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

50083. For Ambassador from Sisco.

1. We are increasingly concerned about current Israeli tactics in their dealings with Jarring and Waldheim.2 We have no desire to precipitate USGGOI dispute over this matter or to seek to quarterback Israeli moves, but believe it important our concerns and thoughts on this subject get through to them. It occurs to us that best thing would be for you to engage GOI on personal basis in dialogue on this problem, without its having appearance of formal démarche. You know best how to get this across.

2. Following are points we would hope you could get across:

A. As Israel knows, we have stayed out of their current negotiations with Jarring and SYG, and we will continue to stay out. In spirit of close consultations between us, however, we want to share our views for their consideration.

B. We gather Israelis feel that, if clarification process in Jarring talks can be stalled, this will eventually convince Egyptians they have no alternative to entering proximity talks on interim Canal agreement. This may be true, but we think argument can also be made for contrary view—namely, that some substantive activity in Jarring context would make it easier for Sadat to ultimately enter proximity talks on parallel track.

C. Whichever analysis is correct, we see real risk that tactic of temporizing in Jarring talks will lead sooner or later to steps by SYG and Jarring which would cast Israel in most indefensible light, make our own position vulnerable and risk precipitating return of whole Middle East question to Security Council.

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D. Israeli position, as we understand it, is that it has not wanted to be confronted in Jarring talks with Jarring’s February 8 memorandum and December UNGA Resolution.3 We can appreciate this view and understand it. In our judgment, Jarring is now offering Israelis precisely this and is in effect saying that he is prepared to resume his mission without pre-conditions. This will have achieved a major step for Israeli point of view: In effect the memo and GA Resolution are being disregarded as condition to get talks started while both sides hold to their own positions substantively as to the settlement.

E. For Israel to press situation still further and ask Jarring in effect to disavow his memorandum and UNGA resolution vis-à-vis Egyptians puts him in humiliating and impossible situation. Furthermore, were he to do so, this would certainly create new obstacles on Egyptian side. Since Jarring is not asking Israel to change its position with respect to his memorandum and UNGA resolution, it would be unreasonable to expect him to ask Egyptians to change their position in this respect.

F. We have no illusions that clarification process Jarring proposes re elements of Resolution 242 will lead to new significant breakthroughs, or that it will not eventually come up against opposing Israeli and Egyptian views on question of prior withdrawal commitment. We believe Jarring knows this, the Egyptians know this, as we and the Israelis know this. It is very much in U.S.-Israeli mutual interests, however, to keep Jarring process going, which will require some semblance of movement in Jarring talks. As long as some diplomatic activity is going on, the ceasefire will be reinforced, the doors to interim Suez Canal talks remain open, and the outside pressures for outside involvement—four or five power talks, Security Council, etc.—will be diminished. In our view, diplomatic activity can only come about if Israelis will drop their present attempt to obtain preconditions from Jarring and agree to engage in clarification process which Jarring is offering them and Egyptians, without seeking to pin Jarring down on relationship of Jarring talks to his February memorandum and UNGA resolution. If Jarring is willing to finesse these documents by getting both sides to resume talks on basis which does not include specific reference to them, we think this protects Israeli position fully.4

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3. We are taking every precaution to assure that knowledge of this approach to Israelis does not repeat not get back to other governments or UN officials.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 609, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. 10. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Atherton and approved by Sisco and Rogers.
  2. Rabin’s report to Sisco on Jarring’s visit to Israel is in telegram 33722 to Tel Aviv, February 28. (Ibid., Box 658, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. V) According to Bush’s account of his March 14 meeting with the Secretary-General, the latter said that Israel had been “engaging in dilatory tactics,” which he “could not tolerate.” Waldheim was referring specifically to Tekoah’s week-long delay in returning to New York from Israel, his lack of communication with Jarring when he did return, and his ultimatum to Jarring that he must “disassociate himself” from his February 8, 1971, memorandum and General Assembly Resolution 2799 when, upon Jarring’s request, he finally got in touch with the Special Representative. (Telegram 927 from USUN, March 15; ibid., Box 1167, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, March 1–31, 1972)
  3. See, respectively, footnote 2, Document 205 and footnote 4, Document 270.
  4. On March 24, before he received this telegram, Barbour met with Eban, who reported to him that contacts with Jarring appeared “to be going on in desultory manner” and remarked that Israel still believed that a partial Suez agreement constituted a “better approach” than the Jarring Mission. Barbour replied that the United States also believed that, at the time, an interim settlement had a better chance of succeeding than Jarring’s efforts but emphasized that U.S. officials did not “consider the two incompatible.” He added that it would be “disastrous for either Israel or the US to undermine Jarring.” Eban agreed that it would not be “good for Israel” to be “charged with responsibility for a breakdown in the Jarring talks.” (Telegram 1995 from Tel Aviv, March 24; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR) Telegram 1998 from Tel Aviv, March 25, reported that telegram 50083 to Tel Aviv, March 23, arrived after his conversation with Eban. (Ibid.)