P OL I C Y BACKGROUND
OF THE U.S. PEACE INITIATIVE
EMBASSY OF ISRAEL
August 13, 1970
ISRAEL'S ACCEPTANCE OF THE U.S. PEACE. INITIATIVE
1, On August 4, 1970, the Israel Ambassador in Washington, Yitzhak
Rabin, transmitted the following communication to Secretary of State
Rogers, conveying the affirmative reply of the Government of Israel
to the U.S. peace initiative:
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I have the honour to inform you that my Government's
position on the latest United States peace initiative is
Having considered President Nixon's message of
24 July 1970, basing itself on its contents and in
strict adherence to its policy principles and authorita-
tive statements, the Government of Israel has decided to
reply affirmatively to the latest United States peace
initiative, and to inform the United States that it may
convey to Ambassador Jarring that:
1) Israel is prepared in due time to designate
a representative to discussions to be held under
Ambassador Jarring's auspices with the UAR (Jordan),
according to such procedures anu at such.places and
times as he may recommend, taking into account each
side's attitude as to method of procedure and
previous experiences of discussions between the
2) Israel's position in favor of a cease-fire on
a basis of reciprocity on all fronts, including the
Egyptian front, in accordance with the Security
Council's cease fire resolution, remains unchanged.
On the basis of clarifications given by the United
States Government, Israel is prepared to reply
affirmatively to the United States proposal for a
cease fire (for at least three months) on the
3) The discussions under Ambassador Jarring's
auspices shall be held within the framework of the
Security Council Resolution (242) on the basis of
the expression of readiness by the parties to carry
out the Security Council Resolution (242) in all
its parts, in order to achieve an agreed and binding
contractual peace agreement between the parties
which will ensure:
a) Termination by Egypt (Jordan) and Israel
of all claims or states of belligerency and
respect and acknowledgment of the sovereignty,
territorial integrity and.political independence
of each other and their right to live in peace
within secure and recognized boundaries free
from threats or acts of force. Each of the parties
will be responsible within its territory for the
prevention of all hostile acts by regular military
forces, against the armed forces or against civilians
.living in the territory of the other party.
b) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from.
territories occupied in the 1967 conflict to
secure, recognized and agreed boundaries to be
determined in the peace agreements.
4) Israel will participate in these discussions
without any prior conditions. Israel will not
claim the prior acceptance by the other party of
her positions, as Israel does not accept in advance
the positions of the other parties as communicated
publicly or otherwise. Each party will be free to
present iLs proposals on the matters under discussion.
Please accept the assurances of my highest
Y. Rabin, Lt. Gen. (Roe.)
2. The Spirit and Peaning of Israel's Response
Ambassador Rabin's letter is in many ways a succinct expression
of Israel's standing resolve to leave no stone unturned in the
effort to bring about an end to the dismal and tragic conflict that
has been plaguing its neighbors and itself for the past twenty-two
years. It demonstrates the lengths to which Israel is prepared to
go in the search for peace, the manner in which it believes this
search ought to be conducted, and the principles that should guide
a) Negotiations: In the hope of creating and facilitating
the conditions for a direct dialogue between itself and the Arabs,
Israel is willing to embark on a stage of indirect contacts.
b) Cease Fire: Israel is fully aware of the risks inherent in
accepting a cease-fire that may be of a limited duration only.
Principal among these risks are 1) the danger of the exploitation by
the Soviets and the Egyptians of the cease-fire in order to create
new military facts on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal prepatory
to a possible attempt to change the cease-fire line by force and,
2) the danger of supplying Nasser with an argument supportive of his
totally groundless thesis that Egypt had a right to abrogate the
U.N. cease-fire in the first place. Despite these grave risks,
Israel decided to accept the U.S. proposal for a cease-fire. It has
done so in the hope that what is intended to be a limited stoppage
of the carnage on the Canal may nonetheless develop a momentum of
its own, demonstrating to the Egyptians the benefit of an end to the
ling and.inducing them, perhaps, to restore an unlimited cease-
fire -11 peace is established.
