245. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • The Middle East

PARTICIPANTS

  • Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, USSR
  • The Secretary
  • Deputy Under Secretary Charles E. Bohlen

Dobrynin said he had come in on the Middle East and read a statement from the Soviet Government, copy attached. He added that although not included in the document the Soviet Government would be prepared once Israeli troops had withdrawn to discuss arms limitation with the U.S.

The Secretary said that this was an important communication and would have to be studied and he would refer to it later on.2

Dobrynin confirmed that this was a confidential document not intended for publication.

[Page 479]

The Secretary asked if similar communications had been made to the British and the French. Dobrynin said he did not know about the British but the French had approached the Soviet Union two or three weeks ago on the Middle East. The Soviet reply to the French, of which he had a copy, expressed the same views as in the present document. There were in addition some answers to particular French points.

The Secretary inquired if the Soviet Government had been encouraged in this by the Arab countries. Dobrynin said he had no instructions on this point but he was under the impression the Soviet Government had been by its contact with the Arabs.

Attachment3

The Soviet Government as heretofore considers its contribution to the achievement of a Middle East settlement to be one of its principal foreign policy tasks. This unchanging and consistent course of ours is well known to the Government of the USA. It finds its concrete expression in our active support of the just cause of the Arab states striving to liquidate the consequences of Israeli aggression by peaceful, political means.

In Moscow there is a conviction that a Middle East settlement does not concern the countries of this region only. Undoubtedly the great powers are also interested in this settlement. The persistence of tension in the Middle East and the continued illegal occupation by Israel of indigenous Arab terrorists cannot fail to cause concern to the Soviet Government, since such a situation threatens the general peace.

At the same time it is impossible to deny the obvious fact that while the Arab states recognize the Security Council resolution of November 22, 1967 and are prepared to seek ways for a political settlement in the Middle East on the basis of that resolution, Israel stubbornly refuses to recognize it, demanding direct negotiations with the Arab countries, which is clearly unrealistic under present circumstances.

On the basis of contacts with the governments of the Arab states, above all that of the UAR, it appears to us that now it is already possible to speak of the presence of concrete considerations of the Arab states regarding the content of a possible plan and time-table for a Middle East settlement.

If we were to summarize the thoughts about the content of such a plan and timetable which were expressed at different times by [Page 480] the various statesmen of the Arab countries, including President Nasser, then in our view they would appear to be approximately as follows:

(a)
Israel and the Arab countries declare that they recognize the Security Council resolution of November 22, 1967 and that they are ready to implement it. In this connection they agree that through Jarring, or in some other form, dates would be established by means of consultations (within the framework of the Security Council or outside of it) for withdrawing the Israeli troops and, depending on this, a plan will be outlined for implementing the other provisions of the Security Council resolution.
(b)
The purpose of these consultations could be to co-ordinate the following concrete measures for implementing the Security Council resolution of November 22, 1967:
1.
Israel declares its readiness to begin the withdrawal of troops from the occupied Arab territories on the date set;
2.
On the day of the beginning of Israeli troops withdrawal, carried out by stages under the observance of UN representatives, the Arab neighbor-countries of Israel who will agree to take part in such a plan, as well as Israel, will deposit with the UN a statement (declaration) on the cessation of the state of war, on respect for and recognition of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of each state in that region and their right to live in peace, within safe and recognized borders, i.e., in accordance with the aforementioned resolution of the Security Council.
3.
During the course of one month (as agreed) the Israeli troops will withdraw from part of the Arab territories to definite lines on the Sinai Peninsula, on the western bank of the Jordan River (as well as from Syrian territory, from the El-Qunaytra area). On the territories evacuated Arab administration is reestablished and police forces of the Arab states are brought in. On the day when the Israeli troops will have reached the previously stipulated intermediate lines on the Sinai Peninsula (for example, 30-40 km. from the Suez Canal), the UAR Government brings its troops into the Canal zone and begins to clear the Canal for resumption of navigation.
4.

During the course of the following month (as agreed) the Israeli troops are withdrawn to the positions which they occupied prior to June 5, 1967.

On the first day of the second stage of Israeli troop withdrawal, the UAR and Israel (or only the UAR, in case its government agrees) declare their consent to the stationing of UN troops near the line prior to June 5, 1967, on the Sinai Peninsula, in Sharm Ash-Shaykh and in the Gaza sector, i.e., the situation existing prior to June 5, 1967, will be re-established.

[Page 481]

The Security Council adopts a decision to send UN troops in accordance with the UN Charter, and confirms the principle of freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba for the ships of all countries.

5.

After completion of Israeli troop withdrawal to the lines of demarcation between the states, the previously deposited declarations of the Arab countries and Israel will finally become effective, either through the instrumentality of the Security Council or through the signing of a multilateral document.

The Security Council, relying on provisions of the UN Charter, adopts a decision on guarantees of the Arab-Israeli borders (the possibility of another version—guarantees by the four powers who are permanent members of the Security Council—is not to be excluded).

(c)
With the participation of the interested parties the Security Council continues to seek a solution to the problems of Palestine refugees, of free passage of Israeli vessels through the Suez Canal, as well as of the status of Jerusalem.

It is our deep conviction that such a plan and timetable is of important practical significance as a suitable basis for further steps in reaching a settlement. This plan and timetable is sufficiently realistic and specific; in the event of its implementation it would not in any way infringe upon the prestige or interests of any party drawn into the conflict. It is also very important that this plan completely corresponds to the provisions of the unanimously adopted Security Council resolution of November 22, 1967, and that the implementation of each of its stages inevitably leads to the implementation of the next one.

This interrelationship and interdependence, it seems to us, stems from the meaning of the resolution of November 22.

Finally, such a plan and timetable will to some degree apparently be able to facilitate the mission of the special representative of the UN Secretary General, Jarring, which is supported by the governments of our countries.

In this connection we should like to note that against the background of concrete proposals and the sufficiently clear position of the Arabs on the problems of a Middle East settlement, the position of the Government of Israel does not indicate that it has any concrete proposals for reaching a Middle East settlement, but, on the contrary, being sure of the support of the Government of the USA, Israel persists in its negative and deliberately obstructionist position, actually ignores the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Security Council of the UN, tries to consolidate for itself the annexed Arab territories and does nothing to lessen the tensions in the Middle East. The time has come to put an end to this position of the ruling circles of Israel.

[Page 482]

The Soviet Government expresses the hope that the Government of the USA will carefully review the foregoing considerations and during the course of future consultations will express its opinions concerning steps, which, in its view, must be taken for the quickest possible settlement of the Middle East problem. The Soviet Government expresses its readiness to conduct on this question consultations between representatives of the great powers, including the USA and the USSR, as states primarily responsible for maintaining the peace throughout the world.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Charles E. Bohlen.
  2. In a September 4 meeting with President Johnson, Secretary Clifford, Walt Rostow, and Generals Wheeler and Taylor, Rusk described the Soviet proposal as a very important communication and a significant move in Soviet policy toward the Middle East. He noted that some parts of the proposal appeared to be constructive, and added that it provided evidence that the Arabs were not pressing for a solution to the Jerusalem problem. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Meeting Notes File, 7/68-12/68) On September 9 Rusk discussed the Soviet proposal in a telephone conversation with Ball. Ball said that his staff at the United Nations viewed the proposal as largely Egyptian in derivation with little new in it, but he felt that it offered an opportunity to use it as a basis for bargaining. Ball suggested that the United States respond with a proposal of its own. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Rusk Telcons)
  3. The note is a translation from the Russian prepared at the time by the Division of Language Services.