345. Telegram From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson in Texas1

CAP 67678. The Israelis have been pressing us for several days to allow them to buy 6,000 rounds of two types of tank ammunition ($220,000) and a rotary coupler for a radar set ($20,000). They could either draw down the $14 million credit you have already approved or use some other credit arrangements.

You have before you a broader memo from Mac Bundy 2 covering the whole range of possible exceptions to our current suspension to military aid shipments to the Middle East. I can well understand why you might want to consider that for a while longer. However, Secretaries Rusk and Nitze have sent you a memo3 saying that they believe that Israel does urgently need these three items and recommending your approval of these exceptions. There would be no publicity.

I can add a personal note from my talks with Evron. He exhibited great concern when he learned indirectly that we were suspending military shipments, especially in view of the continuing Soviet shipments to the Arabs. I checked with Bob McNamara and put the Israelis back [Page 619] into regular Defense-State channels on a case-by-case basis. They must prove real need. I informed Mac Bundy in New York who approved.

This recommendation is the first result. By approving these three small exceptions now, we can, I believe, hold the line and avoid pressure for a while.4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt W. Rostow, Vol. 33. Secret.
  2. Document 330.
  3. The memorandum from Rusk and Nitze to the President, July 5, is filed with Rostow’s draft of this message. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. VII)
  4. Neither the approve nor disapprove option is checked.