244. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Grant) to Secretary of State Rusk0


  • White House Concern with Arab-Israeli Matters

In recent weeks, as you are aware, it has become increasingly clear that the White House is under steadily mounting domestic political pressure to adopt a foreign policy in the Near East more consonant with Israeli desires. The Israelis are determined to use the period between now and the 1964 Presidential elections to secure a closer, more public security relationship with the United States, notably through a public security guarantee and a cooler, more antagonistic relationship between the United States and the UAR. The President is apparently desirous of seeking some form of accommodation to domestic pressures flowing from this Israeli desire without seriously impairing our other interests in the area. At best this would be extremely difficult to accomplish.

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At the same time, the President is concerned with the arms escalation in the Near East. [2 lines of source text not declassified] Any arms limitation accord involving both Israel and the UAR will be possible only if we retain the substance of the new relationship developed by this Administration with the UAR.

Also noteworthy, Mike Feldman increasingly is the primary White House staff influence on United States policy with respect to Israel and Arab-Israeli issues. All outgoing cables and actions dealing with Israel and Arab-Israeli matters, and which could have a domestic political impact, must now be cleared with the White House.

Stemming from your meeting with the President on the UAR Wednesday afternoon, May 8,1 we are now charged with the urgent preparation of (a) a Presidential letter to Nasser which takes a first step in establishing a dialogue with Nasser on the twin problems of area security and arms limitation; and (b) a study of the various types of security arrangements and their applicability to this situation. In addition, at some point in the very near future we will need a scenario on how we might proceed in the weeks and months ahead in handling the security guarantee issue.

Pursuant to NSAM No. 231 and Phil Talbot’s memorandum to you of April 3,2 an arms limitation and control proposal for Israel and the UAR has been drafted and a plan of action for implementing it has been prepared.

The White House staff is pressing for all these documents. I believe they will accept a delay if we can provide assurance all these documents will be delivered by Thursday or possibly Friday.

NEA will have all these documents in hand by Tuesday. We need to discuss them with you. I recommend that we meet mid-week for at least an hour to review our whole approach to Arab-Israeli affairs before the Department sends these forward.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 ARAB-ISR/UN. Top Secret. Drafted by Grant.
  2. The President met with Rusk, Komer, Feldman, Bundy, and Robert Strong from 5:15 to 5:50 p.m. (Kennedy Library, President’s Appointment Book)
  3. See Document 199 and footnote 3 thereto.
  4. Secretary Rusk initialed his approval. A handwritten note indicates that the meeting was scheduled for May 15 at 3:30 p.m. No account of the meeting has been found.