213. Telegram From the Department of State to the Interests Section in the United Arab Republic, the Mission to the United Nations, and the Embassy in Israel1

33796. 1. You will have seen the Israeli reply and our preliminary reaction that it is unresponsive and unsatisfactory.2 Jarring’s reaction has been equally negative, and he has asked the Israelis to reconsider their reply, particularly para 4,3 since he feels Israelis have not responded specifically to principal question put to them re borders. We understand Jarring is holding off giving the Israeli reply to the UAR for the weekend pending Israeli reconsideration. He informed Israelis that if he transmits Israeli reply to UAR in its present form this will create major impasse, place in jeopardy his entire mission, and probably lead to an early SC meeting. After a high-level review here this morning, we called the Israelis and urged reconsideration as requested by Jarring. Rabin has made it clear that it is unlikely that any change in Israeli position will be forthcoming at present time.

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2. In light foregoing, our principal objective is to:

(A) Take such interim steps that might help in achieving an extension of the cease-fire; and (B) keep UAR reaction within manageable proportions while we continue efforts at a subsequent stage to secure a more forthcoming Israeli position. Cairo will undoubtedly need something in order to keep matters within reasonable confines and provide rationale for extension of cease-fire.

3. We have in mind the following scenario on which we request comments of addressees soonest:

A. We have weighed relative utility of SC and use of Four Powers and find choice between the two relatively evenly balanced. On one hand even though Israelis will not like it, SC would probably give them less concern than Four Powers since they would view Four Power communiqué as first step towards imposed settlement. On other hand, SC debate would force parties to make statements which would tend to rigidify their positions, particularly with Syria as member of SC, and could lead to a longer hiatus in Jarring Mission. While we are sure French and Soviets will give us plenty of trouble in Four, we feel that it may prove more manageable than SC if we go to UAR in first instance and see whether we can develop agreement on parameters of a possible Four Power statement. If we find that this is not possible, we would have to fall back to SC and do best we can in keeping resolution reasonable.

B. On the assumption GOI reply remains as it is, Jarring can be expected to give it to UAR on Monday. We therefore would discuss with UAR on Monday a possible short-term course which offers some hope of extending the cease-fire and keeping open avenue of negotiations. Bergus would be instructed to convey following oral message from Secretary to FM Riad some time on Monday:

(1) We have examined Israeli reply and we find Israel has not responded to specific critical question posed by Jarring on question of borders. We intend to discuss this matter further with Israel.

(2) We feel that latest UAR position is positive and regret that Israeli reply has not advanced matters. We feel it is all important, however, if we are to proceed further and if our on-going efforts are to be effective no precipitate action be taken by UAR which could exacerbate situation, increase tension and foreclose possibility of further progress.

(3) We appreciate fully difficult position which Cairo finds itself in at present time. We wish to discuss with them what we can do to help maintain a reasonably favorable climate which will provide basis for an extension of a cease-fire while our further efforts continue.

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(4) We are prepared to support a Four Power statement4 along the following lines as a follow up to a report by Secretary General on the current state of Jarring’s efforts.5 Statement follows:

The Permanent Representatives of France, the USSR, the U.S., and the U.K. met on March 4, 1971.

They noted with satisfaction the initiative undertaken on February 8 by the Special Representative of the Secretary General, an initiative which they consider to be fully in accord with his mission under Security Council Resolution 242.

They reaffirmed their support for Security Council Resolution 242 and the efforts of the Special Representative and expressed the view that the parties should cooperate with and respond positively to him.

They welcomed the positive UAR reply to the Special Representative and expressed the hope that Israel will soon make a similar positive reply.

They agreed to continue their preliminary examination of various possible supplementary guarantees. They expressed their willingness to play a responsible and cooperative role in keeping the peace arrived at through negotiation between the parties.

They expressed the hope that in order to facilitate the mission of the Special Representative the parties will continue to withhold fire, ex[Page 774]ercise military restraint, and maintain the quiet which has prevailed in the area since August 1970. End statement.6

4. If we can achieve common ground with UAR and others along above lines, we would wish to consider whether time ripe to try out separate Suez Canal proposal within framework of Sadat-Meir public statements.

