P O L I C Y B A C K G R O UND
THE ESSENCE OF ISRAEL'S MIDEAST POLICY:
FROM CEASE-FIRE TO PEACE
EMBASSY OF ISRAEL
April 11, 1969
THIE ESSENCE OF ISRAEL'S MIDEAST POLICY:
FROM CEASE-FIRE TO PEACE
1. The Nature of a True Peace Settleremnt
Given the proper conditions for its patient pursuit, a true
peace settlement between Israel and its neighbors is capable of
While the term "peace" is not a mathematically precise concept,
it is, likewise, no't a completely vague or undefined one. Israel
speaks of peace in the sense that it is commonly interpreted and
understood in simple every-day usage. It is towards such a peace
that Israel's policy is firmly and irrevocably dedicated. That
policy is predicated upon four principles, the fulfillment of which
are crucial to a final settlement. "
One: There can be no movement from the cease-fire situation
except to peace *-- in its full political and juridical sense.
'wo: The peace must have treaty form so as directly -to
.engage the interest and honor of the Arab States and Israel.
Three: There must' be an opportunity to negotiate secure
and agreed boundaries.
Four: There must be an integral peace, not a piecemeal or
phased process. In other words, it is only when agreement
is concluded on all matters relevant to the conflict that
implementation can benin.
'One of the most important consequences of peace is ideological.
The Arab peoples would have to be told that a new phase of relation-
ships has opened and that the existence of a sovereign Israel has to
be accommodated in the thought, emotion and education of Arab nation-
alism. In negotiations, Israel will strive towards mutual agree-
ment compatible with the legitimate interests and honor of all the
parties. A whole series of practices and attitudes which arise
from the absence of peace would automatically cease: belligerent
claims; organized boycotS and blockades; reservations in inter-
national conventions; maintenance and encouragement of terrorist
groups; habits of ostracism in international and regional life.
2. Fosterinq the Peace Climate
The Arab Governments continue, for the present, to categorically
reject this philosophy of relationships between themselves and Israel.
Their declared aim remains Israeli withdrawal from the cease-fire
lines through the rallying of political pressure, while refusing
any comnmitmnt to peae; and th reaftf to be fr9o tQ'g eme in
hore advantageous conditions, and With the aid of the new Soviet
weaponry, the attempt at Israel's annihilation. So long as certain
powers -ncourago Arab Governments to believe that they can
April 11, 1969
forcefully retrieve the areas lost in the 1967 war, or foster
the illusion that .a political settlement can be imposed upon Israel
for the s-ame end, those Governments will not contemplate a peace.
Such encouragement feeds the Arab hope that they can, in time,
defeat and destroy Israel in war, and that they can, as an intermed-
iate measure, bring about a change in the existing status-quo with-
out peace and without being required to enter into direct commit-
ments with Israel.
The erosion of that hope is the only road to an authentic peace
in the Middle East. It calls for policies, that are calculated to:
One: Eliminate once and for all from official Arab thinking
the myth that a sovereign State of Israel is a transient
component of the Middle East map capable,of physical extinction.
Two: Eliminate from Arab policy the option of force as the
means :to change the present cease-fire lines while reducing
Sthe political options to the single choice of negotiated peace
The powers genuinely anxious for a lasting Mideast peace between
the parties can actively cultivate a change of mind in Arab policy
in favor of a true peace by:
.One: Refusing to entertain proposals for apolitical arrange-
ment short of peace, while consistently advocating the need for
direct bilateral negotiation towards a contractual peace.
Any other initiative in the direction of an .intermediary
political settlement (as was tried in .1957), inevitably
weakens the influences operating upon Arab policy in favor,
of peace and, ultimately, leaves open the option for renewed
war at some future time (as evinced in 1967).
