1. Mrs. Meir's remarks to you may be expected to fall under three major headings:
The General Middle East Situation: Israel maintains that its quarrel with
current trends in the
Arab world arises not from hostility to Arab nationalism and unity as such, but to the destructive and
aggressive form of this nationalism loosely defined as "Nasserism." The West's acceptance of the
"Arab resolution" of
August 21113 (for which Mrs. Meir has said Israel
voted with extreme reluctance) was unwise because it implied encouragement of Nasser as leader
of the Arab world, resuscitation of the Arab League under U.A.R. leadership, and concentration on
purely Arab issues to the exclusion of the Arab-Israeli problem and Israel's own needs.
In the Israeli view, Nasser, while perhaps not a Communist, is irrevocably committed to
and dependent on the Soviet Union (which like him is fundamentally hostile to Israel),
and therefore Western compromises with the U.A.R. are compromises with the Soviet Union.
- The Problem of Israel's Security: Israel argues that the UN has shown itself over the past decade
ineffective or unwilling to protect Israel or to enforce the armistice agreements equitably - whence
Israel's reluctance to admit any diminution of its sovereignty by allowing UNEF on its territory, and its
resistance to certain aspects of the work of UNTSO. Nor can Israel's long-term security be assured by
concessions to the Arabs, since Nasser is stated to be dedicated to Israel's destruction; any
conciliatory offer would only encourage further Arab demands. Israel must therefore seek and rely on
reinforced U.S. and perhaps other Western military guarantees, and must obtain additional arms from
the West. It is argued that military association between Israel and the West (either via NATO as
proposed in 1957, or through bilateral arrangements) has advantages for the West also, as the Arab
world is passing irretrievably under Soviet influence.
- Israel's Desire for Arms and Training Facilities from Canada: (A separate paper on this
subject is attached as Part "B" of this memorandum)
2. In your replies to Mrs. Meir, you may wish to keep the following themes in mind:
has yet to be demonstrated that there exists any broadly based form of Arab nationalism distinct
from that led by President Nasser, even though separate poles of attraction may arise within the same
basic movement, as at present in Iraq.
- In spite of the present similarity of a number of U.A.R. and Soviet aims, the facile equation of
Nasser and communism in the Arab world cannot be substantiated. (It may be noted that local
communists opposed Syria's union with Egypt, and are now supporting the anti-U.A.R. faction in the
Iraqi revolutionary régime.) Although Nasser's régime pursues certain policies which run counter to
Western and Israeli interests, it does not necessarily follow that overt political and military hostility to
the U.A.R. is the way in which such tendencies can be arrested.
- Unanimous U.N. approval of the August 21 Arab resolution following 10 days of debate
noteworthy for its lack of reference to Israel, was to some extent a reflection of the recognition by
world opinion that the problem of inter-Arab-relations had to be tackled before the Arab-Israeli
problem would be solved. Perhaps our inability to bring peace in Palestine over the last decade was a
result of failure to realize that there could be no rational Arab approach to the problem until inter-Arab
rivalries, leading to a tendency to vie in hostility against Israel, were settled, until the Arab sense of
insecurity, resulting from division and weakness, was removed, and until there could be some U.N.
insulation of the area from cold-war tensions.
- It is possible that the Israelis do not fully believe their own propaganda about Nasser as the
instrument of communism and as Israel's chief foe, but lay particular emphasis on this theme because it
appeals in different ways to the Western powers through their major preoccupations in the area - i.e.,
that of the U.S.A. with communism and that of the U.K. and France with Nasser himself. Two points
Nasser, contrary to the general impression, is not more hostile to Israel than other Arab leaders;
Cairo radio steadily attacks "Israeli aggression and expansionism," but does not call for Israel's
destruction. Nasser himself is known to have sent an oral message to Ben Gurion last month saying
that when there was a period of calm, the two countries would have to try to resolve their
problems, although a condition of peace would have to be limitation of Israel's population - a
qualification which Israel would find it difficult in principle to accept.
- You will recall the abortive secret overtures made to certain Western delegations at the
Emergency Special Session by both the U.A.R. and the Israeli delegations, presumably unknown to
one another, regarding the possible conclusion of a non-aggression agreement based on existing
- Some of the basic assumptions of Israel's security policy as outlined above in Para 1(b) seem
The UN has gained wider acceptance in the Middle East than almost anywhere else, and its
effectiveness and means of action are growing. Implicit in Israel's unwillingness to rely on the UN
lies a latent danger of divergence from countries like Canada - and now the United States, as
President Eisenhower's speech to the Special
Session114showed - which are putting increased emphasis on the UN role in the area.
- Although strong sympathy for Israel will always remain in Canada and other Western countries,
the inevitable growth of Arab strength and political importance, as well as changing strategic
concepts, are likely to lead in time to a reduction in the West's practical interest in close military
association with Israel. Israel's longtime security will therefore have to be constructed not on a
basis of reliance on the West, but on an ultimate accommodation with its Arab neighbours.
- The facts of the cold war and of the Arab-Israeli population ratio in the Middle East mean that
an arms race is an inevitably self-defeating exercise.
