283. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Arab-Israeli Dispute

PARTICIPANTS

  • Sir Patrick Dean, British Ambassador
  • Alan Urwick, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • Irving Cheslaw, EUR/BMI

The British Ambassador said that he had instructions to talk to the Secretary at this time, particularly as the Secretary was scheduled to receive the Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban tomorrow. The Foreign Office believed that the UAR’s reply to the Israeli document,2 received through Jarring, was rather discouraging. The British understood that the UAR has asked two questions of the Israelis: (a) would they accept the November Resolution and state their willingness to implement it; (b) what exactly did they mean by “secure boundaries”. When conveying this to Lord Caradon (UKUN) on October 20, Jarring said the Israelis would not like the reply and he wondered “where do we go from here.”

Sir Patrick went on to say that the Foreign Office did not know if the Israelis have passed a similar document through Jarring for the Jordanians. The Jordanian Foreign Minister Rifai did not appear to have any new instructions following his visit to London to see King Hussein. Since his return, Rifai told the British in New York that the Jordanians were waiting for acceptance by the Israelis of the Resolution and agreement to implement it, together with a precise definition of what the Israelis meant by “secure boundaries”.

Rifai had added that, if by these boundaries the Israelis meant acquisition of territory from Jordan, all bets were off. He also had said that Jordan would wish to have the population of the West Bank free and available for consultation before they could take decisions on an overall settlement with Israel.

The Foreign Office believed the Jarring mission was now in considerable danger. Unless the Israelis were prepared soon to be considerably more forthcoming and to take what they would regard as risks [Page 562] in pursuit of a settlement, the brighter prospects of a fortnight ago would fade. Prime Minister Wilson had sent a message to Mr. Eshkol to this effect.

Sir Patrick said several things were required from the Israelis in the near future: (a) a public commitment, either directly or through Jarring, of their willingness to implement the Security Council Resolution and to use the good offices of Jarring to reach agreement on why this should be done; (b) to give Jarring an indication of their ideas for a settlement with Jordan. In light of Eban’s visit, the Foreign Office suggested that the US apply pressures along the foregoing lines. Perhaps the President could send a message to Eshkol. The Ambassador said there was a division in the Israeli Cabinet on these questions. They should be warned of the dangers if the present opportunities were allowed to lapse because of their unwillingness to take any risk.

The Secretary replied that this presented two problems as far as the USG was concerned.

(1)
We understood that the Egyptian response to what the Israelis gave Jarring was inadequate. However the Secretary said there was no good in pressing the Israelis if they received a rejection from the Arabs. Who would put pressure on the Arabs or the Egyptians? We could not. It seemed that now the Arabs might even be opposed to indirect talks; this left us in a difficult position as we had something to do with Israel’s willingness to talk substantively to Jarring. Our leverage on the Israelis was diminished by the lack of an Arab response to recent Israeli moves.
(2)
Regarding implementation, we did not see how any government could agree to implementation as interpreted by another. Any government had a right to say it would implement any particular proposal but that there would be clarification in the course of discussions. This Resolution was not self-executing; every word needed to be clarified. The Arabs were not only trying to define the words, but they were trying to deny to the Israelis the opportunity of clarification.

Sir Patrick said he understood the Secretary’s view, but the British wanted the Israelis to say publicly that they were prepared to implement the Resolution and to use the good offices of Jarring to see how it could be done. He believed this was a step forward. Sir Patrick reiterated that it was in the interests of the Israelis not to lose Jarring.

The Secretary said the Israelis were interested in the need to keep Jarring in business. In fact, this was a lever which the US had used on the Israelis. The Secretary said that, in his talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Riad, the latter was noncommittal on all points other than withdrawal. He asked Sir Patrick if there was any possibility of anybody applying any influence in Cairo. Sir Patrick replied that they would see what could be done in that regard. The Secretary reiterated that he would keep all this in mind when talking to Eban tomorrow.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Cheslaw and approved in S on October 22. The meeting was held in Rusk’s office.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 282.