371. Telegram From the Delegation at the Foreign Ministers Meetings to the Department of State1

Secto 90. Israel Prime Minister Sharett called on Secretary today.2 In addition to arguments advanced in Paris,3 asserted as evidence of Nasser’s duplicity that Quwatli of Syria had said purpose of Egypt-Syria pact was to deal with situation on Jordan River following Arabs turn-down of Jordan plan.Sharett said arms deal made area settlement less likely as Nasser would be arrogant and Israelis fearful. Said IG would submit arms purchase list pronouncedly defensive in nature: anti-aircraft, anti-artillery, anti-submarine. He asked whether IG could expect purchase such arms on existent terms. Re IG request for border guarantee by West,IG in situation of thereby hurting relations with Soviet Union and thus diminishing chances of Jews leaving Iron Curtain countries, while unable to obtain guarantee from Western powers. He said IG would additionally like definite indication whether security guarantee to be forthcoming, since, if not, it would have to place greater reliance than ever on its arms.Sharett said IG would prefer US not send arms to Iraq but if it does would prefer to have US join Baghdad Pact and be in position to supervise them; assumed that if US joins Baghdad Pact it would at least simultaneously give security guarantee to Israel.

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Secretary said American foreign policy has as one of its constituent elements the survival of Israel. Not aware of any policy we might adopt that would lessen that. That should be a factor of importance to Israel and a matter of hope. While IG may be impatient with US for not expressing it more quickly and emphatically it must remain a source of satisfaction to Israel. Naturally our foreign policy based on securing interests of US. In face of development such as Soviet-Egypt deal we must think not only of Israel but of viability of Western Europe, of NATO, and free world generally. We are developing our policy. All factors not yet entirely clear. Not sure Arabs intend attack and destroy Israel. We must ascertain whether such a purpose has crystallized, and, if not, how prevent it. Re arms for Israel, cannot give answer here. Must be considered by Defense Department and Cabinet. We will give sympathetic consideration. With respect security guarantee, original soundings re Congressional attitude not encouraging nor is it clear executive would urge one on Congress in present state of affairs. Questions of borders and security guarantee hard to divorce. Have crossed bridge of saying will recommend guarantee of borders in context of settlement. That in itself is major step. Do not believe wise for any of us to talk too much at this time about new security guarantee. If Sharett compels Secretary say yes or no now, answer must be no because answer cannot be yes for reasons given. This does not mean that it would be in any way wise for Israel starting preventive war. US good will is great asset for Israel and preventive war would injure it. Secretary emphasized that greatest danger is that of one border incident leading to another with a crescendo culminating in war, and urged IG do everything in its power to stop this process of events. In answer Sharett’s query re any deterrents Western powers had over Arabs, Secretary said economy of Arab countries dependent on exports, notably oil and cotton. Egypt needs Sudan agreement of Nile waters. Many reasons why Arabs should work with US and they must know they will lose greatly with US by attacking Israel.

Secretary concluded that he knew above US position not entirely satisfactory to IG but hoped it would be substantially so and that IG would give careful thought frontier problem.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/10–3155. Secret. Received at 1:34 a.m. Repeated to London, Tel Aviv, and Cairo.
  2. According to Secretary Dulles’ Appointment Book, this conversation began at 5 p.m., October 30. (Princeton University Library, Dulles Papers) The memorandum of this conversation is not printed. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627,CF 570)
  3. See Document 359.
  4. Dulles transmitted a separate summary of this conversation to Eisenhower. (Dulte 32 from Geneva, October 30; Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/ 10–3055)