114. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State0

41. In response to his urgent request I called upon the Prime Minister at his home in Jerusalem at 10 o’clock this evening. A serious group, including Golda Meir, who has not yet resumed her duties as Foreign Minister, Shiloah, Comay and Avner,1 awaited.

In calm but decisive words Ben-Gurion reviewed the day’s events, stating they showed clearly who had engineered the whole thing, and had shed much light on the Lebanon situation. It was not Lebanon alone at stake, but Jordan, Saudi, Sudan, Libya, Kuwait, and possibly Ethiopia.

He believed it is not too late to remedy the situation if action is taken at once with regard to Iraq. Turkey and Iran could crush the Iraq rebellion in a couple of days if the US is behind them. If this is not done, the whole Middle East is lost. According to GOI information, there remain in Iraq elements opposed to the current rebellion. There is Hussein, who today proclaimed himself Acting King of the Arab Union in Faisal’s absence. Hussein has a legal right to call upon Turkey and Iran as Baghdad Pact allies to assist Iraq, and these countries have a legal right to so intervene, but they cannot take action alone without knowing the US is behind such a move. This is no time for delay, no time for the UN, but a question of the Baghdad Pact with immediate support by US now.

Ben-Gurion was clearly convinced loss of the Middle East would be the worst blow to the West since World War II. If the ME goes, Sudan goes and perhaps Ethiopia. He did not want Israel to remain only democracy in ME. Must be action combined with timeliness.

If all these countries fall to Nasser, Israel will be virtually surrounded in mortal danger. Ben-Gurion said in recent years he had held back on arms requests from the US because they would have been futile and because of the loss of Israel’s self-respect involved in US refusal. Now there is a deadly serious situation, and Israel is prepared to ask for arms, planes, and anti-submarine weapons.

He reiterated several times his thesis that Turkey and Iran can put out the fire if they are backed up by the US but imperative US take lead.

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Comment: Ben-Gurion’s attitude was deadly serious and it was obvious his remarks had been carefully considered. In my opinion he is utterly sincere in his belief that there remains enough uncommitted elements in Iraq to warrant action he suggests but only through prompt intervention with US approval can the situation and the Middle East be retrieved. He made no reference to what he undoubtedly considers to have been past errors in US policy, although there was a passing reference to Hammarskjold’s gullibility where Nasser concerned.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780.00/7–1558. Secret; Niact. Repeated priority to Amman, Ankara, Tehran, Baghdad, London, and Paris. Received at 3:07 a.m.
  2. Reuven Shiloah, special representative of President Ben Gurion with the rank of Ambassador; Michael S. Comay, Assistant Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry; and Yehuda Avner, an official of the Foreign Ministry.