NO. 862 MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION BY ROBERT L. BURNS OF THE OFFICE OF NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS ragarding Suez Blockade

Secret

  • Subject:
  • Suggested United States Initiative Regarding Suez Blockade and Status of United States-Israel Relations.
  • Participants:
  • General Smith
  • Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver
  • NE—Mr. Burns

Rabbi Silver referred to a previous conversation he had had with Mr. Sherman Adams of the White House wherein he said it was agreed there has been no change in the unsatisfactory state of affairs between Israel and the Arab states and some means should be found to break the log jam presently blocking progress toward a settlement of the problem. There recently have been significant developments in the Near East area, but none of them has altered the Israel-Arab situation. However, it appears that United States-Egyptian military aid negotiations provide an opportunity for the United States to contribute toward a solution of the Israel-Arab problem. The United States should call upon Egypt to lift the Suez blockade of Israel shipping. A break in the Arab economic warfare front against Israel could be the first step in the slow and tedious process of settling Israel-Arab issues.


The Under Secretary said peace in the Near East is a fundamental objective of United States policy. Egypt is believed to afford the best prospects of moving toward a settlement with Israel and Premier Nassir recently has made encouraging statements in this regard. Several Arab states would be quick to follow Egypt’s lead. The United States has increasingly made known to Egypt its opposition to the Suez blockade. The United States considers a lifting of the blockade a primary objective in its dealings with Egypt.


Rabbi Silver said United States’ agreement to furnish arms to Iraq and the prospect of a similar agreement with Egypt have caused the deepest concern in Israel. He knew these were matters which Ambassador Eban had discussed with the Secretary and the Under Secretary. He said he does not agree with those who claim the present Administration has turned its back on Israel, but there has been a conspicuous lack of friendly statements toward Israel by Department officials coupled with unfortunate speeches which served no constructive purpose either in the United States or in Israel. The present feeling of isolation and fear in Israel, if unrelieved,might make Israel into a military state. If the Department could make some sort of public gesture to encourage the Israelis to feel they can still look upon the United States as a big brother, the present trend in Israel opinion could be checked.


The Under Secretary said the Secretary had been impressed with the concern felt in Israel and was considering possible means whereby that concern might be allayed. The Under Secretary did not feel Israel’s fears concerning a military imbalance in the area were warranted, even though collectively the Arabs might have more pieces of military equipment than Israel. Moreover, the stabilizing influence of British troops at Suez will remain for some 20 months. There is no reason why Israel cannot receive the same treatment as regards military aid as other states in the Near East and this is, in fact, under active consideration.*


The Under Secretary concluded that the history and nature of the relationship between the United States and Israel, including the United States’ role in the creation of the state, is not one which indicates the United States would sit back and permit Israel to be destroyed; the United States had made this clear many times in many ways.


On leaving, Rabbi Silver said he was very much encouraged as a result of his discussion with the Under Secretary.



* The Under Secretary here was referring to recent statements made to Ambassador Eban by the Secretary that, under certain conditions, the United States would be willing to consider military aid for Israel. [Footnote in the source text.]

https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1952-54v09p1/d862

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NO. 862 MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION BY ROBERT L. BURNS OF THE OFFICE OF NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS ragarding Suez Blockade

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