104. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

204948. For the Ambassador.

We are seeking tomorrow to obtain at least nine votes in SC for resolution supporting para 14 of SYG’s report to SC, calling on all parties to refrain from acts of belligerence or other acts that might exacerbate tensions.
Crucial goal of our strategy in seeking to avoid general war in M.E. is to restore status quo ante, so far as shipping to Eilat is concerned. A predicate to that strategy is a vote backed by at least nine members of SC supporting SYG’s suggestion of a moratorium which would include UAR’s not carrying out its threat to close the Strait to Israeli shipping and the shipping of what it regards as strategic cargoes to Israel.
The vote of France is crucial to this plan. Please see Couve if possible or Alphand if he is not available to request instruction for Seydoux urgently permitting him to join us and others in achieving a moratorium period within which negotiations could go forward.2

Unless such a suspension of UAR plans can be achieved, our considered judgment is that force will almost surely be involved, either by Israel under Article 51 of the Charter or by international maritime group to open the Strait, or by both.

Please stress that this note does not prejudice position GOF may decide to take later on basic issue of international law as applied to Strait of Tiran, should the issue arise in S.C. We are seeking now no more than a pause for diplomacy, which otherwise would have very few days to avert a clash whose implications are nearly impossible to foresee. We find it almost inconceivable that GOF would not support this moratorium plan.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ARAB–ISR. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated Priority to London and USUN. Drafted by Eugene Rostow and approved in substance by Rusk.
  2. Bohlen reported in telegram 19549 from Paris, May 31, that he had seen Alphand, had given him “the current French line,” that putting forward a resolution that would not receive Soviet support would only sharpen the issue, harden positions, and make negotiations more difficult. Alphand had agreed, however, to telephone Couve de Murville in Venice to get his decision on instructions to the French representative at the United Nations. (Ibid., POL 27 ARAB–ISR)