220. Memorandum by Arthur H. Dean1

Last Tuesday morning September 11 by invitation I had breakfast with Ambassador Eban and Minister Shiloah of Israel.

I brought up with them informally the suggestion that you had made to me over the telephone some time that “Things had been going very well lately” and that it might be possible to work out a statement that the question of arms for Israel was no longer an issue, etc.2 Ambassador Eban said:

That you had been exceptionally helpful in issuing the necessary instructions in the Department and in telephoning to the French and to Canada but that Ambassador Heeney of Canada had said that the Secretary for External Affairs, Lester Pearson, advised him that Prime Minister St. Laurent had agreed with the leaders in Parliament that they would not release further arms to Israel without notifying them and making a statement to that effect. Ambassador Eban said someone in the State Department had expressed the view to the Canadians that now was not the time for a public statement and that for a while the Canadians had interpreted that as meaning they should not release the arms, but that that conversation has now been cleared up but that they still had to work out some modus operandi with Prime Minister St. Laurent and Pearson about advising the Parliamentary leaders that the arms would have to be released. I suggested that this would have to be done in an informal conversation and Ambassador Eban said that they were exploring this with Ambassador Heeney.
Minister Shiloah said that although you had issued the instructions, perhaps due to your and Mr. Rountree’s absence at the Suez Parley the subordinates at the Department did not fully understand that they were to proceed with expedition because as late as last Monday the Military Attaché said the documents were not coming through from the Department. I said I would speak to you about this. Ambassador Eban said that they were very hopeful that they could work out the terms of the loan with the EXIM Bank for internal developments (not the Jordan developments) and that Sam Waugh had said he did not wish to make the loan until he had your approval. Ambassador Eban said he understood the papers were on [Page 499]your desk but that you had not yet had a chance to approve them. I again raised the question of whether if the Canadian matter could be cleared up and the procedural matters in the Department could be cleared up and the flow of arms to Israel could be cleared, they could not make some statement that the question of arms was no longer an issue.
Minister Shiloah said he had attended recently a right-wing Zionist Committee meeting, who were apparently going to favor the Democratic plank on Israel and denounce the absence of one in the Republican platform and that he had withdrawn from the meeting on the ground that it was not within his province as a foreign minister; but that he had urged the leaders privately not to express a public opinion on this matter, and believed that he had been successful.

I asked Ambassador Eban what he thought the best method of making such a statement was and he thought when it could be worked out it might be well if someone could ask the Prime Minister a question about it in the Israel Parliament and he could then reply that there were no problems between Israel and the United States which could then be put on the press wires and taken up here. I said I thought the wording of that statement ought to be very carefully worked out; and he agreed.

They expressed themselves as being well pleased with the Suez negotiations in London and thought your ability to have gotten non-European nations to go along with you was a great tribute to your diplomatic ability. They expressed great interest in building a canal through Israel from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and they gave me a copy of a report on this project prepared five years ago by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, Limited, Production Department, and they emphasized that some of the figures were out of date and the cost could be greatly reduced by bulldozing equipment and American earth movers, etc. I am enclosing a copy of this report.3

They said that they had recently had a conference with the new French Ambassador and he had commented that despatches from the New York Times to the French Foreign Office were often regarded as more authoritative than despatches from the French Embassy and that some of the despatches of the New York Times reported to have emanated from the State Department while you were in London were most unfortunate. They particularly commented on a despatch of Homer Bigart and Harold Callender from abroad.

They said they thought that your conversations on the Suez had been on such a high level and your views on the internationalization of the canal had been discussed on such a top level that they did not think that some of the younger men in the Department were fully [Page 500]au courant with your views and they knew of their own knowledge that several of the younger men in the Department theorized a good deal and speculated a good deal with newspaper men and that this was the basis of a number of the despatches which apparently indicated a view in the Department somewhat different from the one that you were expressing. Whether this is correct or not or has any substance I of course do not purport to know.

In leaving I again urged upon them to do everything they could to try to bring about the fairly immediate issuance of the statement that there were at present no major problems at issue between Israel and the Department and they said that they would, just as soon as they could clear up the matters with respect to the movement of arms mentioned above.

Jake Javits sent in word this afternoon that he feels that he is going to have a rather rough time on this issue in the coming election and that the President will also and wondered if something on this matter could be done. I told his emissary that I did not consider myself free to make any comment on this matter but that I was hopeful that something could be worked out in the near future which would be reasonably satisfactory to him.

Respectfully yours,

Arthur H. Dean
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Israeli Relations 1951–1957. A notation on the source text indicates that Secretary Dulles saw this memorandum.
  2. During a conversation with Dean on July 11, Eban advised that if prompt action could be taken on the arms question and something done on Israel’s request for an Export-Import Bank loan, then he believed that he could get clearance to say to responsible people supporting the Israeli position within the United States that there were no essential points of difference between Israel and the United States. See Dean’s letter to Dulles, vol. XV, p. 809. During a telephone conversation with Dean on August 27, Dulles referred to Dean’s conversation with Eban of July 11 and commented, according to Bernau’s transcript of the conversation: “Things have been going pretty well lately and sometime if D[ean] has the chance he might follow up on it.” (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations)
  3. Not attached to the source text.