181. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1

SUBJECT

  • Anti-Infiltration Devices for Israel-Background

Before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when terrorism was mounting, we launched a program with the Israelis to test a number of electronic anti-infiltration devices. Now the Israelis want to buy some.

About three months ago, the Israelis submitted a purchase request for Munitions Control clearance to purchase 400,000 anti-personnel mines. They told us these were to be used in connection with a security “fence” along most of the Jordan River between Lake Tiberias and the Dead Sea.

Defense is now going ahead with the anti-infiltration devices, so Wally Barbour’s concern in the attached telegram2 is largely taken care of. However, the problem of the mines remains. Unfortunately, there is both a substantive and an emotional side of the problem.

The substantive aspect is that Defense Department has vigorously resisted doing anything for Israel which makes the current cease-fire lines seem more permanent. While recognizing this point, State believes it is important enough to avert cross-border clashes that, on balance, it would go ahead and help build the Israeli “fence”. When State asked the Israelis for more information about the nature of the barrier they planned, Evron and his counterparts in Jerusalem flew off the handle because they feel we’re questioning their good intentions or infringing on their sovereignty. They have refused us any more information and State is trying to figure out where to go from here.

We do consider the mines to be in a different category from the devices because the devices are definitely a follow-on part of an earlier program agreement. However, State’s position may soon prevail even on the mines.

Hal
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. IX, Cables and Memos, 3/68-5/68. Secret;Exdis.
  2. Reference is to telegram 3810 from Tel Aviv, May 22, in which Ambassador Barbour urged approval of the Israeli request for anti-infiltration devices. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 12-5 ISR)