249. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Israel-Syria Cease Fire


  • His Excellency Avraham Harman, Ambassador of Israel
  • His Excellency Ephraim Evron, Israeli Minister
  • The Under Secretary
  • The Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • Assistant Secretary Battle
  • Mr. David L. Gamon, NEA/ARN

The Under Secretary most emphatically told the Ambassador that an effective cease fire along the Israeli-Syrian sector simply had to be reached without delay. The Secretary had sent such a message to Foreign Minister Eban on the night of June 9. The Under Secretary appreciated the difficulties of the situation, but it was extremely important that the shooting be stopped before the diplomatic and political position deteriorated. Ambassador Goldberg reported the frustration and discontent at the United Nations and recommended that President Johnson send a message to President Eshkol. The Soviets, who were trying to recoup their position in the area, were taking advantage of the situation and were busy saber rattling.

[Page 418]

Earlier the Under Secretary said, the Government of Israel had told Ambassador Barbour that the fighting had ceased. The US had passed this on to the Russians. Was this information correct? It had better be or our credibility with the Russians would suffer.

Ambassador Harman said he understood the importance of what the Under Secretary had said. One thing he did want to make clear: there was no invasion of Syria or a move on Damascus and none was intended. The Syrians reluctantly had agreed to a cease fire only after the Israelis had done so. The Syrians then engaged in a wholesale destruction of the Israeli side of the line. Israel had merely been trying to prevent a reoccurrence of this by occupying the high points. General Dayan had now requested a meeting with General Bull to concert on effective steps for a cease fire.

The Under Secretary said that he appreciated the Israeli problem. At the same time an immediate effective cease fire must not be delayed by discussion. The Israelis had been pasting hell out of the other forces. When the firing did not cease, the weight of the assumption was that the Israelis were responsible. Reactions from the Hill indicated that the Congress had had its fill of the failure to stop the fighting.

Ambassador Harman expressed his prayer that the shooting would end. But, he asked, what should be done if the Syrians carried on the fight? The Under Secretary and Mr. Rostow pointed out that it would be extremely important to have the United Nations personnel find out just what was going on. Mr. Evron observed that the Syrians were not allowing UN observers on their side of the line.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by David L. Gamon (NEA/ARN).