206. Telegram From the Department of State to the Interests Section in the United Arab Republic1

29195. 1. We believe Cairo is sophisticated enough in its knowledge of Israeli political processes to realize that GOI is now faced with very difficult decisions which will have serious domestic political repercussions.2 Knowing this, UARG is probably prepared give Israelis certain amount of time to come to their decision. Nevertheless, it may at this point be useful to pass low-key message to Egyptians to reassure them of significance we attach to UAR response to Jarring and of our continuing close engagement in efforts to encourage Israel to come up with positive reply that Jarring can build on.

2. You should therefore see Mohammed Riad at early opportunity and give him following message:

A. We have carefully studied UAR reply to Jarring and consider it serious move forward.3 We believe it merits very close and constructive consideration by Israel.

B. We are encouraged by recent indications that Israeli Government is also viewing UAR response in this light. Special Cabinet meeting was held February 18 to discuss UAR reply and regular Cabinet meeting on Sunday, which Ambassador Rabin has flown home to attend, will continue discussion.4 GOI is now faced with making very [Page 743] important decisions with major domestic political implications involving reconsideration of policy positions that will require basic Cabinet and parliamentary review. This may take some time, but we believe it will be most productive in long run if Israelis are given opportunity to sort out these issues they are faced with according to their internal processes and without public pressure.

C. We have made it clear to Israelis that USG considers UAR reply serious forward step and that we have urged Israel to come forward with positive and constructive reply that advances matters equally on their side. As Sisco emphasized on “Face the Nation” program last Sunday, USG considers that Jarring’s initiative is clearly within his mandate under SC Res 242 and that time has come for hard decisions by all concerned.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1161, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Jarring Talks Edited and Indexed, February 19–26, 1971. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Sterner, cleared by Atherton and Stackhouse, and approved by Sisco. Repeated to Tel Aviv and USUN.
  2. Reference is to the international expectation of an Israeli response to Jarring’s February 8 aides-mémoire to Israel and the United Arab Republic. (See footnote 2, Document 205.) The United Arab Republic sent its reply to Jarring on February 15, the text of which is in telegram 328 from Cairo, accepting many of the aide-mémoire’s key elements. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 637, Country Files, Middle East, UAR, Vol. VI)
  3. On February 20 at 10:07 a.m., Sisco telephoned Kissinger and said: “I want to give you my reading on this Egyptian proposal. It’s very good and positive. That’s the first time I’ve ever said that. It meets the principal Israeli private and public conditions that the Egyptians are directly responsive to whether they are or are not willing to make a peace agreement and it gets into specifics for the first time in a clear-cut way. It’s the first serious intention to get on with this thing. I think now the Israelis will have to face the tough decisions.” (Ibid., Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 4, Chronological File) The UAR Government released the text of its response on March 10; see Israel’s Foreign Policy: Historical Documents, volumes 1–2: 1947–1974, Chapter XII, The War of Attrition and the Cease Fire, Document 28.
  4. Rabin wrote in his memoirs that during his short visit to Israel for consultations, the Cabinet adopted a resolution expressing “a favorable view” of the UAR readiness to enter into “meaningful negotiations on all matters connected with peace between the two countries.” (Rabin, The Rabin Memoirs, p. 193)
  5. Expecting to meet with Mohammed Riad on February 22, Bergus was instead received by Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad, who wanted to know what the U.S. Government’s next move would be, given what he described as Israel’s “refusal” of Jarring’s aide-mémoire by refusing to withdraw to the June 5 borders. Bergus told him that he “should be in no doubt as to the seriousness and value which we attached to the UAR reply to Jarring” and then proceeded to read paragraphs 2A and 2C of the telegram. The Ambassador concluded by telling Riad that he had “put an important and serious matter” before the U.S. Government and Rogers and that he would “communicate it to Washington as soon as possible.” He also said that the U.S. Government would “not be interested in guaranteeing peace agreement that was not inherently viable.” (Telegram 379 from Cairo, February 22; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1161, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Jarring Talks Edited and Indexed, February 19–26, 1971)