301. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

7544. Middle East: Jarring Mission. Following summary based on uncleared memcon Noforn and FYI. Subject to revision upon review.

Summary: In lengthy review with Secy of ME settlement issues, Riad emphasized primacy of territorial question and impossibility of [Page 590] UAR considering Israeli withdrawal from UAR territory apart from question of withdrawal from other Arab territories. Secy focused on UAR-Israel aspects of settlement problem, outlining seven point summary of how US views meaning of Nov 22 SC Res vis-a-vis UAR. Secy suggested that Hussein could take care of Jordan aspects of settlement problem. Riad said Nasser had “freed” Hussein to make own settlement, but that UAR could not itself consider settlement apart from Jordan and Syria. Riad said UAR had accepted Res and had later also given answers to Jarring and US on specifics. On refugees and Canal, Riad said he not officially connecting anything, but Res is package. Israel, however, had not accepted Res or indicated readiness to implement it, which is matter of principle and leaves main question of territorial expansion unanswered. After Riad said US interpretation of Res not clear, Secy outlined US views on UAR aspect of settlement re withdrawal, termination of state of war, Suez Canal, refugees, Tiran Straits, arms levels, and signing of doc. End Summary.

Secy met for nearly two hours with UAR FonMin Riad Nov 2 for discussion of problems of ME settlement. Wiggins, Al-Khouly, and Mohamed Riad also present.
Secy said he had personal and official reason for coming to NY to see Riad: he personally would like next secy of state to find peace rather than war in ME and officially USG desired same. Secy said matters reaching point where important decisions have to be made, since if there is no peace there apparently is war. He therefore wanted to get Riad’s estimate of situation with regard to components of peace, GOI views as UAR sees them, and particularly UAR’s views. Secy said peace surely must be object; no one in right mind wants war.
Riad said UAR hopes something can be done; hopes US can do something. Observed that Secy and USG had not left Vietnam situation for new administration, but had taken big step of halting bombing which it could be hoped would together with other steps lead to peace. Secy said it takes two to make peace in VN as in ME. Riad said it will be very difficult in VN and ME since no one has magic wand to bring peaceful situation in 24 hours. In ME UAR hopes there will be peace, but does not call alternative “war.” Alternative is rather “destruction” and after more destruction settlement would eventually be found. As he and Secy had agreed a year ago, time not in favor of peace but running against peace. If anything this more true today and it necessary to work hard to achieve peace. With opposing forces confronting each other there bound to be incidents, exchanges of fire, resistance. Secy observed these have tendency to build into chain reaction with momentum which leads to larger incidents and full scale hostilities. Riad agreed, referring to last incident in which Israeli “plane” bombed bridges, dam, and power plant inside UAR. Riad said this destroys little [Page 591] in itself, but causes disaster for agricultural food production which must depend on irrigation. Thus Israel initiating dangerous new stage of warfare and if retaliation being considered in Cairo it would have to be something equivalent in importance to what Israel doing to UAR, i.e., not a bridge.
Riad said even after further rounds of destruction on both sides there would have to be settlement, so why not do it now? But if peace must be achieved, how can it be done? This subject of discussion in UAR since June 5, 1967. UAR does not like Nov 22 SC Res but whether UAR likes it or not it is a solution and UAR has accepted it because of need to be realistic. Israel and UAR might not like Res but they have to accept it. Main question is whether Israel gives up desire for expansion as Res requires. Independence and security of all countries—not just Israel-must be guaranteed. Other questions of refugees and navigation part of Res and must also be settled but main problem is territorial question and security for both sides. Anyone who wants to be fair would agree. Up to now UAR has felt implementation of Res will lead to peace. If situation drags on unresolved, however, Arabs will continue to try to strengthen their position in face of occupation, there will be more incidents, and prospects for peace will dwindle since who would talk peace with Israel in wake of further Israeli aggression? This is why time very precious and it necessary to work hard and very quickly so Res respected. History of Jewish state, support from Zionist movement and big powers (US,UK, USSR, and France), and past and current statements of Israeli leaders about expanded state long story which known to Secy. Thus important question not how UAR can please Eban or Eshkol by fulfilling certain procedures, but matter of security of Arab countries, territorial intentions of Israel, and extent to which ambitions of Jewish state receive support from big powers.
