Thursday, July 14, 2016

51 - John Foster Dulles to PM Sharett, April 16, 1955

Washington, 16 April 1955

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

     I have received, through your Ambassador in Washington, the text of your letter to me of April 12, 1955. Your statement of the problems which the present situation in the Middle East presents for Israel is most helpful, and I welcome the clear and constructive manner in which you have presented your Government’s point of view.

     Ambassador Eban will have advised you that I discussed with him in some detail the points raised in your communication and let him know the direction which my thinking has been taking in dealing with the problems of peace and security in the area.

     I am particularly pleased by your reference to the question of the division of the waters of the Jordan valley. We believe the Jordan Development Plan should stand on its own merits and not be dependent on other solutions, but if this question could be resolved, we would all be encouraged to hope that a broader settlement of outstanding issues might be possible.

     I feel I should let you know quite frankly our difficulties with regard to the security arrangement which you suggest. Up to the present time, the United States has not entered into any security treaty, except in the Western Hemisphere, unless the treaty was directed against the expansionist threat of international communism. We have steadfastly avoided involvement in regional controversies. For instance, we insisted that the Manila Pact stipulate that the “aggression and armed attack” referred to in that Pact should apply only to “communist aggression”. A security treaty with Israel would require the consent of the Senate. If we presented to the Senate a treaty with Israel today, many Senators would feel that they were not being asked to guarantee stability but, rather, to guarantee United States involvement in a highly inflammatory dispute. In order to obtain the Senate’s consent, I feel confident that the major issues between Israel and her neighbors would have to be brought measurably nearer solution.

     I have been giving the matter serious study for the past few months, and have come out with the following basic conclusions:

      1. No formal treaty guarantee of Israel or her neighbors would meet with the approval of the United States Senate or the American people unless there was a reasonable chance of stability in the area. This would require substantial progress toward a settlement of the major outstanding issues.

      2. In our view, such a settlement is not unobtainable.

      3. The United States Government is ready to exert every effort to achieve such a settlement and is giving earnest thought to the questions of procedure and timing.

     I am confident you will agree that a favorable outcome of our endeavor would be jeopardized by any public intimation of our efforts at this time. Success will also depend, of course, on the maintenance of an atmosphere of tranquility in the area during the crucial period ahead.

     I shall be glad to receive further thoughts from you at any time, by letter or through your Ambassador here.

     With every good wish and my heartiest personal greetings, I remain.

     Sincerely yours,
     John Foster Dulles 

SOURCE: FRUS 1955-1957, XIV, doc.79.