What was the Rogers Plan in 1969?
Dr. Gunnar Jarring, Sweden’s Ambassador to the Soviet Union, was appointed by the United Nations to work with Israel and the Arab states to try toimplement UN Security Council Resolution 242. This was a strange appointment because Jarring remained Ambassador to the Soviet Union, a country which had broken off its diplomatic relations with Israel, making it difficult or impossible for Jarringto do anything that might be viewed as favorable to Israel. Jarring met with parties in the Middle Eastin early 1968, but the Arab states refused direct or even indirect contact with Israeland Jarring was not the man to challenge them.
By 1969, the Nixon administration, with Henry Kissinger as National Security Adviser, was deeply committed to a detante with theSoviet Union and reaching some agreement on the Middle East was vital to their efforts. On March 13, 1969, Israel's Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin met with US Secretary of State William Rogers to discuss a set of US proposals for Arab-Israeli peace, the first time in US-Israel relations that the US had authored its own plan. The plan was completely unacceptableto Israel since it called for Israel's unilateral withdrawal to pre-1967 borders without any Arab peace and security commitments to Israel.
Israel rejected the plan, but the US presented it to the Soviet Union and Arab states nonetheless. The Arab and Soviet governments turned it down, refusing to discuss any bi-lateral agreement with Israel. They insisted on a UN-imposed withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, to be guaranteed by the UN and buttressed by security arrangements. The secret plan, never announced publically, seemed to be dead.
Israel's Prime Minister Golda Meir visited the United States in late September 1969, and met with President Nixon in Washington on September 25 and 26.
By the end of 1969, there was heavy fighting along the Suez Canal, and Arab terrorists were engaged in sabotage actions against Israel from Jordan and Syria, assisted by the armed forces of those two countries.
On December 9, US Secretary of State Rogers, revived the plan by making the same proposals for a Middle East peace settlement, based on an interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 242, in a public speech that became known as the Rogers Plan, although it was really Nixon's plan. Golda Meir described the Rogers Plan as a disaster for Israel, saying:
- It would be irresponsible for any Israeli government to support such a plan.
The administration did not consult with Israel before the plan was announced, and the American secretary of state, who had met with foreign minister Abba Eban a few days before, concealed the imminent announcement from him.
The proposals were still unacceptable toIsrael who recalled Yitzchak Rabin, their US ambassador, to return home for consultations.On December 22, 1969 Israel's Cabinet formally rejected the Rogers Plan.In a vote in the US Congress in 1970, 70 Senators and 280 Representatives rejected Secretary of State Rogers' peace plan as being too one-sided against Israel.