Monday, May 30, 2016

23 - PM Sharett Remarks, Cabinet FADC, August 25, 1954

This meeting is being held in order to discuss and sum-up the matter of our contact with both the United States and Britain in view of the Suez Canal evacuation, the one-sided policy of arming the Middle East countries, and the whole gamut of changes which have taken place, or will take place, to our detriment in the balance of forces in the Middle East resulting from these processes.
I have no intention to go into a lengthy analysis. Let me say most briefly: We are not facing – in view of all these developments – a totally new situation. It is not these turns, or changes, which occurred in British and American policy that have created the crying and threatening disproportion in the quantitative power between us and the Arab countries. This disproportion has been built-in from the beginning. It is fate-given. And we have taken it upon ourselves to cope with it inasmuch as it is within our power and on the not invalid assumption that we will succeed in this coping. What has happened now is that this imbalance has deepened as a result of the policy of these two Powers. Our response, it seems to me, should be more to put the responsibility for this worsening of the situation on them rather than an outcry about our weakness, about the danger of life and death we are faced with.
I am saying this or the sake of exchanging thoughts here and as a conclusion for the debate which will probably take place in the Knesset next week. For we all must not raise too much panic. Such a panic may well harm the spirit of the people, of Diaspora Jewry, and can only greatly encourage the Arab world, and thus bring about the opposite of what we are aiming to achieve. For in our historic struggle with the Arabs we should not only be strong; we must also create the impression that we are strong. Otherwise we may be lost.
Generally, then, it is clear that our sounding the alarm against American policy means that we are worried, means that the State of Israel’s security has been undermined, or might be seriously more undermined, if this policy continues. We thus should put the emphasis more on the undermining of the whole region's stability, on its being be farther removed from peace, than on the direct threat to Israel. I am not suggesting covering up the truth, for instance in conversations abroad with responsible Jews, certainly with Zionist leaders. I am not suggesting the blurring of reality in face-to-face contacts with British and American leaders. But we must be aware of the coming political debate in the Knesset, which will serve as a public expression of our feelings and which will reverberate in the outside world, including the Arab world. The majority of our public lacks awareness of the Arabs’ impressions. What is written in The New York Times is immediately read here, but what Arab newspapers write and what Arab radio stations broadcast are hardly listened to, if at all. However, what is written and said there reflect no less important political facts that affect us most directly than what is published in The New York Times, The Washington Post or The [London] Times.
Our main aim should be, of course, to bring maximum pressure to bear on the Western Powers, especially on the United States. If we do not succeed, as could be assumed, we at least should aim at lessening or slowing the pace of their arming of the Arabs. In earlier stages we succeeded in postponing, perhaps even averting certain actions, in putting the Administration on the defensive, of justifying itself. We should continue in this line. We should aim at those congressmen and senators whose success in the coming election is not sure, and to a certain extent, if not totally, depends on Jewish votes.
I will now cite several negative principles that we should stress:
1) No arms to the Arab States as long as there is no peace with Israel and, generally, [only] as means against Soviet expansion or invasion. We cannot uproot the deep fear the American public has of expansionist communism. It is not within our power to mollify them in his respect, just as they cannot assuage [our fears] that the Arabs are aiming at attacking us. If we try that we will only fail. What we should tell them is that they can by no means whatsoever rely on the Arab public’s readiness to fight for the preservation of democracy. The Arab world has no democracy to fight for. Moreover, historic experience has proven that one cannot rely on the Arabs executing any international obligation. Here their ultimate decision depends on which party appears to be winning; possibly they would join it at the last moment. Any investment of money , any granting of arms, is at the least a waste of resources, while at the same time those arms can be used for various other purposes.
2) No breaching of the [arms] balance in the Middle East. If there exists some kind of a balance, it should be maintained. Here it must be stressed that the very evacuation [of the Canal Zone], while itself justified – we are not against it – and the very transferring of it to Egypt means an enormous military strengthening of Egypt, and since Egypt declares every other day that it is in a state of war with us, this strengthening threatens us.
3) No abandoning of Israel. In actual fact, Israel is abandoned here. True, not by commission but by omission [last 6 words in English]. In the treaty, upheld by President Eisenhower, it is said that the Canal bases would be activated in case of an attack on an Arab state or Turkey. By omitting Israel it is as if the signatories declare that all the states in the region are entitled to be defended by the use of these bases – with the exception of only one state: Israel.
4) No discriminating. In the sphere of arming the states of the region there is a clear element of discrimination. Moreover, there is an Anglo-Jordan agreement, an Anglo-Iraqi agreement, an American-Turkish agreement, a new Anglo-Egyptian agreement. This should bring about some compensation to us.
5) No economic support to Egypt unless it ends the blockade [of Israeli shipping] in the Suez Canal.
Regarding our demand of “no arms!”, its effect must be that the Americans should offer us arms. Indeed, in the last meeting of Mr. Dulles with Aubrey Eban, he said that, in the course of time, if the process of arming Egypt by the US seriously breaches the military balance, they would consider granting, or be willing to grant, arms to us as well.
As to our demand of “no discrimination!”, the result must be: “We will give you a guarantee or sign a treaty with you.” Here we must take care lest we sell ourselves cheaply or for nothing, because it is quite easy to give us promises that even if they are honest do not seriously oblige the other party to act concretely, immediately or in time. We should take care to avoid entering into such straits, since such negotiations can in the meantime tie our hands and prevent us from continuing our pressure.
In the course of our contact with Washington, we can throw about two ideas. We can say: after all, you are not offering us a security treaty. Had you done so, the situation would have been completely different; you must be aware that as long as there is no peace between us and the Arab states, and even if there is peace, peace is still not love and bosom friendship, and as long as this situation continues, as long as all the states around us vow to keep hating us and plot against us, we must calculate our strength against their collective strength. Therefore, a policy of granting arms that does not aim at a balancing of forces will not satisfy us.
At the same time, any American military assistance involves conditions, not all of which are exhilarating, such as sending us a military mission. A military mission tries to pry deep into the intestines; to find out all the Army’s secrets, and against this background uneasy relations develop. Thus, as long as we can purchase arms elsewhere, as long as we have no urgent necessity, one may question our interest in expediting this process. Still, as Ambassador Eban told us, the very receiving of arms and military assistance from the United States elevates our relations with it to a different level altogether. It creates solidarity, it obliges America much more than when relations are limited, for instance, to economic assistance. I do not think American military assistance is imminent, but it will materialize somewhere in due time, and I think we should, all in all, formulate our policy towards this prospect.