441. Letter From Arthur H. Dean to the Secretary of State1

Dear Foster: Ambassador Eban and Minister Shiloah of Israel came to see me this afternoon at 3:30 at their request. Ambassador Eban made the following points:

The recent changes in the office of Foreign Secretary of the Israeli government came about largely as a result of a sense of frustration on the part of the Israeli government over its relations with the government of the United States, over the general relations with the Arab countries, and in particular over the arms question with Egypt. But he reiterated the change predicated no major change in the foreign policy of the Israeli government or any so-called “tougher” policy.
He reviewed with me his conversations with you, with Secretary for External Affairs of Canada Lester Pearson and with Foreign Minister Pineau of France. He said that despite your able speech in Paris2 and your subsequent conversations, the Canadian Cabinet and the French government definitely did not feel that they could break the deadlock in arms unless they were doing it in partnership with the United States. He said that on his return from Paris Pearson ran into a Cabinet situation and also ran into a feeling of resentment in Canada about the effect of American capital in Canada and a feeling of resentment on the part of certain sections of the Canadian population with respect to the activities of American firms in Canada. He said further that the visit of Shepilov in Cairo had strong repercussions in Israel as did the parading of the Egyptian military equipment at the time of his visit.
He said that the arms situation had not materially changed so far as Israel was concerned and that it was essential that something be done on this matter within the next few weeks and he regarded both the result and timing as of fundamental importance. He also said that he thought the Arabs would not be particularly influenced by whether the arms came from Canada and France at the suggestion of the United States or whether they came from all three in partnership with the United States [Kingdom?] and he quoted both Pearson and Pineau on this point.
He said that they were very anxious to proceed with their Export Import Bank loan for water improvements in the interior of [Page 810] Israel, but that Sam Waugh had made it very clear that while the EXIM Bank favored the loan in principle, it was not really a bank transaction but a policy question and that they could not seriously proceed with the loan unless it was cleared by the Department of State. He said people in the State Department had advised him that they understood you were in general sympathy with the EXIM loan but you did not want to wake up some morning and be faced with the fact that Israel had already started to dig the Jordanian canal on the Syrian border and thus precipitated World War III. He said that the EXIM loan was most important and he thought that they could give you any reasonable assurance that you wished on their not going forward with work on the Jordan River canal except on a joint plan worked out with Eric Johnston and Secretary General Hammarskjold. He favored the joint plan worked out by Eric Johnston as he would be able to command U.S. money. He felt that the implementation of the EXIM loan was essential to raise morale among the Israeli people.
He said there was one point that he could not speak about to you even though he valued your personal friendship highly and that was that the Israeli government had come to the serious conclusion that it was not in its best interests to have its affairs batted about in a presidential election campaign by people running for office in the United States that one party or the other was more favorable to the aspirations of Israel. He said further that if some prompt action could be taken on the arms question to break the deadlock even though the shipments fell far short of the November request3 and if something could be done on the EXIM loan, he believed, although he had no authority to make such a statement, that he could get clearance to say to responsible people now agitating the Israeli question in the United States that there were no essential points of difference between the Israeli government and the United States. He then said that he did not see how the relations between Israel and the United States could be made a point of issue in the political campaign if the Israeli government could say that it was quite satisfied with the discussions which it had had with the United States government on these points.
He said that the government of Israel viewed with as grave misgivings as did the United States the practical abandonment of the Anglo-Egyptian Pact, the bringing of the Soviet into the Mediterranean, the arming of Egypt, the extension of Egyptian influence into Algeria, Libya and the Sudan and the attempts of Nasser to set up an Arabian hegemony in the Middle East oriented to the Soviet orbit. He said that he felt that as a small independent nation Israel [Page 811] could play an important part in working with the United States toward an effective solution of this problem quite apart from the arms question and that if Israel could receive a significant but small shipment of arms in the near future, that it would avert rather than precipitate action by Egypt.

He was deeply appreciative of the time and attention which you had given to him yesterday4 and he said that he felt that if you would give this matter your personal attention within the next few days, it would have a very important bearing upon the relations between the two countries.

In closing he again reiterated the great feeling of frustration of the people of Israel about the deterioration of their relations with the United States and their feeling of hopelessness about the continued build up of arms in Egypt by the Soviets.

Sincerely yours,

Arthur H. Dean
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Israeli Relations, 1951–1957. The source text bears a notation that Secretary Dulles saw this letter.
  2. Reference is presumably to Dulles’ speech at Paris, May 4, to the North Atlantic Council. See Polto 2018, May 5, vol. IV, p. 61.
  3. See the memorandum of conversation, vol. XIV, p. 773.
  4. See Document 451.