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

212156. Following based on uncleared memcon. Noforn, FYI and subject revision upon review.

Ambassador Harman at his request called on Secretary June 16. Said FonMin Eban would arrive over weekend for UNGA session with four Parliamentarians accompanying: Mrs. Meir, Shimon Peres of RAFI, Hazan of Mapai and Rimalt of Liberal Party. Asked if Eban inscribed to speak early, Harman said did not know. Secretary said he saw advantage in Eban’s speaking soon after Kosygin, both for effect of small country contrast with great power and for sake of getting Israel’s case before Assembly early as possible. Asked when USG rep would speak, Secretary said we had reserved first place but had not yet decided whether to use this position.
Harman, speaking from typed notes, proceeded to outline current GOI thinking on Arab-Israel issues along lines of Eban’s June 13 [Page 509] presentation to Barbour (Notal).2 He prefaced this by expression appreciation for USG stand in Security Council and for fact that President in June 14 remarks3 linked USG position on territorial integrity to question of achieving real settlement. When speaking of West Bank, Harman stressed entire Jordan episode “gave Israel a great trauma,” insisting Jordan’s rapid assumption of war footing and offensive hostile actions had come as real shock.
Secretary said USG position still evolving but some preliminary comments were possible. Said that whatever the dominant mood of moment, it most important that wisdom prevail in terms of long-term need of Israel to live at peace with its neighbors. This was overriding necessity. Also, it important that Israel, if it believes winning time is important (as Harman had just outlined) should also give time for some calming of high emotions pervading Arab lands due to recent events. Secretary said he understood Knesset might be thinking of imminent action to take over old Jerusalem. Such action would signal to other side that time is not an available commodity. It would create impression world would be presented with one fait accompli after another. Said GOI should appreciate there is very strong international interest in Jerusalem, as expressed in early UN resolutions. It should not underestimate sensitivity of this problem. Secretary strongly urged that no action be taken that would be viewed as fait accompli.
Harman responded with reference to 1949 USG posture of support in UN for Swedish concept of safeguarding rights in and access to Holy Places without administration as corpus separatum. Secretary said point he wanted to make was that there has existed from the beginning very strong international interest in status Jerusalem. In his view this should be recognized by some form of discussions, not treated unilaterally without possibility of such discussion.
When Harman spoke of depth of feeling on Jerusalem among Israelis, Secretary again stressed that he was urging caution on subject. Said that feelings of the moment are not necessarily best basis for re-establishing peace after a bitter fight. Other countries in other circumstances, after bitter wars in which deep feelings aroused, had been able make peace based on reconciliation. Responding to Secretary’s direct question as to whether he expected Knesset to act on Jerusalem this [Page 510] weekend, Harman said he did not know. Secretary concluded that action would be very unfortunate.4
Secretary stated we agree with GOI objective of achieving a real peace, with Israel thereafter accepted by all as fully sovereign state with all perquisites going with it. But attaining direct negotiations with Arabs would be difficult and he thought would take some time. He hoped GOI not underestimating difficulty of achieving this.
Harman said that for Soviets to be able bludgeon resolution through UNGA would put premium on extremism in Middle East. If this drive blunted, would be very significant, for Arabs might come to realize they are on verge of having to face a new reality, i.e., recognition of Israel. This realization might not now have to dawn first in Egypt, as GOI had previously thought, but might begin elsewhere and spread. Secretary noted that Arab moderates are in difficulty just as are Arab extremists, and that surely Soviets would be making major drive to recoup losses and press for their brand of extremism in as many Arab countries as possible. Receptivity of Arabs and others to this Soviet drive would in part be governed by Israel’s attitude, conduct and posture in days and weeks ahead.
Harman said flatly that if Soviet resolution goes through, Israel will have to stay where it is. It would not settle for 1957-type arrangement. Israel now feels it has earned a real peace. Harman said recent crisis and hostilities had been frightening experience that “could easily have gone the other way.” Secretary said “that is why we advised you not to do it.”
Secretary said we would study GOI thinking as outlined by Eban and Harman and be in touch later.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Wolle, cleared by Atherton, and approved by Carroll Brown (S/S). Repeated Priority to USUN, Jerusalem, Kuwait, Jidda, Beirut, Amman, and London.
  2. See Document 277.
  3. Reference is apparently to the President’s remarks at his June 13 news conference; see footnote 3, Document 282 .
  4. Telegram 212218 to Tel Aviv, June 17, instructed the Embassy to make urgent representations along the line taken by Rusk with Harman, urging the Israeli Government to refrain from action on the status of Jerusalem that would be viewed as a fait accompli on the eve of the Special Session. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR) Barbour replied in telegram 4189 from Tel Aviv, June 18, that Rusk’s views had been passed urgently to Eshkol. (Ibid.)