157. Telegram From the Department of State to the Interests Section in the United Arab Republic, the Embassies in the Soviet Union and Israel, and the Mission to the United Nations1

144257. Watch Officer please convey this message to Chargé Tel Aviv no later than 7 a.m. Tel Aviv time.

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1. We now have completed a careful and systematic evaluation of all evidence based on our own means and have concluded that since August 10 (date on which we have reasonable base of evidence from which to operate) there have been violations in the fifty kilometers zone west of the Suez Canal, continuance of which likely to jeopardize ceasefire-standstill and delay indefinitely talks between parties under Jarring’s auspices. In these circumstances, we have decided that a strong démarche must be made immediately both to UAR and USSR to bring continuing violations to an immediate halt.

2. Israelis are pressing us to insist on a rollback, which we in turn do not feel is achievable. Nevertheless, in making approach to UAR and USSR we are putting it in terms of rectification of situation, without indicating explicitly how, while at same time making clear that principal objective is to get UAR to stop immediately any further violations.

3. We feel our approaches in Cairo and Moscow would be more effective if for time being, no public confirmation of UAR ceasefire-standstill violations are made. However, in view press reports already out confirming UAR violations, (Washington Post, New York Times), and some editorializing that Administration is in effect covering up violations it may be essential that some brief, low key public statement be made in day or so. We will keep this under active review.

For Tel Aviv:

4. In private discussion Monday,2 Rabin told Sisco he felt that most helpful thing US could do at this juncture would be to QUOTE clear the air with Israelis UNQUOTE by telling them what our judgment is regarding their charges of violations of the ceasefire-standstill, and what we proposed to do about it. Rabin called again early Wednesday a.m. September 2 to say he very anxious to get results of San Clemente meeting,3 since if Sisco could give indications of US conclusions and steps being taken, it would be most helpful to PM Meir in getting decision at Thursday Cabinet meeting to send Tekoah back to New York and to proceed with talks.

5. Sisco is conveying following to Rabin today4 which Chargé is instructed similarly to convey to Foreign Minister Eban immediately:

A. We are satisfied based on all available evidence that UAR has committed since August 10 a number of violations of ceasefire- [Page 526] standstill agreement. Violations have been of following character: (1) There has been construction between August 10 and 27 that has increased the total number of sites; (2) There have been a number of SA–2 sites which on August 10 were unoccupied which since then have been occupied; and (3) There has been some movement of equipment within the zone.

6. We view these continuing violations most seriously and President has directed that a strong démarche and protest be made to both UAR and USSR with a view to securing immediate stoppage of continuing violations. We will also press for a rectification of the situation, but wish to repeat again candidly and honestly to Israelis that our continuing judgment is we unlikely to be able to achieve a rollback.

7. Our view regarding effect of these violations is that Israel has been put to some disadvantage. We recognize that as a result of these violations Israel’s air maneuverability has been restricted, though we hope Israel will recognize that appreciable restriction had already taken place prior to ceasefire when Israeli attempts to suppress certain sites proved unduly costly. Our assessment continues to be that GOI can defeat any combination of Arab forces, and that UAR not in position to mount and maintain sustained attack across Canal permitting it to retake part of Sinai.

8. In order to assure that Israel will not be at any serious disadvantage in event ceasefire-standstill should break down, we are proceeding expeditiously with delivery of anti-SAM package. Moreover, delivery of five Phantoms in September will proceed. We will be in a position to give GOI a specific delivery date in September in next few days. We are ready to proceed on delivery of four A–4’s in September as previously scheduled. However, our understanding is that GOI prefers to have us make modifications rather than take the four scheduled for delivery in September unmodified. On this basis, two modified A–4’s would be delivered by end of October or early November and five every thirty days thereafter until sixteen are delivered. These deliveries, of course, must continue to be kept in strictest confidence between us.

9. With adoption of Jackson Amendment by Senate,5 we hope to be able to proceed in firming up details regarding GOI credit needs without too much further delay as we foresee no serious difficulties in House-Senate conference.

10. We feel approaches to UAR and USSR should be more effective if for at least time being no public statement is made regarding our [Page 527] judgment that UAR is in violation of ceasefire-standstill. We urge GOI to cooperate to this end.

11. Finally, we hope that GOI will find itself in a position to send Tekoah back to New York and to resume discussions under Jarring’s auspices immediately. We feel that such move is in GOI interest since talks are further way to test UAR intentions. In any event, if GOI view that UAR is not interested in proceeding in a serious way in peace talks is confirmed, GOI willingness to explore all possibilities under Jarring’s aegis would help place onus on Cairo rather than on Tel Aviv.

