inside DZ in matter of weeks or months. Accordingly, we urge GOI remain in close consultation with US on matter and avoid actions which could have probable unfortunate consequences. It is our conviction GOI could easily harm its case in any international forum by unilateral action.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/3–656. Secret. Drafted by Ludlow; cleared with Russell, Barnes, and Bergus; and approved by Rountree who signed for Hoover. Also transmitted to Cairo, Amman, Damascus, Beirut, London, Paris, and Jerusalem. Pouched to Ankara, Baghdad, and Jidda.
  2. Document 170.
  3. Document 174.
  4. Article 5 of the Israel-Syria General Armistice Agreement of July 20, 1949 (U.N. doc. S/1353/Add. 1 and 2 and Corr. 1) defined the Armistice Demarcation Line and the Demilitarized Zone as instruments to divide the Israeli and Syrian armed forces and established that neither instrument would have any influence upon the ultimate territorial arrangements affecting the two parties to the General Armistice Agreement. Article 5 also stipulated that the armed forces of the parties were not to advance beyond the Armistice Demarcation Line or enter the Demilitarized Zone.
  5. Lawson informed the Department on March 14 that he had requested an appointment with Sharett to deliver the contents of this message. (Telegram 945 from Tel Aviv; Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/3–1456)