234. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1
Tel Aviv, August 9, 1968, 0900Z.
4847. Subj: Jarring Mission: Jordanian comments on Eban’s points. Ref: State 215386.2
- I saw Eban Aug 8 at his office in Jerusalem and gave him full rundown on Rifai’s comments as contained in Amman 6014, adding additional points made in reftel by Dept. Noted, of course, Amb Symmes conversation with Rifai was prior Aug 4 raid.
- Eban said it was certainly helpful to have this report of Symmes talk with Rifai. Welcomed indication that Rifai remains of the same disposition as in May when he expressed desire to find way for Jordan and Israel to meet under Jarring’s chairmanship. Thought this willingness on Jordan’s part was most important thing that has come from Jarring Mission. Eban thought there should be no further American approach to Jordan until he, Eban, had seen Jarring. He would ask Jarring to tell Rifai that if the Jordanians find a way to meet with the Israelis under Jarring’s chairmanship they would then not any longer hear generalities about Israel’s position but specifics. Whether GOI could give them anything more specific before such a meeting, however, would depend. If a meeting such as Rifai envisaged with Jarring present could be arranged, then the speed of progress would increase by geometric proportions, so speedily as to bear no relation to the pace of progress up to now. He would ask Jarring to tell Jordanians, however, [Page 457] that if they want detailed GOI views it must be done in a situation in which Israel can also obtain Jordan views.
- Eban went on to say that the current situation on the frontier might be said to offer great obstacles to negotiations. Certainly it was hard to try to make peace with a country which maintains anti-ceasefire organizations on its territory. Some members of GOI say that Jordan should be required to take strong action against El Fatah before Israel would be willing to negotiate, but the GOI is ready to proceed without this. Nevertheless, relationship of GOJ to El Fatah is an important element. One alternative would be to say that the local security situation is an obstacle which must prevent negotiations from the point of view of both sides, but another, which he thought more realistic, would be to disassociate the two. Noted Jordan had not yet said that security situation would influence peace moves.
- His feeling, Eban said, was that if Israelis got around a table with Jordanians there would be a great deterrent on both sides against security situations which might adversely affect negotiations and both countries would take pains to avoid them. Said he would do everything to get Jarring to work for a meeting at UNGA because this would be the first time since Jarring’s appointment for the Foreign Ministers to be together under one roof. The speed of liaison would be immensely improved, with Jarring able to go from room to room to make meeting arrangements rather than have to fly from country to country with attendant delays. Whatever Jarring does for next month to keep pot boiling will be fine, but his aim should be for a meeting at GA.
- Re UAR, Eban said he understood Jarring had not officially transmitted his questions since he found El Kony frustrating to deal with and preferred to keep questions for direct talk with Riad. Eban said GOI estimates Egypt in state of ideological immobility. Result of GOI’s questions would not be to make progress towards peace but to show who is responsible for lack of progress. If the primary goal cannot be attained at least the secondary one can. As long as the UAR-Jordan ideological gap remains, with one refusing all of the things to which the other agrees, he did not see how progress could be made.
- I told Eban we certainly agreed that next step is between him and Jarring. Since he had mentioned question of El Fatah, I had to say again that we deplore both El Fatah and GOI moves, and regard GOI response as unfortunate. I added for myself that I was sorry to see that Israel found no response to infiltrators but offensive military force on a scale all out of proportion to the infiltration. Eban replied that it was important to meet infiltrators on the ground but also important to pursue them to their home bases. Failure is what influences them most, and they will be emboldened if they can maintain their bases with immunity on the acquiescence of GOJ. Even if it could not entirely prevent [Page 458] Fatah operations, GOJ could at least create conditions to make them hard.
- I told Eban that GOI puts enormous efforts into offensive military tactics. I wondered if they were prepared to take the same sort of risks in the search for peace. Eban replied that the parallel was not valid because their efforts on the peace front get no reactions from the other side.
- I believe conversation gave Eban a good understanding of how strongly we feel that opening towards substantive talks represented by Rifai’s comments should not be lost. At same time, basic situation seems to remain that Jordan wants specific proposals before it will sit down with Jarring and Israelis, while Israelis say they cannot get down to specifics until they are actually sitting around a table with Jarring and GOJ. In spite of this difference, I think there is room for Jarring to maneuver and to seek to extract a little from each side to meet the needs of the other with the hope that, as Eban says, the final steps to bring them together can be taken when they are at the UN.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Amman, London, Jidda, Jerusalem, Cairo, and USUN.↩
- Telegram 215386 to Tel Aviv, August 5, instructed Barbour to convey to Eban Rifai’s comments as reported in telegram 6014 from Amman, Document 227. In doing so, Barbour was instructed to urge Eban to make the most of the opportunity presented by his impending meeting with Jarring in London to help Jarring get the negotiation process going. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR)↩