226. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1

2468. Dept Pass Ankara. For Sisco from Ambassador. Ref: Ankara 3002.2

1. I have, of course, been devoting a considerable part of my thinking recently to an assessment of GOI strategy at the present time and have not come up with any hard and fast conclusion. As to their attitude with specific reference to the possible opening of the Canal, I believe their concerns focus on two considerations. (1) They are genuinely concerned that the Egyptians and Soviets will take advantage of any Israeli withdrawal to cross the Canal with military forces and that the Israelis will somehow be prevented from countering such a move. They genuinely feel that their own security will require that they not withdraw beyond a distance which they, the Israelis, can publicly police. They are not rpt not interested in any conceivable multilateral guarantee against such violation. Nor would any prospect (which has not been specifically raised on either side but which is presumably the objective of their probing for our support) of unilateral American presence to deter the Egyptians and Soviets be attractive either if it went no further than some kind of American surveillance, etc. (2) They are concerned lest they withdraw and permit clearance of the Canal but then are faced with some further Egyptian demand such as the exclusion of Israeli shipping before the Canal is actually opened. In this case, they see themselves arrayed against the unanimous displeasure of all the world’s shipping nations.

2. Perhaps more fundamental to their thinking, however, is an underlying divergence with US as to the effectiveness of various tactics in dealing with the Egyptians and Soviets. Thus, while they recognize that considerable progress has been made since last summer, particularly the continued cessation of hostilities, and they appreciate an American role in this, they attribute this progress more to Israel’s hard line than to the various diplomatic maneuvers which have been going on. They don’t exactly admit to this assessment but in their discussion or references to the principal Egyptian concessions which have been made—[Page 827](A) Nasser’s agreement to the ceasefire and (B) Sadat’s expression of willingness to conclude a peace arrangement with Israel—the implication is clearly present that they believe these were squeezed out of the Egyptians by Israel’s adamancy.

3. The result is that in both channels the Israelis are reluctant to move rapidly. Also, I think they still hope, and at least have not given up on the prospect that, [with] these tactics they will somehow be able to bring about the direct negotiating procedure by which they originally put so much store. They do not wish to terminate the Jarring exercise but are happy to keep it on a back burner with the thought that if triangular negotiation gets complicated enough, Jarring might persuade himself or be persuaded that his March 10, 1968 proposal, involving unconditional talks under his auspices, should be revived as the only way to break the impasse.

4. I appreciate the foregoing analysis is not rpt not very promising, but I am afraid these conclusions are, to a considerable extent anyway, what we are faced with.

  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; Immediate; Nodis: Cedar Plus. All brackets are in the original except “[with]”, added for clarity.
  2. In telegram 3002 from Ankara to Tel Aviv, April 29, Sisco asked Barbour for his “full assessment” of “GOI strategy at present time.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR)