129. Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Posts1

96540. For Ambassador or Chief of Mission From the Secretary.

1. President has approved major new USG initiative on M.E. Problem2 consisting of following elements:

A. Approach directly to Israel, UAR and Jordan designed to get negotiations started under Jarring’s auspices on basis of short formula spelled out below. We would seek agreement on 90 day ceasefire as part of this package but would not make it a sine qua non.

B. Approach to USSR designed (1) to elicit its cooperation in foregoing proposal on understanding two power talks would proceed in parallel once negotiations between parties were launched, and (2) to make clear to Soviets that likely alternative is heightened Israel-UAR military conflict with risk of US-Soviet confrontation.

C. Approach to UK and France designed (1) to reassure them we envisage utilizing four power talks on continuing basis as mechanism for feeding ideas to Jarring to help keep parties negotiating once they have started and (2) to elicit their support of our initiative with the parties.

D. Briefing of U Thant and Jarring on our initiative.

E. Response to Israel’s request for military assistance designed (1) to keep general logistical supply pipeline open, and (2) to reassure Israelis that we have made contingency arrangements for quick delivery of further F–4 and A–4 aircraft as replacements for attrition if situation so requires, while (3) not delivering aircraft to Israel beyond numbers committed in existing (1966 and 1968) contracts so long as our efforts for political settlement are actively in train.

2. Political initiative we envisage will require, as precondition for negotiations, concession by UAR on principle of accepting and agreeing live in peace with Israel (and perhaps on ceasefire), and by Israel on form of initial negotiating procedures and principle of withdrawal. We recognize these are concessions neither side has previously been pre [Page 446] pared to make but think UAR, Jordan, Israel and USSR may be sufficiently nervous about risks of present military situation to give initiative along these lines some chance of getting off the ground in present changed circumstance.

3. Our proposed timing is (a) to inform Israelis in advance in detail of our proposals but not ask their formal acceptance pending Arab and Soviet reactions, (b) to approach UAR, Jordan, USSR, UK and French about 24 hours later, and (c) to make general public announcement re our political initiative and interim aircraft decision a few days after that.3

4. To launch foregoing initiative, Ambassador Barbour will see Prime Minister Meir and I will see Ambassador Rabin Friday, June 19.

5. Following FYI is summary of talking points being used in presentation to Israelis:

A. Political and military situation in area has reached such critical point that only new and intensive efforts, by those of us whose long term interests require peaceful settlement, can have any hope of reversing present trend toward long, costly and dead-end war of attrition. Pressures are mounting on UAR and Jordan to abandon SC Resolution 242, which is only common framework for peaceful settlement. Immediate implications for Lebanon, and longer term implications for such other moderate governments as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, and Tunisia, are dangerous in the extreme. At same time, Soviet military involvement in UAR has injected qualitatively new and potentially open-ended element into military balance.

B. Israel has asked us to make clear to Soviets that we will not tolerate their conspiring in threat to Israeli security and existence. We have made this clear, and will continue to do so. We will continue, of course, to support Israel’s survival. There should be no doubts about the constancy of our support in this regard.

C. However, it is also in our national interest to preserve US position in moderate Arab world and in checking further Soviet gains in area as a whole.

D. We therefore need a strong political as well as a firm military strategy. Soviet thrust is as much political as military, and can only be countered by comparable two-pronged approach by us.

E. On political side, there is urgent need to launch genuine negotiating process between parties. The key to getting negotiating process started is to test commitment of parties to principles of RES 242, and in [Page 447] particular (1) the UAR’s commitment to the principle of acceptance of and peaceful coexistence with Israel, and (2) Israel’s commitment to the principle of withdrawal, both in accordance with the SC Resolution.

F. Three recent developments offer an opportunity to test Nasser’s commitment to peace: (1) his May 1 speech4 which provides us an opening to put his intentions directly to the test; (2) Nasser’s NET TV interview, including statement of willingness to observe ceasefire for specified period; and (3) recent indications in our bilateral talks with the Soviets5 that they are now prepared to move toward our formulations on the specific obligations of peace.

