287. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1

260399. 1. In course of Eban call on Secretary October 22 (Hart, Atherton, Rabin and Argov also present), Eban summarized present position with respect to negotiations with Jordan and UAR as follows:

Jordan had indicated to Jarring that it would favor joint meetings with Israel under his auspices but first wanted to receive informally more specific idea of how Israel sees future boundaries. There was “mutual feeling” that it desirable to wait week or so in effort come closer on substance before moving forward on procedural problems. Eban said he would see what could be done during forthcoming trip to Israel to overcome obstacles Jordan still faces before entering joint meetings.2 He expected return New York after one week.
UAR, on other hand had never indicated willingness to have joint meetings with Israel or desire for peace as Jordan had, which made it possible to give GOJ idea of Israeli terms. In response to Israeli memorandum spelling out GOI interpretation of Security Council Resolution and making clear Israel wants formal end to conflict, not absence of war, UAR has provided provocative and propagandistic reply, inter alia demanding Israeli withdrawal from all territories. UAR had not said what it means by peace and wanted Israel to renounce concept of settlement through “agreement.” This Israel would not do. “Agreement” was Israel’s “safety catch.” Other countries agreed with GOI that this represented responsible position.

2. Secretary said he saw merit in this position and had so told Arabs with whom he had spoken. Secretary continued that we had found Israeli memorandum to Jarring constructive so far as it went. It had failed, however, to get into territorial question. It would help if Israel could inject this point into dialogue in ways which made clear it had no designs on UAR territory, while making clear, for example, Israeli [Page 567] view that special arrangements needed for Sharm al Shaykh. Unless there was movement in discussions with UAR, chances for success with Jordan would be slim.

3. Eban agreed on importance of maintaining dialogue with UAR. Israel had considered providing Jarring with map for UAR but preferred deal in concepts—e.g., need for Israeli presence at Sharm al Shaykh. Israel wanted to talk to UAR but it would not provide channel. UAR would have to face this issue at some time, however. If Israel gave its territorial terms to Jarring, Riad would simply reject them. If parties were at same table, Riad would have to explain his objections. Israel would reply to latest UAR memorandum in constructive spirit but, if UAR wanted to discuss lines on maps, it must overcome inhibitions about meeting with Israel.

4. Re Sharm al Shaykh, Secretary asked if Israel had considered idea of four power presence there, including Soviets. Eban said this would “globalize” problem; we should give careful thought to whether it was wise to provide Soviets statutory position in area, particularly in light of their record and their actions in Czechoslovakia. Secretary said Soviets were already in Middle East and would stay there whether we liked it or not; perhaps small Soviet contingent at Sharm al Shaykh with equal US, French and British contingents would not pose serious problem.

5. Re Soviet position in general, Secretary said while he could not speak for USSR, he had impression Soviets considered arguments about procedure “silly,” had no objections to use of Suez Canal by Israeli flag vessels and did not care about refugees.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Atherton, cleared by Hart and Rusk’s Staff Assistant Jay P. Moffat, and approved by Sisco. Repeated to Amman, Cairo, and USUN.
  2. In a separate conversation on October 22 with Eugene Rostow, Sisco, and Hart, Eban said that Israel hoped to reach more substantive agreement with Jordan through informal contacts. He described the informal contacts with the Jordanians as serious and pragmatic, but requiring additional time to achieve agreement. (Telegram 259849 to Tel Aviv, October 22; ibid., POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR/SANDSTORM)