149. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan and the Mission to the United Nations1

129334. 1. We realize Israelis do not appear to be in any mood at moment to begin to discuss with us what their plans are once Jarring begins process of discussions on substance.2 On the other hand, it is important that after they have had a few days to cool off, there be full consultations between us regarding upcoming discussions between parties under Jarring’s auspices.

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2. Our principal short-range objective is to try to encourage the two key countries in the area—Israel and the UAR—to engage in serious negotiations while they maintain the ceasefire. In our judgment, this means that each must be encouraged to make sufficiently forthcoming substantive proposals at outset so that a genuine negotiating engagement takes place. From then on in, our objective should be to make it as impossible as possible for the parties to disengage from negotiations. All have some vested interest to make talks succeed.

3. We are struck with the fact that the QUOTE stop shooting and start talking UNQUOTE proposal has had a wide measure of support among the peoples of the area, both in Israel and the Arab world. This seems to suggest that people may well be ahead of governments with respect to their desire for a peaceful settlement. While we may still remain skeptical in view of past disappointments with Nasser, we nevertheless feel that the UAR has been forthcoming both on question of ceasefire and talks over the past weeks and this attitude must be tested in a serious way in concrete discussions under Jarring’s auspices. Insofar as Israel is concerned, the grudging manner in which they have come along with our proposal, and the Prime Minister’s continuing propensity for looking backward rather than forward, is creating some doubt on whether, if Jarring is able to engage the parties in a serious negotiation, the present Israeli Government is willing to face up to the hard and necessary decisions to achieve a sensible and reasonable compromise. We say this in full appreciation that GOI has had to take some painful decisions and survive a governmental crisis in order to respond positively to US initiative.3

4. We realize it will be very difficult to convince Cairo and Jerusalem of the need to begin thinking in terms of a settlement on a basis less than their maximum positions. Over this next week, Jarring will sort out the problem of time, place, and level of discussions. We will continue to press him to take greater initiative in the discussions than he has in the past. However, both Cairo and Jerusalem must be encouraged to put forward concrete substantive proposals on which actual discussions can begin. For example, if Israel were willing to put forth a proposal in negotiations along the lines of the March 1969 US working paper,4 this could be a good starting point. As for Cairo, we realize their main thrust will be to get Jarring to draw up a QUOTE timetable for withdrawal UNQUOTE. This might be feasible at later stage of discus[Page 504]sions, but likely to abort Jarring’s efforts in early days if UAR insists. Moreover, we hope that we are over hurdle of UAR emphasis on QUOTE acceptance of Security Council Resolution UNQUOTE which became the standard answer in the early 1968 round between them when Israel began to ask the other side some specific substantive questions. UAR should be encouraged to put forward initially a fuller, concrete proposal with principles stated in US proposal as main core.

5. Above are tentative thoughts on which Department would appreciate prompt reaction of Tel Aviv, Cairo, Amman, and USUN. Pending receipt your reactions, no actions should be taken.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 655, Country Files, Middle East, Ceasefire Mideast Vol. I. Secret; Priority. Drafted on August 10 by Sisco; cleared by Atherton, Stackhouse, and Sterner; and approved by Sisco. Repeated to London, Paris, and Moscow.
  2. According to Barbour, Dayan notified him on the morning of August 10 that Israel believed that the United Arab Republic had violated the conditions of the cease-fire by moving military equipment forward in the standstill zone as the cease-fire was going into effect. (Telegram 4259 from Tel Aviv, August 10; ibid., Box 1157, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, June Initiative (Memos Only), June 9–September 1, 1970)
  3. Following Israel’s acceptance of the U.S. peace initiative on August 4, Prime Minister Meir’s Government of National Unity broke up when six members of the Gahal faction, a coalition group led by Menachem Begin, withdrew in protest of the Cabinet’s decision to participate in the cease-fire with the UAR and Jordan. (New York Times, August 4, 1970, p. 9)
  4. See Document 17.