63. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1
3785. 1. FonOf Director General Levavi accompanied by Argov of American Department came to NA House 2300 hours this evening. Levavi said they called at moment of grave peril for Israel. Instructions had been sent to Harman for Eban, who should be consulting with highest U.S. levels within hours, to say that attack by Egypt and Syria appeared imminent and that it essential for U.S. to declare its intention to abide by its commitments and to implement declaration by appropriate movement U.S. forces to Israel’s support.
2. Information on which this conclusion of Egyptian and Syrian intentions based is: (1) Egypt has held establishment of second army group in Sinai to reinforce divisions already there and has ordered armored brigade from Yemen to join such group. It has increased tanks in Sinai to total of 800. It has reversed naval forces proceeding to Aqaba and ordered them returned to Mediterranean. It has sent cabinet minister to Moscow to coordinate operations between Egyptian and Soviet Governments. (2) Syria is to receive Iraqi troops by airlift and has increased offensive posture its forces already on frontier. (3) Jordanians have announced willingness accept Iraqi and Saudi Arabian troops.
3. In addition to foregoing Egypt has started fabricating incidents with Israelis such as alleged clash with border patrol.
4. All this indicates that Egyptians and Syrians no longer concerned with Aqaba but prepared launch full scale attack against Israeli existence.
5. I noted there appeared doubt that in fact Jordanians anticipate any Iraqi or Saudi troops there to which Levavi responded Jordanians [Page 109] not important. The seriousness of the situation is Egypt and Syria and he reiterated that these developments most perilous for Israel.
6. While it obvious this further attempt strengthen Foreign Minister Dan’s hand in discussions in Washington, I am confident that Israeli apprehensions are to them most genuine. As indicated in more detail in report forwarded by another channel earlier today information repeated to me tonight as to Egyptian moves is in large part result hard intelligence and there every collateral indication Egyptian belligerence unabated.
7. I told Levavi that since Eban had departed for Washington I did not have further information in addition to that I had passed on on Tuesday but that it my impression there had been no change in U.S. determination as I had expressed it to them at that time.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. II. Top Secret; Nodis; Flash. Received at 8:05 p.m. Walt Rostow sent this telegram to the President at 10:14 p.m. with an attached note: “Herewith the same message Eban transmitted to Secretary Rusk as it was received and evaluated by Ambassador Barbour.” Telegram 202239 to Cairo, May 25, states that at 5 p.m. Eban advised Rusk of a flash message from Eshkol that the Israeli Government was convinced a UAR-Syrian attack was imminent. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ARAB–ISR) No memorandum of this conversation between Rusk and Eban has been found. In a telephone conversation with Goldberg, Rusk referred to a message from Israel and stated that the Israelis “are calling on us for an immediate statement that an attack on them is an attack on us.” (Notes of telephone conversation prepared in S, May 25, 8:15 p.m.; ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls) Eban described the message and his conversation with Rusk in An Autobiography (New York: Random House, 1977), pp. 348–350, and in more detail in Personal Witness: Israel Through My Eyes (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992), pp. 382–383.↩