Security Council Consideration of Tiberias Incident

(March, 26 1962)


This telegram evaluates what the UN Security Council's position and actions should be concerning the Tiberias incident, bearing in mind the present UN's peace resolutions, the position of the USSR, and long term peace goals.


Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations/1/

Washington, March 26, 1962, 8:24 p.m.

2482. Re: Security Council consideration Tiberias incidents. Dept has given further consideration to US position in SC in light developments over past few days. While situation quiet, military build-up maintained and UN observers in some instances have been denied rightful access. In addition, USSR has promised all out support to Syrians. In these circumstances, US objectives in SC should be: (a) give maximum support to maintenance cease-fire; (b) strengthening UNTSO's peace keeping machinery and von Horn's position. We do not intend to acquiesce in GOI's relentlessly pursued, long-term program of eroding UNTSO authority. On other hand, Syria must be made to realize it cannot with impunity pour gunfire on Israelis legitimately fishing in Tiberias.

In view likelihood extreme res from UAR and/or USSR (and perhaps Ghana) and desirability exercising maximum degree control over outcome, USUN requested undertake consultations soonest with friendly SC members with view developing reasonably balanced res, which would contribute maximum to stability in Near East and do minimum damage to our relations with Israel and Arabs. We leave to your judgment when to approach UAR and Ghana. Also you may wish consider discussing substance of projected res with Syrians (and Israelis) at appropriate stage, though you may wish to work through UAR as Council member.

We recognize US under considerable pressures from both sides in this case, and that these pressures will mount as text of res crystallizes. Arabs will insist as minimum on outright condemnation rather than merely deploring Israeli raid, while GOI will undoubtedly resist any condemnation and insist at minimum reference to Israeli retaliation. Dept will transmit text draft res shortly. We informing Israelis and Syrians that insofar as we are concerned the primary tactical focus in SC consideration will of course be in New York rather than here or in respective capitals.

We assume that parties will wish to be heard in first instance on Wednesday./2/ We believe there would be advantage, giving full opportunity to digest von Horn report and for private consultations, to have several days delay in SC proceedings after parties have been heard. Possible desirability of the Council's asking von Horn to New York should be discussed in your consultations.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 330/3-2662. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Sisco, Buffum, Ludlow, and Palmer; cleared by Talbot, Thacher, and Wallner; and approved by Cleveland. Repeated to Damascus, Jerusalem, Cairo, London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Accra, Geneva, Caracas, Dublin, and Santiago.

/2/March 28, the beginning of the U.N. Security debate on the violent incidents between Israel and Syria in the vicinity of Lake Tiberias.


Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000.