491. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

1753. Goldberg first raised two points with Eban in conversation Oct 26 at which Rafael and Sisco also present.

  • First, he felt there was a lesson to be learned from the recent occurrences in area with respect to Israeli reporting methods to UN. UAR officer fully reported to UN rep in area his interpretation of events and these reproduced fully in Bull report,2 thereby tending to give them some indirect UN authenticity by virtue its reproduction in SC document. On other hand, Israeli case had to await actual statements by Rafael in Council. Goldberg therefore had to spend a considerable part of afternoon making sure res also referred to “statements” made in SC, otherwise SC cease-fire res would have dealt only with Suez incident. Eban agreed two things should be corrected: Israel would have to exercise greater care as to what was said by its reps in area promptly after such incidents, and Israel would have to report fully its statements to UNTSO reps so they become part of UN documentation before SC.
  • Second, and much more important point which Goldberg wished to make is that we feel strongly that no further military action should be taken by Israel in retaliation for Elath sinking. He under instructions to convey this to Eban in very strong terms and wished Eban to convey this to Prime Min. We now at critical stage at UN on ME discussions. While we have surmounted in last 48 hours diplomatic difficulties which have ensued as a result of military action in area, he wished Eban and Prime Min to know very confidentially that Sovs through Kuznetsov expressed great concern last night to us that Israel is planning to take further military action against Arabs in Suez Canal area. We responded to Sovs that we have no such info, that we have and are urging restraint and the Sovs should do same on Arabs.

Eban’s response was assuring and he said he understood need that no further military action be undertaken by Israel. He wld report [Page 954] Goldberg’s strong demarche promptly and confidentially to Eshkol. He said that when cabinet cmte considered matter of Israeli counter action, propositions calling for Israeli forces to cross Canal or Israeli planes to take action were turned down. Decision was that whatever military action would be taken in the circumstances would come from Israeli side of Canal. He recalled that in July Israel had received message from Sovs, through Swedes, that if Israelis crossed Canal Sovs would no longer consider this merely an Arab-Israeli matter. Israel therefore viewed with seriousness info given Amb. Goldberg re Sov concern. If Sovs really believe this it would be serious, or if they are building up an alibi for possible Sov action, it would be serious. Eban said he would convey message to Eshkol, and both he and Rafael urged Dept instruct Barbour to tell this directly to Prime Min for his ears alone. (Eban and Rafael obviously both want help.) Goldberg once again reiterated that we expressed to Sovs greatest necessity for exercising restraint and avoiding provocation.

Conversation then turned to current status of matters re SC and Goldberg and Eban both agreed it was important for LAs to hold line and to try to get Danes put forward their draft. Goldberg told Eban we did not enter into any negotiations in our discussions with Kuznetsov last night, but made him understand that if non-perm effort fails we likely be discussing matter further with Sov Union. Eban did not show nervousness re US–USSR talks which evident in late stages of ESSGA. Goldberg then checked following fall-back preambular language with Eban in event we need it in negotiations:

“Affirming, in light of the foregoing, that these Charter provisions require for their just implementation a context of peace in which the sovereign existence, political independence, and territorial integrity of all states in the area should be respected and Israel should not, in derogation of this principle, persist in refusing to withdraw its forces, nor should any Arab state in derogation of this principle claim the right to assert or pursue a state of belligerency against Israel or persist in refusing to recognize its sovereign existence and right to live within secure national frontiers.”

Eban found it acceptable, saying if this formulation adopted Israel as well as Arabs could adapt their positions to it. Eban said it was important that either party be able to take refuge in its own interpretations. He assumed Arabs would interpret language to mean withdrawal to pre-June 5 positions, whereas Israel could say language embraces concept of agreement on effective frontiers. In this connection, he felt it important US say in connection with its vote that language was not incompatible with June 19 statement of Pres. Eban stressed there are two critical points in SC res in their view: (a) the context of peace and that withdrawal could only take place within this context; and (b) that [Page 955] formula on withdrawal be sufficiently flexible that it does not tend to foreclose substance of negotiations. Goldberg assured Eban that we would be in a position to say in connection with our vote that such a formulation was consistent with June 19 statement.

Then discussion focused on our efforts to maintain solidarity of LAs, the Israelis having been active with Brazilians and Argentines both here and in capitals. At their request, we agreed to consider desirability of making further approaches in both capitals, depending on results of Indian-LA consultations today.

In a further comment regarding above language, Eban and Rafael both agreed Jordanians could find some sustenance in it because of emphasis on sovereign existence and call in operative para asking UN rep to cooperate with “member states”. This gave assurance to Jordanians, Rafael said, that Israel did not have in mind dealing with Palestinians in West Bank for some separate existence.

Rafael said their impression is that UAR has been shaken as result of military events in Suez area and are looking now for a “life belt”. He believes the time is ripe for prompt SC action (this is first time such positive statement made to us) since Arabs believe SC res with acquiescence of both sides will have a tranquilizing effect on the area. He found it significant that Fedorenko yesterday in SC said twice there must be a political solution. Rafael said if SC can act promptly on acceptable basis, we may be reaching a “turning point” and can move towards a solution. Eban then commented on his discussions in Washington. He said impression which emerged in his discussions with Secretary and Katzenbach, and to lesser degree with Pres, perhaps we might have impression Israel is immobile and that Israel believes if we “sit on our behinds” for months and years a satisfactory result can be achieved. This is not the case, Eban said quite categorically. Once UN rep is appointed Israel envisages extremely active period of discussion and negotiation. He expects a very busy November and December. They expect to have full contacts both with UAR and Jordan, and there are variety of ways to do this. He therefore hoped officials in Washington understood Israel’s views and plans in this regard. Rafael chimed in that when negotiating stage is reached there would be “completely new landscape”, implication being they would take a flexible attitude re settlement.

Eban asked for our views re Jarring and both Goldberg and Sisco indicated our favorable impression of him. Israelis seem to have a similarly good impression. Eban said that a man such as Jarring would not be willing to take on job unless res adopted has at least acquiescence of both sides and offers some hope that both sides intend to cooperate with UN rep’s efforts.

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Comment: Recommend strongly Barbour be instructed take up matter with Eshkol promptly.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated Immediate to Tel Aviv.
  2. The Secretary-General transmitted reports from UNTSO Chief of Staff General Bull to the Security Council on October 24. (UN documents S/7930/Add.48–49)
  3. Telegram 60511 to Tel Aviv, October 27, instructed Barbour to make the points made to Eban by Goldberg to Eshkol, underlining the gravity of the situation that could emerge from further Israeli retaliatory action. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR) Telegram 1328 from Tel Aviv, October 27, reported that Bitan had told Barbour that the Israelis intended no further military retaliation for the sinking of the Eilat. (Ibid.) Telegram 1351 from Tel Aviv, October 29, reported that Eshkol had confirmed Bitan’s assurances. (Ibid.)