277. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State 1

4118. Ref: State 210497 and 210499.2

1.
I saw FonMin Eban in Jerusalem this noon at my request in effort elicit Israeli thinking on questions urgently facing us now that cease fire is in operation. In accordance with State’s 210499 I said we now desire to turn to next steps within and outside United Nations and that we urgently need to know GOI’s policies for the future. I emphasized the pressures we face in the Security Council to require Israeli troops to withdraw to previous lines. Noting that our posture is that defined by the Security Council resolutions we have tabled, I stressed importance of obtaining as much Israeli precision as to its thinking as possible at earliest moment. As to United States points of departure I mentioned President’s reaffirmation on May 23 of our commitment to support the political independence and territorial integrity of all nations in the area, the necessity to establish a regime of peace eliminating claims by either side of the right to infringe on the rights of others because of belligerency, U.S. vital interests in relation to the Arab world, and the overriding necessity that through magnanimous and imaginative policies, the foundations laid for a genuine reconciliation among peoples of the area.
2.
Eban apologized that there must of necessity be a lack of precision in Israel’s thinking as to detailed polices because of the dramatic, rapid changes which had taken place and had raised opportunities which were inconceivable before and for which Israel unprepared. He repeated what he had said in the Security Council that this hour of danger is also an hour of opportunity and it is essential to move forward to peace and not backward to belligerence. He added that since the earlier exchanges between the United States and Israel, particularly between the President and the Prime Minister just prior to the outbreak of hostilities, the situation had in fact been disrupted. It is impossible now to reconstruct but we must build anew. In the circumstances the point of reference cannot really be the pre-June 4th situation.
3.
What Israel wants is quite simple: (a) security and (b) peace. Neither of these has been enjoyed before. Involved in the achievement of these goals are problems in the juridical, demographic and territorial fields. Israel has not yet had an opportunity to study each in detail. He [Page 458] reiterated that the disruption is so complete that they cannot rebuild but must erect a new edifice. He noted with satisfaction that the U.S. resolution tabled in the Security Council is forward looking in line with this concept.
4.
Eban said an intermediate status between war and peace is no longer feasible. What must be done is work out a blueprint for new Arab-Israel relations. This in itself has some negative and some positive implications. The adoption of the backward looking resolution tabled by the Soviets3 in calling for withdrawal to previous lines is inconceivable. Hopefully it will be resisted with the help of world opinion but if not Israel will resist it alone. Eban again appealed that we not waste the present opportunity and try to return Israel to the straight jacket of 1957. The national will in Israel is resolute and unanimous in rejecting such a concept.
5.
Eban said that as he sees the situation at present there are two questions: (a) how to build and (b) what ideas exist as to the shape in which the area should be rebuilt. As to how to build, Israel feels strongly that there should be direct discussions between Israel and its neighbors to achieve viable arrangements for peace. A solution should not be imposed by outside powers. In direct dialogue Israel and Egypt, for example, should together determine frontiers, attitudes toward each other, etc. If Egypt should suggest another forum for the discussion, it should be told it has the wrong address and it should approach Israel. To my comment suggesting some skepticism as to whether Egypt and the others would in fact seek a peaceful solution or might not merely sulk in their tents behind the cease fire arrangement, Eban expressed confidence that Egypt would be under sufficient indigenous pressure to eliminate the present situation and all that had preceded it to seek negotiations. As to ideas about the shape of the new structure in the Middle East, Eban said that the Israeli Government is engaged in urgent consultations to work out specific ideas on each of the problems involved. He could not as yet indicate the outcome of these discussions but suggested that in formulating some of the questions involved he might give some clues as to present thinking. Questions relating to Egypt are, how can Egypt and Israel live together? How can an absence of belligerence [Page 459] in two waterways be assured? How can Sinai be prevented from becoming another springboard for attack and perhaps most difficult of all, what about Gaza? As to Syria, how can Israel ensure that it is not perpetually under Syrian guns, or in a position where Syria can cut off its water system. Most complex of all, he said, is Jordan and/or the Palestinian West Bank. He asked whether it is intelligent to endeavor to reproduce the unity between the West Bank and Jordan or some sort of separate relationship between the West Bank and Israel and Jordan. How can religious interests in Jerusalem be assured and also the sanctity and unity of the Israeli Holy Places? He indicated clearly Israel completely rules out the possibility of re-dividing the city of Jerusalem now that is has become united.
6.
Eban then turned to tactical considerations. He recognized the requirement for speed particularly under the pressures created by United Nations procedures repeating again that it is tactically most desirable for the parties directly involved to get together and that he hoped very shortly for more specific ideas on the problems concerned. He urged that in the meantime a holding operation of at least short duration be undertaken and that the world not be intimidated by the Soviets. He again said it would be most tragic if the Soviet doctrine reflected in the Soviet Security Council resolution were accepted. Israel will hasten the crystalization of its ideas to permit more constructive consultation with U.S. One problem he describes as almost solved, Jerusalem is in fact united but the problems of international and spiritual interest there remain. On these he thought it wise not to be specific too quickly.
7.
Finally, Eban concluded by summarizing Israel’s position as wanting peace and direct negotiations and recognized that details require early but intensive study. He urged we not be too fatalistic as to timing. We must gain some time but also must act rapidly.
8.
As a postscript, Eban said he may go again to United Nations but before doing so he wants to formulate Israel’s ideas. He would not envisage putting specific proposals through the United Nations but recognizes that there are certain problems in which the international community’s interests are greater than others.

For example, what international or naval guarantees could be obtained for the straits? The United Nations presence had not helped on that point in the past but some other guarantees might be sought. Also Israel’s policy toward the various religions in Jerusalem was of great interest internationally and probably should be the subject of a quick Israeli declaration.

Barbour
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Received at 3:16 p.m.
  2. Documents 272 and 273.
  3. Reference is to a Soviet draft resolution introduced on June 8 that condemned Israel’s “aggressive activities” and violation of the Security Council’s resolutions of June 6 and 7 and demanded that Israel immediately halt its military activities against neighboring Arab states and withdraw its troops behind the Armistice Lines. A revised version submitted on June 13 condemned Israeli “aggressive activities” and continued occupation of UAR, Jordanian, and Syrian territory and demanded immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops behind the Armistice Lines. (UN document S/7951 and Rev. 1 and 2) The text of the revised resolution of June 13 is in Department of State Bulletin, July 3, 1967, p. 12. On June 14 the Security Council voted on the operative paragraphs of the resolution; both paragraphs failed to receive a majority.