784A.5 MSP/2–1152

No. 401
The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Lovett)

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: The Department of State has received from the Chargé d’Affaires of the Israel Embassy a note1 requesting [Page 895] on behalf of the Israel Government reimbursable military assistance from the United States in accordance with Section 408(e) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949, as amended.

You will recall that the Department in its letter to you on December 3, 1951,2 recommending that a limited amount of arms be made available to Syria on a reimbursable basis, pointed out that requests for comparable assistance might be expected from other states in the area and stated that Defense would be asked from time to time to consider possible additional programs.

In the judgment of the Department of State, Israel’s ability to defend itself and to participate in the defense of the area of which it is a part is important to the security of the United States. Moreover, now that both Syria and Saudi Arabia have been found eligible for reimbursable arms aid, the principle of impartiality set forth in NSC 47/2 and NSC 47/5,3 in the Department’s opinion, requires approval of the Israel request. The latter document, it will be recalled, stipulates that United States arms aid should be apportioned “without partiality but consistent with strategic considerations as between Israel and the several Arab states.”

This Department therefore considers that Israel should be declared eligible for arms assistance on a reimbursable basis, under Section 408 (e) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949, as amended, and requests Defense concurrence in a joint recommendation to this effect to the Director for Mutual Security.

Any arms deliveries to Israel undertaken pursuant to the proposed finding must, of course, be in keeping with the principle of impartiality as stated in NSC 47/5. The Department assumes, therefore, that such deliveries will be subject to the stipulations concerning quantities and types which the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated for Syria and which were set forth in Mr. Foster’s letter of December 8, 19512—i.e., “a limited amount of selected equipment,” consisting of “non-competitive items under existing priority guidance [Page 896] formulated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and which do not interfere with current United States or Mutual Defense Assistance programs”.4

Sincerely yours,

James E. Webb
  1. Dated Jan. 28, not printed. (784A.5 MSP/1–2852)
  2. Not printed.
  3. For the text of NSC 47/2, “United States Policy Toward Israel and the Arab States,” dated Oct. 17, 1949 and approved by the President on Oct. 20, 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. VI, p. 1430. NSC 47/5, on the same subject, was dated Mar. 14, 1951 and approved by the President on Mar. 17, 1951; for the text, see ibid., 1951, vol. V, p. 95.
  4. Not printed.
  5. In a separate note of Feb. 7, Israel requested grant military assistance under the Mutual Security Act of 1951 (P.L. 165), in particular under Title II, section 202. (784A.5 MSP/2–752)