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Israel appeals to France, letter from Prime Minister Ben-Gurion to Prime Minister Guy Mollet

(April 12, 1956)

Failing to receive arms from the United States, Israel turned to France and asked that the French Republic come to its aid in enabling Israel to purchase much needed arms to restore the balance of power in the Middle East. Excerpts:

Strengthened by modern arms, planes, bombers, and tanks, which were generously provided by the Czechs, the Egyptian ruler considers this an opportune time to open a new campaign against Israel by sending armed and trained gangs to the heart of our country. The tension is great, and one cannot ignore the Egyptian danger any longer. The only hope of salvaging the situation is for Egypt not to retain her advantage and superiority in air power and armour much longer.

I am convinced that the French Government will recognise that the balance of power, recently upset to Israel's disadvantage, must be restored at this time with utmost urgency. Israel's Ambassador to France, Yacov Tzur, who is returning from a brief home visit, will give you details regarding the dangers lurking in the current situation. I have also instructed Shimon Peres, Director-General of the Ministry of Defence, to brief you concerning the problems and urgent needs of Israel's security. At this dangerous time, the small and young Republic of Israel appeals to the older and great French Republic with the certainty of mutual understanding.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs