Special Assessments on the Middle East Situation
FRANCE AND THE ARAB-ISRAELI CRISIS
APPfiOWO FOR RE1EASE DATE:1
FRANCE AN!) THE RAI-JI.T CRISIS
5 June Paris publicly announcodunebefore theootal embargo on arms toInvolved in the conflict. ThisIsrael, since its armed forces rolledFrench armaments. une the policy was toto permit the shipment of spare partsoffensive weapons, reportedlyesult ofPompidou'a reminder to De Gaulle that allwith Israellause toforears. The embargo is officially still
in effect, but there haselter of conflicting information on whether it is being observed.
All indications are that shipment of spare parts was resumedhort break in early June and is continuing.
On the matter of offensive weapons, Israel is almost certainly receiving aorae equipment which falls in this cateqorv. a^la^la^la^la^la^la^H
Foreign Dissero/Bac SRCRJrT
put pressure on Frenchand particularly on Promior Pompidou (former Director General oi the House ofo lift the embargo. The Duaoault firm argued that French manufacturers would lose out completely in the future as suppliers of arms to friendly nations if they were not able to resupply in time of real need.
is unlikely that French militaryto Israel could continue for long withoutknowledge. He probably would reasonmust officially maintain the embargo for the
time being to support his claim of strict neutrality. At the same time, he could have privately sanctioned Pompidou to continue limited shipments, with thethat the knowledge of De Gaulle's onw involvement was to be closely guarded.
have been rumors that Israelarms contracts with France. Our best judgmentthere have boon discussions of cancellationno decision had been taken. If the Israelisobtaining some offensive weaponry, talk ofmightamouflage for the secretactually in effect. Shimon Peres, one ofmost responsible for developingmilitary procurement in France, is prosently
in Paris on an undetermined mission. He could be seeking assurances that shipments will continue and might be trying to set up additional channels for obtaining arms or to broaden the existing ones.
attitude toward any possiblesettlement will be conditioned by its desireits influence in the area and to enhanceas the major power most likely to beimpartial by the "thirdations. to extend French influence in the Middlebeenoost by careful cultivationArabs during the conflict, and there havethat some Arab states would favora mediator in the conflict. The deteriorationUS and British positions in the area oponseven wider for the French, and Arabat thoole in the crisis, reducesfrcn the Coatnunist camp. France is thepower which is not linked with either ofor their big powerParis unfailingly makes.
believes that any lasting solutionproblem should be found within the frameworkfour major powers, althouqh it is awarenegotiations are unlikely untilcooled. For this reason, the Frenchthe UNatisfactory forum forthe present. For Prance any UN action,result from decisions of the Securitytho focus is on the fournotAssembly. Although the French have yetany detailed ideasolution, theythat any agreements should be of aso that another crisis will not erupt within
a few years. Moreover, Prance has already indicated that it will not regard Israeli territorialait accompli but will insistettlement should be acceptable to all parties to the conflict and "consecrated* by the international community. In addition, Paris believesettlement should include some solution for the Palestine refugeeas woll as freedom of navigation of both the Strait of Tiran and the Suez Canal.
official position remains one ofalthough the handling of theofune on the crisis seems to haveDententions- Wide segments ofand the diplomatic community interpretedof the statement condemning the opening ofby Israel as abandonment of France's It probably is the government'sIsrael launched hostilities* but theournalist that the statementhave been issued had he and the foreignin Paris. The press twisted the import ofby concentrating attention on theIsrael without noting that the declarationthe "threat to destroy it which itsmade.*1 The fact that the government tooksteps to clarify the statement indicates
that the declaration was not intended to deviate from the neutral position previously established. Finally, Couve de Murville's General Assembly speech on the following day was rewritten to avoid the appearance of siding with either camp.
the press communique contretemps/been considerable comment that thoand conduct in the crisis were widelyonly in opposition circles but among Gaullistsecent poll did indeed revealf those questioned were sympathetic to ercent, however, approved De Gaulle'sclear indication that at leastthose with pro-Israeli leanings recognized theand economic advantages of neutrality toopposition in France has been sharply split onwith the French Communist Party echoingline and the non-Communist Federationro-Israeli stance. Recentthe split will prevent or at leastommon political program by the twoonly be pleasing to De Gaulle. Althoughwithin and without the government have alsowith the General's stance, the limits
of possible dissidence are firmly set by theirthat the government majority in the National
Assemblylender one and by their recognition that the neutral posture might yet permit France torucial role in the negotiations.
this point, De Gaulle appears to havein his efforts to induce Moscow to giveto Paris and to prevent the "supernegotiating without France. The Frenchinitially was discouraged by Moscow'sto his proposal for quadripartite talks. however, probably interprets Premierin Paris before the Soviet leader'swith President Johnson and his planned visit on
1 July as de facto big power consultations, andindication of his neutral position.
Possible Future Developments in France's Arms Policy
the embargo was instituted, Dedid not wish to see Israel defeated,becauso this would have put France in anposition due to its earlier commitmentsbutmorehewish to see the USSR greatly improve itsthe Middle East. Moreover, the Frenchestimated that the Israelis could holdmilitarily and that they would haveto see them through the hostilities,not bo prolonged. Therefore, De Gaullehe could afford to embargo arms, the question of what policy France would pursue
in the future.
For the present, so long as the Middle East conflict has center stage in the international arena, De Gaulle probably will maintain the embargo officially but continue to close his eyes to the secret but limited flow of offensive weapons to Israel. De Gaulle might still hopehreat to cut off even the present supply of arms and spare parts would give him some leverage on Israel which could be used to lead it to moderate its demandsettlement.
Over the longer run, France might undercircumstances lift its embargo. If the crisis drags on and Paris is getting nowhere with its hopes
of direct mediation or four-power negotiations,then De Gaulle might conclude that an appearance of strict neutrality was not paying off and thus lot thodrop. While Franco might take this decision quite independently of what the other major powers do, it seems certain that Paris would resume arms sales if these powers were themselves making major deliveries to countries involved in the conflict. Do Gaulle could plausibly argue that Franco's neutral status was not impaired by indicating that any French arms sales would be strictlyommercial basis and open to Arabs and Israelis alike,
16. De Gaulle probably believes there ismall chance that the major powers could agree on any meaningful system of limiting arms to tha Middle East, Nonetheless, he would probably agree to French participation under certain conditions: y all four majorUS, the USSR, the UK and France;ffective inspection, which would necessitate Arab and Israeli) abalance in armed strength of the two sidos. Even should the US and USSR make an agreement on armswithout including the French in the negotiating stage, whioh seems unlikely, France probably would tacitly go along by simply continuing the pruoont embargo. In this way, be Gaulle would not have to assent openly to an agreement negotiated over his head by the super powers but at the same tiroo could conform to the substance of it.Original document.