14. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State 1
Tel Aviv, May 18, 1967, 1720Z.
3650. Ref: Tel Aviv 3648.2
- Following are amplifying comments re Eshkol message made by Foreign Minister Eban referred to in my immediately preceding telegram.
- First, GOI wished to point up fact of Syrian responsibility. One had only to look at what Syria had achieved in Middle East: it had involved itself in troubles with Israel; it had embroiled the UAR in crisis that short time ago UAR had no intentions get embroiled in; and it was trying similarly to embroil Jordan and Lebanon. Syrian responsibility had to be brought to light and emphasized in most explicit way. GOI realized what Syria trying to do re Lebanon and Jordan, and not prepared to be taken in. Focus GOI interest remained Syria.
- GOI appreciated advice and exhortations contained in President’s letter but it had to ask what could be the President’s advice if there were another terrorist incident, and another. The logic of advising patience in the current context was understandable but GOI had to ask at what point did the US think that a maximum accumulation of this kind of incidents would be reached when further patience could no longer be warranted.
- Second, GOI wished to point up false premise on which the Egyptian troop concentrations rested. Egypt has been informed by those who should know including the US that there were no Israeli concentrations opposite Syria. If this escalation continues, soon there will be large armies facing each other across a short distance. The international community had a legitimate interest in trying to bring this situation back to normal. Israel did not know by what means this might be achieved, through diplomatic channels or otherwise. It was not for Israel to say, but in Eban’s opinion if present UNSYG’s predecessor were still in that position “he would have been out here three times already.”
- Third point related to the UN is thought that UNSYG has thus far shown too little resistance to UAR’s UNEF demands. Already at one UNEF post within view Israeli positions UNEF personnel had moved out. There were reports out of UAR today that UAR wanted UNEF out [Page 23]of UAR and Gaza, though there no confirmation of these reports yet. In Israel’s view any changes in status UNEF was not unilateral act but matter involving several parties. It resulted from agreement with UN signed by UAR. As Eban recalled understanding voiced by US representative UN at time was UAR had agreed force to remain until its removal would no longer result in military confrontation in ME. To yield to Egyptian demands would be against spirit these arrangements. Israel had accepted the establishment of UNEF on its southern borders under certain conditions and so Israel is party to this arrangement. Eban recalled US-Israel discussions in which US took responsibility suggesting March 1957 arrangement by which Israeli troops were withdrawn from Gaza. Thus this was not a matter for SYG to decide “at drop of a hat.” Changes UAR was suggesting re UNEF would involve intricate structure of Middle East stability. Israel regarded this as a major development and hoped SYG would not yield without serious and earnest discussion in GA or Security Council acting as GA’s agent.
- Fourth was the question of the USSR. This was aspect of problem in which only the US could exercise its unique influence. GOI must observe that Soviet commitment to Syria was being articulated more loudly than US position of support of Israel and more generally of status quo in area. GOI would not suggest form in which US might reiterate its support but it felt that unless it was done there would be no restoration of equilibrium in area. GOI knew that USG did not want to reiterate its commitments unnecessarily but if there was ever a time for such a reiteration it was now, with terrorism in the north, mobilization in the south and the Soviets hovering over it all. It did not matter how the Soviets got the message, publicly or privately, just so they got it.