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

223116. You will have received London’s 118232 as a supplement to State’s 2221343 as well as USUN’s 62134 reporting Ball’s luncheon session with Gohar, et al at which no new ground was broken. We suggest you draw on following in your discussion with Mohamed Riad:

We have been primarily responsible for getting some flexibility in GOI position; they now in process of exploring substance indirectly and we are continuing urge them to be as flexible and forthcoming as possible. We believe process of posing questions represents a good start, but it must be built upon, not only with additional questions but further and fuller explanations by all parties of their substantive positions. (In this connection, you should seek to ascertain just when UAR conveyed three questions reported in London 11823 and what UAR understanding is as to whether Jarring will put them to Israelis.)
We think time has long passed for any of the parties to stick to doctrinal rigidities. We hope that UAR will respond fully and constructively to questions Jarring has posed to them, and not limit themselves to countering with questions of their own. While we have no intention of blueprinting substantive replies to be made by respective parties, we believe it would promote progress if all parties, including UAR, could begin to clarify their positions in more specific terms re key elements of Security Council resolution.
For example, a positive reply by UAR to question of whether it prepared in context of a peace settlement to put a complete end to state of belligerency with State of Israel would be helpful. At best, we would like UAR to respond with a categoric “yes,” coupling such affirmative reply with indication of willingness to embody such an obligation in binding commitment with Israel not with some third party as SC. SC endorsement of any agreement would obviously be very useful, but it is not a feasible substitute for a binding undertaking between principal parties. UAR could be reminded that when they say they accept SC Res of Nov. 22 from A to Z as a package, para. 3 calls for “agreement.”
A further example can be cited re second question: recognition of political independence, territorial sovereignty and integrity of Israel. Again we feel that if in fact UAR is interested in a fundamental settlement then it must begin to indicate now that it is willing to consider a binding commitment between GOI and UAR. This would be clearest indication that UAR had in fact adopted a live-and-let-live policy, and is willing work out a modus vivendi with Israel. Is UAR ready for this? Statement on its part that “it accepts SC resolution of November 1967” are useful, but have become part of doctrinal rigidity which has contributed to impasse. What is required is indication of UAR willingness to enter into binding understanding with GOI on crucial point of this kind, as required by para. 3.
Similarly, distinction which UAR has been trying to make between freedom of passage of Israeli cargoes and Israeli flag ships strikes us as unrealistic and casts doubt on UAR willingness to achieve a fundamental settlement.
In short, we feel you ought to smoke out Riad on specifics. We suspect you will not get very far. We recognize UAR has been conveying piece-meal reactions to specific points in resolution which in our judgment have been designed largely to improve UAR position tactically and publicly. Answers or lack of answers or partial answers by UAR will help clarify whether their reaction is primarily tactical for public relations purposes or whether in fact they want to come to grips with the elements of a fundamental political settlement in accordance with SC Res. In this connection, we have had this week two New York [Page 467] Times articles by Eric Pace.5 At the time of the Ball luncheon with Gohar (August 13), we inquired whether there was anything to August 12 article and got only quick denials from all three UAR representatives present at the luncheon. We feel you ought to get across to Riad our feeling that positions adopted by UAR to date have been primarily for public relations purposes rather than a serious attempt to face realities of a settlement. We say this not in sense of trying to make a judgment as to which of the parties is responsible because there has been plenty of rigidity on both sides. But we feel there is genuine opportunity to test real intentions of parties, and that it is a matter of high urgency to prepare the way for constructive exchanges among Fonmins in New York.
We note also that UAR has been very careful in avoiding any indication as to whether Foreign Minister Riad intends to be present in opening days of the General Assembly. This too, in our judgment, will be a test. Rifai of Jordan obviously wants to go there, but we detected caution on part of GOJ in absence of knowing what UAR is going to do. You might explore this point as well.
With reference to UAR statements of “acceptance of the SC resolution” and its insistence GOI has not, fact of matter is all three have accepted resolution, but each has expressed its acceptance with its own reservations. UAR, for example, has accepted SC resolution, but it does not draw attention to fact that acceptance is subject to reservation that it interprets SC resolution to mean withdrawal of Israeli forces to pre-June lines. Jordan has probably been most categoric in acceptance of resolution, though it too has expressed its reservations. And Israel is also on record as accepting resolution within context of its own reservations. (Tekoah’s May 1 SC statement, reaffirmed publicly by GOI Cabinet on June 23.)
Finally, a simple statement to Jarring from UAR that it is willing to try to achieve a “binding agreement with Israel” in accordance with SC resolution of November 1967 would certainly move things forward. You may wish to explore this also on personal basis.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Sisco, cleared by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Stuart W. Rockwell and Eugene Rostow, and approved by Katzenbach. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, London, Tel Aviv,USUN, and Moscow.
  2. In telegram 11823 from London, August 14, the Embassy reported that it had received from the Foreign Office the text of three questions that the United Arab Republic had asked Jarring to pass to the Israelis. The questions, which were conveyed to the Foreign Office by the UAR Embassy, read as follows: “A) Is Israel ready to accept four-power or SC guarantee of overall area settlement along lines of November 1967 SC resolution? B) Would Israel withdraw its troops 30–40 kilometers from Suez Canal in return for unrestricted passage of Israeli cargoes through canal if this arrangement were regarded as one stage in putting entire settlement package into effect? C) If it were also regarded as simply one stage in an overall settlement package, would Israel be ready to withdraw from Gaza strip in favor of a UN administration?” (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 222134 to Tel Aviv, August 16, Barbour was instructed to try to find out if the three UAR questions had been conveyed to Israel and if Israel had answered them. If not, Barbour was instructed to ask the Israeli Government to consult with the United States before doing so. The Department explained the necessity for a more specific U.S. role in helping to influence the substantive exchanges between the parties in order to “encourage positive and constructive responses.” (Ibid.)
  4. Telegram 6213 from USUN, August 16, reported on a luncheon meeting that Ball, Sisco, and Buffum had on August 12 with Ghorbal, El Kony, and Gohar of the UAR. Ball offered his impressions on the Jarring Mission, based on his recent trip to the Middle East, and tried to draw out the UAR officials on prospects for negotiations. The meeting was described by the Mission as “not particularly fruitful” with the UAR representatives cleaving to established positions. One point that emerged from the discussion was that the UAR representatives denied that there was anything to the article written in The New York Times on August 12 by Eric Pace purporting to describe new UAR proposals for a peace settlement. (Ibid.)
  5. On August 12 Pace, citing “well-informed Arab diplomats,” reported that the UAR was prepared to accept a settlement that included internationalizing the Gaza strip, waiving past demands for the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, and demilitarizing the Sinai peninsula. In another article on August 15, Pace cited “highly placed Western diplomats” as revealing that the UAR was pressing for a peace settlement based on “declarations of peace” that would be endorsed by the UN Security Council, and separately by the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, and France.