5. In order to minimize any misunderstanding with Israelis, we would inform them we believe above course best designed to provide basis for extension of cease-fire and keep door open for further negotiations at next stage.

6. We will undoubtedly be bombarded on Monday by press and are developing appropriate press line. We are also planning on steps to begin to keep key members of Congress fully informed.

7. Request addressees comments.7 No action should be taken with government to which you accredited without further department instructions.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 129, Country Files, Middle East. Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Cedar. Drafted by Sisco, cleared by Kissinger, and approved by Rogers. Repeated Immediate to Amman and to Beirut, London, Moscow, and Paris.
  2. See Document 211.
  3. Paragraph 4 reads: “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from the Israel-U.A.R. cease-fire line to the secure, recognized and agreed boundaries to be established in the peace agreement. Israel will not withdraw to the pre-June 5, 1967 lines.” See footnote 2, Document 211.
  4. According to Bush, U Thant, Jarring, the Soviet Union, and France had urged the Four Powers to meet as early as March 1 or 2 to discuss and release a communiqué before the Secretary General published his report on Jarring’s recent activity, but the United States resisted, refusing to be “stampeded” into advancing the meeting and thereby “take the lead away” from U Thant. (Telegram 627 from USUN, March 6; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 656, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. I) The Four Powers eventually met to discuss the communiqué on March 4, but the conversation stalled over the Soviet Union’s refusal to include direct or indirect reference to an extension of the cease-fire, as reported by Bush. (Telegram 616 from USUN, March 4; ibid.) They met again on March 5 but made no further progress, prompting the Department to write to the Mission: “We assume question of communiqué is dead. If raised please indicate matter has been overtaken by events and US no longer prepared to participate in any further effort to issue communiqué.” (Telegram 40734 to USUN, March 11; ibid., Box 1158, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East Negotiations—Four Power Talks)
  5. The Secretary General submitted his report on March 5, the conclusion of which began: “Ambassador Jarring has been very active over the past month and some further progress has been made towards a peaceful solution of the Middle East question. The problems to be settled have been more clearly identified and on some there is general agreement. I wish moreover to note with satisfaction the positive reply given by the UAR to Ambassador Jarring’s initiative. However, the Israeli Government has so far not responded to the request of Ambassador Jarring that it should give a commitment on withdrawal to the international boundary of the United Arab Republic. I therefore appeal to Israel to respond positively to Ambassador Jarring’s initiative.” He concluded with an “appeal to the parties to withhold fire, to exercise military restraint and to maintain the quiet which has prevailed in the area since August 1970.” (Telegram 614 from USUN, March 4; ibid., Box 656, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. I)
  6. Bergus delivered Rogers’s oral message to Riad on March 1 and met with him for 70 minutes. Much of their meeting was taken up by the Foreign Minister’s “lengthy statement” in which he said that the United States had to “face facts” regarding Israel’s commitment to expansion rather than peace, as demonstrated by its “flat rejection of withdrawal as a matter of principle” in its response to Jarring. He added that there was “no doubt in Cairo and in all other world capitals” that if the United States wanted to “persuade” Israel to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula for peace with the United Arab Republic it could “easily be done.” Regarding Rogers’s message, Riad remarked that “there was little new” in it, and, as for the Four-Power communiqué that the United States was prepared to support, he said that it was “not helpful.” Continuing, he told Bergus that his government could not “accept the proposition that it should extend ceasefire and then wait and see what Israelis will do,” although he clarified that “this did not necessarily mean Egyptians would start shooting.” Finally, he concluded that he would “accept guarantees only for June 4 borders, not rpt not for anything else” and reserved the right to “withdraw his support for concept at some future time” given the opposition he faced to the issue of guarantees. (Telegrams 422 and 423 from Cairo, March 1; ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 129, Country Files, Middle East)
  7. Comments are in telegram 1198 from Tel Aviv, February 28 (ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR); telegram 1070 from Amman, March 1 (ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 129, Country Files, Middle East—Nodis/Cedar/Plus); telegram 1613 from Beirut, March 1 (ibid.); and telegram 1245 from Moscow, March 1 (ibid.).