The United States Hears Israeli
on Security and Water Rights
(February 26, 1965)
In response to Israeli concerns, the United States
reiterated its commitment to Israeli security and discussed water issues
with Israeli diplomats.
Telegram From the Embassy
in Israel to the Department of State1
Tel Aviv, February 26, 1965, 9:45 p.m.
1050. From Harriman. Embtel 1037.2
I opened day long sessions February 25 saying the President is following
closely current Israel-Arab situation. After summarizing critical world
security situation, I outlined our analysis of current Middle East realities.
I particularly stressed that it is imperative Israel-Arab confrontation
not become polarized on West-East lines. Noting we must make decision
on Jordan arms within few days, I reviewed rationale this step at length.
Then I reiterated President's basic commitment to Israel's security.
In ensuing discussion:
I emphasized significance of President's willingness to consider direct
sales of such military equipment as Israel needs and cannot obtain from
I stressed essentiality there be no publicity about what we might agree
re principle of arms supply to Israel. I requested the government of
Israel seek quietly to influence Jewish community in US to abide by
such conclusions as we may reach on this and Jordan arms.
Mrs. Meir asked if our arms aid to Jordan would continue if the Soviets
gave Jordan economic aid. I stressed that a major purpose of our Jordan
policy was to keep Soviet influence out. It came out eventually that
what she had in mind was concern that Soviet financial assistance directly
or indirectly enable Jordan to continue water diversion plan, i.e.,
Eshkol said Jordan waters issue was fundamental "first test"
for him. In lengthy back and forth, he urged we directly press Jordanians
and Lebanese to desist from cooperating in diversion projects.
Eshkol bore in on arms supply problem. He asked that simultaneously
with our agreement to meet Jordanian arms requirements as outlined by
us, we commit ourselves to add to Israel's deterrent by announcing we
would insure it maintain adequate arms balance.
Eshkol called for active US government assistance re establishment
Israeli full diplomatic relations with Iran, Turkey, India.
PriMin called on us to move Embassy to Jerusalem.
He even brought up Suez transit question.
I rebutted that public declaration re our arms policy must be made
at time and in manner considered most opportune.
I insisted on Israel's undertaking not to strike against Arab diversion
projects; that she must take peaceful road, including UN, to resolve
Jordan waters crisis. Subsequently I repeated this theme in clearest
possible formulations several times.
On nuclear question, I requested Israel's continued undertaking that
it would not build weapons, and would consent to IAEA observation. Eshkol
agreed to reaffirm non-nuclear undertaking, but said Israel would accept
IAEA controls "together with Nasser."
I reiterated our strong feeling that we should not now announce any
change in our area arms policy, and in this connection, that we still
have the problem of Israel's acquiescence in Jordan arms deals. When
there is actual US delivery of weapons to Israel, we could then consider
I stressed historic significance of President's willingness to consider
direct arms supply in context of other understandings we seek. We pointed
out we have in mind Hawk-type credit terms, not grant supply. In answer
to my question regarding undelivered equipment under German deal, Israelis
seemed satisfied submarines would be delivered directly from Britain,
but were particularly concerned over small naval craft (Schnellbooten)
as well as tanks.
Mrs. Meir characterized Lebanon's and Jordan's recent accommodations
to Nasserist pressure as frightening. She contended King Hussein would
at every step raise the ante by threatening to turn to Soviets. She
professed to be upset about recent USG-GOI discussions of Jordan waters.
Talks almost entirely on Jordan waters, with Meir reaching for all
possible ammunition to point out dangers to Johnston Plan in recourse
to UN. Vigorous exchange followed predictable lines. I told them we
are willing to discuss ways and means whereby our support in principle
of Johnston Plan allocations could be effectuated in UN context. We
emphasized that in event Soviet veto putting Jordan waters issue before
world, public opinion could not help but improve Israel's case. I was
quite harsh in countering Mrs. Meir's scornful appreciation of Security
Council's role. We stressed that when Israel undertook not to launch
pre-emptive military action against Arab preserve, we would be willing,
anytime, anywhere discuss any methods of peaceful approach.
As meeting concluded, Eshkol asked for "something in writing"
re arms supply to Israel. We stressed confidential nature of our discussions,
and said we would consider this among other related subjects prior to
3:00 p.m. meeting Friday.
Various members of PriMin's suite have emphasized to our aides "necessity"
for some very early public indication of USG willingness supply arms
directly and openly to Israel. In side conversations we have stressed
that if watershed in our policy is to be crossed, GOI may have to steel
itself to endure considerable short range domestic political flak.
Komer saw Peres morning Feb 26 in effort to persuade latter of full
significance President's package; that there no time for GOI to bargain
1 Source: National Archives and Records Administration,
RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 7 US/HARRIMAN. Secret; Immediate;
Exdis. Received at 3:48 p.m. and passed to the White House.
2 Document 158.
Source: United States Department