220. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1

11148. Department pass Cairo.

Begin summary: Ball and Sisco, accompanied by Amb Porter, had frank exchange with Lebanese FonMin Boutros July 18.2 Boutros stressed that Arab decision work for settlement on basis Security Council resolution, involving as it did willingness accept Israel as fact, was act of political courage. For Arabs this made it all the more essential to stay within UN context and work through Jarring. USG should therefore influence Israel to give up insistence on direct negotiations and to implement resolution. This Boutros saw as step by step process. Ball said step by step approach was unrealistic; Israel would not and could not be compelled to give up its only bargaining position, namely occupation of Arab territory, except in return for agreement on all issues. Ball said overriding need was to get negotiating process started. We had urged Israelis not to make direct negotiations a condition precedent. Similarly we urged Arabs to recognize it unrealistic expect that settlement reflecting agreement among parties, as called for in resolution, could be achieved without direct talks at some point down the road. Boutros acknowledged that progress toward implementation could make direct talks easier at later stage.

Ball stated that while recognizing magnitude of difficulties, he was not discouraged; pressures of time would compel some movement on both sides. Israel had recently asked Jarring to pass two questions to [Page 433] UARG, in effect providing opportunity to get indirect negotiating process under way. Boutros showed interest but expressed suspicion that Israel laying trap for UAR and in general was pessimistic about chances for overall settlement. Stressing dangers to Arab governments of deep popular feeling on Palestine issue, Boutros argued that “all or nothing” approach to settlement unrealistic. There was need for Jarring or Security Council to devise accommodations that could begin “disarmament of minds” on both sides, without which any treaty would be meaningless. Ball and Sisco replied that process GOI trying to start was initiative by Israeli moderates; Arab response could foster or stifle initiative. They expressed hope Jarring would follow through and UAR would respond seriously. Re form of settlement, Ball said he had impression Israel would not stick on treaty and that alternative (e.g., like Soviet-Japanese arrangement after World War II) could be found. When Sisco noted that UNGA session in fall would offer opportunity for quiet consultations with Jarring and FonMins present, Boutros agreed but said question of whether Arab FonMins would go to NY would probably need to be considered first in Arab League FonMin meeting, which he expected occur prior GA.

Boutros also raised GOL’s concerns re Israeli intentions toward Lebanon. Ball said he had made clear to GOI how strongly US opposed any Israeli actions against Lebanon and had received categoric denial of hostile Israeli intentions. GOI had stressed, however, that it would have to respond to serious incidents against Israel across Lebanese frontier. End summary.

[Here follows the 10-page body of the telegram.]

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, UN 7. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Amman, Jidda, London, Moscow, Tel Aviv, and USUN.
  2. A memorandum of Ball and Sisco’s conversation on July 18 with President Charles Helou and Prime Minister Abdullah Yafi was transmitted to the Department as an enclosure to airgram A-1198 from Beirut, July 22. (Ibid., POL 27 ARAB-ISR)