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Lyndon Johnson Administration: Memorandum Urging Israel Halt Farming To Appease Syria

(April 11, 1967)

This telegram urges Israel to halt its cultivation in areas near the demilitarized zone on the border with Syria, in an effort to cool tensions between Syria and Israel.

173186. Deliver to action officers immediately on opening of business April 12.

1. Bunche informed USUN (septel) that he authorized a Bull (Johnson)/2/ letter be sent to Israelis and Syrians today, April 11, urging early resumption ISMAC meetings and suspension of cultivation pending outcome of meetings. This move particularly welcome in view renewed shooting southern DZ this morning and military preparations apparently being made by both sides which might lead to repetition incident of April 7 proportions or worse as early as April 12, should Israeli cultivation probings continue. Although Syrians may have been bloodied on April 7, it seems unlikely they will desist from further responses to Israeli plowing. This threatens in turn to cause serious difficulties for King Hussein in Jordan for whom hostilities between Syria and Israel present serious internal dilemma. We think UNTSO efforts to defuse situation should be reinforced.

/2/Acting UNTSO Chief of Staff.

2. Consequently Embassy Tel Aviv authorized approach GOI at highest level necessary as early as feasible on April 12 in order to stress our concern at escalating potentialities and broader area implications of situation and urge GOI resume earlier suspension of cultivation in troubled areas of DZ and elsewhere along border./3/ Without attempting judge merits of cultivation issue or in any way condoning Syrian firing, we believe it essential provide cooling-off period and give both sides chance to respond to Johnson's letter.

/3/Telegram 3254 from Tel Aviv, April 12, reported that Barbour discussed this with Eban and Bitan that day. Telegram 174533 to Tel Aviv, April 13, recorded a similar conversation between Davies and Evron. (Both in National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 32-1 ISR-SYR)


Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 32-1 ISR-SYR. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Atherton and Lambrakis; cleared by Houghton, Campbell, and in draft by Gabriel J. Paolozzi of IO/UNP; and approved by Davies. Also sent to Amman and repeated to Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, USUN, CINCSTRIKE/CINCMEAFSA, and to Secretary Rusk at Punta del Este as Tosec 94.

Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 18, Arab-Israeli Dispute 1964-1967. DC: GPO, 2000.