Secy said he speaking only for US, not anyone else. US had supported and continues to support the territorial integrity and political independence of states in ME. This not one-sided policy; it had been applied to Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAR, Kuwait, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco in past. Had UAR Pres not closed Straits of Tiran in May 1967 not one inch of territory would have been jeopardized; had he said on June 1 what he said in September 1967 about Tiran none of problems he and Riad discussing today would be confronting them. Secty said it not USG policy to support Israeli territorial expansion. Except for events of May-June 1967 there would not have been danger of territorial expansion. Secy asked Riad to look at question from US point of view. US pressed Israel to withdraw from Sinai in 1957 and with inter alia closing of Straits in 1967 US kicked in shin. Likewise, US would have supported original Palestine Res of 1948, but it had been resisted by arms and slipped out of window.
Riad accepted Secy’s points; said he not talking about attitude of US but attitude of Israel. UAR could do nothing with historical factors and support of big powers for establishment of Jewish state; problem is whether Israel is going to stick with pre-June 5 territory, which already well beyond “legal” boundaries of partition res. Territorial question very important to them-more important than procedure to Israelis.
Secy said for US to give expression of our attitude, we need help from Arab side. At critical times this had not been forthcoming. He proposed breaking settlement problem into its component parts. Jordan could take care of its own interests. Re UAR, he did not see any reason why Israel would levy territorial claims. Riad interjected that it very difficult for him to talk about UAR as UAR. It too late for Egypt to discuss settlement problem in isolation from other Arab states directly involved. If problem concerned Egypt only, Egypt would never have become involved in 1948. Egypt was attacked in 1956 because she was involved. Israel could not withdraw from Sinai and stay in other Arab areas. Secy said he had not said that: Hussein had responsibility for Jordan, UAR for UAR, etc. He wished to look at pieces so as to get settlement. Riad reiterated that major question territorial one and that it could not be solved in pieces because it matter of principle. UAR could not have Israel withdraw from Sinai leaving territorial questions for Jordan and Syria to be solved subsequently. Feelings of people and policy of government would not permit this. UAR was member of Arab League and party to defense pacts; Jordan and Syria had moved to assist UAR on June 5; it would be immoral for UAR to agree leaving behind Jordan, with half of country occupied, and Syria.
Riad said Nasser had told Hussein to find agreement if he wanted and could save his territories, that UAR could not help him so he could try to find settlement himself. Riad said “We freed him, but we cannot free ourselves” because UAR cannot betray others due to pride and honor of country. On territorial question if others like Jordan make settlement UAR would “never object.”
Secy said if UAR had told Jordan territorial question for Jordan to determine, why couldn’t he and Riad talk about territorial question between Israel and UAR. Riad reverted to reasons already adduced. UAR did not want to put obstacle in front of Hussein by saying don’t do anything unless Israel also leaves Sinai. Sinai was desert and UAR could wait, but West Bank contained a million people, for its part, however,UAR could not go ahead alone, since Jordan and Syria would know that if UAR did so, they would be in very difficult position. Secy said he had no reason to think Hussein would or could object if with Jarring’s help or otherwise UAR-Israel issues sorted out in some fashion. Asked Riad what interest Hussein would have in standing in way? [Page 593] Re trying to look at problem by pieces then bring them together, Riad said matter of principle re acquisition of territory as result of war had to be agreed on first and on this answer was either yes or no. Discussion of navigation, Holy Places in Jerusalem, demilitarization and security for both sides in Syrian heights sector etc could be discussed for Israel and each party, but not territorial question which only one question and is matter of principle. If territorial question between Israel and each party taken separately SC Res loses meaning. So UAR hopes stick to main question, having previously answered matters of detail on navigation and how to sign doc or paper to fulfill obligations at previous mtg with Secy. Riad emphasized UAR answers on details all on assumption that Israel accepts and implements SC Res and ready to withdraw. Up to present moment, Riad had not heard that Israel ready to implement res; this was really serious problem now.
Secy said UAR had prescribed its own words which Israel must use—“accept and implement”—and that what UAR means is that Israel should accept and implement Res as UAR interprets it. Suggested that UAR would reject requirement that UAR accept and implement Res as Israel interprets it. Secy said he could not see why any government should accept words of another government subject to that other government’s interpretation. Res should be accepted for implementation by each as each interprets it with details to be worked out in negotiations.
