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Lyndon Johnson Administration: Joint Chiefs Say Israel Does Not Need Military Aid

(February 2, 1967)

This memorandum explains the Joint Chiefs of Staff position that Israel does not need and should not receive military aid from the United States.

Military Equipment for Israel (U)

1. (S) Reference is made to a memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA), dated 20 January 1967, subject as above, which requested the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on an Israeli request for military assistance on a grant aid basis.

2. (S) The Joint Chiefs of Staff do not consider that grant military aid to Israel is justified by the internal or external threat. In addition, neither the need for insuring Israel's pro-Western orientation nor Israel's economic condition justify such aid. Provision of grant aid to Israel would not be in consonance with established MAP policy and would be contrary to US interests in the Middle East. For additional information on the adverse effects of a grant aid program, see Appendix A./2/

/2/Neither Appendix A nor B is printed. Appendix A, unsigned and undated, is entitled "Advisability of Grant Aid/Sales to Israel."

3. (S) Israel's present military forces are capable of defending successfully against any individual or collective Arab attack; currently programmed arms shipments to Jordan and expected deliveries to other Arab states do not affect this capability materially. Israel's superior offensive and defensive capabilities would be improved by acquisition of 200 modern armored personnel carriers, but this improvement is not needed at the present or in the next three to five years to insure Israel's security.

4. (S) Aside from the basic questions of grant aid and Israel's security needs, providing armored personnel carriers to Israel in CY 1967 would either delay programmed deployments to Southeast Asia, further degrade our CONUS position, or require diversion from existing commitments to other countries. Moreover, a US agreement to sell additional major items of military equipment to Israel is not advisable since it would:

a. Negate the effect of the US warning to Israel in the wake of its recent attack on Jordan.

b. Aggravate the current unstable internal situation in Jordan.

c. Serve to establish further the United States as the primary supplier of military equipment to Israel.

d. Provoke adverse Arab reactions.

e. Further contribute to the Arab-Israel arms race with the United States supplying both contestants.

5. (S) M-113A1 APCs are also produced in Italy under the US/Italian coproduction project; however, sale to Israel from this source is considered inadvisable for the reasons given above, since the Italian-produced model is outwardly identical to the US M-113A1.

6. (S) Suitable substitutes for the M-113A1 armored personnel carrier are available in Europe as noted in Appendix B; however, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the United States discourage Israel from procuring any additional armored personnel carriers.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Earle G. Wheeler
Joint Chiefs of Staff

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 72 A 2468, Israel 091.3 MAP. Secret. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates that it was seen by McNamara.

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