- Perhaps Israel, while being assured of our continual interest and support, should now be
encouraged to think in terms of
- considering Arab unity as a phenomenon which may in the end improve rather than render more
difficult the prospects for an Arab-Israeli settlement;
- recognizing that an oblique rather than direct approach to the Arab-Israeli problem is necessary at
- increasing its reliance on the U.N.;
- working for a settlement based on mutual concessions, with Israel, because of the nature of Arab
psychology, perhaps having to make the first real conciliatory gesture.
b: arms exports to israel
The Soviet decision of 1955 to supply arms to the Arab states effectively broke down two basic
assumptions underlying the United States-United Kingdom-French Tripartite declaration of May,
1950,115 namely, that the
three Western powers could by themselves:
ensure that the level of armaments in the Middle East was not disadvantageous to
- prevent the violation of existing frontiers.
In present circumstances, the three powers could achieve those objectives, if at all, only by becoming
Israel's military ally against the Arabs, thereby forcing the Arabs into the Soviet camp and perhaps even
inviting yet another great power confrontation in the Middle East. Fortunately, neither legitimate
Western concern for Israel nor the evolving pattern in the area yet demands any such action by the
Despite the quantity of Soviet arms supplied to the Arab states in the past three years, the joint
intelligence estimate as of mid-1958 was that Israeli military capability was neither quantitatively or
qualitatively inferior to that of the combined Arab states;
- The removal of inter-Arab differences now in progress can be expected to weaken, rather than
strengthen, the Israeli case for a policy of military preparedness since, as explained in the main brief, a
united Arab approach will permit the public adoption of a more moderate line towards Israel on the
part of important Arab leaders, including President Nasser;
- The development of new United Nations machinery for ensuring stable conditions in the Middle
East, reflecting the concern of a broad majority of United Nations members for peace in the area, has
(1) reduced the need of Israel to seek or receive special assurances or assistance from the great
powers; and correspondingly increased the desirability of Israeli reliance on United Nations efforts
in the area - a point which Mrs. Meir might be invited to consider; and
(2) increased the possibilities of inducing the Soviet Union to make good its frequently expressed
willingness to join in the international limitation of arms supplies to the area;
(d) In connection with point (c) (2), Mrs. Meir will, no doubt, argue that the revolution in Iraq and the
imminent possibility of the delivery of Soviet arms to the new régime increases Israel's need for arms.
Seen in a different light, however, the disappearance of Western obligations to Iraq removes one of the
major impediments to Western acceptance of an international arms limitation in the area, a development
which President Eisenhower specifically welcomed in his August 13 speech at the United Nations.
2. The United Kingdom publicly and the United States, both
publicly and privately, share the view that
Israel's military position does not require the provision by the West of any significant military equipment
beyond reasonable spares and replacements. In January of this year, to avoid export credits insurance
claims, and again in September, 1958, out of a need to ensure continued Israeli cooperation in
providing overflying rights to Jordan, the United Kingdom has permitted "exceptions" to and
"departures" from its general policy. It is not yet clear how far the U.K. intends to carry the change in
arms policy implicit in these departures, which could have the very serious consequence of intensifying
the Middle East arms race. France has been less concerned to apply restraint, although nominally
adhering to the same policy as the United States and United Kingdom. The Canadian policy has been
not to licence the export of significant military equipment to the Middle East, including Israel, a policy
which is consonant with our general attitude towards trafficking in arms.
3. On the whole, any arguments for an affirmative response to the recent Israeli campaign for new
arms116 (in Canada's case, the provision of serial torpedoes, 25-Pdr. guns,
Browning machine guns and tank bodies) must be viewed in the light of the traditional Israeli tendency towards a military posture
(intensified by their interpretation of recent events in the Middle East) and the possible reactions of the
Arab states and the Soviet Union. Quite apart from the unfortunate economic consequence of an
intensification of arms race in the area, to which President Eisenhower again expressed United States
opposition during the emergency special session of the General Assembly, a renewal of significant
military shipments to Israel at this time would tend to retard present progress towards a solution of
Middle East problems. Although the Canadian supplies requested might not have any decisive effect on
the broad picture and might be of some, though minor, importance in the Canadian export trade, our
whole recent approach to the Middle East problem has been to advocate methods of mediation,
conciliation and restraint, preferably using United Nations machinery, rather than the precarious
balancing of positions of strength. In particular, it would be inconsistent with our expressed desire for
the creation of a network of non-aggression pacts in the area, specifically introduced in our statements
at the recent Emergency Special Session as a measure of our concern for Israel's security, to engage
without compelling reasons in any activity which might encourage reliance on military solutions.
Obviously the situation demands constant review, and should the military balance shift seriously to
Israel's disadvantage, the Western policy, to which Canada has adhered, would have to be
reconsidered in consultation with our principal allies.
113Voir/See Document 381.
114Voir/See Document 372, note 107.
115Voir/See Volume 20, Document 700, note 47.
116Voir, à la première Partie de ce chapitre, la réponse canadienne
à la demande d'armes spécifiques formulée par Israël.
See Part 1 of this chapter for the Canadian response to Israel's request for