G. We therefore intend to approach Cairo (and Amman simultaneously) with the proposal that Nasser (and Hussein) subscribe to the following formula, which would be in the form of a public report from Jarring to the UNSYG, as the basis for beginning negotiations—indirect in the first instance—under Jarring’s auspices:


The UAR (Jordan) and Israel advise me that they agree:

(a) that having accepted and indicated their willingness to carry out Resolution 242 in all its parts, they will designate representatives to discussions to be held under my auspices, according to such procedure and at such places and times as I may recommend, taking into account as appropriate each side’s preference as to method of procedure and previous experience between the parties.

(b) that the purpose of the aforementioned discussions is to reach agreement on the establishment of a just and lasting peace between them based on (1) mutual acknowledgment by the UAR (Jordan) and Israel of each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, and (2) Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict, both in accordance with Resolution 242.

(c) that, to facilitate my task of promoting agreement as set forth in Resolution 242, the parties will strictly observe, effective July 1 at least until October 1, the ceasefire resolutions of the Security Council. END TEXT.

H. Ceasefire to be effective would have to include understanding that (1) both sides would stop all incursions and all firing, on the ground and in the air, across the ceasefire lines, (2) UAR and USSR would refrain from changing military status quo (by emplacing SAMs or other new installations in an agreed zone west of Suez Canal cease [Page 448] fire line), and (3) Israel would observe similar standstill on new installations in similar zone east of Canal.

I. We will simultaneously inform Jarring, U Thant, the British and the French of this initiative with Nasser and Hussein. We will also seek to enlist support of Soviets to influence Cairo. In doing so, we will tell Soviets (1) we see continuing useful role for our joint efforts only in circumstances where there is genuine negotiation in process between parties, and (2) alternative to genuine Soviet cooperation is continuation of military conflict in which not only will we assure maintenance of Israel’s military strength, but also further Soviet military involvement risks more direct confrontation with U.S.6

J. Pending UAR response to foregoing approach, we are not asking Israel to react. While we will press Nasser hard on ceasefire, we do not intend to make this a breaking point. However, if UAR responds positively to negotiating aspect of our proposal (i.e., subparas (a) and (b) of above formula), we will expect equally positive GOI response. We recognize that this will require serious and difficult political decision by GOI. We have never concealed from GOI, however, that we do not agree with its formula of “direct negotiations without preconditions.” We have consistently held to view, which we understood was also Israel’s position in June, 1967, that when Israel won war which was thrust upon it in 1967, its overriding goal should be peace substantially within its 1949–67 borders. Given risks GOI is asking us to undertake in its interest in area, we believe political risks we are asking of GOI are reasonable—the more so since they are based on solid assurance of our support for Israel’s survival.

K. On military side, we will continue to make our resolve clear to Soviets. So far as military assistance to Israel is concerned, we will continue to be responsive to Israel’s requests in keeping open the normal logistical supply line for equipment, spare parts, expendable supplies and production technology.

L. On aircraft, pending the outcome of these political initiatives, as an interim measure we are prepared (a) to continue Phantom and Skyhawk deliveries through summer up to but not beyond numbers provided for in existing contracts, and (b) to work out contingency plans which put us in position to deliver replacement aircraft rapidly to Israel if the situation should require it.

M. We expect that Israel will continue to refrain from resuming deep penetration raids over Egypt whether or not a ceasefire is achieved. We expect Israel to damp down public discussion of the air [Page 449] craft issue by making clear it is prepared to enter into meaningful negotiations and that it is satisfied with the contingency arrangements which have been made. We count on Israel’s cooperation with respect to publicity and to our negotiating proposals in the spirit of the request conveyed to FonMin Eban during his recent visit.7

N. It is essential to maintain a calm and restrained public atmosphere while our negotiating initiatives are being tested. We, therefore, intend to make a public statement along the following lines within the next week. (FYI—In making following statement available to Israelis, they should understand it is subject to change. END FYI.)


