200. Memorandum From the Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State1

This morning I met briefly with the President2 just prior to his departure for Gettysburg for the weekend.

Middle East. I reviewed with him developments in the Middle East and my conversation yesterday with Ambassador Eban.3 I told him of my impression that the Israelis would soon be putting even greater pressure than ever before on the Administration to give them arms, and that undoubtedly this would be accompanied by approaches to Members of the Cabinet and people on the White House staff.

I advised the President that Ambassador Eban had told us that they were now obtaining 12 Mysteres from the French,4 and had hopes of obtaining an additional 12, making a total of 24. I said that the Ambassador had then verbally asked if we would provide his Government with 24 F–86’s, instead of their original request for 48, and also certain anti-tank weapons. The Ambassador felt that if we [Page 371] could see our way clear to providing these two items, this would satisfy the Israeli requirements.

I told the President that my own thinking went along the following lines but, of course, any decisions would await your return and further discussions between you and him:

The Israelis have never previously sought either defensive or offensive weapons in any quantity from us but have always satisfied their requirements from European sources. The things they were asking from us now were readily available from countries in Europe, particularly from France, which was able to furnish them with modern jet fighters and excellent anti-tank weapons. There was no question in my mind that the pressure on us from the Israelis was due to their desire to have us morally committed to furnishing them with arms for their own purposes in dealing with the Arabs.
It might, therefore, seem desirable for us to give them a very few items, more in the nature of radar equipment than airplanes and anti-tank weapons, and at the same time fulfill some of the requests which we have from Saudi Arabia, where we have an especial responsibility.
Nasser appeared to be becoming a progressively increasing menace. We were therefore giving added attention to methods of splitting the Saudis away from the Egyptians and to obtaining closer relations with the Libyans. (I briefly outlined the negotiations which are shortly to get under way with the Libyan Government, whereby we would increase our aid program and reduce the threat of Russian penetration and, at the same time, increase the size of our base rights.)

I did not ask the President for any decision on these matters but brought the subject up only to keep him abreast of our tentative thinking.

We discussed the proposed UN operation5 and I pointed out that Hammarskjold very much wanted to undertake the mission to the Middle East himself. I said that Hammarskjold’s efforts would probably prevent us from getting enough support for our proposal for an independent Agent General.

[Here follows discussion of an unrelated matter.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Meetings with the President. Secret. The source text bears a notation that Secretary Dulles saw this memorandum.
  2. According to the Record of the President’s Daily Appointments, Hoover, accompanied by Goodpaster, met with Eisenhower at the White House from 9:20 to 9:35 a.m. (Ibid.)
  3. See supra.
  4. The Embassy in Paris reported on April 12 that it had learned that six Mystères left France April 11 and arrived in Israel the same day. Six additional Mysteres were scheduled to leave France April 13 or 14. (Telegram 4734 from Paris; Department of State, Central Files, 784A.56/4–1256)
  5. See Document 206.