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

114277. 1. Please deliver following message from Secretary to Foreign Minister Eban:

“Dear Mr. Foreign Minister:

During Prime Minister Eshkol’s recent visit to the United States, he and President Johnson agreed that it would be useful if you and I consulted on specific steps which our governments might take to advance the cause of peace. In the spirit of this agreement, I would like to review with you at this time the status of the talks being conducted by Ambassador Jarring.

I believe that the essential thing in this current stage is to begin actual negotiations on substantive issues, in a form acceptable to both sides, as promptly as possible. Our strenuous efforts throughout the summer and fall in the General Assembly and the Security Council had as a principal objective the creation of conditions that would make such negotiations possible.

I therefore noted with much interest the position which you gave to Ambassador Jarring on February 1.2 Although it seemed to me this represented some progress, I think it is only a partial step. I urge you to maintain the momentum of this move by going one step further. Israel, in my view, would risk nothing and would gain advantage by stating to Jarring unequivocally that it accepts the resolution as a whole in accordance with the interpretations put on it by its sponsor, and on the understanding that the resolution will be implemented through discussions under Jarring’s auspices. I agree with your assessment that there are varying views among the Arabs themselves, and I think it is important through steps such as this to strengthen the position of those who advocate peaceful negotiations.

As you know, there has in recent days been increasing talk among the Arabs to the effect that the dispute should be returned to the Security Council or at least that the question of Jerusalem should be raised in the Council. I fear that for the Council to take up any aspect of the problem at this stage would likely bring Jarring’s mission to a close. [Page 159] This would have the most serious implications for peace in the Middle East. In addition, as I am sure you will agree, a Security Council session in such circumstances would hold great difficulty for both our governments. It would be particularly unfortunate if the question went to the Security Council in a situation in which the Arabs were depicted as accepting the resolution and being prepared to implement it, while Israel’s position appeared to be ambiguous. The positive results achieved in the November Security Council resolution would be jeopardized as would the broad support and sympathy for Israel’s position. The possibility that the Arabs might take this course of action makes it even more important that Ambassador Jarring be able to show progress in his efforts.

Similarly, the possibility that the Arabs might return the issue to the Security Council strengthens our conviction that great restraint is needed in Israel’s policies respecting Jerusalem. We have succeeded in persuading the Jordanians, at least for now, not to raise Jerusalem in the Council. I fear, however, that this possibility will continue to plague us so long as your Government pursues policies and actions which increasingly foreclose hopes that some meaningful accommodation on Jerusalem is possible in the context of a peaceful settlement-an accommodation not only to the interests of the international religious community, on which your Government has given clear assurances, but to the interests of the Government of Jordan as well.

I must in all frankness say that without such accommodation we seriously doubt there can be a settlement. It was to underline our deep concern in this matter that I recently asked Ambassador Barbour to reiterate to you our views on the Jerusalem question. I would not want to leave the impression that our position is merely a formal one. I am firmly convinced that it goes to the heart of the problem of achieving a settlement and would appreciate an indication from you that your Government understands the depth of our concern.

I raise these matters with you in the interest of our common goal of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and in the spirit of frank understanding which characterized Prime Minister Eshkol’s recent talks with President Johnson. Those talks dealt with the closely related themes of peace and security. To assist Israel in its efforts to achieve a satisfactory degree of military security we have, as you know, recently agreed to increase the number of Skyhawk aircraft we are supplying Israel above the number agreed to during the Prime Minister’s visit. Now I believe we must focus our attention on the search for peace, since it seems clear to me that it is in this direction that the only true security for Israel lies. This is my purpose in writing you today. I look forward to having your thoughts on these and other ways in which our two countries can contribute to the cause of peace.”

[Page 160]

2. In delivering foregoing message, you should stress importance we attach to receiving truly substantive response to Secretary’s letter. In this connection you should make point that, if Jerusalem despite our best efforts is again raised in the Security Council, it is by no means clear that USG will be able to stand with Israel on this issue as we have up to now. Moreover, this is also case in event Security Council considers ME question in circumstances where onus for failure of Jarring Mission was largely on Israeli shoulders due to their failure to put forward a forthcoming “acceptance” formula regarding Nov. 22 res.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Atherton and Day on February 12; cleared by Battle, Sisco, and Andrew L. Steigman in S; and approved by Rusk. Repeated to USUN, Amman, and Cairo.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 68.