Eban Surveys Issues with Secretary of State,
U.S. Unwilling to Get Involved with Soviet Jewry
(October 12, 1966)
This memorandum is a summary of the Secretary of
State's meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Abba
Eban to the Embassy of Israel. In it, the Secretary praised Abba
Eban's speech on Vietnam; Eban reported that the Arab world was in disarray
as Nasser is not focusing
on internal problems but instead expressing hostility towards Israel,
Israel expressed its concern about Soviet influence with Syria
and the United Arab Republic;
Israel expressed its hope to direct the refugee
problem toward rehabilitation and resettlement, Israel expressed
the position that stance on permitting Arabs into Israel depended on
the numbers. Israel declared it was not looking to expand its territory
and the Secretary of State expressed an unwillingness for the U.S. Government
to get involved in the Soviet
Jewry issue, as he felt it was an internal Soviet issue.
Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy
Washington, October 12, 1966, 7:27 p.m.
64853. Following are highlights uncleared memcon of
Secretary's talk with Israeli FonMin Eban October 8./2/
1. Vietnam. Secretary praised Eban's speech as constructive
contribution in helping focus world attention to problem of initiating
process negotiation. Eban indicated Israel believes onus of beginning
negotiations now clearly rests with Hanoi. Secretary expressed doubt
whether SYG would play any role in establishing contact between various
parties as had been suggested in Eban speech.
2. Near Eastern Tour d'Horizon. Eban said he had never
seen Arab world in such disarray. Question still remained whether Nasser
would settle down and confine himself to UAR's pressing internal problems.
Nasser had clearly not changed basic objectives toward Israel, but GOI
believed magnitude his other problems would keep him from undertaking
new provocations against Israel at this time. Eban characterized GOI
relations with Lebanon and Jordan as good and felt that even with Syria
there was good chance of keeping conflicts localized. Israel most concerned
at growing Soviet influence in Syria and UAR. Israeli requirements were
continued effective balance of strength between itself and Arab states
and support of status quo by great powers. Question mark is attitude
of Soviets. Gromyko had recently reiterated it possible for USSR have
good relations with both Israel and Arab states. He had also reaffirmed
that Soviet doctrine on non-use of force to effect territorial changes
applied to Near East. Secretary observed Gromyko had shown no interest
in dampening down arms race in area, excepting nuclear weapons.
3. South Arabia. Secretary said US was concerned at
Soviet activities in southern end of Red Sea. Eban said Israel shared
this concern because of Israeli shipping lines through Red Sea. GOI
believed that after British withdrawal emergence of non-independent
government in south Arabia was inevitable.
4. Palestine Refugees. Eban said while refugee problem
was in political deadlock GOI still hoped shift emphasis somewhat toward
resettlement and rehabilitation. Agreed, however, best that could be
hoped for this session UNGA was to hold line against Arab pressures.
Secretary raised question of polling refugee preferences. If two out
of ten refugees wanted return to Israel, would they be accepted? Eban
jocularly said he thought he could swing two in cabinet. He stressed
difficulty carrying out fair polling in light of Arab political "psychosis"
on this issue. Secretary said nonetheless he felt it possible gnaw away
at refugee problem. Eban said any Israeli commitment on refugees would
have to be based on knowledge of number refugees who might wish return.
5. Israeli Territorial Limits. In response Secretary
mention of Arab concerns over Israeli expansionism, Eban stated Israel
accepts present frontiers as inviolate. Arab contention Israel needs
more land for economic reasons not logical since Israeli economy not
agricultural but closer to that of Benelux countries or Switzerland.
As for 3 million Soviet Jews, even if USSR opened doors wide, some would
choose to stay in USSR, some would go to countries other than Israel,
and only portion would come to Israel.
6. Soviet Jewry. Secretary said he thought Soviets
might move on Soviet Jewry problem if they were pressed through non-governmental
channels. Government-to-government approaches not likely be productive
since USSR considers this internal matter.
7. Southwest Africa. Secretary and Eban agreed to desirability
some gesture from South Africa to help head off Afro-Asian resolution
and enable General Assembly come up with realistic moderate resolution.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration,
RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL ISR-US. Secret; Priority. Drafted
by Sterner, cleared by Symmes, and approved by Hare.
/2/Memoranda of the conversation are ibid., Conference
Files: Lot 67 D 305, CF 83.
Source: Schwar, Harriet Dashiell. (Ed.).
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 18, Arab-Israeli
Dispute 1964-1967. DC: GPO,