79. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1
- Where We Stand on Israeli Aid Requests
We have completed the analysis of Israel’s military and economic assistance requests and our technically possible options in response.2 We are now ready to move into the policy phase. In view of your promise to Mrs. Meir to give these requests sympathetic and prompt study, I want to check our next step with you before I proceed.
Mrs. Meir left the U.S. on October 6. CIA, DIA and State had already begun analysis of the intelligence and economic data the Israelis gave us to explain their requests. This included seeking clarification on some points through normal working-level contacts.
Experience in the Johnson Administration with the first Phantom requests apparently taught those involved that it is essential to get a fair analysis of Israel’s requirements before turning the bureaucracy loose on the issue of whether or not we should meet those requirements. In order to avoid having that argument color the basic analysis, I [Page 266] proposed setting up an NSC Ad Hoc Group to provide that analysis. You approved this procedure on November 6.
I now have in hand that Group’s paper.3 It has succeeded in rigorously avoiding policy questions. It has broken significant new analytical ground in identifying our options on both the military and economic questions. For the first time, a President will be able to make his political decisions on Israeli aid requests with a clear view of their military and economic consequences. It also describes for the first time Israel’s substantial efforts to develop its own capacity to produce jet planes and tanks by 1974, and this is where the military and economic requests become closely interrelated.
The next step is to put the technically possible options identified in this paper into political context. You will want a paper outlining your political options and their consequences. The procedure for getting that is what I wish to discuss here. There are two main choices:
1. Ask Assistant Secretary Sisco’s NSC Interdepartmental Group to produce a paper on the political options and send it up to the NSC through the usual machinery. Allowing time for the inevitable debate in that group, for Review Group deliberation and for scheduling in the NSC, it might be as late as March before we reached a decision.
2. The alternative would be to ask Sisco to produce the paper with whatever interdepartmental working participation is necessary but then to bring his paper directly into the Review Group. This would save one step in the bureaucratic process. The important bureaucratic point here is to be sure each department involved has a fair hearing for its viewpoint. Since they are all represented on the Review Group, we should be able to accomplish this with a little care. This should permit us to bring the issue into the NSC by early February.
I think it would be wiser to try for the earliest possible consideration. You will want to be in a position to respond to Mrs. Meir as soon as possible. It is also possible that some of the general budget decisions will have affected the Skyhawk production line and make an early February decision necessary if the Israelis are to add new requirements to the end of their present line.
Recommendation: That we try for the earliest possible consideration in the Review Group, by-passing the Interdepartmental Group if I judge it necessary after talking with Assistant Secretary Sisco.4
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–166, National Security Study Memoranda. Secret. Sent for action. Kissinger’s handwritten note to Haig on the first page reads: “Al—Pres, Laird, and I decided to handle in the same group that dealt with Israeli nuclear program, the all-purpose undersecretaries group.”↩
- In response to Documents 62 and 63.↩
- A summary of a later draft of the paper is Document 93.↩
- Nixon approved this recommendation on December 29.↩