240. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1
Washington, August 17, 1968, 0129Z.
223117. For Barbour.
- You will be seeing Rafael on Aug 18th, and we hope he will be able to give you additional information regarding three UAR questions (State 222134 and London 11823).2 You should feel free to discuss possible GOI reply along lines FYI section of State 222134.
- In addition, we believe it is important that you get across to Eban upon his return our concern that flexible approach he described to Ball and Sisco in Israel be maintained.3 You will recall that Eban made clear in those conversations a willingness to explore substance indirectly, and this was reflected in questions posed to UAR and Israeli ideas passed by Ball to GOJ re possible shape of a settlement. We understood clearly, though there was no time period put on it, that indirect process would be pursued seriously in hopes that it might set stage for serious explorations in the opening days of the General Assembly, including possibility of joint meetings, most likely in presence of Jarring. We have expressed concern to Israelis here and in New York that reports of Eban’s Aug 9 conversation with Jarring indicate a less flexible posture than we were led to believe existed. We want to be specific in this regard. Reports are that Eban told Jarring that while Israel remained flexible, “Jordan cannot have specific clarification of Israel’s intentions without some kind of direct contacts.” (This is precisely as Argov reported it to us here, see State 220328.)4 This sounds to us like direct negotiations again becoming an end in itself. If this is a correct report, Eban statement is all more distressing in circumstances where he had available Jordanian response as contained in paras 3 and 4 of Amman 60145 in which GOJ invited specific GOI territorial rectification proposals and reaffirmed willingness to “enter into joint meetings (with Jarring present) if it finds there are substantive matters that can profitably be discussed.”
- We feel it is untenable for GOI to take view it unwilling to be more specific unless there is direct contact. We therefore want you to press Eban to keep substantive dialogue going by being directly responsive to Jordanian request for more specificity. We realize this might entail difficult decisions on which Israeli Cabinet divided. But we are reaching watershed, and parties must begin to face up to realities. We felt ideas Ball and Sisco conveyed to GOJ on behalf of GOI were useful starting point. While Rifai’s response has certainly a number of elements which are unacceptable to Israelis, nevertheless GOJ has said explicitly that it is willing to get together in joint meetings with Jarring present if it finds there are substantive matters that can be profitably discussed. We therefore urge that Eban respond more specifically to GOJ during his next discussion with Jarring.
- While we have no intention to blueprint what GOI substantive reply ought to be, it should be possible to formulate answer in more specific territorial terms as it relates to West Bank, possibly coupling this with a renewed indication of a GOI willingness to discuss such new specifics at joint meetings under Jarring’s auspices during opening days of the General Assembly.
- You might tell Eban our judgment continues to be Hussein wants to make a settlement, but that he needs more specificity from Israelis and reassurance that a deal he can live with is possible if he is to make decision for joint meetings with them in New York.
- We hope therefore you can have a full discussion with Eban and press him hard on this matter.6
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Sisco on August 16, cleared by Rockwell and Eugene Rostow, and approved by Katzenbach. Repeated to Beirut, Amman, Cairo, London, USUN, and Moscow.↩
- See footnotes 3 and 2, Document 239.↩
- Under Secretary Rostow also stressed this point in an August 17 meeting with Ambassador Rabin. (Telegram 223182 to Tel Aviv, August 17; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR)↩
- See footnote 2, Document 237.↩
- Document 227.↩
- Barbour was also instructed to remind Eban that he had said that by early August he would provide the United States with an assessment of the prospects for progress in the channel that Eban had referred to as the “Jordanian flirtation.” (Telegram 223140 to Tel Aviv, August 17; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR/SANDSTORM)↩