Thursday, July 14, 2016

63 - A. Eban Report of FM Sharett’s Meeting with J.F. Dulles, Paris, October 26, 1955

Paris, 26 October 1955
Top Secret

Foreign Minister conversed 90 minutes with Dulles. Eban, Lawson, Russell, McArthur present. Foreign Minister made following main points in detailed survey:
     (1) Arms deal marks grave development for Israel for Middle East and for world. On world plane new factor enters region with disturbing effects its previous equilibrium. In Foreign Minister's view USA should reach conclusion relaxation tension indivisible. There's little value relaxation one continent and aggravation another. Soviets should be confronted clear choice either apply detente everywhere or have West lose faith their basic sincerity on Geneva spirit.
     (2) Nasser should be faced clear choice renounce arms deal or lose Western aid. Cannot have it both ways for if he does both Egypt and Arab world will conclude his rapprochement Soviets has been successful and others should emulate. Both here and in (1) above perils acquiescence greater than dangers clear confrontation USSR and Egypt with injurious consequences their new policy to their basic interest.
    (3) Israel faced grave perils. Previous Egyptian preponderance now being overwhelmingly increased. Nasser seeks destruction Israel and his new strength primarily directed this purpose. In face fearful prospect not surprising to hear world press speculate on Israel refusal to wait for adversary becoming overpoweringly stronger. Foreign Minister hoped devoutly no situation would arise in which this appeared only course safety but mere discussion of it illustrated explosive elements situation. But supposing Israel kept nerve as he hoped it would do the paramount danger was Egyptian offensive to annihilate Israel. Israel would then fight back desperately stopping before nothing and whole Middle East might then be turned into inferno. Question was find effective deterrents. Here Foreign Minister gave details Egypt's previous superiority even before Czech deal.
     (4) Only devices which might remedy situation were first arms which we need urgently and on special terms and which shall seek partly in USA and second quick unconditional action on security treaty which idea Secretary so often and consistently sponsored. If not to be implemented now in emergency, than what was value of idea. If transpired US unready for security treaty present juncture, Israel will probably write it off as illusory. Foreign Minister invited Secretary's frank comment on all above.
  Secretary commented:
     (1) He shared Foreign Minister's view gravity situation carrying threat not only Israel but world. Soviet arms would also probably reach Syria, Saudi Arabia forming arms pool inimical not only Israel but Europe which depended Arab oil. Britain specially affected because of regional interests and dependence on Arab oil without which her foreign exchange position would collapse. Development as serious as any since World War II not even excluding Korea wherein Communist objectives more limited. USA proposes deal with matter in light this grave appraisal.
     (2) Foreign Minister's contention that Turkish-Iraqi pact brought Soviet and Egypt together was open to challenge but no purpose arguing on past.
     (3) USA regards Geneva spirit as indivisible and saw little value in Geneva operation if new front opened in Middle East with designs Africa, Europe. In its relations Soviet America would apply this doctrine. Method and timing of confrontation USSR this choice needed careful judgment meanwhile publicity would not help.
     (4) He doubted if ultimatum to Nasser renounce arms deal or lose western aid would be effective. Nasser would not yield and western aid not sufficiently decisive make him renounce deal to which committed. Dulles felt more to be hoped for on Soviet than Egyptian end. Course suggested by Foreign Minister had been discussed and Dulles' present thinking not definitive. This matter still subject to review.
     (5) USA appreciation relative arms strength before Czech deal not same as Foreign Minister's. Pentagon and US Intelligence had different figures which do not bear out belief Egyptian superiority. Would be useful attempt to reconcile these different versions. 
    (6) New arms deal certainly gave rise to anxiety but whether would cause decisive Israel inferiority not clear. Would Egypt get all arms and be able use them, how many would be killed flying these planes etc. Other hand USA does not believe that if USSR decides create imbalance Israel can prevent it since absorptive capacity Israel for weapons even if brought to 100 per cent would be less than that of larger neighbours. Thus balance principle not feasible. This does not exclude purchase arms on moderate basis and if Israel applies in this spirit USA will consider sympathetically.
     (7) On security treaty USA opposed aggression by anyone regards Israel as permanent element international life and no attempt destroy or disrupt Israel possible without strong USA reaction. Question is what form should this USA purpose take. He compelled to say extremely doubtful at present time possible transform policy statement into formal instrument. Not quite certain if Senate ratification available and anyhow until January impossible get clear view. He lunched with Senator George and left with strong doubt if two thirds available. Foreign Minister enquired if senator himself opposed treaty. Secretary said he was thinking far more of Senator's estimate situation than of his individual attitude though even this seemed hesitant. But he would not pass buck Senator George would simply say even if recommended by Executive doubtful what attitude Senate would be. In August speech he expressed hope armistice lines could be recognised as final borders with some adjustments neither serious nor insuperable. However problem security treaty not basically legal, question was if America people via Senate prepared bold involvement in crisis. When he got back USA, he might find public opinion and Senate attitude different but fact is for next few months we must live on basis present policy and this could not be reconsidered till Congress met first month 1956.
     (8) He hoped Israel would not draw conclusions that only security lay preventative war. Such war would not solve any problems even if Israel won. Any initiative of Israel would seriously embarrass USA whose policy statements were conceived on basis opposition any aggression. Israel gained from opposite side this coin. He did not wish to threaten but must point out USA could not help country which went against basic policy principle of non-use of force.
     (9) Main solution was peace with Arabs. The more attempt is delayed the harder it becomes. If settlement achieved 1954 would have been better for Israel than now and if now better than next year.
     (10) Israel has tremendous asset in good will America people both Jewish and general. Important maintain good will support American nation behind policy to protect Israel. If this friendship not existed not even treaty would bring about active intervention. Indeed treaties only valuable when then express genuine American desire help other countries be safe. He would work every way open to him secure this safety.
     Ninety minutes had elapsed and Secretary suggested further meeting [in] Geneva to hear Foreign Minister's comments [and] continue [to] exchange views.

SOURCE:  DFPI 10, doc.434.