151. Telegram From the Department of State to the U.S. Interests Section of the Spanish Embassy in the United Arab Republic1

152002. Unsec 47. Subject: Arab-Israel Problem.

Ghorbal of UAR Interests Section called at Department April 19 for briefing on latest Jarring talks in Cairo. Deptoff showed him text of Cairo’s 21792 and said we found statement of UAR position therein discouraging. We also found discouraging the remarks Mahmoud Riad had made to Jarring and various friendly diplomats regarding alleged deceitful role being played by US. Riad’s mistrust of us appeared to be a major obstacle to progress on Jarring mission. It was true we had informed various governments that Israel had accepted Jarring’s March 10 formula, which we and Israelis had considered positive step forward. That Jarring reportedly did not attach same significance to Israel acceptance was puzzling, but did not detract from fact that Israel had moved, and at our urging.
Deptoff said our efforts directed at convincing parties directly concerned that they should take positive steps to get over current procedural debate and move to substance. Apparent irreconciliability of UAR and Israel positions was heightened by communications problem which appeared exist between Jarring on one hand and Egyptians, Israelis and Jordanians on other. Before Egyptians accused us of deceit they should make sure they understood Jarring and vice versa.
Ghorbal said we should understand that problem was not one of Mahmoud Riad’s personal mistrust but of convictions entire UARG. He had in fact been instructed inform us that statements made by various US representatives, plus lack of any tangible gesture on our part in support of Arabs, or in recognition their forward motion since last June, had persuaded Cairo that USG was engaged in deliberate campaign to support Israeli effort to dragoon Arabs to negotiating table. Whatever formula we devised, however it was camouflaged, Egyptians would not sit down with Israelis in New York or anywhere else and we might as well forget about it. Given this fact, real question was whether parties could move to substantive discussion without face-to-face meetings. Egyptians thought it possible and it was for this reason that Riad had made his three-point proposal to Jarring on April 8. If assured that Israel would implement the resolution, Egyptians were prepared to discuss substance and modalities of implementation through Jarring, but not directly with Israelis. If communications were the problem, this was an argument for moving to New York, where it would be possible to check quickly on what the parties had said and meant. Arabs could be in one room and Israelis in another, even in the same suite, and Jarring could move back and forth to work out details of agreement. This was not a negative position, this was a positive proposal for progress towards peace. Egyptians still wanted a peaceful settlement and were still prepared to cooperate with Jarring. But there would be an irreversible trend to extremism if progress did not begin soon.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Limdis. Drafted by Parker on April 22, cleared by Atherton and Day, and approved by Davies. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Tel Aviv, USUN, and London.
  2. Telegram 2179, April 18, reported on a briefing Bergus received from the Foreign Ministry on the April 17 meeting between Jarring and Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad. In the course of explaining why the UAR could not accept Jarring’s March 10 formula for the implementation of Resolution 242, as amended by Jordan, Riad alleged that the United States had launched a “vast campaign” to support Israel and persuade other Arab governments that Israel was prepared to implement the resolution. (Ibid.)