105. Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Posts1

41693. Subject: USG Decision on Israeli Aircraft Request.

1. Septel forwards text announcement which Secretary plans make at press conference noon, Monday, March 23 re Israeli aircraft request.2 In essence, announcement says USG is deferring for now any commitment to provide Israel additional aircraft, since (a) we have identified no present military need, and (b) we believe restraint on part all concerned is required if dangerous trend toward higher levels of military confrontation is to be reversed and atmosphere created in which opportunities for peaceful settlement can be more fruitfully explored. At same time announcement makes clear that deferral of decision will be reconsidered if action by Soviets or others upsets military balance or if [Page 350] we believe political developments warrant. Action addressees instructed inform host government of this decision at highest possible level at or about noon Washington time on March 23 and provide them copy of announcement. This message being sent now to facilitate arranging appointments which should be made for as close to noon Washington time on Monday as local circumstances make feasible. Posts are to adhere strictly to this guidance; if there are questions which you cannot answer, request you report them without offering prior comments to Government to which you are accredited.

2. For Arab Capitals: In conveying foregoing, you should stress following:

(a) In taking this step, USG has taken into account urgings our Arab friends. We see it as positive contribution to improve atmosphere for progress towards peaceful settlement Arab/Israeli impasse. Our decision reflects constant USG policy to do all we can to achieve peace in Mideast in accordance with Security Council Resolution 242. It was taken despite strong Israeli desire for positive decision now and such recent developments as French Mirage deal with Libya. This in itself should sufficiently demonstrate our determination do all we can facilitate relaxation present tensions and progress towards peaceful settlement.

(b) In USG view, only lasting security for all parties to current dispute lies in peace, and we believe restraint will contribute to that goal. In taking its decision, USG believes it is acting with restraint and thus serving the cause of peace. But clapping cannot be done with one hand. Others must also exercise restraint and show themselves willing cooperate in genuine efforts resolve present impasse if settlement is to be attained.

(c) On December 9, 1969, the Secretary of State outlined publicly our views as to what framework for a settlement should look like.3 Those views are spelled out in proposals submitted in major power talks, which have been developed in consultation with the parties and other interested states. So far, there has regrettably been little positive reaction, particularly from Cairo. Our present decision reflects what the Secretary then said—that our policy is balanced and fair. We earnestly hope that those concerned will now take a constructive view of principles we have set forth, which we think provide fair basis for moving forward.

(d) Specifically, USG decision offers Soviets and parties themselves major opportunity find alternatives to further sterile military escalation. Arabs have not always taken advantage of such constructive [Page 351] opportunities. There have been too many missed opportunities in past; our arms decision offers a further opportunity. Now is time to examine with renewed seriousness and sense of purpose all possible avenues to a settlement. There will be no settlement without compromise on both sides.

3. For Cairo and Amman: You should make a major pitch for a positive reaction to October 28 and December 18 proposals.4 Nasser remains key and cannot get a settlement by standing aloof and uncommitted in relationship to these proposals.

4. For Moscow: We will be calling in Dobrynin to put case to Soviets in strongest possible terms that we expect corresponding restraint and constructive effort on peace front from them.5 You should take no repeat no action in Moscow at this time.

5. For Western Eur Capitals: In conveying our decision, you should inform host govts of pitch we are making in support of it per paras 2 and 3 above and emphasize our conviction that USG restraint now provides Soviets and UAR, in particular, with major opportunity for forward movement out of present impasse. We hope host governments will support us on political front in order to keep up pressure.

6. For all addressees: FYI. Press in Israel and UAR has already been speculating that no public US commitment on aircraft can be expected but that secret commitments have been or will be made. If this question comes up, you may say that we have made no secret deal to provide additional aircraft to Israel. As for future, we cannot say what we may do or how we may do it since this depends on how military and political situation develops. End FYI.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 606, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. IV. Secret; Priority; Nodis; Noforn Until Acted Upon. Drafted on March 19 by William D. Brewer (NEA/ARP); cleared by Sisco and Kissinger and in AF, EUR, and NEA; and approved by Rogers. Sent to London, Paris, Rome, Bonn, Jidda, Amman, Beirut, Kuwait, Rabat, Tunis, Tripoli, Cairo, Algiers, and Khartoum. Repeated to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Dhahran, Moscow, Belgrade, Bucharest, USUN, Ankara, Tehran, New Delhi, and Rawalpindi.
  2. The text of the statement and the transcript of the news conference that followed are printed in the Department of State Bulletin, April 13, 1970, pp. 477–484.
  3. See Document 73.
  4. See Documents 58 and 78.
  5. Rogers met with Dobrynin on March 25, as reported in telegram 44153 to Moscow, March 26. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 725, Country Files, Europe, USSR) The text of Rogers’s oral statement to Dobrynin was transmitted in telegram 44154 to Moscow, March 28, printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 148. See also ibid., Document 151.