AUGUST 13, 1970
Basic, of course, to the cease-fire agreement, is the commitment
of the parties to a military standstill. The wording of the agreement
"c. Both sides will refrain from changing the military
status quo within zones extending 50 kilometers to the
east and the west of the cease-fire line. Neither side
will introduce or construct any new military installations
in these zones. Activities within the zones will be
limited to the maintenance of existing installations at
their present sites and positions and to the rotation and
supply of forces presently within the zones."
c. Withdrawal: There has been much clamor for Israel to utter
publicly the word 'withdrawal'. Israel has never said it will not
withdraw and it repeats its position that, in the context of peace,
it will withdraw its armed forces to secure, recognized and agreed
boundaries to be determined in the peace agreement.
3. Israel's Fundamental Principle of Policy
For twenty-two years, the fundamental principle governing
Israel's policy has been the replacement of hostility and war by
reconciliation and peace. Thus, it has consistently striven to
turn, first the 1948 truce into peace, then the 1949 armistice into
peace, later the 1957 arrangement into peace, and now the 1967 U.N.
cease-fire into peace. Each time it has been rebuffed and three
times it has been compelled to defend itself against aggression.
And now, however slight the prospects of peace might appear,
Israel is determined to try once again.
4. The latest initiative of the United States carries grave risks
for Israel, of a kind that bear on its most vital security interests.
Nonetheless, Israel is ready to take those risks because the author
of the initiative to which it has subscribed is the United States.
Israel has full trust and confidence in the good faith and integrity
of the United States, with whom it has always shared the desire for
a genuine and lasting peace in the Middle East; not an intermediate
political arrangement, not a palliative settlement, but a true peace,
one that will grant Israel and its neighbors the peace and Ithe
security of which they have been deprived for these past 22 years.
5. No Illusions
It is in this spirit that Israel enters into what it fervently
hopes will develop into authentic negotiations. It does so without
nl4usions: It recognizes that the attitudes of tve Arab end Soviet
GoCVb pents offer, thus far, little encouragement. There is
AUGUST 13, 1970
nothing to indicate, for example, that the Soviet Union has really
departed from its basic policy of direct military intervention in
support of its strategy of encroachment and predominance. Indeed,
to many analysts, the Soviet acceptance of the U.S. initiative is
itself but a component of this strategy. Even as Egypt and Jordan
have declared their acceptance, they have stated that they will
not make peace with Israel. Cairo and Amman continue to say there
shall be no negotiation at any time with Israel. They emphasize
that the initiative contains nothing new and that acceptance of it
commits them to no change of fundamental policies. More than that,
in counsels open and closed, they present their acceptance as a
tactical device, one that offers political advantages capable of
isolating Israel from the United States, weakening Israel militarily
and diplomatically, and useful to the design to dismember Israel
On July 23, the day Egypt announced its acceptance of the U.S.
initiative, President Nasser spoke to the Congress of the Arab
Socialist Union in Cairo and declared:
"I said these words on 23 November 1967. I am saying
them now on 23 July 1970. We are acting politically
and we must not lose sight of the major fact which we
must seek to apply. This fact is: what was taken by
force can only be recovered by force. We can move in
the political field as ue wish and as we deem fit in
accordance with the continuously changing circumstances,
but the final word in any conflict and in this conflict
and specifically with the enemy we are facing, Israel,
will always belong to force."
On the following day, July 24, he explained to the A.S.U.
Congress the motives of Egypt's acceptance:
"We said to ourselves: If we do not answer the United
States, us will be giving Israel the excuse to obtain
more arms from the United States."
"It is possible the initiative was made so we would give
'no' for an answer, in which case they (the U.S.) would
have complete freedom to supply Israel. Some Western
papers had said that if our answer were negative, we
would be responsible for the supply of arms to Israel.