Riad said maybe this would be correct approach if only details at issue. Difference, however, revolves around matter of principle, so far there is no difference between UAR and Israel because UAR has given its interpretation but UAR has not heard Israel’s interpretation. All UAR had heard was that Israel accepted Res as agenda. Riad asked if Secy knows what Israel’s interpretation of Res is. Secy said Res not self-executing and details have to be negotiated. Riad asked if this view of US or of Israel? He asking for Israel’s view. Secy said he not speaking for Israel, but that US could not go to either side and say you must implement Res as interpreted by other side. Riad asked but what does Israel say? UAR had told Jarring UAR aim is peace and peace can be achieved by implementing solution in res. Riad said we should forget all words and see how we can implement res. UAR accepted Res and for first several months of Jarring Mission he had refused to give answers to specific questions pending Israel’s acceptance of res. Then he gave answers to Jarring, but perhaps this was mistake since Israel still not forthcoming on this matter of principle. Secy said he had not seen Eban since latter’s return to NY, but if Israel agrees implement Res on basis of details worked out through negotiations would Riad object to that? Riad said if Israel says that he will have no objection. Secy said beyond withdrawal from UAR territory, he not really clear on UAR answers [Page 594] on other parts of res. Riad, for example, had linked refugees to Canal, but Res does not so link them. Riad said he not officially connecting anything, but accepted Res as package at urging of US. Riad reiterated that it impossible to split main question of territory into segments. Secy said it not possible to insist on withdrawal until it known withdrawal to what. Withdrawal must be to peace, but he unable as yet to see pieces of the pattern of peace. US would not press anybody on withdrawal as first step leaving everything else up in air to be discussed. US is trying to find way to put pieces of puzzle together to get peace.
Riad said UAR up to present moment does not know what policy of US is on res. US says there are different interpretations of res, but so far UAR has not heard specific interpretations of others including Israel and US. Secy said interpretation of UAR not known. Riad said UAR can answer on Res point by point and had done so several times. Secy said he would briefly give US interpretation of Res as far as UAR concerned. Riad said UAR could not be considered separately. Secy observed he talking to FonMin of UAR. Riad said he and Secy discussing res. France and USSR had told UAR clearly that Israel would have to withdraw, but UAR had not heard this to date from US. This big problem for UAR and UAR hoped one day US would make its interpretation known. Secy said he could be specific re what US thinks Res means for UAR; he could not accept Riad as spokesman of Arab world since others did not accept him as such any more than de Gaulle accepted as spokesman for Europe by other Europeans. Riad said he never said he spokesman for all Arabs. Secy said this implicit in Riad statements. Riad said he could not be spokesman for all Arabs; he had said repeatedly he could not speak for Palestinians and could only speak about UAR. UAR ready to implement whole Res as is. US interpretation would no doubt help in solving question of withdrawal one way or another.
Secy said he would summarize his views on what Res means vis-a-vis UAR as fol:2 [Page 595]
Israeli withdrawal from territory of UAR
a formal termination of the state of war
following from (2) above, Suez Canal open to all flagships
answer on refugees be found on basis of personal and secret choice of refugees on where to live (Secy later clarified that this included choice to return to Israel as one of possible places, but that this means Israel not Palestine since latter does not exist having been replaced by Israel and Jordan.)
international presence at Sharm el Sheikh which could not be removed without consent of SC or GA
general understanding about level of arms in area so as to avoid arms race (though this point would not be required “in first instance”)
UAR should sign something in writing to which Israel also a signatory.
Riad asked if he could pass these points on to other Arab countries. Secy asked that Riad let him talk with Rifai, recalling for Riad USG’s solicitude for Jordan and interest in her welfare even sometimes at expense of our relations with UAR. Secy noted that he left Gaza question dangling; he had referred to “UAR territory.” He supposed there could be agreement about Gaza. Riad asked agreement with whom-Israel? Secy suggested with Jordan. To Riad’s query on why Jordan, Secy said some say they want this and UAR has no desire surely for Gaza “slum”; perhaps could be handled as part of refugee problem. Riad said Secy knew that Gaza was UAR responsibility; that UAR had been there when Israel attacked.UAR must see Gaza free of Israeli occupation; after that it an Arab question. UAR had never tried to annex it to Egypt. UAR had supported about half of Gaza citizens since UNRWA refused to give assistance to those who had not lost their homes but only their lands across the line in what became Israel.
Riad said that from what Secy had said US policy concerning Res is that there should be no territorial gains. Riad said Israel must withdraw from all Arab territories, not just Sinai. This would help achieve peace. On refugees, did US have in mind UN reses? Secy said he not talking about plebiscite, but about giving each refugee fifteen countries to chose from (including Israel) and then trying to accommodate their wishes. Mohamed Riad noted UN reses not against this: they required repatriation/compensation but specified no methods or devices. Secy said on basis he suggested he thought there could be a solution. Riad did not demur; observed that many refugees had already gone elsewhere, including to Cairo.
Riad said aspirin not enough for man with cancer and main question still whether there enough support for peace in area. This main question still to be answered by Israel. If clear answer given that there will be no expansion, then all problems can be solved. If they reject expansion and try to improve relations with Arabs there will be no problem.
Secy asked Riad if maximum effort could be made in next ten days. Riad asked what Secy thinks can be done, what UAR should do? Riad said he in NY for six weeks and had not seen any movement, only generalities. He had told Jarring he would have to leave for Cairo soon. If Eban returned with same nine points and no answers to Riad’s two questions—as press reports seemed to indicate—then he would leave at once for Cairo. This would not mean end of discussion; he could return to NY at any time. Movement would depend on whether Eban ready to move on question of implementation of res. UAR wanted to see peace, but could not make concessions on territories.
Secy asked whether Riad could give reaction on purely bilateral basis to his seven points. Riad said his reaction could be given now and that main question is territorial. He welcomed Secy’s attitude on Sinai, which he still hoped could be extended to other territories. UAR could not move to settlement unless assured Israel would withdraw from all Arab territories. Secy suggested that in commenting on his seven points, Riad might add additional point that UAR could not itself agree on settlement unless something worked out for other Arab states and that if something worked out for others, UAR could agree to settle. Secy suggested that El-Kony and Wiggins might get together re seven points. Riad reiterated that territorial question uppermost. Re UAR Secy asked if in view of his first point other six points acceptable? (Said no need for answer on this at present mtg.) Riad said everything is in res, that UAR accepts Res and prepared to fulfill all its obligations under res. He had told Jarring UAR looking for final settlement in which all questions settled. He had responded to Jarring’s questions by saying UAR would accept UNEF in Sharm El-Sheik and Gaza and Sinai; free navigation in Straits of Tiran not a problem, etc. On signing paper, this depends on paper and how it looks and how other questions are solved. UAR has no objection as matter of principle to pledge or paper which it would sign and which would be sent to all members of SC so that it signed not only “to Israel but to all the world.” UAR ready to do this and if Israel comes and signs on “that” afterwards, this would depend on paper itself, and if it “my doc.” Secy said this would be then a contractual obligation between UAR and Israel. Riad said UAR signature would be on doc, but details would have to be worked out. Riad said UAR had signed four agreements with Israel; that this not the question; that UAR ready to sign. But it must be a paper on which all our obligations are written and stated.
Re arms, Riad said UAR would be most happy to be released from arms spending since high levels of arms expenditure inhibit economic growth. If UAR sure Israel not bent on expansion, UAR would need no arms since no threats to UAR from elsewhere. Secy said two psychological issues are involved: 1) Arabs fear Israeli expansion; 2) Israelis fear Arab desire to destroy Israel. What could be done? Riad said [Page 597] anyone could see that to destroy Israel not possible practically speaking, but that for Israel to expand all that is needed is for her to annex territory on which she sits by having defeated Arabs.
Riad again asked if Secy could advise him on what could be done in next few days, as he would have to be returning to Cairo. He might also need to return home for consultation, and could have done so during Eban’s delay. Secy remarked that Eban had returned to Israel with strong recommendations from US but that Cabinet Oct 27 had been fully preoccupied with artillery battle across Canal which, together with Eshkol’s illness, brought delay. Riad said Eban now returning and question is whether he brings anything hopeful. Secy said he did not know; he would be seeing Eban following day. Secy said it reasonable for Arabs press territorial question and reasonable for Israel to press other questions. Riad recalled that Eban reportedly had once talked of maximum security for Israel and minimum border corrections. What was Israel’s position on this? Secy reiterated that on UAR border he did not think there would be any change. Riad said he talking about res. Secy said Hussein could speak for Jordan. Riad recalled that Secy had spoken of US support for Arabs at times of need; UAR could do no less.
In closing comment, Secy said he hoped Riad would understand that US could not exert 100 percent influence in Israel when UAR did not give US any influence in UAR.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to Cairo, Amman, and Tel Aviv.
  2. This is apparently the proposal Rusk was referring to when he indicated in his memoirs that “I tried my hand at peacemaking when I proposed an eight point program to the Egyptian foreign minister.” He mistakenly remembered making the proposal during the UN meeting that preceded the June 1967 war. (As I Saw It, p. 383) Richard Parker, who was present at the November 2 meeting between Rusk and Riad, described the moment in the meeting when “much to everyone’s surprise, Rusk fished out of his pocket a piece of paper which contained what has come to be known as Rusk’s seven points.” Parker noted that Rusk’s proposal came as a complete surprise to the NEA Bureau and he subsequently discussed the initiative with Rusk in 1980. Rusk said that he had thought up the points himself and had not discussed them with anyone in the White House or in the State Department. (Richard B. Parker, The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East, pp. 131–133)