122. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • Arab-Israeli Control Group Meeting, 4:30 p.m.2

Now that State has reorganized with the Task Force under Luke Battle funnelling recommendations to the top level Control Group,3 I will try to feed to you before the Control Group meetings the main issues that I see that need special attention. This will give you a chance either to weigh in when you go to the meeting or on the phone with Gene beforehand. Today, under the main agenda items, there are the following:

Tim Hoopes’ subcommittee4 organized a scenario for a test probe in the Straits of Tiran that projects 15 to 18 days to mobilize the necessary charter vessels to test the blockade. Since the Israelis may well be assembling their own group to move sooner, I wonder if we have this much time and whether we don’t need something sooner. Eshkol doesn’t sound as if he can sit still this long.
In responding to Israeli economic and military aid requests,5 the best avenues seem to be further military credit or EXIM bank. I have no quarrel with this but we will want to be sensitive to conspicuously moving heavy equipment in at this point.
Dave Popper does not see 9 votes for our resolution in the UN Security Council. They are now inclined to let the debate fall over until Monday.6 Secretary Rusk has sent notes to the Brazilian and Argentine Foreign Ministers. We badly need to make sure we are doing everything possible on this front. Nat Davis undoubtedly has a more precise reading but for purposes of this meeting, I think you merely need to ask questions to underscore urgency.
The British Foreign Office opposes active Israeli support for the Maritime Declaration. The present draft of the President’s reply to Eshkol7 urges active Israeli support. The British and a lot of our people fear this would scotch the declaration. Perhaps this sentence should be taken out of the President’s reply.
Prime Minister Wilson is scheduled to hold a press conference at the British Embassy late tomorrow afternoon. We want to nail down what he is going to say so that he will not take us any farther than we want to be taken.

Hal Saunders8
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. III. Secret.
  2. The agenda for the meeting is ibid.
  3. See footnote 1, Document 115.
  4. Hoopes chaired the Task Force subcommittee on contingency military planning.
  5. See Document 108. Walt Rostow’s handwritten notes on the memorandum summarize the requests: “1 Hawk battery, 25 A 4 E’s, 140 tanks, M–60” with the note, “No extras.” Harman made the requests formally in a June 1 note to Rusk. A June 2 memorandum from Battle to Rusk states that the Department of Defense was still examining the requests but had indicated already that neither A4s nor Hawks were available; concerning the M–60 tanks, “our production line is tight but we are studying availabilities.” (Harman’s note is filed as an attachment to Battle’s memorandum; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 19–8 US–ISR)
  6. June 5.
  7. The draft has not been found, but see Document 139.
  8. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.