289. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel 1

261141. For Ambassador.

As you will have seen from our cables reporting conversations with Eban in Washington, we have urged Israelis to be specific as possible, particularly on withdrawal-territorial question, in their next response to UAR document. Our urging is based on several considerations: (a) Jarring believes next Israeli response will be critical and decisive; (b) It may well determine whether Jarring continues or whether matter will revert to Security Council at early date; (c) GOI response will have an important effect and interaction on Jordanian aspect of settlement. If prospects for substantive dialogue with UAR under Jarring’s auspices are extinguished, it most unlikely Jordanians would feel free to proceed in their exchanges with Israelis, by whatever means. This latter point particularly important and is one which Israelis seemed to appreciate in our discussions here.
As previously reported, Eban has expressed some ideas regarding two questions posed in UAR document (1) acceptance and implementation of SC res; and (2) withdrawal-territorial question. We feel we have reached such critical point in Jarring Mission exercise that we must, unless you see overriding objection, convey to Eban some ideas regarding kind of GOI reply we would consider minimum required by present circumstances. We realize that last UAR reply was very inadequate and that in light strongly held Israeli view UAR not ready to make peace, we may be rebuffed. On other hand, we are sure you appreciate that while present juncture not particularly favorable, atmosphere likely to be even less so in climate of another SC round and its aftermath.
Statement below should be given to Eban personally. Eban should be told that these are informal and illustrative thoughts, in large measure based on statements which he and other Israeli officials have made to us in past. It would fully protect Israel since it includes “safety catch” of agreement and “peace.” It would turn tables on UAR and not give Nasser opportunity to knife Hussein. This is no blue-print, for we have none. But if Eban finds it helpful with his Cabinet colleagues to identify them as American thoughts, he may do so. We know he understands fully that if GOI response to UAR is inadequate not only could it cripple Jarring Mission, but more important it likely to weaken Hussein’s resolve and capacity to pursue discussions with Israelis. We agree with Eban’s desire [Page 572] to try to firm up as specific a deal as possible with Jordanians through informal contacts before discussions of substance revert to Rifai and Jarring. Our thoughts therefore deal exclusively with GOI response to UAR through Jarring, though we also agree with Eban’s intention to deal at subsequent stage with Jordanian aspect as well.
Following would be included in any Israeli response, which we believe should also invite UAR to address itself specifically to substantive points in Israeli document of October 15.

“Israel accepts SC resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967 and is prepared to implement it in accordance with paragraph 3.

Israel wishes to make clear that its attitude toward secure and recognized boundaries is governed by considerations of security and a permanent political settlement which binds both sides to peace rather than by considerations of acquisition of territory by war.

Within the context of an agreement implementing SC resolution 242 which would set forth mutually acceptable terms, including establishment of secure and recognized boundaries, guarantee of freedom of navigation for all vessels through the Strait of Tiran and the Suez Canal, and demilitarization of the Sinai, Israel would be prepared to withdraw its forces to the international boundary between Israel and the UAR. An agreement embracing the above must also include special arrangements for Gaza and for the Sharm El Sheik area to assure that Israeli security interests will be fully protected and right of passage through the Strait of Tiran guaranteed.

Our purpose is achievement of the just and lasting peace called for in Security Council Resolution of November 22, 1967. We are prepared to enter into immediate discussions under Jarring’s auspices to achieve agreement on ways to implement all of the provisions and principles contained in that Resolution.”

Eban should be told we have not discussed the above with Jarring or any foreign government.2

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR/SANDSTORM. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Sisco; cleared by Hart, Eugene Rostow, Katzenbach, and Harold Saunders; and approved by Rusk. Repeated to USUN and Amman.
  2. In an October 24 memorandum to Walt Rostow, Saunders wrote of this telegram: “I think it makes all kinds of sense. It is the first time we have injected ourselves substantively in any concrete way so it is something of a departure from past practice. However, if we don’t do it now, we won’t have a chance later.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. X, Cables and Memos, 6/68-11/68) Acting on instructions, Ambassador Barbour saw Eban on October 26 and reported that his reaction was neither sharp nor adverse. Eban was somewhat concerned not to reveal Israel’s entire negotiating position to the UAR before the UAR had revealed any of its own, but he accepted the argument that the Israeli response should be substantive rather than polemical. Eban noted that he did not anticipate returning to New York until after a scheduled Cabinet meeting on October 30. He observed that if Riad was interested in negotiating a settlement, he should be willing to delay his departure from New York until after Eban had returned. (Telegram 5842 from Tel Aviv, October 27; ibid.) The Department informed the Embassy on October 29 that it was attempting to persuade Foreign Ministers Riad and Rifai to remain in New York until Eban returned and instructed Barbour to urge Eban again to be as explicit as possible in outlining a negotiating position with the UAR. (Telegram 263488 to Tel Aviv; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR/SANDSTORM)