498. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • W.W. Rostow
  • Ephraim Evron, Minister of Israeli Embassy
  • Harold H. Saunders

Israeli Minister Evron came in this afternoon mainly to deliver a copy of Foreign Minister Eban’s letter to Ambassador Goldberg.2 After [Page 968] indicating that he had read it, Mr. Rostow described the Arabs’ need for some cover and dignity before they could negotiate. Evron made two points:

Israel does not want a resolution which in effect defines and negotiates positions before actual negotiations begin. Any resolution referring to withdrawal will give the USSR and the Arabs a whip to use on Israel, and they will conveniently forget other balancing points in the resolution as they have in the past.
The Arabs—particularly Nasser and Hussein—are still grasping for a third-party solution. But the Egyptians seem to realize their own economic weakness, and the passage of time will work in the interests of further realism in Cairo. The US has a chance to inject realism into the thinking of Hussein, who may have his head in the clouds after his numerous summit talks.

Mr. Rostow concluded by saying, “You just want everybody to go home without a resolution or mediator, run out of money and then come to you.” Evron just smiled.

Comment: It appeared that the Israelis’ motive in writing and presenting this letter was to stiffen our spines against a repeat of our “sudden” bilateral agreement with the USSR in July, which they regarded as a dangerous erosion of our position.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Harold H. Saunders, Israel, 11/1/67–2/29/68. Secret.
  2. Eban declared in his November 1 letter to Goldberg that for Israel to move away from the cease-fire lines except to stable agreed and secure frontiers, embodied in a peace settlement, would be so irrational and unjust that Israel would be willing to incur any consequence rather than to agree to such a course. He urged that the United States make known its opposition to any resolution calling for restoration of the June 4 situation. Some non-permanent members, he declared, were engaged in prejudicial formulations on the issues of withdrawal, permanent frontiers, and peace, which would have the effect of creating a conflict between Israel and the Security Council. If necessary, he declared, Israel would not recoil from such a conflict, but he urged the United States to use the full weight of its influence to prevent such a situation. Telegram 1910 from USUN, misdated October 2 but received on November 1, transmitted the text of the letter. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN)