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

120292. 1. During call Feb 23 on Under Secretary Rostow, Israeli Ambassador-Designate Rabin made presentation along following lines:

USSR influence in Middle East had increased. Soviets wanted neither real settlement nor renewal of hostilities and were seeking to follow policy of step-by-step blackmail. Their tactic was to separate elements of Security Council resolution and deal with it in phases. Israel believed, however, that if it withdrew without settlement nothing would be achieved.
Important thing was to bring Arabs to negotiations. Once that accomplished all could be settled. Recalling his experience during 1949 Rhodes negotiations, Rabin said it had not mattered that discussions began in separate rooms. Once under way, parties were soon sitting at same table.
While UAR was playing its hand cleverly, seeking implementation by unilateral actions, Rabin believed Egyptians engaged in psychological warfare and did not really want to scuttle Jarring mission. Israel continued to hope that view would be accepted that all elements of resolution must be dealt with together.

2. Rostow commented that GOI and USG remained united on fundamental question of peace. Issues on which we had problems would come up and have to be dealt with in negotiations. UAR had torpedoed possibility of phased solution by linking Canal passage with refugee problem. Jarring mission had been delayed by unnecessary preoccupation with question of “acceptance” of resolution. We had thought a simple formula could be found which could protect Israeli position. This problem may now in any case have been overcome since according our latest information from Cairo, UAR seemed to be accepting idea of talks on Cyprus. If this true, Jarring would be reporting it to GOI and we did not want to get in middle.

3. Rabin asked whether this meant “direct negotiations.” Rostow said it did not mean meeting in the same room but thought that would come in time. What Jarring wanted now was to get parties to Cyprus. To Rostow’s comment that we had done our best to make clear the importance of “accepting” resolution, Rabin replied that this problem now solved. Rostow said it was our understanding that Jarring would now try to produce piece of paper himself for parties to accept.

4. Rostow noted question had arisen whether Russians controlled situation in UAR. Rabin said he did not think so; Nasser had freedom of action to decide if he had will to do so.

5. Rostow noted we were concerned about situation in Jordan. Hussein was in trouble because of his statement on terrorism and, while he wanted to move toward settlement, did not dare do so alone. Rabin replied that hopefully Hussein had learned at last that, if he wanted to survive, he must control terrorism. Admitting that Hussein faced risk either way, Rabin thought on balance control of terrorism would increase Hussein chances of surviving since, if terrorists got upper hand, Hussein would eventually lose control of country. Hussein must make clear to Jordanian people that in the end they are the victims of terrorism. If Hussein exerted sufficient force, he could survive.

6. On Syria, Rabin said no one could be sure what was happening there. He speculated, however, that removal of Chief of Staff Sweidani, [Page 193] while not reflecting trend toward moderation, could represent attempt to check further leftward swing.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret, Exdis. Drafted by Atherton on February 23, cleared by Davies and H. Eugene Bovis, and approved by Eugene Rostow. Repeated to Cairo, Amman, and USUN.