28. Message From the Secretary of State to Robert B. Anderson, at Jerusalem1
Washington, January 23, 1956.
- Paragraph 5 of your message, Sunday, January 22
- You have handled discussions with Nasser with greatest skill. I believe you have advanced to him the basic points of our position and I fully support all of your statements. I will wire to you, after reports of your discussions with Ben Gurion, any further ideas I may have for your second round with Nasser.
- It is obvious that we face great difficulties in bringing Nasser to positions that will make possible a settlement which the Israelis could accept or which we could urge upon them. With respect to Palestinian refugees, Nasser’s position may not be as far from those developed in Alpha studies as may appear on surface. Question would hinge on number which would wish to return to Israel, bearing in mind that it would, of course, continue to be a Jewish state and bearing in mind that refugees’ previous homes have for most part been destroyed or taken over by present inhabitants of Israel and that great majority of returning refugees would have to make new settlements. If, in fact, not more than 75,000 to 100,000 or less, when faced with actual choice between repatriation or resettlement in Arab communities elsewhere, would wish to return, possibility of arrangements which we could support is not too remote.
- Nasser’s condition of cession of Negev south of Dhariya-Gaza line is, of course, out of question. Presumably it is his starting point for bargaining but even as such it is disappointing. It remains to be developed in your subsequent discussions with him whether he can be brought to more reasonable position.
- Your suggestion of letters from Nasser and Ben Gurion is an excellent one and we should concentrate upon it. Israelis will undoubtedly make strong play for early direct meeting but as long as possibility remains of obtaining a letter from Nasser that in any way holds out real possibility of a settlement, you should tell Israelis that we believe refusal on their part proceed on this basis would put responsibility for breakdown of negotiations on them.
- In reporting to Israelis on results of your talks with Nasser, I believe you should take general position that while his position was not encouraging, it was not completely discouraging; that in your opinion it still remains to be ascertained whether that position was for bargaining purposes and to what extent he is prepared to compromise with Israel position.
- The Israelis will, of course, be suspicious and apprehensive over any suggestion that it may take several months to prepare the ground for the announcement of a settlement, fearing that it is a device to keep them from using their present military superiority while Egypt absorbs its new arms. One means of allaying this fear might be for both Egypt and Israel to give a firm undertaking not to resort to the use of armed force. This undertaking might be given either in the letters which you have suggested or in separate letters. As assurance that these undertakings would be carried out, you could refer to the U.S., as well as the U.K. and French, commitments under the Tripartite Declaration of May, 1950, with particular emphasis on action within the U.N. which would be calculated to commit or expose Soviet Union.2