June 10, 1981
Telegram from Washington embassy to Foreign Office, Subject: Evron-Haig
Ministry of Foreign Affairs- Communications Division
Date: 100681 [June 10th 1981]
Top Secret/ Urgent for morning
For the recipients alone.
My conversation with Haig.
- The secretary opened by saying that during the National Security Council meeting Weinberger demanded a cessation of all military aid to Israel. Haig, who was supported by Allen, opposed the move, and ultimately an agreement was reached that the delay (“suspension”) will apply only to the four F-16s.
When I asked what had happened since our conversation yesterday morning when he promised me that no punitive action would be taken against us, he answered that the Pentagon in its briefing, and at the instruction of Weinberger, announced that they are considering freezing the transfer of f-16s to us. Haig defined the Pentagon’s actions as an outrage, but the damage was done and could not be avoided. An announcement of this will be made this afternoon in the State Department briefing. The letter to congress regarding the breach of the agreement between the US and Israel on the supply of military equipment will say that there may have been a serious breach, and so the administration has decided “to suspend” temporarily and until further deliberation the transfer of the four jets.
I told Haig that we deem this course of action as severe, harmful and unjust. It will encourage all of Israel’s enemies, and in so far as it is a breach of an agreement, it will set a dangerous precedent, also with regard to the implementation of the peace treaty with Egypt. It will serve to aggravate the situation in the region, increase Syrian obstinance and encourage the Soviets in initiatives that will harm Israel and the US’s standing. Since it must be clear that the US will never be able to compete with the USSR when it comes to expression sand acts of hostility towards Israel.
Haig said he agreed with everything I said, that being his own position as well, but under the pressure from Weinberger and the Arab States on the Whitehouse, the President made his decision. Haig made special mention of the severity of Sadat’s personal communication to the President, and of its effect on the NSC’s decision.
When I asked about the expected meeting of the United Nations Security Council he said that the US would veto all calls for sanctions. On the other hand, if the decision will only include a condemnation similar in wording to that of the administration, they will support it.
When I asked how long the freeze on the jets is likely to last he replied that he doesn’t know. He feels there is an urgent need to restart the negotiations on autonomy (after the new government in Israel is formed, of course). The administration still doesn’t have any concrete plans, and he hopes we will suggest positive ideas. I said that it should be clear that Israel should not be expected to show a willingness to be moderate whilst essentially subject to an American embargo and pressure the likes of which have not been seen in years. On top of that, I don’t see what they can expect to gain from the Prime Minister’s visit in September given the current atmosphere. Haig responded that he is certain the suspension will be lifted before the Prime Minister arrives in Washington. In general he thinks that from this point onward things will begin to calm down and Congress will enact no further measures against Israel.
- The occurrences of the last two days have shown us the limits of Haig’s influence. The negative dominant factors in the decisions of the last two days are Weinberger (and the upper echelons at the pentagon) and someone very close to the president (I suspect this person is Ed Meese, who I will make an effort to see again in the next few days).
- I assume it is possible that the administration will approach us soon to offer a ‘deal’- canceling the “suspension” and in return we don’t oppose the Saudi deal.
- As I telegrammed separately, we are working to organize a massive response of our friends, Jews and non-Jews alike.
- In accordance with my discussion with the prime minister, I have asked for a meeting with the president.
The Israeli embassy in Washington learned from Haig as well as from another contact that Secretary of Defense Weinberger supports a tough approach to Israel, including a UNSC resolution that would demand Israel to open the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona for inspection and a call for Israel to join the NPT.
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