8. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) to the Secretary of State 1


  • Ambassador Eban’s Call on You, 11:30 AM, February 27, 1958


The Israel Embassy has informed us that Ambassador Eban wishes a general review of current developments in the area. We anticipate that in his presentation the following specific problems might be included:

Export-Import Bank Loan: Since the conversation Mr. Eban had with the Under Secretary on February 14 (Tab A),2 the Bank has told the Israelis that it would not be able to stretch out the payment schedule for the existing loans. Ambassador Eban will probably express disappointment over this development and seek your aid in persuading the Bank to adopt a more lenient attitude.

Israel Tenth Anniversary Ceremonies: Ambassador Eban will probably point out that the period April 23–26, 1958 is fast approaching and it is necessary for Israel to know what our plans are with respect to the Israel invitation that a representative of the President visit Israel for the celebrations to be held during that period.

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We continue to believe that the appointment of a special Presidential envoy can cause us considerable difficulties through the repercussions of such an act in the Arab world. We have queried a number of friendly capitals as to whether they have received similar invitations either for a high-level representative or direct invitations to the parliamentary bodies from the Israel Knesset. A summary of their replies is attached (Tab B).3 On the basis of these replies, it is possible to draw two conclusions: a) the Israelis may be singling out the U.S. for special treatment in this connection; b) alternatively, the Israelis may seek a favorable response from us first in order to persuade other governments to send high-level representatives.

A further problem which will arise in connection with the tenth anniversary is the fact that many of the ceremonies, perhaps the most important ones, will be taking place in Jerusalem in line with the Israel Government policy of seeking recognition of that city as Israel’s capital. We have already instructed our Ambassador in Tel Aviv to join with his British colleague in making representations to the Israelis on this point (Tab C).4 We do not yet know whether the ceremonies at which a Presidential representative would be expected to be present are scheduled to be held in Jerusalem. We are endeavoring to secure further information on this point.


United Arab Republic—Arab Federation: Ambassador Eban discussed these developments at some length in his previous conversation with the Under Secretary (Tab D).5 He will probably have further reactions to them and may raise the question of the relation to the declared Iraqi-Jordan plan to unify their armies of the fact that Iraq is not a party to the armistice agreements between Israel and the neighboring Arab states. He may also refer to the fact that Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel have a common interest in resisting international Communism in the Middle East and the possibility that the U.S. might serve as a focal point of that interest.

Yarmouk Project: In accordance with the approved memorandum of February 10 (Tab E),6 we have notified the Jordanians that we are prepared to help finance the first year costs of the Yarmouk Diversion Project and the East Ghor Canal. The sum involved will be in the neighborhood of $2 million. The Jordanians wish to announce this publicly and we have urged that they defer such an announcement [Page 22] until Friday, February 28. We feel that we should inform the Israelis of our intention in this regard before a public announcement is made, and we recommend that you do so.


That in the course of your discussion with Ambassador Eban, you make the following points:

Export-Import Bank Loan: We regret that the Bank did not feel that it was able, in the light of its existing criteria and regulations, to negotiate a deferred payment schedule on Israel’s existing obligations. We do not feel, however, that this is a situation in which the Department could properly intervene. We understand that discussions are taking place between Israel and the Development Loan Fund.
Israel Tenth Anniversary Ceremonies: The Israel Government may rest assured that we intend to take suitable note of the decade of Israel’s independence. Details of our participation are presently receiving urgent consideration. We hope that it will be possible to avoid a situation where the difference in views between our two governments as to the status of Jerusalem would be highlighted.

United Arab Republic—Arab Federation: We recognized the United Arab Republic when it became apparent that many other friendly states, including some of those in the area, fully intended to do so. We feel that had we failed to accord recognition the local repercussions would have been adverse to our interests and that we would have diminished opportunities to exercise a constructive influence.

The question of recognition of the Arab Federation apparently will not arise until May. We think that the Arab Federation is, on the whole, a favorable development and can serve to increase stability in the area. (If Mr. Eban should allude to the fact that Israel has no armistice agreement with Iraq, you might wish to say that while this does not give us immediate concern, we feel it is a problem which can be worked out through the United Nations. We do not think it is to our interest to respond affirmatively to an Israel request that we exercise good offices directly between Iraq and Israel.)

Yarmouk Project: We plan to assist Jordan in a project which involves the construction of a diversion structure in Jordan territory about five kilometers from El ’Adasiyah and an East Ghor Canal. This project will not affect the amount of Yarmouk water which was agreed would be set aside for Israel use in the course of Ambassador Johnston’s negotiations. The Israel Embassy may wish to consult the working level of the Department for more details concerning this project. We are assisting Jordan with this project in the interests of area economic and political stability. We believe this to be consonant with the Israelis’ recommendation that we concentrate on economic development [Page 23] in Jordan. Our interest in Israel’s economic development has been amply demonstrated. We do not believe this affects our position on Jisr Banat Yacoub, based as it is on the findings of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization and the Security Council resolution of October 27, 1953.7 We understand that the Jordanians intend to make a public announcement on this matter shortly.

Mr. Bergus of NE and I will accompany on this call.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 884A.10/2–2758. Confidential Drafted by Bergus on February 26; initialed by Rountree and Sisco who concurred; and transmitted to Dulles through Dillon who initialed it. A handwritten notation on the source text indicates that Dulles saw it.
  2. None of the tabs is attached to the source text. A memorandum of Herter’s conversation with Eban, February 14, is ibid., 884A.10/2–1458.
  3. Tab B has not been found, but a copy of circular telegram 743, February 12, asking for the information is ibid., 884A.424/2–1258; replies to the circular telegram are ibid., 884A.424.
  4. Telegram 384 to Tel Aviv, February 18. (Ibid., 884A.424/2–1858)
  5. Not further identified.
  6. Not found.
  7. Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. IX, p. 1389.