AndTwo: Assuring that the.-balance of military strength in
the Middle East be maintained. It is Israel's deterrent
strength that neutralizes the danger of renewed war. The
.maintenance of Israel's capacity to defend itself goes far to.
inhibit the Arab war policy, and.'serves to inject the
realism of Israel's sovereignty into official Arab thinking.
.3. Four-Powsr Initiative
Israel has apprehensions over the involvement of the four powers
in the drawing up of a possible political settlement for the Middle
East. It opposes this initiative because:
One: It frustrates the prospect of a direct and lasting
Israel-Arab peace settlement;
Twui: It gives to certain powers manifestly hostile to Israel
an influence and a say in matters affecting Israel's existence
and the conditions for its physical survival; and
Thre. It has the potential of transforming the local conflict
P -- April 11, 1959
The four-power initiative cannot'but seriously weaken the mission
of. Ambassador Gunnar Jarring in his quest to bring the parties together
in negotiation as called for, by the Security Council resolution of
November 22, 1967. If the Jarring mission has not, to dat-,met
..with success, it is be'cause.Arab Governments have found avenues
of escape auay from a direct peace .commitment with Israel. The.
Jarring mission would lose all its purpose as def-ined by the Sec-
urity Council resolution if.it were to be obscured again.and
again-by a. pluralism of initiatives outside the region, 'at UN
headquarters or elsewhere. The Arab Governments, either secretly
or openly, favor the four-power iniLiative because it exempts thehi,
once again,.from entering into substantive discussions with Israel
and because .they know that two of the powers, the Soviet Union and
France, pursue policies fully in accord with their own.
While Soviet rhetoric seeks to create the impression in'favor
of an Arab-Israel settlement, Soviet action is directed against
any genuine. rapproachemornt. The USSR does not seek peace .in the
Middle East.i By -deed and by word, it has pursued enmity towards
Israel, encouraged Arab intransigence,, and hascalculatedly fed
the local tensions as the fuel of-its own expansionist designs.
The Soviet Union rearms and trains Arab armies, fans Arab hatred
of Israel, cultivates the fear of an imminent Mideast war, and then
assumes the garb of peacemaker by urging four-power talks, using
the'threat. of super-power confrontation as the pretext.'
It is through four power talks'thet.the Soviet Union hopes
to'win a political arrangement on Nasser's terms, impose it upon
Israel, itself become a force and a component of such an arrange-
ment,- consolidate its own position and presence in the Mideast wIth
juridical' sanction, and thus be in a position to;:influonce the
future development of -the region from a position of strength and
independence of which it has hithert .been deprivedd. The Soviet Union
would like to have the,Suez Canal opened without giving Israel the
satisfaction of a permanent peace. This is one of .the first
aims of the Soviet effcyd.. .Certainly, any movement'in the dir-
ection of'a Soviet-inspired arrangement would be interpreted by
Arab Governments as a Communist political victory, enhancing Soviet
prestige.in the area and offering new encouragement to the Soviet-
oriented Arab regimes.
French policy towards Israel disqualifies that country, equally,
from playing any positive role for.peace. Motivated by its,own'
interests in the.Mideast, this. Government's declarations and
measures-- beginning with the arms embargo imposed some days before
the Six Day War -- are-distinguished by Ybltent Qne-giddness .agans
iHr8@l and n automffli supportt br Arab deeds and claims..
p *--i- *arc:h '/, 2 969
4. Gloha. izinq the Conf.lict
No talk of four-power initiative can discount the very real
danger that their involvement could, sooner or later, globalize
what is still a local conflict. A multilateral arrangement
involving these powers would not spell peace. It would not
remove t-he roots of the conflict. Consequently, the arrangement,
in whatever form, would inevitably require the active guarantee
of the powers. The very term guaranLte implies commitment.
It would mean intensification, not a deeca.lation of their role
in the area. It could bring into very real. focus the potential
threat of super-power confrontation, with every small border
incident (as in Berlin) constituting an object of world anxiety.
