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

99793. 1. Please deliver following letter from President to Prime Minister Meir. QUOTE:

Dear Madam Prime Minister:

Thank you for your letter of May 14.2 I greatly appreciate your trouble and care in setting before me your government’s views on the [Page 111] difficult issue of building toward peace in the Middle East. Your letter clearly conveys the understandable depth of Israel’s conviction and feeling on this subject.

I agree with much of what you say. To the extent that there may be differences between us, I believe they derive from our necessarily different perspectives and not from different understandings of fundamental principles, on which I am convinced we are one.

To avoid any possible misunderstanding of our purposes, I am asking Ambassador Barbour now to discuss my thoughts with you. I would then hope that you might find it possible to come to Washington next month for a fuller and more personal exchange of views. Sincerely, Richard Nixon UNQUOTE.

2. In presenting letter Ambassador should make following points orally on behalf of President.

3. As President has indicated in his letter we are convinced US and Israel do not differ on fundamental principles.

4. We believe that a lasting peace can only be achieved through mutual agreement among the belligerents themselves. We had hoped that the November 22, 1967, UN Security Council resolution would get negotiations underway looking toward such agreement. Had there been progress, we would have continued to stand aside.

5. But clearly the Jarring mission had reached an impasse. The problem is how to get negotiations under way.

6. It is difficult for us to accept the thesis that the passage of time alone would bring the UAR around to a more amenable position. It seems vital to make another effort to get negotiations started.

7. In entering the four-power and Soviet talks, it is not our intention to take negotiations out of Israeli and Arab hands. Our purpose is to test the USSR’s intentions and its willingness and capacity to induce the UAR to enter into a real commitment to negotiate a peace settlement. To do this, we are attempting in our talks with the USSR to reduce to writing the areas where our views coincide. We see no way to move forward without going at least this far.

8. The President fully understands your concern that Israel’s negotiating position not be prejudiced. We will make every effort to see that our talks do not have this effect.

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9. We believe that it is essential, if negotiations are to begin, to confirm for both sides that a realistic negotiation is possible. The formulations we have given the Soviets are an effort to define the outer limits of realistic negotiating positions on both sides.

10. We understand the emotions of your people and agree that imperfect remedies cannot be a substitute for peace. At the same time, we hope Israel recognizes that no peace or security is perfect.

11. To attain peace will require a spirit of compromise. You have indicated your willingness to be forthcoming. We honestly do not know whether the UAR and Soviets are or not, and that is the purpose of our probe, even though we share your skepticism.

12. We ask no more of Israel than that it accompany us on an exploration of Soviet and UAR intentions.3

13. FYI. Dates on which Mrs. Meir will be invited to visit US have been fixed for July 17–18. Instructions on extending invitation follow.4 End FYI.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 756, Presidential Correspondence 1969–1974, Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir, 1969. Secret; Nodis. Drafted on June 17 by Sterner; cleared by Atherton, Davies, and Saunders; and approved by Sisco.
  2. In the letter, which Rabin delivered to Rogers on May 14, Meir expressed her displeasure with both the Two- and Four-Power talks, especially the former. She wrote: “Our fears have been confirmed. They have been made particularly acute by the latest document submitted to the USSR.” She continued: “Instead of leaving the parties free to reach their own unfettered agreements, the document under consideration prejudices negotiations before they begin. It essentially predetermines the results of the negotiations on the main matters at issue, including the problems of boundaries, refugees and the nature of peace, setting forth for agreement with the Soviet Union positions which Israel is known to oppose.” (Ibid.) Meir was referring to the U.S. plan discussed with Dobrynin in May. See Document 28.
  3. Barbour presented Nixon’s letter to Meir on June 19 and reported on his conversation with her in telegram 2360 from Tel Aviv, June 19. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 604, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. II)
  4. In telegram 100333 to Tel Aviv, June 19. (Ibid.) In telegram 2351 from Tel Aviv, June 19, Barbour reported that Meir had “gladly accepted” Nixon’s invitation to visit the United States, but that she could not do so July 17–18. The Prime Minister explained that she had to stay in Israel during the days leading up to the Labor Party convention, scheduled for July 20–22, when “fundamental decisions” would be made. (Ibid.)