In view of the serious nature of developments in the Middle East in recent weeks, we have undertaken a thorough review of all aspects of the problem. We have concluded that the most immediate and compelling need in the area is for the parties to stop fighting and start talking in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council. We are currently taking a number of steps to this end.

We have also weighed carefully Israel’s most recent request for the sale of additional aircraft. We have come to a judgment on this matter in light of four principal considerations: (a) that the overriding objective is fresh efforts to achieve a stable peace in the Middle East through negotiations under Jarring’s auspices; (b) that US support of Israel’s existence and security remains firm; (c) that there is an urgent need in the area in the days ahead for prudence on the ground by all concerned; (d) that the USSR has installed SA–3s in the UAR and is operating them with its own personnel, and its pilots are flying operational missions in the UAR; and (e) that the United States strongly desires to maintain its friendship with all countries in the area who desire our friendship.

In light of these considerations, we have decided that for the period of time during which the efforts to get the parties to stop shooting and start talking will be pursued, deliveries of aircraft to Israel will be limited and not go beyond the total number contemplated under previous contracts. At the same time, we have also made contingent arrangements which will put us in a position in the future to provide Israel with replacements of aircraft if the situation so requires. END TEXT.

O. We are informing Israel now of our moves in the straightforward spirit we believe should characterize our relations. We cannot overstress the importance we attach to discretion in this matter and to avoiding any actions which could prejudice Nasser’s reaction. If Israel should take any action jeopardizing our peace efforts, this will require a [Page 450] reassessment of our position re arms assistance. There must be an opportunity for movement by both sides without the glare of publicity. Pending Nasser’s reaction, we urge Mrs. Meir to hold it within the circle of her closest advisers and particularly not to make it a matter for full Cabinet consideration until we have had reactions from Cairo and Amman and have had the opportunity for a further discussion with her.8

6. Foregoing is NOFORN for all addressees except Tel Aviv until instructed otherwise.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1155, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, U.S. Peace Initiative For the Middle East. Secret; Priority; Noforn; Nodis. Drafted on June 17 by Atherton, cleared by Rogers in substance, and approved by Sisco.Sent Priority to Amman, Cairo, London, Moscow, Paris, USUN, Beirut, Jidda, Kuwait, Algiers, Rabat, Tunis, Bonn, Tripoli, Khartoum, Ankara, Tehran, New Delhi, Rawalpindi, Belgrade, Bucharest, Nicosia, Rome, Tel Aviv, Dhahran, and Jerusalem.
  2. See Document 128.
  3. Rogers made the announcement at a news conference on June 25. His statement and the question-and-answer session that followed are printed in the Department of State Bulletin, July 13, 1970, pp. 25–33.
  4. For Kissinger’s description and analysis of this speech, see Document 115.
  5. Rogers and Dobrynin had most recently met on June 8. See Document 122. Kissinger and Dobrynin met on June 10. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 168.
  6. Rogers and Sisco met with Dobrynin on June 20 to present the new peace initiative. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 170.
  7. See Document 118.
  8. Barbour met with Meir and Eban on June 19. He reported in telegram 3200 from Tel Aviv, June 19: “Mrs. Meir’s reaction was strongly adverse, on basis Israel was being asked to accept weakening of IDF as price for negotiations while U.A.R. would remain free to carry on war of attrition, receive unlimited military supplies from U.S.S.R., and continue negotiations indefinitely without concessions.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 423, Backchannel) Rogers and Sisco also met with Rabin on June 19. Rabin took “vigorous exception to our making supply of aircraft September–December (as he put it) ‘subject to political developments.’” (Telegram 97690 to Tel Aviv, June 20; ibid., Box 1155, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files)