108. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1

541. I called on Foreign Minister Golda Meir at her request in Jerusalem December 2.2 She presented in some detail following views GOI on refugee question:

GOI not only wants refugee question settled, but “anxious” to work towards its solution.
GOI willing to work towards solution refugee question separate from over-all Israel-Arab settlement, but GOI could not go back to “49”. GOIs offer to take back 100,000 refugees would not now stand. Here it should be remembered that GOI had already permitted resettlement of 40,000 Arab refugees, some of whom rejoined their families while others entered Israel illegally, but were permitted to stay.
GOI believed in resettlement of refugees in Arab countries.

Specifically, GOI willing:

To consider compensation for loss of Arab properties—but this must be offset against claims against loss Jewish properties Iraq (particularly in Baghdad), Egypt, Yemen; and in other countries. Further, compensation discussions would need to comprehend fact that some $10 million in blocked Arab accounts Israel had been released, including final monies now being unfrozen. No Jewish accounts released in Iraq or Egypt.
To provide technical assistance resettlement in Arab countries out of GOF’s considerable experience this regard.
To permit repatriation of certain number provided these refugees last ones to be settled. Mrs. Meir also said repatriation of unknown number not feasible as many might be encouraged to return and Israel could not be expected to permit establishment of substantial and potential fifth column.
To make mutual and minor border adjustments.

Mrs. Meir then said she and Prime Minister had discussed report US considering sponsoring UN resolution on Palestine Conciliation Commission that would also refer to earlier UN resolutions including that of 1948.

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She wished, in light of this and on behalf of the Prime Minister, to make “eleventh or twelfth hour” appeal for understanding and support to USG and to indicate GOI willing to cooperate on anything except project which could endanger security of state.

Mrs. Meir stated categorically GOI would not vote for draft resolution as they now understood it and would not cooperate with PCC; that there was no point to resolution and that it could only make future settlement less likely and more difficult. She remarked that UNGA resolutions amounted in reality only to recommendations.

I asked whether GOI would consider supporting a resolution on PCC if it limited to refugee question.

She replied that GOI might support a resolution which would limit PCC to using its good offices to bring about direct or indirect talks between Israel and Arabs on settlement refugee question. Mrs. Meir added that PCC should not be in role of arbitrator but solely a means of providing good offices to get talks started.

Comment: Mrs. Meir and Prime Minister concerned about going back to 49 and clearly believe best hope settlement of refugee question lies in quiet diplomacy; preferably through good offices of USG. GOI would hope that any UN resolution be limited to refugee question alone and phrased so as not to open Pandora’s box.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 884.411/12–259. Confidential; Priority. Also sent to USUN. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, London, and Baghdad.
  2. In a telephone conversation at 1:30 p.m., December 2, Buffum told Palmer that the Israeli Delegation at the United Nations had informed him that Foreign Minister Meir would call Ambassador Reid in to protest the involvement of the PCC. (Paper drafted by Palmer, December 2; ibid.,NEA Files, Lot 72 D 294, PCC)