180. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Helms to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Fatah Request for Contact with U.S. Officials

Further to my memorandum of 29 October 1970, concerning the Fatah request for policy talks,2 [2 lines not declassified]. He commented as follows:

1) Although seriously disappointed by the U.S. Government’s failure to send a representative [less than 1 line not declassified] can un[Page 617]derstand and, in fact, objectively accept, our factual explanation that a variety of practical factors prevented a speedy response to Fatah’s proposal to establish a dialogue, but many other Fatah leaders might not be able to do so. As a major world power and one with important interests in the Middle East, the U.S. Government must be prepared to go more than half way to understand and accommodate the legitimate interests and even the “fixations” of the Palestinian people.

2) Fatah is extremely aware of the imperative need, in the interest of its survival, to keep its contact with the U.S. Government absolutely secret. [name not declassified] noted that if his own role in the current contact were ever to become known or widely suspected, he would be branded as an “American Agent” and might even be liquidated under such circumstances.

3) Fatah’s interest in honest, secret dialogue with the U.S. Government at this time is the product of many considerations, such as: (A) Its recognition that the United States is a key power factor in the area, especially vis-à-vis Israel; (B) Its sensing, from recent statements by senior U.S. Officials, that the U.S. Government has finally come to realize that no lasting peaceful settlement is possible without the consent and active participation of the Palestinian people and its leadership (and Fatah is confident that it alone can provide that leadership); (C) Fatah’s present readiness to accept the establishment of a Palestine entity (and in fact to furnish the government of such an entity) and the pragmatic necessity for this entity to live in peace with and indeed to enter into cooperative relations with Israel; and, (D) Its realistic recognition that to become viable economically, a Palestine entity will require sizable foreign aid, especially from the United States.

4) [name not declassified] argued that the U.S. Government, in order to understand the milieu in which it must act regarding the Palestinian problem, has to recognize as a practical factor the emotional imperative of the younger Palestinian generation to assert itself combatively, even at mortal cost. In effect, resistance has finally restored the essential degree of national pride to the younger Palestinian generation, and if this pride is not permitted to channel itself into constructive effort (for example, within the context of a Palestine entity), it will vent itself violently and destructively against all foes, real or imagined.

Richard Helms 3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–049, Senior Review Group Meetings, Senior Review Group—Middle East 11–13–70. Secret; Sensitive. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text that remains classified. A copy was sent to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
  2. Not found. Helms sent his first memorandum to Kissinger on the subject of Fatah’s request for contact with U.S. officials on October 23; see Document 174.
  3. Helms signed “Dick” above his typed signature.