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Lyndon Johnson Administration:
Telegram on Israeli Request of Arms for Heightened Security

(January 18, 1967)


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This telegram discusses Israel's requests for arms from the United States due to the necessity for heightened security on the Syria/Israel border. The telegram reviews the manner in which to address Syria regarding its attacks on Israel.

Following summary for information only and contents should not be disclosed to foreign officials. It is uncleared and subject to amendment upon review of memcon.

Ambassador Harman accompanied by Mr. Evron and General Geba met with Under Secretary January 18./2/ Ambassador Harman presented request for additional military assistance and U.S. public support of Israel in its confrontation with Syria.

/2/A memorandum of the conversation is ibid.

Military assistance requested included: 1) 200 modern APCs on grant basis, 2) $2 million tank spares on grant basis, and 3) $14 million credit on "Hawk terms" for follow-on spares for Hawk missiles and M-48 tanks.

Ambassador Harman reviewed dangerous situation arising from border incidents and terror attacks and noted that Government of Israel has left time before reacting in order to have pressures brought to bear by other powers in Damascus. He expressed appreciation for US demarche to SARG about which he had been informed. He thought it of major importance now for powers to point finger at Syria as responsible for terror attacks. He hoped that Syria would not be allowed to "fuzz" situation by taking position it could not control Palestinian groups.

The Under Secretary noted that there were two sides to this approach. Therefore calling attention to actions and Syrian responsibility could have opposite effect from that desired. Acts have been carried out in such a way that Syrians can reap credit domestically yet deny responsibility in UN. We have urged the UN to take action and are giving strong support to its efforts. Although Ambassador Harman stated that there considerable risk in Israeli inaction in face of terrorism, greater risk could stem from ill advised action at this juncture.

Ambassador Harman said he was basically optimistic about situation in Near East since Israel's borders have been almost quiescent from 1957 to 1965. There were indications of Arab realization that Israel was here to stay and now Arab solidarity seems well along the way to complete breakdown. The fixing of world attention now on the need to keep Israel's borders quiet could defuse a very dangerous situation.

The Under Secretary undertook to look into Israel's military requests and to continue weighing the desirability of a stronger USG public statement on terrorism.

Rusk

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 19-8 US-ISR. Secret. Drafted by Davies and approved by Walsh for Katzenbach.


Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 18, Arab-Israeli Dispute 1964-1967. DC: GPO, 2000.

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