242. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) to the Under Secretary of State (Hoover)1


  • Possibility that France has Delivered Additional Mystere Aircraft to Israel

The following may be of interest to you.2

It appears possible that Israel has 48 Mystere Aircraft rather than only 24 of these jet fighters as previously believed. Our information on this subject is as follows:

Reports have circulated in Israel that a number of Israel’s Mysteres were sent to France to undergo a fifty-hour “overhaul”. The French Ambassador to Israel has confirmed this report to our Ambassador, stating that this was a customary procedure in view of the availability of facilities in France. However, it now appears likely that eighteen Mysteres which were reported to have passed through Brindisi, Italy, were not in fact en route from Israel to France, but were actually proceeding in the reverse direction. A vague story in a Tel Aviv newspaper of August 29 stating that “a considerable number” of Mystere Aircraft had arrived in Israel “in due time” seems to bear this out.
A report from our Air Attaché in Rome states that British sources in Rome feel that there have been secret dealings between Israel and France and that in fact Israel has received a total of forty-eight Mystere IVs from France.
At the beginning of the Suez crisis, the French proposed to NEACC the sale of twenty-four additional Mysteres to Israel. We advised the French that we felt that such shipment at this time would be undesirable. In the NEACC meeting which followed, the French representative stated that there was no need for discussion of the Mystere item although it had been inscribed on the agenda.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 784A.5622/9–2056. Secret. Drafted by Blackiston. Initialed by both Rountree and Hoover.
  2. On September 5, the Embassy in Tel Aviv reported: “During the last half of August there were several reports, both of Israel and foreign origin, that some Israel Air Force Mysteres had been flown to France for overhaul or equipment modification. Since then, however, a theory has developed among foreign military attachés that the reported flight to Paris was an elaborate ruse fabricated to conceal delivery from France of a number of new Mysteres to the Israelis.” The Embassy also recalled recent remarks of Ben Gurion to the Mapai Convention that “big things are now underway, which it is too early to speak out publicly”. The Embassy admitted, however, that it had not yet arrived at any final conclusion regarding the status of the Mysteres. (Despatch 135 from Tel Aviv, September 5; ibid., 784A.5622/9–556) Despatch 135 was received in the Department of State on September 14. The following day, a memorandum was drafted by Blackiston, to be sent to Dulles from Rountree, containing the same three paragraphs as are numbered 1, 2, and 3 in the memorandum printed here, as well as references to several statements made by Israeli officials. Evidently, the September 15 memorandum was not forwarded to Dulles. A copy of the memorandum is ibid., NEA Files: Lot 58 D 398, Memos to the Secretary thru S/S Jan–June.