415. Memorandum From the President's Special Consultant (Bundy) to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • The Middle East on August 11

I have spent the enormous amount of time of one morning here catching up on the cables and memoranda and as I leave to take the family to Expo 67, I am impressed by how much better things go when I am out of town. Given the very difficult facts, I think your policy and its execution are in good shape.

Dean Rusk and Arthur Goldberg are coming in tomorrow to talk about our posture in the UN.2 They do not expect a Security Council before September and their basic recommendation will be that we should stick with the formula that Arthur worked out and discussed with the Russians in full, slightly modified to include the idea of a UN mediator, which both the British and we think well of. My impression is that it is Arthur who wants this meeting with you and that his purpose is to make sure that you and he are in full agreement. The Israelis have never liked the particular formulation that emerged from Arthur's talks with the Russians and are still nervous about any Moscow-Washington accommodation. I think Arthur may be afraid that the Friends of Israel may try an end-run to the White House. My own belief is that his position is very fair and that he is the best possible man to explain it both to the Israelis and to their friends in the US. If his resolution were accepted in the Security Council it would be a major diplomatic victory for you and it would provide an umbrella over the detailed bargaining that would have to follow. I attach a copy of Arthur's current resolution so that you can check it for yourself. In essence, it provides for (1) withdrawal; (2) acknowledgment by all of the right to all to national life; (3) justice for the refugees; and (4) innocent maritime passage. These are four of your five principles and the fifth—moderation in the arms race—belongs in a separate category for purposes of UN negotiation. To give you a preview of what Arthur will tell you tomorrow, I attach a summary [Page 776]of his most recent talk to Evron.3 You will see that he is our best lawyer on this subject.

The situation in the Middle East and among the major interested powers moves very slowly—if at all. Each party seems to be waiting for something to turn up, and none is yet taking the lead in serious negotiations. George Brown is jumpy about Suez but he has no solid scheme for getting it open. Nasser is making feelers and is perhaps a shade more reasonable, than in June, but he has such a long experience of seeking something for nothing that there is nothing of substance in his moves so far.

Our most complex problems, as usual, are with our friends the Israelis, but even these are not urgent. I have briefed Walt separately on the small but touchy issue of a visit by General Weizman and I assume he will discuss it with you this afternoon. In essence, the problem is that we simply cannot refuse to talk to the Israelis on these matters, and the fact is that I agreed in principle to a meeting (and even an August meeting) before the matter was first reported to you. So I think I had pretty good reasons for taking this course, but I will leave them to Walt to explain. Obviously, I can always be overruled, but quite aside from my own sentiments, I really don't think we would gain from such a decision. We have real things to strike bargains with the Israelis and the timing of one subordinate visit is not one of them. Those real issues are now being studied in State and Defense and they should be ready for your consideration toward the end of August. In essence, they all come down to one question: How much influence can we really have with the Israelis and how far do we want to use it? I find myself more and more cautious about the limits of what we can or should do, and I am quite sure we all need the time for reflection which the present stalemate gives us.

I will be back here early in the week of August 21, and of course can be reached by the White House operators in the time in between.

[Page 777]

Attachment

DRAFT RESOLUTION

The Security Council,

Having further considered the grave situation in the Middle East, bearing in mind the resolutions adopted and proposals considered at the 5th emergency session of the General Assembly and having taken note of the records of that session,

Considering that the crisis in the Middle East merits the attention of all member states and indeed requires the full participation of all members to achieve a just and lasting peace,

1.
Declares that peace and final solutions to this problem can be achieved within the framework of the Charter of the United Nations;
2.
Affirms the principle under the UN Charter of:
A.
Without delay withdrawal by the parties to the conflict of their forces from territories occupied by them in keeping with the inadmissibility of the conquest of territory by war;
B.
Without delay acknowledgment by all member states of the United Nations in the area that each enjoys the right to maintain an independent national state of its own and to live in peace and security, and renunciation of all claims and acts inconsistent therewith;
3.
Determines to work directly with the parties and utilize a United Nations presence in order to achieve an appropriate and just solution of all aspects of the problem, in particular bringing to an end the long-deferred one of the refugees and guaranteeing freedom of transit through international waterways;
4.
Requests accordingly that the Secretary General appoint a personal representative to assist him in seeking implementation of the present resolution in agreement with the parties concerned.
5.
Decides to continue examining the situation in the Middle East with a sense of urgency and requests the Secretary General to keep the Security Council advised of the progress and results of the consultations by the Personal Representative with the states concerned.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary. Secret. The memorandum is marked to be sent through Walt Rostow, but Rostow did not initial it. A handwritten “L” on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. No other record of this meeting has been found but according to the President's Daily Diary he met with Rusk, Goldberg, and McNamara for lunch on August 12. (Ibid.)
  3. A copy of telegram 19238 to Tel Aviv, August 11, is attached. It states that Goldberg, Rostow, Sisco, Battle, and others met August 10 with Evron to fill him in on the U.S.-UK talks and to discuss a possible future course in the United Nations on the basis of the tentative draft resolution. The record copy is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN.