347. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1

6446. Scranton Visit.

This is report of meeting Dec 9 between Gov Scranton and Prime Minister Eshkol, cleared by Gov Scranton.2 Asst DirGen MFA Bitan and Yaakov Herzog, Director General of Prime Minister’s office, were also present.
Eshkol said he extremely anxious US understand Israel wants peace. He somewhat concerned Israel beginning to give impression even to friends that it may really be expansionist non-peaceful nation. On other hand he was not going to make any kind of arrangement with anyone which he thinks not in best interests of Israel for real agreement. This is Israel’s first and perhaps last opportunity for such settlement.
GOI thinks it essential for Israel to have arrangements militarily secure in area where so much trouble, so many years, day in and day out. This was reason for “arms” (i.e. projections from north and south from Israeli territory along Jordan River) in Israel proposal. Israel had been more than lenient in its suggestions re Jerusalem and if this whole proposal was not acceptable he (Eshkol) would only be able to throw up his hands. Three times he asked Scranton “What would you do?”
Eshkol’s whole attitude on Nasser was completely different. He did not entirely rule out possibility that agreement might some day be [Page 688] reached with Nasser, but almost. Eshkol spent some time going over with Scranton maps of Israel-Jordan and Israel-UAR areas and discussing each in turn. Said Israel admitted territorial problems with UAR would be easier to settle. Israel knew UAR did not want Gaza. GOI had no objection to giving back all Sinai except for Sharm el Sheikh and access thereto. Israel had to have control over Tiran Strait and Eshkol dwelt on history of troubles at Tiran.
Eshkol continued that he particularly did not trust what UAR would say about Suez Canal. UAR knew it would take a long time before Canal could be cleared and reopened and they might make promises to get concessions now only to renege later on when Canal opened. Eshkol did not think that Hussein could make an agreement at this stage without approval of Nasser but did not rule out possibility his doing so at some later time. Eshkol inclined to think Hussein far more honest man than Nasser but “if he really is honest why does he tie himself to Nasser?”
Gov Scranton told Eshkol that in his own opinion the longer Israel continued to hold on to territory without peaceful settlement the more American public opinion would change away from overwhelming sympathy for Israel to a questioning of her motives. Scranton made this point in some depth. Fair to say Eshkol was somewhat impressed by this statement.
Continuing, Eshkol said openly he needed support America and American public opinion and, although to a lesser degree, support of Western Europe. Noted he had “lost” de Gaulle.
Eshkol made it clear from his heart that he had no confidence in any UN force or UN visibility and absolutely no confidence in any guarantee from anyone, “including US.”
Dept repeat other posts as desired.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 7 US/SCRANTON. Secret; Priority; Exdis.
  2. Scranton met on December 10 with Allon and Dayan. A report on those meetings was transmitted to the Department in telegram 6447 from Tel Aviv, December 11. (Ibid.)