12. We want GOI to know that any hesitation on our part in making judgments re violations in days immediately after ceasefire was based not on any doubts of our Israeli friends but rather on our strong desire to draw conclusions based on our own evidence. US hopes that any feelings that have developed that we have doubted Israeli credibility can be made a thing of the past. It only became clear after ceasefire that we were operating from a different intelligence base. Now as a result of close cooperation in surveillance, there is less possibility of any misunderstandings. It was unfortunate, too, that any differences or misunderstandings have been aired publicly. We continue to believe that both of us can work more closely and more cooperatively by concerting together in first instance through diplomatic channels. Finally, regardless of Israeli doubts, and we can fully understand and appreciate difficulties that face Israelis on the firing line, Israel can be assured that US is the one friend in whom it can have continuing confidence. We cannot promise miracles; but we can promise that we will do everything possible through diplomatic channels to stop violations. If results are less than one would hope, we are guarding against that by providing necessary wherewithal, as indicated above.

13. We doing this, of course, on assumption Israel would not itself unilaterally break ceasefire which we would view most seriously.6

14. FOR CAIRO: You should immediately seek appointment with Foreign Minister Riad to convey following message.

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15. We have not yet received explanation from GUAR concerning specific missile-related activities raised in our August 19 and August 22 approaches.7

16. In addition to violations raised on those occasions our evidence on subsequent dates reveals following changes. We are presenting here confirmed information and are leaving out number of sites at which there are suspected activities but which so far have not been confirmed.

17. To recapitulate, following changes have occurred August 10 through 27:

a.New SA–2 sites constructed: 2
b. SA–2 sites on which construction continued: 6
c. SA–2 sites occupied: 12
d. SA–2 battalions that have been field deployed: 2
e. SA–3 battalions that have been field deployed: 2

18. In presenting this information you should say this does not include any of the activity claimed by Israel to have taken place August 7–10 period.

19. You should tell Foreign Minister this pattern of activity is matter of serious concern to USG. We must say in all frankness that we are at loss to understand this activity which is at such variance with role his government has played in our joint effort to help Ambassador Jarring promote agreement between the parties on terms of just and lasting peace in Middle East. What possible gain can there be for UAR? GUAR has repeatedly urged that Jarring talks get under way as soon as possible, yet it is clear that principal impediment to this very goal has become UAR’s continuing military activities in ceasefire zone. UAR has invested much in success of talks and now is in process of taking onus for jeopardizing both ceasefire-standstill and talks.

20. You should say USG recognized, as we are sure Foreign Minister did, grave risks inherent in continuation of situation prevailing before ceasefire and beginning of Ambassador Jarring’s present efforts. Were the ceasefire to fail and those efforts to come to halt, risks would be even greater than before because chances of again achieving whatever has been accomplished in past month would be greatly reduced. Government of United States would not be able to continue to support Jarring discussions and ceasefire, and would see no alternative but to return to conditions prevailing before August 7, unless ceasefire-standstill is strictly observed and continuing violations stopped immediately. These violations greatly restrict our ability to play constructive role in support of settlement since it was clearly understood that nei [Page 529] ther side would seek military advantage of any kind in ceasefire-standstill zones while agreement was in effect. Standstill means standstill.

21. You should tell Foreign Minister that you personally reported his view that terms of agreement give UAR right to move missile battalions from one location to another within zone, so long as no new missiles are introduced into zone. Careful reading of text of agreement makes it impossible for us to support such interpretation. Indeed we think it obvious that such movements are contrary to and in violation of military standstill. Moreover, UAR activity is contrary to his assurance that UAR would not construct new sites or introduce any new missiles in 50 km zone.

22. You should tell Foreign Minister that we are raising this serious matter in confidence with him in earnest hope that appropriate action to rectify situation will be taken promptly and we be given full assurance that all violations will stop immediately. In this way, it would become possible for all concerned to devote full attention to peacemaking efforts currently in progress under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices.

23. If Riad raises question of UAR charges of Israeli violations, you should say we have raised this with Israeli Government and they assure us that their activity has been limited entirely to maintenance. As we are now raising these matters of violations with the UAR, we will continue doing same on Israeli side.

24. If Foreign Minister again raises question US arms for Israel, you should say US policy continues to be one of restraint. However, we cannot disregard violations of ceasefire/standstill or continuing Soviet supply of arms to the UAR.8

25. FOR MOSCOW: You should transmit following oral statement to highest possible level Soviet Foreign Ministry September 3.

26. The US Government wishes to raise with the Soviet Government a matter of deep concern. We now have incontrovertible evidence of continuing significant changes in the disposition of missile installations in the ceasefire zone west of the Suez Canal. Not only has there been construction continuing on a number of missile sites, but also construction of new sites where none existed at time of ceasefire. Moreover, a number of SA–2 and SA–3 missiles have been installed since the ceasefire went into effect. These are clearcut violations of ceasefire- [Page 530] standstill agreement; they are contrary to Brezhnev’s statement re need for honest observance of agreement.9

27. The US Government is at a loss to understand this activity, which is at such variance with the role that the Soviet Government has played in our joint effort to help Ambassador Jarring promote agreement between the parties on the terms of a just and lasting peace in Middle East.

