McGhee Files: Lot 53 D 468
Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs (Jones) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (McGhee)
Subject: Visit of Ambassador Eban
The Ambassador of Israel will submit to you at 4 p. m. today a note, with three separate annexes, on the following subjects:
- Israel’s industrial capacity and potentialities;
- Productive capacity of the Israel armament industry;
- Israel’s repair and rehabilitation capacity for arms and equipment.
Over the past year, the Israelis have indicated to the Department, to the Defense Department, and to other officials of the US Government that Israel wished to contribute as effectively as possible to the security of the Near East and that Israel was prepared to participate in possible US–UK defense plans for the area in return for certain considerations.
The most important discussion on this matter from Israel’s point of view took place last September between the Foreign Minister of Israel, Moshe Sharett, and the Secretary of Defense, George C. Marshall. On December 23, 1950, the Foreign Minister submitted certain proposals to the Secretary of Defense in the form of a fairly comprehensive memorandum in two parts under covering letter:1 Part One consisted of a description of Israel’s supply position and the need for stockpiling in advance of a possible emergency, and Part Two concerned Israel’s immediate military needs. The latter was broken down into a number of smaller items, each one of which was covered briefly by a paragraph of discussion. The proposals were not submitted to the Department, although a copy was subsequently made available to us by the Defense Department.
In accord with the Secretary of Defense’s suggestion of January 11, 1951,2 the Secretary of Defense informed Sharett that copies of the Israel memorandum had been sent to General Bradley, the Chairman of the Munitions Board, and three Service Secretaries for preliminary study and appropriate action where possible. The Secretary’s letter was most cordial and suggested that the Israel government forward these proposals, broken down into individual papers on separate subjects, through appropriate State Department diplomatic channels to “insure that all interested agencies of the Government are fully apprised of and can take appropriate action on your suggestions.”[Page 733]
In accord with the Secretary of Defense’s suggestion of January 11, therefore, the Israel Ambassador is submitting the present note to you. On April 9, 1951, the first in this series3 was delivered to the Department, requesting certain small arms and ammunition which, if granted, would result in standardizing the Israel Army with American small arms. No action on this latter request can be taken, of course, until Israel becomes eligible under MDAP. To the Department’s knowledge, Defense has taken no positive action for similar reasons on any of Israel’s other requests.
It is believed that the note, with annexes, should be transmitted formally to the Defense Department with a request that these papers be given the most careful study and that a report be submitted to the Department concerning the possibility and feasibility of fulfilling any part of Israel’s requests in the light of US policy toward the Near East as set forth in the pertinent NSC papers.
Israel’s relations with Defense have improved greatly over the past year and are now at the point where Israel officials in Washington have given the impression on a few occasions that the Defense establishment was more ready to grant Israel requests for arms and military assistance than the State Department. This view is based on the extreme cordiality of Secretary of Defense’ letter of January 11 and what Israel officials consider to have been a very heartening discussion between the Secretary of Defense and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion. This optimism received a slight setback recently when the Army Department refused to invite Brigadier General Chaim Laskov, Director of Training, Israel Army, to visit military schools and installations in this country. Israel has expressed considerable concern about this, and we have informed that government that, while we are generally sympathetic to permitting Laskov to come, it is not feasible to invite him at the present time.
That you speak to the Israel Ambassador along the following lines: We are sincerely grateful for this further evidence of Israel’s willingness to cooperate with the West. We realize that these papers represent many hours of hard work by Israel government officials. The papers should be most useful to the Department, the officials of the Defense Department, and other interested agencies in making a study of Israel’s needs and potential contribution toward the defense of the Near East. They will receive the most careful study and handling, noting carefully the need for guarding the security classifications of each one. There will probably be a number of questions which will come to us in the course of studying these documents, and we shall get in touch with the Israel officials at that time. We would be interested, however, [Page 734] to know whether Israel intends to make this information available to the British Government in view of the special responsibility which the British have in the defense of the Near East and the fact that the Israel Government has already had certain discussions with General Robertson.