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Lyndon Johnson Administration: U.S. Promises Arms Sale To Israel That Balances Sale to Jordan

(March 11, 1965)

The United States has made an agreement with Jordan that if they buy weapons from the United States, they are not allowed to buy from the USSR and they are not allowed to move beyond their side of the Jordan River (in other words, they cannot attack Israel with the weapons from the U.S.). The United States is going to let Israel decide which weapons they want since they do not want the exact same arms as Jordan and the U.S. will make sure that the tanks they sell to Israel are just as good, if not better quality then the tanks they sell to Jordan. The United States promises Israel that it will get weapons from Germany, if not other European countries, and if not them, the United States.

185. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State/1/

1152. Embtels 1150 and 1151./2/ Text of signed memorandum of understanding follows:

"I. The Government of the United States has reaffirmed its concern for the maintenance of Israel's security and has renewed its assurance that the United States firmly opposes aggression in the Near East and remains committed to the independence and integrity of Israel.

II. The Government of Israel has reaffirmed that Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Arab-Israel area.

III. In view of the importance of an effective Israel deterrent capacity as a major factor in preventing aggression in the area, the United States will of course continue, as in the past, to be ready to discuss with Israel its needs and problems.

IV. The United States has informed the Government of Israel that it may sell quantities of arms and military equipment to Jordan in order to preclude the Soviet supply of arms through the UAC to Jordan. King Hussein has assured the United States that if he purchases US tanks, he intends to keep his armor on the East Bank of the Jordan. The United States also has made clear to King Hussein that if he purchases Soviet arms there will be no sales from the United States. The United States will keep Israel informed of the completion of any deal with Jordan for the provision of US arms and equipment.

V. It is understood that Israel is not interested in buying some of the particular items sold to Jordan. Instead the United States will sell Israel on favorable credit terms, or otherwise help Israel procure, certain arms and military equipment as follows:

A. The United States will ensure the sale directly to Israel at her request of at least the same number and quality of tanks that it sells to Jordan.

B. In the event of the Federal Government of Germany not supplying to Israel the remainder of the 150 M48 tanks outstanding under the German-Israel tank deal of 1964, the United States will ensure the completion of this program.

C. The United States is further prepared to ensure an opportunity for Israel to purchase a certain number of combat aircraft, if not from Western sources, then from the United States.

VI. The Government of Israel intends to provide the Government of the United States with a list of its requirements in the near future and requests that discussions on this list take place in Washington at a mutually convenient time.

VII. The Governments of the United States and Israel agree that full secrecy shall be maintained on all matters referred to herein and all subsequent actions taken in this connection, until the two governments agree on how and when to divulge them. The Government of the United States has explained to the Government of Israel that premature publicity on the matters covered under this understanding could create serious complications for the United States in its relations with other states in the area. The Government of Israel has informed the Government of the United States that it understands this concern and will be guided accordingly."


/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 12-5 JORDAN. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Received on March 10 at 8:38 p.m. and passed to the White House and DOD.

2/See Document 184 and footnote 2 thereto.

Sources: U.S. Department of State