684A.86/8–2554: Telegram

No. 873
The Chargé in Israel (Russell) to the Department of State1

top secret

201. Department circular telegram 108.2 Embassy believes achievement of US goals of security and relaxation of tension in area requires some form of assurance to Israel. This need results from:

Fact that plans for defense of free world in area cannot realistically be based on formula of equating Arab and Israel strength;
Israel’s vulnerability to sudden attack due to its size, shape and relative manpower; and
Reiterated Arab intention to obliterate State of Israel. Unless Israel has some assurance that arms in hands of Arabs will not endanger her, there will be growth in extremist sentiment here with consequent threat to peace.

Embassy believes, however, there are serious defects in connection with both alternatives mentioned Department circular telegram 108. Exchange of notes which gave no promise of military assistance in event of attack would fail to give necessary senses of [Page 1628] security. Also, since area defense program cannot realistically equate Israel and Arab strength, statement that if military buildup jeopardized Israel’s security US would consider arms aid to Israel would either imply the impossible or not meet Israel’s needs.

On other hand, Embassy believes treaty between Israel and US guaranteeing Israel’s security would have following objections:

Israel’s avowed “dynamism” and her basic drive toward position of dominance in area would make her a constantly embarrassing treaty partner. In pursuance of this dynamism, Israel has in past resisted relaxation, stability and quiet, preferring, and creating where necessary, tension and instability, counting upon its capacity to capitalize upon them. With special prestige which such treaty would give, Israel would be less inclined to show moderation in its actions and statements. Need for giving Israel sense of basic security should not result in action which would give it attitude non-conducive to equal bargaining with Arabs on conditions of peace.
Treaty would put Israel in special relationship to US, a posture from which US has been trying to disengage itself. Israel has in past regarded herself as having weight of American prestige, resources and influence available to her in achieving her objectives. She would undoubtedly attempt to exploit treaty relationship to work anew toward appearance of such a situation and to make continual further requests for special consideration.
In view of likelihood that definitive peace between Israel and neighbors will take some time, and in view of uneasy state of borders even in absence of aggression, treaty would give rise to continual questions as to whether border incidents constituted aggression and US had, therefore, obligation take action.
Treaty would put US in position of appearing to be partner of a party in a semi-war in which US has in fact no interest other than its termination.
Treaty approach would make it more difficult to integrate similar undertakings by other countries, such as Britain and France and, if it should at any time appear feasible and desirable, Turkey.
While Israel would like to have backing of US, it still has as one of its principal goals release of as many as possible of 4 million Jews behind Iron Curtain and, therefore, cannot be uninhibited in its cooperation with free world (Embassy telegram 93, July 21, 1953, and Embassy telegram 77).3

In view of above, Embassy believes possibility should be explored of:

British giving some kind of guarantee to Israel as British Ambassador here has suggested (Embassy telegram 179).4 Britain already has such a treaty with Jordan and would not thereby be putting [Page 1629] herself in special relationship to Israel. Moreover, she has forces based nearby.
Obtaining congressional authority by resolution authorizing President to make unilateral statement that US would use military force under certain circumstances. Such a statement could be in a form to avoid difficulties mentioned above resulting from treaty. Considerations which led NSC to decide against an advance decision to use military force under certain circumstances would appear to be no greater in connection with such a resolution than in connection with a treaty. Greater freedom of action which US would have under unilateral declaration would serve to deter Israel from permitting its dynamism to take form of measures to increase tension.
Taking care of immediate need for reassurance to Israel by stating that executive branch of government intends to ask Congress for resolution of general nature stated above and also intends include Israel in its planning for area security and to grant it arms as soon as development of its arrangements with Arab States permits.

Suggested approach would not satisfy its probable demands (Eban has urged military alliance and Eytan maintains treaty should not only guarantee border but also US assistance in ending other types of aggression such as economic and political) but would meet Israel’s reasonable requirements.

  1. Repeated to Cairo, Amman, Damascus, Beirut, Jidda, London, Jerusalem, and Baghdad.
  2. Document 867.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. Document 863.