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Richard Nixon Administration: Message to Congress Requesting Emergency Security Assistance Funding for Israel

(October 19, 1973)

To the Congress of the United States:

I am today requesting that the Congress authorize emergency security assistance of $2.2 billion for Israel and $200 million for Cambodia. This request is necessary to permit the United States to follow a responsible course of action in two areas where stability is vital if we are to build a global structure of peace.

For more than a quarter of a century, as strategic interests of the major powers have converged there, the Middle East has been a flash point for potential world conflict. Since war broke out again on October 6, bringing tragedy to the people of Israel and the Arab nations alike, the United States has been actively engaged in efforts to contribute to a settlement. Our actions there have reflected my belief that we must take those steps which are necessary for maintaining a balance of military capabilities and achieving stability in the area. The request I am submitting today would give us the essential flexibility to continue meeting those responsibilities.

To maintain a balance of forces and thus achieve stability, the United States Government is currently providing military material to Israel to replace combat losses. This is necessary to prevent the emergence of a substantial imbalance resulting from a large-scale resupply of Syria and Egypt by the Soviet Union.

The costs of replacing consumables and lost equipment for the Israeli Armed Forces have been extremely high. Combat activity has been intense, and losses on both sides have been large. During the first 12 days of the conflict, the United States has authorized shipments to Israel of material costing $825 million, including transportation.

Major items now being furnished by the United States to the Israeli forces include conventional munitions of many types', air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, artillery, crew-served and individual weapons, and a standard range of fighter aircraft ordnance. Additionally, the United States is providing replacements for tanks, aircraft, radios, and other military equipment which have been lost in action.

Thus far, Israel has attempted to obtain the necessary equipment through the use of cash and credit purchases. However, the magnitude of the current conflict coupled with the scale of Soviet supply activities has created needs which exceed Israel's capacity to continue with cash and credit purchases. The alternative to cash and credit sales of United States military materials is for us to provide Israel with grant military assistance as well.

The United States is making every effort to bring this conflict to a very swift and honorable conclusion, measured in days not weeks. But prudent planning also requires us to prepare for a longer struggle. I am therefore requesting that the Congress approve emergency assistance to Israel in the amount of $2.2 billion. If the conflict moderates, or as we fervently hope, is brought to an end very quickly, funds not absolutely required would of course not be expended.

Sources: Public Papers of the President