240. Editorial Note

At the 297th meeting of the National Security Council, September 20, Acting Director of Central Intelligence Cabell made the following comments in regard to the Arab-Israeli situation. Cabell “noted the sharp increase in Arab-Israeli tension and provided the Council with a summary of the latest incidents. He pointed out that the Israeli raids into the neighboring Arab states represented a firm application of the Israeli doctrine of prompt reprisal. The Israelis, he said, believed that such strong retaliatory actions would ultimately compel the Arab states to cease their raids into Israeli territory. Accordingly, while we must expect further Israeli reprisals, General Cabell believed that it was unlikely that Israel would initiate major hostilities against any Arab state at this time.”

At the conclusion of General Cabell’s briefing, Acting Secretary Hoover stated that he would like to comment on the Arab-Israeli situation. Hoover commented “that there were two major forces which tend to maintain the unity of the Arab states. The first of these was the threat of aggression from Great Britain and France, the second was the threat posed by Israel. If these two threats were not present, centrifugal forces would tend to have the upper hand in the Arab states. Accordingly, if the United States succeeds in checking the threat of aggression against the Arab states from the British and the French, as well as from Israel, we can be relatively optimistic as to the results. At the moment we are putting all possible pressure on the Israelis to restrain them. Nevertheless, we are not too optimistic that the Israelis will not continue their present tactics or otherwise take advantage of the grave Suez Canal situation.

“The President commented that the Israelis are of course well aware of how difficult it is for the United States to maintain its present policy of opposing aggression in the Middle East no matter which side commits it. What with the situation in Suez, the Israelis may feel that they have boxed the United States in.” (Memorandum of discussion; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)