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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 26, 1967

MINUTES OF AN EXTENDED MEETING OF THE MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON SECURITY ISSUES

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    Faced with a growing Egyptian military buildup in Sinai the Cabinet tried to determine if the time had come for military action, or if additional diplomacy would strengthen America's support of Israel. No consensus was reached and the decision was postponed.
    "Minutes of an Extended Meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Security Issues," May 26, 1967, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Israel State Archives. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/145094
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Security (extended) -26.5.67     Top Secret

1

Stenogram                                                Top Secret

Particulars - all

An extended meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs

16th of Iyyar 5727 - 5.26.67

(In the Office of the Minister of Defense - Tel Aviv)

Attending Ministers:
L. Eshkol – Chairman
Y. Alon
Z. Aren
Y. Borg
M. Bentov
Y. Barzilai
H. Gvati
Y. Galili
Z. Warhaftig
Y. Isaiah
M. Carmel
Sapir
M. Kol
H. M. Shapira
Y.S. Shapira
Z. Sharf
A. Sasson

Missing Minister:
A. Eban (Abroad)

TZ. Dinstein- Deputy Minister of Defense.
Lieutenant General Y. Rabin - Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces General
A. Yariv- Military Intelligence Head
Y. Uzai - Government Secretary
Y. Herzog- Director-General, Prime Minister Office
A. Labbi - Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Agenda of the day:  B/45 The concentration of the Egyptian army on the border of Israel   Page 2  

B/46 Expanding the present government emergency mode Page 27

Recorded:     U. Shabatz

B/45 The concentration of the Egyptian army on the border of Israel

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Defense L. Eshkol

The intention was to see this meeting as a meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Security Matters, so that nothing would be published about its taking place.

[...]

The first question is: In what did the government transgress? Whether on the foundation that should have been replaced until now? Usually, there are such situations such as these where the government is changed. I ask myself and examine myself as a member of the government that did not wage wars, of this that it did not put the country at war up to now. This is what I ask the National Religious Party representative, whether by not bringing the country into war?

I remember the Sinai operation and the tragic and pathetic Telegraphs sent about the heroism, without quotation marks, abroad, to France....

(Into the meeting enters Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Y.  Rabin and General E. Weizman).

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Defense L. Eshkol:

I wanted to know if these two aircraft, are the same four MIG’s that penetrated earlier?[1]

The head of the general staff Y. Rabin:

[A group of] Four penetrated that split into two: One - diverted us towards the South and the second -  after which we chased and two flew in the direction of Metachim.[2] We tried to intercept it [the pair] on its way back, chased after them till the center of Sinai but we could not engage them. They flew at a height of 50-55 thousand feet. To bomb from that altitude is impossible. The “Hawk” is effective at a height of 20-30 thousand foot.

Minister of Education and Culture Z. Aran:

Did they take photos?

Chief of Staff, Y. Rabin:

We do not know. They already flew once on the 17th of the month. Today was the second time.

There is another point I would like to discuss with the [Prime Minister and] Minister of Defense alone. Does this have some significance?

(The Prime Minister and Minister of Defense confer with Chief of Staff)[3]

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Defense L. Eshkol:

This is the second time that planes are penetrating the skies of Israel.

At an altitude of 55 thousand feet it is impossible to attack. I asked [the generals] why there [over Dimona] are not six aircraft circling day and night. They said: We will erode our aircrafts, and there is a limit to our level of erosion [of our aircrafts].

They are concerned, both of them together [Rabin and Weizman], and each with his own temperament.[4] The chief of staff [Rabin] is usually more "glassine," the second [Weizman] more temperamental.

Now they say that the conversation of Eban with President Johnson has not taken place yet. After the meeting we will have to consult once more. This is the second time they are filming there [Dimona]. It is said in the United States, that our people will be in contact with their people and all the information we share with them, they [the Americans] say that they have a different assessment [line of text redacted]

We shall wait until the evening. I said, all that we know, they will communicate with the people from the Embassy and will update each other.

[1] Editor's note: This is the second time that chief of staff Rabin interrupted the meeting with an update.  Minutes earlier (on page 25 of the minutes) Rabin presumably informed the ministers on the penetration of 4 Egyptians Migs towards Dimona [Rabin’s exact words are redacted] and then left again.  Now he interrupts the meeting for the second time to provide more details.  

[2] Editor's note: The code word “Metachim” refers to the no flight zone around and beyond the Dimona facility.  It is an Air Force jargon that refers to the Dimona air space.  

[3] Editor's note: It was then that chief of staff Rabin and chief of operation Weizman told Eshkol about an “alarming and odd intercept, about some linkage between bombers and fighters jet.” Both Rabin and Weizman were alarmed, Weizman even raised concerns about likely attack of some 40 bombers on Dimona that night

[4] Editor's Note: The reference to the “temperament” is probably a reference to Weizman’s most alarming note

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