319. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Discussions with MOD Dayan


  • Israeli Side
  • Minister of Defense Dayan
  • Ambassador Rabin
  • Mr. Dror, Israeli Mission
  • Major General Gur, Israeli Attaché
  • LtCol Bar-On, Aide to MOD
  • United States Side
  • Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Admiral Moorer, Chairman, JCS *
  • Assistant Secretary of Defense Nutter
  • Assistant Secretary of Defense Henkin *
  • Vice Admiral Peet, Director/DSAA *
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Noyes
  • Major General Brett, OASD/ISA
  • Mr. Kubal, OASD/ISA **
  • Col Jones, Military Assistant **
  • * Lunch only
  • ** Pre-lunch discussion only

Following introductory comments and a discussion of some of the MOD’s experience with the British (Rabin: “The British are very good losers”), conversation turned to Egypt and Israeli-Egyptian relations. Dayan acknowledged Israel was relatively much stronger than Egypt, and felt Egypt realized it would lose if it started a war. He believed the present impasse was a result of Sadat’s lack of real leadership, his unwillingness to face reality and turn to negotiations. Instead, since he couldn’t do what he wanted, he did nothing. Secretary Rush referred to President Nixon’s difficult decision to bomb North Vietnam and mine the harbors, despite the risks of undercutting his trip to Moscow, détente with the Soviets, and loss of the election. (Dayan: “I’m not sorry about the result of the election”). This strong action of the President, to almost everyone’s surprise, received very strong popular backing in [Page 1078] this country, the trip to Moscow was not cancelled, and the President has been overwhelmingly re-elected. Perhaps, Sadat might receive surprising support also if he had the courage to negotiate.

Dayan agreed, but felt Sadat was unwilling to take any such risks. He felt Sadat was weak and getting weaker. The Russians are not out completely and indeed are coming back a bit, but probably not with combat personnel and pilots. They probably will, over time, introduce new weapons but he felt the Soviets had been deeply offended by the expulsion and would insist on Egypt meeting Soviet terms. Thus the Soviets might insist on a voice in selection of MOD, Chief of Staff, etc. He was not sure that the Egyptian military had been involved in Sadat’s expulsion decision, even though they did not like the Russians. Rather Sadat had gotten himself in a hole with his promises of a year of decision, and blamed the Russians for his failures. Mr. Rush noted that the Soviets were vitally interested in a détente for a number of reasons, so there was hope they would be a moderating influence in the Middle East. Dayan agreed the Soviets were not interested in a confrontation with the U.S. or backing a loser in the Arabs, but would still seek to keep their position in Egypt. To do this they knew they had to give something, to meet some Egyptian demands at least for arms if not for personnel. He thought the Russians would support better aircraft, perhaps more SAM 6s, etc.

The discussions in the Dining Room commenced with Dayan discussing the current relationship between Jordan and Israel.2 Mr. Noyes asked Dayan whether an interim settlement could be formulated for Jordan that might be pursued simultaneous to the well known interim canal settlement proposal. Dayan responded that he did not believe it would be possible for Hussein to be satisfied and to be able to retain his position in the Arab world as well as his position in his own government.

To do so he would have to get major concessions from Israel, concessions which Israel was not prepared to make. Dayan added that for [Page 1079] some time an informal arrangement had been under way with Jordan. This is clearly indicated by the fact that the “bridges are open.” He considered that this accommodation was a satisfactory one for the time being to both Israel and Jordan, and that in the near term he could not see any other solution. Mr. Rush pointed out that King Hussein was certainly one of the most moderate leaders in the Arab world. Rabin countered that “Yes, he was moderate to the Western world, but this was not necessarily the case in his relations with Israel.” Rabin stressed that Hussein unilaterally entered into the 1967 war even ahead of the Syrians. Dayan and Rabin then reviewed on a moment-by-moment basis the actions that Hussein had taken in the initial stages of the Six Day War. Stress was placed on the fact Hussein struck on the ground before any other Arab army. The conversation then turned to a general discussion of the situation in the Middle East.

About half way through the meal Dayan commented that it was a working luncheon and that to earn his meal he believed it advisable to turn the discussion toward some specific subjects of interest to Israel. He stated that his government was very interested in procuring additional F–4s and A–4s so deliveries would continue at about the current rate, this being at 2–3 a month. He did not indicate the overall numbers but he did state that these aircraft would be needed as attrition aircraft. Mr. Rush responded that the respective staffs could discuss this in greater detail and that the subject would be taken under consideration by the USG.

