369. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Abba Eban, Foreign Minister of Israel
  • Avraham Harman, Ambassador of Israel
  • Emanuel Shimoni, Private Secretary to the Foreign Minister
  • W.W. Rostow
Following guidance from Sec. Rusk, I mainly listened; but made strongly the two points he wished to leave with Eban:
  • —their unsatisfactory posture on Jerusalem and its long-run dangers for Israel;
  • —the need to accelerate movement back to the West Bank, with respect to both numbers and speed.
With respect to the West Bank, he said they were doing a good deal but it was hard for Israel to invest much long-run resources in West Bank development until they knew the long run disposition of the West Bank. There is much debate among the Israelis on this question covering four options:
  • —Take the West Bank Palestinians into an expanded Israel as citizens.
  • —Make the West Bank an Israeli protectorate with representation in the Israeli Parliament but essentially the status of Algeria in relation to France before Algeria achieved independence.
  • —Make the West Bank an autonomous state, with its own parliament, economically linked to Israel, but with no military force.
  • —Give the West Bank back to Jordan as part of the negotiation but develop very close economic relations between Israel and Jordan.
I said that I had no confident feel for the region but thought that the desire of those who live there, as well as the negotiation with Jordan, should weigh heavily with Israel in this matter. He said that the [Page 670] people of Israel and its leaders were split in this matter. There is no consensus. One reason the government does not wish to push the question to anything like a firm decision is because their judgment would be affected by Palestinian Arab and Jordan government positions. With respect to the attitudes of the Palestinian Arabs, he said in the immediate wake of Jordan’s defeat there was considerable talk of autonomy but, as Hussein found his feet, sentiment was moving back to reincorporation of the West Bank into Jordan. He also noted that those responsible for the Israeli economy were all for a prompt return of the West Bank to Jordan.
I questioned him on the political and economic situation in Cairo. He didn’t seem to know any more than we did. He said that Nasser was in something like Sukarno’s position; but one could not identify a Suharto, if, indeed there was one.
With respect to a negotiation with the Jordanians, he believed it should be direct and without intermediaries. The critical question for Israel was: Is Hussein serious?
With respect to the situation in the UN, he felt that the problem was to get the issue out of the General Assembly as soon as possible and into the Security Council. Prolonged discussions in the General Assembly were postponing other forms of action with higher constructive potential.
Eban asked me to inform Sec. Rusk that the Israeli government would like to send a military mission to the U.S., in great discretion, to discuss additional supplies of aircraft, helicopters, and tanks. He said that it looked as though France would supply sufficient spare parts to maintain their Mirage fleet. I simply took note of this.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. VIII. Secret. Drafted on July 17. Sent to the President on July 17 with a brief covering note by Rostow. A handwritten “L” on Rostow’s note indicates the President saw it.