363. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Press Secretary (Johnson) to President Johnson1


  • The President
  • Secretary Robert McNamara
  • Under Secretary Nicholas Katzenbach
  • Secretary Henry H. Fowler
  • General Earle Wheeler
  • Mr. Richard Helms
  • Mr. Clark Clifford
  • Under Secretary Eugene Rostow
  • Mr. Lucius Battle
  • Mr. Walt Rostow
  • Mr. Harry McPherson
  • Mr. McGeorge Bundy
  • Mr. David H. Popper
  • Mr. John Devlin
  • Mr. Tom Johnson
  • Mr. George Christian

Attached is a report of the President’s Meeting in the Cabinet Room with Special National Security Council Panel on the Mideast.

The meeting began at 12:30 p.m. It ended at 12:51 p.m.

McGeorge Bundy outlined the agenda of the meeting: [Page 655]

Arms Registration Policy being examined.
Agreed that discussion of selected military aid agreements would be delayed until after Secretary Rusk talks with the Congress.
Position on the U.N. General Assembly vote on Jerusalem.

On the matter of the General Assembly vote on Jerusalem, Secretary Katzenbach said that the State Department recommendation still holds. That is to abstain from voting, issue a clarifying statement which would be put out at the White House or at State.

Bundy said there should be a formal statement issued at State in the Secretary’s name or by the Secretary himself.

Bundy said a vote on the issue was expected in the U.N.

Bundy circulated a proposed statement of view on the Middle East.2 There was discussion of the language of the statement. The President said the word “deplore” should be changed to “regret.”3 This was done.

There were several suggestions for other changes by Secretary Fowler, Secretary Katzenbach, and Bundy. Bundy said the statement would not cause a violent explosion among the moderate Arabs or the Israelis.

After much discussion of the precise language of the statement, the President said:

“What I want to say is that we regret their unwillingness to budge.”

There was laughter.

Bundy said that the Israelis are going to budge according to reports from Eban.

Secretary Fowler proposed: “The U.S. regrets the failure of the Government of Israel to make clear that its actions in recent weeks is only provisional.” Bundy objected because of the reaction to this.

Clark Clifford said do not be too specific. He said he preferred to approach this in a general way rather than tying ourselves down to specific language.

McPherson suggested that the line in question be moved up in the text. The President agreed. The President concluded the discussion by stating that McPherson should get together with Rostow and Bundy [Page 656] and determine the exact handling of the situation. Then, send the proposal to the President for approval.4

On another area, McGeorge Bundy said that feelers should be stimulated to the weaker hangers-on of the Arabs to the effect that if they will come back into diplomatic relations with us, we will get back into relations with them. He mentioned specifically Sudan.

The panel argued that this was a good idea. The feelers should be that “if you will get back into business with us we will get back into business with you.”

Clark Clifford explained that a group of leading New York citizens, including David Rockefeller, Eugene Black, and John McCloy, were joining to form a group called The American Committee for Arab Refugee Relief.

The goal of the group is to raise $10 million. Clifford wanted to know if the President considered the approach a wise one. Clifford said the idea has some psychological value among the American people.

The President asked Secretary Fowler for his opinion. The Secretary said IRS Commissioner Sheldon Cohen should look at it, that there are tax considerations, and he was somewhat skeptical about getting the President tied to a program which gave tax benefits to a group. He said many other similar groups have a way of popping up.

Bundy said the proposal should be kept on a staff level. The President said that Cohen should be put in touch with Clifford directly after the meeting to discuss the matter.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson’s Notes of Meetings, Box 1. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted July 14 at 6:10 p.m. Brief notes of the meeting by Wriggins are ibid., National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, #2, July 1–31, 1967. Concerning the topic of Resuming Diplomatic Relations with Selected Arab Countries, they read: “The President agreed that the Department should be flexible on this and proceed where there seemed to be opportunities or interest. The first instance would be the Sudan.”
  2. The proposed statement was the draft statement on Jerusalem attached to Document 362.
  3. In Bundy’s draft, the sentence reads: “The United States joins in deploring the administrative actions on Jerusalem which have been taken by the government of Israel in recent weeks.”
  4. Bundy sent the approved statement to Read with a covering memorandum of July 14. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. VIII) The draft resolution on Jerusalem was adopted by the General Assembly on July 14 as Resolution 2254 (ES–V) by a vote of 100 to 0, with 18 abstentions, including the United States. The statement sent from Bundy to Read was released on July 14 by Rusk. For texts of the statement, the resolution, and a statement made by Goldberg in the General Assembly on July 14, see Department of State Bulletin, July 31, 1967, pp. 148–151.