Dayan then turned to the subject of the production of the Mirage type aircraft (MX79), and the need for Israel to have the approval in principle of the USG for the support of this aircraft. He emphasized this was a subject of great importance to Israel. He stated that it is Israel’s desire to produce a simple Mirage type aircraft which would be available to the IAF by 1976, and one that would be better than the Mirage. He expected that this airplane would not be available until some time in 1976 and would be built in small numbers and not for export. At the same time, he said, this airplane in no way is considered a substitute for the requirement for additional A–4s and F–4s. Dayan then emphasized that what his government needed was a decision on the principle of the USG supporting production of this aircraft. Mr. Rush commented that this was a decision of major importance which affected both governments. He pointed out that the manufacture of an aircraft was difficult and expensive, and could have very grave economic consequences. He emphasized this by pointing out the recent problems that Lockheed Aircraft Corporation had encountered and the necessity for the USG to help the company out. He said there have been several companies in the past that have come close to bankruptcy or gone bankrupt in attempting to produce competitive military aircraft. Therefore, it was of [Page 1080] considerable concern to the USG that Israel undertake this major step only with full knowledge of the economic problems that could be encountered. Mr. Rush added that he would be very candid and that such an undertaking also presented certain additional problems, not only of an international political nature but also domestic in regard to our own manufacturers and labor force. He explained that we cannot back an aircraft that would be competitive with our own aircraft industries. Dayan responded that he was not prepared to discuss the economics of the situation but that he was certain such information could be made available to the USG. He again emphasized that Israel felt that within the next decade it must produce its own aircraft. Such an Israeli-produced aircraft should be of some advantage to the USG in that it would no longer be necessary for Israel to come to the U.S. for all its aircraft and thus create international political problems. Rabin interjected that his government fully understood Dr. Nutter’s letter in that the USG was prepared to support a prototype program but not production. Rabin stated that no one builds just prototypes but the purpose is to build prototypes to support production. With this in mind it was essential that Israel get approval in principle for USG production support of the Israeli Mirage-type aircraft. Dr. Nutter responded that our government handled such undertakings on a step by step basis and that our policy currently was that we “fly before we buy”. In the case of Israel the initial decision was to support a retrofit program for the older Mirage aircraft, by furnishing certain requested equipment. The second step which was recently approved was the release of equipment and certain know-how to support a prototype program. Based on a review of the prototype, a logical decision could be made on whether or not to support production.

MOD Dayan then indicated that Ambassador Rabin had a subject that he wished to discuss. The Ambassador stated that there was a critical requirement for Israel to secure certain additional intelligence capability, and that this could be done by the release of two USAF C–130s. The Secretary responded that this subject would be taken under advisement along with the Israeli views.3

Dayan then stated that Israel was most interested in securing the Lance or the Hawk to achieve an effective surface-to-surface capability to use against missile sites. He added he would like Major General Gur to address this subject in greater detail. General Gur stated that the Israelis were interested in Lance, “smart bombs,” and the Maverick and [Page 1081] that these had been put before the METG. General Gur emphasized that the release of these weapons to the Israelis would greatly increase the accuracy of their attacks while resulting in minimizing casualties to both sides. He added that they also desire additional Shrikes. Mr. Rush responded that this would be taken into consideration. Dayan also cited the need for a weapon to counter the Foxbat which the Russians prior to their departure from Egypt had flown at will over the Sinai.

Dayan then turned to Mr. Dror and indicated that he, too, had a subject that he wished to raise. Dror stated that since the problem had arisen in regard to the aircraft production know-how, that all other normal know-how had slowed down. Specifically, he said that requests for production know-how for parts unrelated to the MX79 had not been forthcoming. In fact, it appeared that there was a 360° check on all the production know-how for the J–79 engine parts as well as other F–4 parts. He stated that he had a specific problem with the environmental control units for which they already had much of the production data. They needed these units in order to increase their expertise on assembling and disassembling these units. Major General Brett responded that this was correct, that all this information was being held because in our view it related directly to production know-how for the MX79. However, in the case of the environmental control units, units had been released sufficient to support the prototype program.

After a few additional amenities the luncheon was concluded.

G. Warren Nutter
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–77–0094, Box 62, Israel. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted on November 16 by Brett and approved by Nutter. The conversation took place in Rush’s office and the Secretary’s Dining Room. Dayan also met with Rogers and Helms that day. (New York Times, November 15, 1972, p. 1) The meeting with Rogers is summarized in the President’s Wednesday Briefing, November 21. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1283, Saunders Files, Subject Files, Israel) No record of the meeting with Helms has been found.
  2. The next day, November 15, Meir and King Hussein held a secret meeting. As reported in a November 27 memorandum from Helms to Kissinger, Meir presented Hussein with Israel’s minimum demands for a settlement with Jordan, which included: 1) Israel’s retention of the “unpopulated areas along the 1967 Israeli-Jordanian border in addition to unspecified agricultural settlements along the Jordan River; 2) Jordan’s resumption of control of the rest of a demilitarized West Bank, which meant a total absence of Jordanian army forces west of the Jordan River; and 3) Israel’s retention of sovereignty over the entire, undivided city of Jerusalem. Meir added that Israel would never relinquish the Golan Heights and would have to retain a strip along the eastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, including Sharm el-Sheikh. Hussein and Zaid Rifai, who was also present, believed that the Israeli Prime Minister was on the defensive, “spending a great deal of time emphasizing how the U.S. could not pressure Israel in a settlement.” (Ibid., Box 610, Country Files, Middle East, Israel)
  3. On November 22, Rush informed Helms that the Secretary of Defense had determined, based on a review by the Middle East Task Group, that the United States would not be able to release the two C–130 planes to Israel. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–77–0094, Box 62, Israel)