257. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1

210199. Memcon between Amb Harman and Under Secretary Rostow, June 10.

Under Secretary Rostow presented Amb Harman text of USG note concerning Liberty incident (sent septel).2 Before reading note Harman noted GOI was appointing committee of inquiry to investigate incident.
Harman said he would refrain from commenting on note but expressed hope that any publication of it would follow line that this was a tragic mistake for which GOI accepted full responsibility. Rostow agreed incident tragic mistake but added that circumstances surrounding it very mysterious. Word used in our note was “incomprehensible” [Page 426] and we hope board of inquiry would take appropriate action against responsible parties when investigation concluded.
Rostow said USG presenting this case to GOI in same manner in which it would present similar case to any other government.
Harman noted three things: GOI did not know location of ship, location was scene of active hostility, and GOI had promptly apologized for this tragic episode.
In closing Harman again reiterated GOI desire to handle incident as tragic mistake for which GOI accepted full responsibility.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Drafted and approved by Grey. Also sent to USUN.
  2. See Document 256 and footnote 1 thereto.