242. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State 1
4045. Ref State’s 209964.2 For the Secretary.
I have just seen Eban (0445 Sat) and have given him your message orally. He asks that I tell you that he and Prime Minister are aware of importance that Israel make its acceptance of cease-fire clear by actions on the ground. They hope to achieve actual cease-fire in next few hours. If Syrians make this impossible, GOI will take steps before Security Council meets today to demonstrate publicly Israel’s preparedness to stop where they now are and that it is the Syrians who are defying the Security Council.[Page 408]
Eban noted two problems:
1) There is no machinery on the ground to verify actions of parties. He thinking of activating Gen Bull as means solving this one. 2) So far, each time Israelis have stopped firing, Syrians have reopened bombardment of settlements. He thinks Syrian objective is to prove that of all the Arabs, Syria is the only state which had inflicted serious damage on Israel.
Eban emphasized that Israel has no intention of going on to Damascus. It is trying physically to silence the Syrian gun positions but they are well emplaced, almost impervious to air attacks, and have to be taken by ground assault. Israel’s forces on the Syrian front are very small. She is many times outnumbered and her whole position and purpose on that front is necessarily defensive.
Eban agreed my strong representation that crux situation is somehow to get fighting stopped or Israel risks prejudicing whole position it has so far achieved on other fronts. I am convinced he, at least, had no illusions this score and that he and Eshkol proposed for Israeli forces to cease all operations at existing positions, provided Syria ceases fire. This is also despite fact that apparently because of terrain and small Israeli forces available (it has been impossible redeploy appreciable forces from south) Israelis have not succeeded in wiping out Syrian gun positions as was intended.