The guarantee, then, would become either paralyzed or the source
'of possible world conflict. Given the volatile nature -of the
area, the risks of a Berlin-type situation transplanted into the
Mideast can hardly be minimized.
The notion of guaranteeing a settlement of the Middle East
has been tested before with disastrous results. The 1950 tri-
partite guarantee of the U.S., Britain, and France, endorsing
the territorial integrity of the States of the region, failed to
prevent the two major wars of 1956 and 1967. The 1957 commit-
ment of major maritime powers, led by the United Sttates, likewise
failed to grant Israel its rights in the region's international
waterways which was the major intent of that undertaking. Not
only did it fail to prevent Nasser from continuing his blockade
I of the Suez Canal; it proved impotent when, in 1967, the Egyptian
President reimposed his blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba. .
The United Nations has likewise to be discounted as an
effective guarantor. The UN proved impotent as an effective
keeper of the peace in 1967. There are no grounds to assume
that it can play a meaningful role now, precisely because of its
parliamentary imbalance and because of the Soviet veto which, in
'the course of years, has become an automatic instrument of Arab
policy. The UN can play an important role in making available
its good offices for the promotion of agreement between the parties,
as evinced in the 'Jarring mission.
5. The Direct Contractual Principle-
Israel will have nothing to do with intermediary arrangements
proposed from the outside, no matter what the "guarantees" that
might accompany them, because they can never assure a lasting
peace and may well'.spawn hazards 'of active confrontation.
Israel's insistence on the indispensability of the direct con-
tractual principle- i.e. joint signature betueen.the parties -
"PB ...--- \pril._1..!,. 19.5y..
is not a mere procedural matter but a- deeply substantive one. 3Jo.nt
signature to a directly negotiated peace obligates the parties to
a mutually binding instrument, laying upon theri the full political,
ideological and juridical commitment inherent in the words "peace
The decision in favor of a negotiated peace lies entirely
within the power of the Arab Governments, and it is with sovereign
Governments alone that Israel de ls. Only they are capable of
launching war, and they alone are able to make and guarantee the
peace. It is a misreading of the Middle East situation to assume
that the terrorist organizations have the capacity to thwart or
block a decision in favor of peace. These organizations exist
because the Arab Governments wish them to exist.. They are waging
the only kind of wer the Arabs are presently capable of and thus
have been adopted by the Arab Governments as instruments of their
own policies,. The terrorists operate with their sanction, are
trained and equipped by their armies, and are financed by funds
which they control. Uere the Arab Governments to withhold
their support, the terrorist organizations would soon be reduced
6. Status--Quo or Peace
The worst enemy of peace in the Middle East is impatience
in its pursuit. Uar is not imminent. Time,.if wisely exploited,
is on tho side of peace. The violations of the cease-fire lines
do have to be viewed .ith concern but not with panic. Those who
initiate them are bent on inducing panic among the powers in the
hope that they will resort to hasty political palliatives on Arab
terms. The violations have been contained and can be contained
within.a `.ocal and limited framework. They do not.constitute a
danger to world peace. No Mid.le Eastern State has the capacity to
generalize the conflict and no great power has an interest in or
intent to globa.ize it.. And so long as the present balance of
forces is maintained, the cease-fire can be preserved intact.
Movement on Israel's part sway from the cease-.fir lines is thinkable
only under conditions of peace to secure and recognized borders of
peace. For Israel to do otherwise would be to exchange security for
vulnerability. To ask.this of Israel is without international
precedent or authority, and is an immoral demand. Equally, to seek
pc-litical pa& iatives as a substitute for. peace is not to defuse the
situation but to preserve Arab intransigence and, with it,'the seeds
of the next Car. Henca, the cruc;l.' need to persevere in the
quest for c peace that uill be lasting. Such a peace can be achieved
only through the f?.ce-to-face negotiation and the resultant recip-
rocal comn'i.trnment o" th3 parties directly involved.