Now that our answer has been positive, Israel's position
will be difficult. Nixon has presented this initiative
and says he is suspending the supply of arms until he
receives an answer."
In that same speech he described how he intended the initiative
to be employed in furthering the realization of his "Land and
People" doctrine, meaning by that the total Israeli withdrawal back
_ to the now defunct armistice lines without peace, and the physical
'smemberment of Israel by a mass Palestinian influx. To wit:
AUGUST 13, 1970
"I say that the U.S. initiative covers both these
things because it speaks of the implementation of
all the provisions of the 1967 Security Council
resolution. This means that the question of the
Palestinian people's rights to their Homeland is
He also spoke of Egypt's new position of military strength
made possible by the Soviet Union, and of.the political and
military coordination between Cairo and Moscou in connection with
the U.S. initiative:
"When we accepted the Security Cauncil resolution we
were in an unenviable position in a state of military
collapse. Now we have accepted this initiative at a
time when our military position has changed from one of
weakness to one of strength."
"I agreed with them (the Soviets) that in order for
us to be kept informed, All Sabri (Vice President
of the UAR) wil go to Moscow once every two months
to discuss the political and military situation.
We are in full agreement on a political plan. We
are also in full agreement on a military plan. All
we agreed on is being implemented."
6. This strategy was soon to be applied to the question of
modalities. Said Haikal, the Egyptian Minister of National
guidance, at a Cairo press conference on August 12:
There is to be no negotiation of any kind with Israel.
Ziat (the Egyptian permanent delegate to the U.N.)
received firm instructions before his departure for
New York to maintain contacts with Jarring alone and
in private, as happened during the previous stage
before Jarring ended his last effort. The American
initiative does not mean a peace treaty. We will not
sign a peace treaty.
These are hardly encouraging beginnings. :Neverthelee- IFsrael
in still going ahead and.uill try to exhaust whatever slim hope
there might be that the other side may yet be moved to show a
measure of amicable intent and goodwill. If that is to be lacking,
nothing can be achieved.
7. Prisoner Exchange
In the last few days, a situation arose in which Egypt might
have made a gesture, a sign of goodwill. A proposal was put
forward to negotiate a prisoner-of-war exchange iith the inception
of the cease-fire. There are not many Israeli prisoners in Egypt
and .he majority that are there are injured, some of them badly.
o's rdepoise uns a blunt "no". Israel frankly fears for the
a of its captured pilots. It has grave suspicion as to what
AVUBSTf 13s 1970
AUGUST 13, 1970
Egypt is doing to them. Cairo has refused, thus far, to allow
the International Red Cross to visit certain of them. Of the two
recently captured airmen originally reported by Cairo to be uall
and safe, one has suddenly and inexplicably died of an:alleged
heart attack and the other t:asie pottlttey a ag amputated
The whole picture appeatq toi tIhi fo:ll ng iaser statement
made in Cairo on July 24:
"I want to say that we will not hand over pilots to
Israel. . In my opinion the destruction of Phantoms
is not as valuable as the capture of Israeli pilots.
Therefore we will not return the Israeli pilots or
prisoners to Israel."
And, on August 11, the official Egyptian daily, Al-Ahram urote:
"An authoritative source emphasized that Egypt would
hot release a single Phantom pilot held by Egypt, since
Cairo considers that the existing situation does not
extend beyond a truce and that the struggle against
the enemy is continuing."
.B. The facts may be disturbing and the prospects not very
auspicious, but the obligation to exhaust every possible
opportunity towards the achievement of peace in the Riddle East
must be discharged. Israel has indicated that it is willing to
invest every effort in the establishment of a genuine peace between
itself and its neighbors. But the process must be of a mutual
character. It is now time for the Arab nations to indicate that
they, too, are willing to make a real effort towards peace and
admit the element of conciliation into their long rigid and
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I. OF F. LIBRARY