3. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at the United Nations 1

523. Eban called his request Rountree January 6.2 Reiterated arguments against SC action re tree planting in Jerusalem Neutral Zone as set forth in his letter to Secretary of December 263 and Israel FonMin conversation January 3 with Lawson (Tel Aviv’s #615 to Department).4 Implied GOI had heard from other SC delegations that USG was taking initiative in this matter and stated this contrary understanding between US and Israel that actions tending increase Arab-Israel tension should be avoided at this time. Felt SC discussion and passage resolution along lines draft which US apparently willing sponsor would greatly increase tensions. Stressed that tree planting had in fact stopped and stated that if US acting under apprehension Israel would resume he would attempt clarify Israel attitude re resumption in manner alleviate US apprehension. Strongly urged SC handling be deferred and suggested matter be dealt with through Urrutia or other means “quiet diplomacy”.

Rountree stated Israel understanding that US desired maintain period tranquility NE was correct. View fact Israel PriMin statement re Israel willingness suspend tree planting had been accompanied by [Page 8] indication Israel fully intended resume as well as by Israel activity in depositing and maintaining saplings near ABL had made it impossible for USG state clearly to HKJ there no grounds for concern work would be resumed. Rountree emphasized that despite impression to contrary Israel seemed to have, US not taking initiative. We preferred that this matter not be brought to SC. We had not without difficulty achieved several postponements of SC meeting. Since there appeared strong possibility matter would, despite our efforts, be taken to SC, we taking this into account and have discussed with several delegations draft resolution which we hope would resolve matter in way nonprejudicial to rights of parties. Rountree stated Eban’s letter December 26 and report FonMin January 3 conversation Lawson being submitted to Secretary. Indicated reply to letter would be forthcoming due course.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85/1–758. Confidential. Drafted by Bergus on January 6, cleared in UNP, and initialed for Dulles by Rountree. Repeated to Amman, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.
  2. A memorandum of Eban’s conversation with Rountree is ibid., 780.5/1–658.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Telegram 615, January 3, reported Foreign Minister Meir’s views on the tree planting question and concluded that she took a very serious view of the situation. (Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85/1–358)