28. The US Government recognized, as undoubtedly the Soviet Government did, the risks inherent in a continuation of the situation prevailing before the ceasefire and the beginning of Ambassador Jarring’s present efforts. Were the ceasefire to fail and those efforts to come to a halt, the risks would be even greater than before because the chances of again achieving what has been accomplished in the past month would be greatly reduced. The UAR and USSR will have borne the onus for ending the ceasefire and aborting the talks between parties.

29. The Government of the United States must make it clear to the Soviet Government that it may no longer be able to continue to support the Jarring discussions and the ceasefire, unless the ceasefire-standstill is strictly observed and continuing activity stopped immediately. These activities have already seriously undermined our ability to play a constructive role in support of a settlement since, as the USSR knows, it was clearly understood that neither side would seek military advantage of any kind in the ceasefire/standstill zones while the agreement was in effect. Prompt rectification of this situation is essential. Any continuation of these activities will place on the Soviet Union and the UAR the responsibility for a possible resumption of the fighting.

30. FYI. Although not part of the above message, you should find way to get across personal suggestion that most useful thing Soviets could do would be to have several sites representing most clear-cut violations moved from zone. We have no desire to take advantage of any such move in public but would find great value in repairing damage to U.S. ability to bring Israelis along in negotiation. In addition, try get across idea that Soviet credibility in Washington also heavily involved in this issue. END FYI.10

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31. FOR USUN: You should inform Jarring as follows:

A. We are satisfied on basis of our own evidence that there have been numerous violations by UAR of standstill-ceasefire agreement.

B. At same time, we are drawing Israelis attention to great emphasis we place on getting negotiating process started. Accordingly, we are strongly urging Israelis to instruct Tekoah to return forthwith to New York, we hope before upcoming Labor Day weekend.11

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 655, Country Files, Middle East, Ceasefire Mideast Vol. I. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted on September 2 by Sisco, Sterner, and Theodore A. Wahl (NEA/IAI); cleared in INR, J, EUR, the White House, and the Defense Department; and approved by Rogers. Repeated to London, Paris, Beirut, Jidda, Kuwait, and Amman.
  2. August 31.
  3. Presumably the September 1 NSC meeting; see Document 156.
  4. Sisco and Rabin met at 10 p.m. on September 2. A report of the meeting is in telegram 144262 to Tel Aviv, September 3. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 655, Country Files, Mideast, Ceasefire Mideast Vol. I)
  5. Senator Henry M. Jackson (D–WA) inserted an amendment into a Defense procurement bill, which passed the Senate on September 1, authorizing an unlimited arms-buying credit to Israel. (Washington Post, September 2, 1970, p. A1)
  6. Zurhellen met with Eban on September 3 at 9:45 a.m. to convey the information in paragraphs 5A through 13. (Telegram 4801 from Tel Aviv, September 3; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1156, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, June Initiative Vol. IV, August 28–November 15, 1970) On September 6, Eban responded to the U.S. presentations in an “oral paper” to Rogers, in which he said that Israel looked to the United States “as the initiator of the ceasefire and the new stage of the Jarring Mission to use its full influence to secure the restoration of the position as it was when the ceasefire came into force.” He also expressed Israel’s appreciation for the Nixon administration’s expressed intention to deliver an anti-SAM package and fighter jets to Israel. (Telegram 147014 from Tel Aviv, September 9; ibid., Box 655, Country Files, Middle East, Ceasefire Mideast Vol. I)
  7. See footnote 2, Document 158.
  8. Telegram 1859 from Cairo, August 20, reported Bergus’s August 19 conversation with Mahmoud Riad, during which the latter said that he did not want to comment on Bergus’s presentation until he had an opportunity to study it carefully. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1156, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, June Initiative Vol. III, August 8–27, 1970) Telegram 1889 from Cairo, August 22, reported Bergus’s second approach to Riad, a “firm presentation.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR)
  9. See footnote 3, Document 155.
  10. Beam carried out his instructions on the late afternoon of September 3, making his oral presentation to Vinogradov. Beam reported that the Deputy Foreign Minister responded with a “lengthy, repetitive, and largely unyielding reply,” but that he said his remarks were “preliminary in nature” and that Beam’s statement “would be studied.” (Telegram 5076 from Moscow, September 3; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1156, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, June Initiative Vol. IV, August 28–November 15, 1970; printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 201)
  11. Yost met with Jarring on the morning of September 3, after which he wrote that the Special Representative “expressed considerable doubt that, despite our urging, GOI would send Tekoah back to NY before Eban,” who had planned to come later that month. If Israel did send him back, Jarring added, he doubted that Tekoah “would be authorized to do more than engage in probing action” until after Eban’s arrival. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR)