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John F. Kennedy Administration: Note on Pressuring Israel Regarding Military Parade

(April 1961)

This note discusses the United States' pressure on Israel not to use a military theme in a parade to be held on April 20, 1961.

Editorial Note

In response to reports that Israel intended to hold an anniversary parade on April 20, 1961, in Jerusalem that would feature heavy military equipment, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Cleveland on March 10 expressed U.S. concern to Ambassador Harman and suggested that the military theme be eliminated from the parade. (Memorandum of conversation, March 10; Department of State, Central Files, 884.424/3-1061) Israel, however, held a dress rehearsal for the parade in Jerusalem March 16-17. Upon Jordan's complaint, the Mixed Armistice Commission determined that the Israeli action had violated the 1948 Israeli-Jordanian Armistice Agreement. (U.N. document S/4776)

On April 1, Jordan asked the U.N. Security Council to meet on the matter, charging that the parade was an act of military provocation. The United States again expressed concern to Israeli officials noting that the parade would violate the Armistice Agreement. Israel cited previous similar violations by Jordan and refused to alter its plans. (Telegrams 1900 and 1903 to USUN, April 1 and 3, respectively; Department of State, Central Files, 884.424/4-161 and 884.424/4-361) The United States then sought a consensus statement endorsing the MAC decision and urging Israeli compliance, which would minimize debate and avoid the adoption of a resolution critical of Israel. (Telegram 1916 to USUN, April 4; ibid.)

This effort was unsuccessful. Ultimately, the United States voted for a Security Council resolution on April 11 that urged Israel to comply with the MAC decision and requested members of the MAC to cooperate to assure compliance with the Armistice Agreement. (U.N. document S/4785) Despite additional U.S. entreaties, Israel staged the military parade without incident on April 20. (Telegram 752 to Tel Aviv, April 11; Department of State, Central Files, 884A.424/4-1161, and memorandum of conversation between Secretary Rusk and Ambassador Harman, April 13; ibid., 884A.424/4-1361)

Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000.