106. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1
Washington, March 10, 1968, 0212Z.
127776. Deliver to Ambassador Sunday Morning. FYI—Following is based on uncleared memcon subject to review and change.
- In view present critical stage of Jarring Mission, we concluded it desirable have one more round with Israelis here prior GOI Cabinet session and Eban/Jarring meeting scheduled for Sunday, March 10. Goldberg therefore called Rabin to Department Saturday morning, March 9 (Sisco, Battle and Evron also present).
- Stressing that following must be closely held and not revealed to Jarring, Goldberg said our information was that formula Jarring had [Page 218] submitted to UARG and would submit to GOI tomorrow runs generally as follows: UAR and GOI have accepted SC resolution as basis for resolving differences. Both Governments are therefore invited send representatives to Cyprus for discussions under his auspices to facilitate agreement and implementation.
- Reports on UAR reaction were profoundly disturbing, Goldberg said. Considered USG view was that negative UAR response to Jarring leaned in direction of being final. Though we could not say this absolutely, we thought it likely. According our info, Riad had never addressed himself directly to Jarring’s formulation. Since Jarring was merely consulting with UAR on formulation and not formally issuing invitation, if UAR wanted to keep door open Riad could have said he would accept Jarring invitation if Israel did so. Instead, Riad’s response to Jarring had mixed a number of points. These had included renewed allegation that Israel had not accepted resolution and allusions to necessity of returning to Security Council to force Israeli acceptance, but had also included references to internal stresses in UAR and to possibility of major powers’ intervening to straighten situation out.
- In latter connection, Goldberg speculated that UAR might hope recent U.S.-Soviet exchange would improve its position. Israelis should know that, subsequent to last Riad-Jarring talk, we had sent message to Soviets firmly restating our commitment to durable and lasting peace and emphasizing that any settlement must directly engage and commit parties in order to avoid 1957 Tiran-type arrangements.
- Goldberg said that, for both substantive and tactical reasons, USG felt strongly that Israel should give Jarring categorical acceptance of his formulation when he presents it tomorrow, asserting GOI accepts his statement and is prepared to send delegation to Cyprus for discussions under Jarring’s auspices. To take care of its special concerns, GOI could add that it understands discussions will be held according to Rhodes-type precedent. We understood basic GOI concern was to avoid Lausanne situation, where Arabs refused meet Israelis face to face. We also did not see how agreement possible without discussions.
- Substantively, Goldberg continued, it was important for Israel to accept Jarring statement in order miss no opportunity move toward agreed settlement if this still possible. Tactically, it was important in order for Israel to establish its record and preserve its political position. If, as we thought likely, UAR was backtracking in view of deteriorating internal situation, it should be made clear that onus was on UAR. We believed issue would shortly go to Security Council, where Jarring’s report would carry weight. Jarring would publish his proposal and replies of parties, and it was important that GOI reply not permit onus to be shifted to Israel. According our info, Jarring completely discouraged and going to Israel tomorrow largely to complete record for his report.
- Rabin commented that in recent discussions with Jarring there had been two points at issue: (a) acceptance or non-acceptance of resolution and (b) form of negotiations. Since UAR had stated it accepted resolution, question now was what position UAR taking on negotiations. Goldberg replied that our info indicated UAR now ruled out any Rhodes-type talks and even ruled out going to Cyprus.
- Rabin said he continued doubt UAR wanted settlement. He was not persuaded, however, that UAR had given Jarring final reply. March 8 Haikal article had noted that Arabs maintained Embassies in Nicosia which could serve as continuing points of contact with Jarring. Such a ploy, which would represent no advance from GOI viewpoint, could not be ruled out, since UAR obviously wanted avoid being boxed in. In reply, Goldberg pointed out that (a) whatever Haikal may have said, UAR had not made this point to Jarring and (b) this was not Jarring’s proposal, which was that parties should send delegations to Cyprus. Jarring would be guided by what Riad, not Haikal said. Riad had said there could be no discussions, direct or indirect, in Rhodes-type situation. Present UAR position was that Rhodes talks had dealt with Armistice Agreements whereas what Israel now wanted was peace treaty. This UAR viewed as surrender and therefore unacceptable unless Israel first withdrew its troops.2
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Atherton, cleared by Deputy Executive Secretary John P. Walsh, and approved by Samuel G. Wise (S/S-O). Repeated to USUN.↩
- In telegram 2841 from Tel Aviv, March 12, the Embassy reported that the Foreign Office indicated that Goldberg’s advice to Rabin was welcome and timely. Using that advice Eban secured Cabinet support in responding to Jarring that Israel would be prepared to accept his proposed formula for discussions in Cyprus. (Ibid.)↩