376. Memorandum of Conversation1

Minister Evron is back from Israel and asked to see me briefly today.

[Page 687]
His formal message to the U.S. Government is that the Israeli government is carefully examining all the alternatives for a Jordan settlement. It has not made up its mind. It will have a definitive position in about two weeks. He said that they are all conscious that this is an historic matter which will affect the shape of Israel and the Middle East for a long period and requires detailed study, including economic and demographic estimates.

He reported vividly the impact on him of being in Israel. He said it is impossible to understand at this distance the extent to which Israeli emotions and political life have been changed by the war. First, the extraordinary physical facts of the victory. He says, for example, that well over 700 tanks were destroyed or abandoned in the Sinai and incredible tonnages of ammunition were found in the fortresses on the Syrian Heights.

But, above all, the fact of Israeli access to and control of Jerusalem. He said he found himself getting caught up in this fever. He is now convinced that just as it will take the Arabs some time to come to grips with reality, it will also take the Israelis some time to recover from euphoria and grip the difficult real problems that lie ahead. (The latter remark he said was one that would not be approved by his government but was, in his judgment, a fact.)

Israeli politics is in complete ferment with men taking positions not so much on traditional party alignments as on an age basis. The war is bringing to the front a new younger lot of people. The results and new directions in politics cannot be predicted.
I confined my response to two substantive comments:
  • —So far as Jerusalem is concerned, Israeli euphoria is no better guide as to what will be wise for the long pull than Arab humiliation and despair;
  • —The Israelis have a duty to come to grips with the Hussein offer promptly, whatever the rhythm of their staff work.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. VIII. Confidential. Rostow sent the memorandum to the President with a covering memorandum of July 18. A handwritten “L” on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.