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

208222. 1. Under Secretary Rostow called in Israeli Chargé Evron morning June 5. Told him we had had urgent and quite constructive exchanges with Soviets in recent hours. Soviets, while casting no blame on Israel, had urged USG use strongest good offices with Israel to achieve cease-fire. Soviets said they would move in same direction. We told Soviets we knew nothing in advance of hostilities that have broken out, that we would move rapidly as possible to urge cease-fire on all [Page 306] parties in interest of restoring peace. Evron asked if Soviets in these exchanges had commented on their position re Strait of Tiran. Rostow replied they had not.

2. Rostow asked Evron cable GOI soonest urging rapid cease-fire. Evron undertook do so.

3. Queried how hostilities originated, Evron said he had seen Israeli military statements, report of Eban-Barbour conversation, and statement by MinDef Dayan saying UAR armor had moved to cut off southern Negev. He understood radios Damascus and Amman claiming everything is finished and Haifa in flames. Over past 2 or 3 days he had seen Israeli military reports showing further buildup UAR armor in central part of southern border. “That is how it started” said Evron.

4. Rostow noted that Eban told Barbour GOI has no intention taking advantage of situation to enlarge Israeli borders. Evron commented there is no question of this and commented there had been no desire by GOI to change territorial status Sharm el-Sheikh area, where sole issue is free passage.

5. Rostow said would appreciate Evron informing him in greatest possible detail how events of morning had started. USG had great interest in this aspect. Evron undertook do so. He said Israel in position tell how it started because it had received first blow.

6. Evron said DG Israeli Foreign Ministry called in Soviet Ambassador June 5 to tell him what happened. Ambassador took usual line but meeting had not been stormy.

7. Evron said Ambassador Harman due back in Washington afternoon June 5.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Wolle, cleared by Davies and Grey, and approved by Eugene Rostow. Repeated Priority to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, London, Paris, Moscow, USUN, Khartoum, Baghdad, Jidda, Kuwait, Algiers, Tunis, Rabat, and Tripoli.