95. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • Economic and Military Assistance to Israel

—At Tab A is a statement announcing your decision on the Israeli arms request which has been worked up by a member of my staff with Joe Sisco.

—At Tab B is a game plan prepared by the Department of State for carrying out your wish to postpone providing additional aircraft for Israel.

This will have profound consequences domestically and abroad. The domestic implications are apparent. Abroad, the appearance of bowing to Soviet pressure cannot be disposed of by simple denial. I have these suggestions:

First, the announcement should be made by the State Department, not the White House.2

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Second, it might be possible to make a minimal response to Israel that would provoke a somewhat less sharp Israeli reaction by some combination of the following:

1. The past Skyhawk and Phantom contracts could be amended without fanfare to include U.S. agreement to replace actual Israeli aircraft losses 1969–1971 up to a specific number. This number, based on the actual rate of attrition in 1969, would be up to 8 Phantoms and 18–20 Skyhawks (with Skyhawks replacing Mirages). This would essentially be a U.S. commitment to maintain the level of Israeli superiority which would exist at the end of present Phantom and Skyhawk shipments later this year. But it would not be a decision to increase Israel’s aircraft inventory.3

2. As a variant of the above, without amending contracts, arrangements could be made by Defense to have manufactured to Israel’s specifications and earmarked a number of aircraft—for instance, 16 Phantoms and 24 Skyhawks—for delivery on short notice should the situation require. Israel could be told of this arrangement.4

3. A combination of these approaches would be possible—providing replacements and at the same time creating a small additional reserve to fall back on should the need arise.

4. Israel could be told that the normal pipeline of support equipment will continue to flow and P.L. 480 sales (about $40 million) and additional military sales credit ($119 million applied to the 1968 Phantom contract) will be negotiated. Together with $30 million in military credit committed under the 1968 Phantom contract, this would make an economic package of $189 million, almost the complete $200 million annual rate Israel has projected from U.S. aid.5

Assistant Secretary Sisco agrees privately that some combination of these steps should be taken.

I will be writing you a separate memo on our strategy in the Middle East6 which as you know has been a matter of great concern to me.

If you approve going ahead with announcement of a program with some combination of the above, the game plan recommended by Secretary Rogers would include the following steps:

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1. Prior to the announcement:

—Brief Congressional leadership. (One possibility is a breakfast meeting.)

—Brief Jewish leaders (via Leonard Garment, Max Fisher).

—Instruct Ambassador Barbour to inform Mrs. Meir. Follow up with Ambassador Rabin here.

—Inform British and French just before announcement.

2. After the announcement:7

—Call in Ambassador Dobrynin to emphasize the need for a constructive Soviet response.

—Instruct our ambassadors in Arab capitals to seize the opportunity to move toward a peace settlement.


With respect to the statement at Tab A:

Approve _____

Disapprove _____

With respect to aircraft deliveries for the Israelis:

Variant (1) would replace losses. (Up to 8 Phantoms and 18–20 Skyhawks)

Variant (2) would earmark a certain number of aircraft for emergency requirements. (16 Phantoms and 24 Skyhawks)

Variant (3) would be the combination of both (1) and (2).

I want:

(1) _____

(2) _____

(3) _____

With respect to economic aid package:

Approve _____

Disapprove _____

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With respect to game plan (Tab B):

Approve _____

Disapprove _____

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 606, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. IV. Top Secret; Nodis. Sent for action. A handwritten comment in the upper right-hand corner of the page reads: “Probably handed to the President on Mar 6, 1970 at K.B. [Key Biscayne].” Tabs A and B, both dated March 5, are attached but not printed.
  2. Nixon wrote “OK” next to this paragraph in the left-hand margin.
  3. Nixon wrote “OK” next to this paragraph in the left-hand margin.
  4. Nixon wrote “no” next to this paragraph in the left-hand margin.
  5. Nixon wrote “OK” next to this paragraph in the left-hand margin.
  6. Sonnenfeldt prepared a memorandum for Kissinger to send to the President on “Our Middle East Policy.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 652, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East, Vol. I)
  7. Nixon highlighted both points 1 and 2 and wrote “OK” next to them.
  8. Nixon did not initial any of the recommendations.