396. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel 1

14236. For Ambassador from Secretary.

Following is for your guidance in discussions with GOI following your consultations Washington. We will take same line with Israelis here, as well as in New York and elsewhere:

USG commitment to and support of Israel’s statehood remains firm as ever. We believe our role in recent Security Council and General Assembly sessions clearly attests to our steadfastness in this regard.
Public mood in US is one of widespread sympathy for Israel’s cause in recent war and admiration for Israel’s demonstrated courage and determination.
Underlying this mood is strong “pro-peace” sentiment coupled with sense of uneasiness that somehow, despite setback suffered by Soviets and their friends in area, Arabs will come back for second round.
It is of utmost importance to maintain momentum towards a political settlement. The longer the present situation remains frozen, the greater will become the danger that Israel’s military victory will not produce commensurate political results.
We are convinced that achievement such results justifies some risk and large measure of flexibility on part of GOI. United States has from own experience in recent wars learned long range benefits of being magnanimous in victory. We think Israel will similarly benefit if it take similar approach. American people would not understand effort turn military victory into territorial gains. We appreciate the assurances of GOI in this respect, recognizing, of course, the need for security arrangements and the peculiarly difficult problems of Jerusalem. What is important is to emphasize continuously that the objectives are peace and security, not territorial gains.
This is consistent with our own basic commitment to seek Arab renunciation of state of belligerency, to assure freedom of navigation, and to uphold territorial integrity of all states of area. Within this framework there are number of issues on which USG and American public will be closely watching Israel’s actions for evidence that GOI seeks truly magnanimous and stable peace which will not contain seeds of future conflict. Two areas in which Israeli policies over the years have occasionally troubled this country are Jerusalem and refugees. Should Israel now appear inflexible on these issues to point of jeopardizing constructive political settlement, there could be gradual erosion of broadly based sympathy and support which Israel now enjoys in US.
We fully recognize that achievement of a settlement does not depend on Israel alone. Recent Arab intransigence at UN does not reflect any serious facing up to realities of situation. Should settlement efforts fail, however, it is imperative that Israel have demonstrated its willingness to make every reasonable effort avoid that outcome. Dangers in such a failure are obvious, including inter alia further consolidation Soviet position in area, inability of US to recoup losses it has suffered, further decline of moderates in area and ultimately renewed threat of further hostilities. Israel and USG must make every effort to avoid this path.
One hope we now see for breaking out of vicious cycle lies in settlement with Jordan. It is essential, however, to recognize dangers this involves for Hussein, for Western position in Jordan and for Israel itself. We realize Israel disillusioned by Hussein’s role in recent war. Whatever one’s views of Hussein, however, we see no alternative which would not be infinitely worse. It is difficult envisage how moderate regime could survive in Jordan in absence settlement which respected the principle of Jordan’s territorial integrity. Disappearance of moderate [Page 734] Jordanian regime would open vast new area for Soviet influence with correspondingly increased threat to Lebanon and Arabian Peninsula-Red Sea Basin-Persian Gulf bastion.
While Arab military defeat was blow to Soviets, it could backfire against Israel and the West unless a blow is now struck for peace. It is for this reason that we urge Israel to be flexible, patient, discreet and generous, particularly with respect to refugee problem and question of arrangements for Jerusalem which will take more than pro forma account of Jordanian and international interests in that city. Only such an approach will assure continued broad US and international solidarity with Israel as it pursues legitimate goal of stable national existence in difficult and dangerous days ahead. As Prime Minister Eshkol wrote to President Johnson on first day of war, “the hour of danger can also be an hour of opportunity.” We urge Israel to rise to challenge of this opportunity for peace, as it did to challenge of war.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Atherton; cleared by Battle, Barbour, Sisco, and Walt Rostow; and approved by Rusk. The President approved the draft cable on July 29. Rostow sent it to him on July 28 with a covering memorandum noting that it stated U.S. policy for Israeli consumption and for internal guidance. He concluded, “Barbour participated in the drafting of the cable and he and I think it is consistent with your own thinking, though perhaps less pungently phrased than you would do it. Since a cable that is used for external and internal distribution has fairly wide distribution, this is probably just as well.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis)