291. Telegram From the Department of State to the U.S. Interests Section of the Spanish Embassy in the United Arab Republic 1
Washington, October 25, 1968, 1909Z.
261568. Subject: Arab-Israel.
- Ghorbal called on Davies at former’s request October 24 to discuss three questions: demilitarization, linkage of refugee and Canal issues, and status UAR talks with Jarring. Regarding demilitarization, he said on instructions FonMin Riad he wished to clarify UAR position which had come up for discussion during Rostow-Khouly lunch October 16. UAR had agreed to demilitarization on understanding it would be reciprocal. UAR not prepared demilitarize “all of Sinai” but would be prepared demilitarize area along border providing Israel demilitarized same size area on its side. Depth of DZ must be same on each side of border. UAR view was that history showed its security more in danger than Israel’s and it could not afford abandon Sinai militarily.
- With regard linkage of refugees, Cairo had been perplexed by demarche this subject made by Bergus to Sidqi, which raised question whether USG abandoning its position that Nov 22 resolution was package. He handed in piece of paper setting forth UAR position that it accepts resolution as whole and asking whether US adheres to its former position and still considers refugee question an integral part of implementation of resolution.2
- Finally, he pointed out that in his October 19 memorandum to Jarring, FonMin Riad had said Israeli declaration of readiness to implement resolution and withdraw its forces “would lead to achievement of peace in Middle East”. He said this was response to our urgings that UAR give indication it ready for “peace” and not just “political solution”. He could assure us Riad meant what he said and that UAR was sincerely anxious for peace. There had been no progress to date, however. UAR had shown its hand and made specific proposals to Jarring, which Israelis had ignored. He did not know whether Riad could remain in New York under these conditions. He had been there a month, largely as result urgings Ambassador Ball. There had been no progress, and now Eban had gone off to Israel. Were Arabs supposed to sit cooling their heels forever? In separate conversation he said Riad [Page 576] considering leaving for home permanently on October 29. He indicated timing of US-Israeli negotiations on Phantoms was major factor in Riad’s current unhappiness.
- Davies noted clarification regarding demilitarization but did not comment beyond saying hoped settlement would ensure security both Israel and Arab states. Regarding linkage of Canal and refugees, Davies said we hoped Egyptians would not react in such serious fashion each time we made suggestion to them. Bergus had merely been drawing to their attention legal aspects of problem which they should not overlook. We had been just as frank in calling to attention of Israelis certain flaws in their legal position. In so doing we trying to help parties move towards settlement, which all of us wanted. We were not trying separate refugee issue from package. It was Egyptians who seemed to be separating it and Canal issue from rest of package, particularly in Fonmin’s Oct 1 conversation with Secretary. We thought that was mistake and that there should be no special linkage of this sort between any of the separate components of resolution.
- Davies said we pleased to note Riad had spoken of peace in his memorandum to Jarring. He would call this positive note to attention of others. He hoped at same time that Egyptians would concentrate on positive aspects of Israeli position, and would realize that Israelis had domestic political problem which necessitated extreme caution on Eban’s part. Eban had gone home for consultations. Hopefully he would return with more flexibility. We hoped Israelis would respond to Egyptian position in positive fashion and that Egyptians would re-ciprocate. All of us should put our shoulders to wheel and push.
- Regarding Mahmoud Riad’s travel plans, Parker told Ghorbal it would be serious tactical error for him to leave on 29th. He should at least wait until Eban returned and find out what latter had to say. Riad had waited 18 months, it would be mistake not to wait few days longer. If Egyptians so convinced we had made blunder on Phantoms,3 they should not compound it with one of their own.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Parker and approved by Davies. Repeated to Amman, Tel Aviv, and USUN.↩
- Not found.↩
- Ghorbal also called on Harold Saunders on October 24 to emphasize the strong UAR reaction to the announcement concerning the Phantom aircraft. In the memorandum he prepared of the conversation, Saunders stated that Ghorbal made “as emotional a statement as I have ever heard him make” and that he was “really quite angry” and not disposed to listen to reason. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL UAR-US)↩