684A.86/8–2154: Circular telegram

No. 867
The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions1

top secret

108. General developments in Middle East, including Egyptian and Iranian agreements, lead us to hope we may have opportunity establish far better working understanding with area in general, and Arab states in particular. Unfortunately, as other long-standing problems reduced, Arab-Israel dispute looms larger as impediment to constructive efforts in Middle East. We currently searching for ways, in absence of peace which will not be readily forthcoming, to move forward with general strengthening of area and at same time assure that our actions will not precipitate hostilities within area.

If basis for cooperation with Arab states in area defense arrangements can be established as now seems probable, point would be reached eventually where imbalance both in military strength and confidence would exist between Arab states and Israel adverse to latter. This is inevitable if we are to succeed over period of years creating real strength. Limiting our objective to simply balancing Arab strength with Israel strength would mean defeat of overall objective.

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Anticipated ultimate results of Suez settlement have intensified apprehensions of Israel as to her own future. We believe some assurance desirable to Israel at this time to (1) deter Israel from rash action on theory that growing Arab strength calls for “preventive” war; (2) relieve Israel feeling isolation; (3) encourage her acquiescence in our policies or at least mitigate extent her opposition. We believe as practical matter such assurances are also necessary to facilitate our ability to continue assist the Arab states. We would also like if possible to embody within assurances to Israel assurances to Arabs against possible Israel aggression.

Subject exhaustively discussed at Istanbul Conference. Answer of conference was public declaration that US would use force if necessary to prevent aggression by either side. You already informed reluctance and constitutional difficulty USG make advance decision re use force.

Request each Ambassador at Istanbul Conference give new thought to accomplishment desired ends. Methods we have thought of here are:

Exchange of notes with Israel. Our note would reaffirm friendship for Israel and Arab states and would assert our intention take measures to thwart aggression by either Arab States or Israel and would specify certain of economic sanctions approved by NSC.2 Recent NSC decision precluding advance promise to use force if necessary may detract considerably from effectiveness of note in providing real reassurance to Israel. Statement would be included, however, that if military build up jeopardized Israel’s security US would consider arms aid to Israel.
Treaty between Israel and US guaranteeing Israel’s security. In addition to US guarantee of Israel’s security treaty could contain specific assurance from Israel against any aggression on her part and recognition of US right to act against such aggression. This course would remove dilemma posed by constitutional limitations on President’s power by putting issue to Congress. Theoretically, possible negotiate similar treaties with Arab states but aside from Congressional problem might be difficult for Arabs accept. Request your judgment on effect US-Israel treaty on Arab states and on willingness Arabs conclude such treaty with US.

This message designed elicit any general thoughts you may have on subject to assist us in further review here.

  1. Sent to Amman, Ankara, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, London, Paris, Tel Aviv, and Tehran.
  2. See NSC 5428, Document 219, and in particular the Supplementary Statement on the Arab-Israel Problem, paragraph 10.