224. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1

68413. Ref: Tel Aviv 2220.2

1. Following are our replies to points on which GOI seeks establish agreed position with USG. You are authorized to convey these to GOI, leaving piece of paper to assure textual accuracy. Paragraphs below refer to correspondingly numbered sub-paragraphs of para B of Israeli document:

(1) We believe document contains elements which obviously will require further clarification and adjustment during subsequent negotiations. USG is prepared to pass points contained in paragraph A, sub-paragraphs 1–13, of Israeli document to UARG, to recommend that they be given serious consideration and to tell UARG we are prepared to convey its reponse to GOI. We are certain GOI will appreciate that, if we are to play role of constructive diplomacy as both sides have asked us to do, we cannot be advocate for entirety of the positions of either side. Of positions set forth in Israeli document, some are obviously fundamental, others less so. We will, however, emphasize to UAR that we believe Israeli proposal offers positive basis for further discussions and exploration and will urge they reply in positive spirit.

(2) The USG position remains as it was stated in the communications cited (President Nixon’s letters to Prime Minister Meir of July 23 [Page 822] and December 3, 1970,3 and clarifications conveyed by Assistant Secretary Sisco to Ambassador Rabin July 27, 1970).4

(3) The US position remains as previously stated: Quote no Israeli soldiers should be withdrawn from occupied territories until a binding contractual peace agreement satisfactory to Israel has been achieved. Unquote. We understand fully that Israeli willingness to pull back its forces in accordance with an interim agreement does not create an added obligation to make a further withdrawal in the absence of a peace agreement, and we agree that no added commitment would be involved on the part of Israel. If such agreement achieved, it would of course provide basis for progress in Jarring talks.

(4) It follows from 3 above that we understand clearly that a pullback by Israel in accordance with the interim agreement does not imply Israeli willingness to future withdrawal to the international border or any other line not agreed to in the course of the negotiations. Our view regarding borders remains that Resolution 242 neither endorses or excludes the pre-June 5, 1967 lines, in all or in part, as the lines to which Israel will withdraw in accordance with the final agreement to be reached under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices.

(5) We are not altogether clear just what Israel is aiming at in question 5. We would be prepared to make clear to the Soviet Union the seriousness of any violation under the terms of any agreement reached on the Canal question, including any Soviet participation in or support of such violations. Other ways and means to deter such moves by the Soviets would depend on the actual circumstances of the situation at the time.

(6) As we have said, the USG is prepared to play constructive diplomatic role in assisting the UAR and Israel in reaching agreement on the Canal question so long as both parties wish us to do so. As previously indicated, we have no plans to involve Jarring or the Four in the negotiations.

2. After conveying foregoing, you should make following additional points orally.

A. We must take exception to the point made which suggests that USG has advocated opening of Suez Canal and that GOI is responding to US wishes in this regard. As records show, idea of interim agreement [Page 823] on opening of Canal was proposed by President Sadat and responded to by Prime Minister Meir in public statements in early February.5 USG advocates peace settlement on basis of Resolution 242. We advocate any interim agreement between Israel and UAR that would be step in that direction and would help diminish risk of renewed hostilities. It is in this context that we have said we would favor agreement between the two sides which would result inter alia in reopening of Suez Canal.

B. USG believes Israeli proposal provides basis for negotiating Canal agreement and is prepared to convey it to UARG. In our private view, it contains some constructive elements and some points which UAR will not be able to accept. We have no intention, however, of pre-judging UAR reaction and we ready to communicate Israeli document unchanged to UAR promptly.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1162, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, April 21–30, 1971. Secret; Priority; Nodis; Cedar Plus. Drafted by Sisco and Atherton, cleared by Haig, and approved by Rogers. Repeated Priority to Cairo and to USUN.
  2. Telegram 2220 from Tel Aviv, April 19, included the text of Israel’s proposal for reopening the Suez Canal, which begins: “With a view to facilitating the attainment of durable peace between Israel and the UAR, Israel is prepared to consider entering into a special agreement with the UAR for the opening of the Suez Canal to international navigation, the observance of a cease-fire without limitation of time and non-resumption of fighting, and the stationing of the IDF at some distance east of the Suez Canal.” What followed were 13 principles that the Government of Israel believed the agreement had to contain. (Ibid., Box 657, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. II) Meir handed the proposal to Barbour in a meeting with him on the afternoon of April 19, telling him that the proposal “should be understood as a state of clarification between GOI and USG,” and that “there would be a need for negotiations to work out details.” (Telegram 2221 from Tel Aviv, April 19; ibid., Box 1162, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, April 1–20, 1971)
  3. Documents 136 and 187.
  4. When Sisco met with Rabin on July 27, 1970, the Israeli Ambassador asked him—on instructions from the Government of Israel—to clarify the U.S. position on fundamental points regarding a future peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors. (Telegram 120681 to Tel Aviv, July 28, 1970; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1155, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, U.S. Peace Initiative for the Middle East Vol. II)
  5. See Document 203.
  6. On April 23, Barbour wrote that Gazit gave Zurhellen this statement: “Regarding your paper yesterday containing responses to our document of April 19, we shall see the Ambassador sometime next week for a further discussion of the matter. We ask that you not rpt not deliver any document to the UAR. We assume that the document is not rpt not being transmitted to other parties.” (Telegram 2334 from Tel Aviv; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR)