43. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1


  • Israeli Aid Package

Attached is Secretary Rusk’s brief recommendation to approve the Israeli aid package.2 We’ve known from Jerusalem and from Ambassador Harman that our continued delay in responding is becoming an increasing irritant in our relationship. At a time when we are trying to put ourselves on as close a working relationship with the Israelis as we can without losing the Arabs, this is an obvious move. The Israelis are good about keeping this sort of thing secret.

However, one major point is unclear—the APC’s. There was a time when I felt you might want to split these off from the rest of the package. This would disturb the Israelis now but the long range reasons for doing so have not changed. Gene in drafting the attached recommendation for the Secretary intended to include the APC’s. However, we want to be clear on this with you because this may get us into delivering hardware either in the middle of a conflict or shortly after. It could be a promise that would be hard to live up to.

The alternative is to give them answers on all but the APC’s and say we’d like to talk about them.

For your reference, the whole package is described on the attached chart.3

[Page 73]

Approve all but APC’s4

Approve whole package in middle column on chart

See me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Israeli Aid, 5/67. Secret. A handwritten “L” on the memorandum indicates that it was seen by the President.
  2. Rusk’s memorandum of May 22, attached, recommended approval of the aid package for Israel on a secret basis. It commented that the $16 million credit for military spare parts was of particular importance. Concerning the package of military and economic assistance to Israel that was under discussion prior to the outbreak of the crisis, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XVIII.
  3. The attached chart, headed “Israeli Aid Package,” dated May 8, listed the various elements of the package in three columns, headed “Israeli Request,” “Katzenbach-McNamara-Goldberg Proposal,” and “Your Decision.”
  4. None of the options is checked. A list of the President’s decisions is attached to a May 23 memorandum from Rostow to the President that states this was what he had decided at lunch about the Israeli aid package. It records Johnson’s approval of a cash sale of 100 APC’s for $3.7 million, preferably the sale of 100 Italian APC’s with U.S. license, with a direct U.S. sale only if that arrangement was not workable, a $2 million cash sale of tank spare parts, $14 million military credit at 5 percent interest for Hawk and tank spare parts, sale of $27.5 million in food at 2–1/2 percent interest, $20 million in Ex-Im loans, $5 million for special Africa assistance, agreement to establishment of facilities for Hawk missile maintenance, and agreement to offshore procurement for U.S. aid programs. A handwritten note on Rostow’s memorandum reads: “Feinberg-Krim: Pres has agreed to this, but nothing can be announced.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Israeli Aid, 5/67) Telegram 200673 to Tel Aviv, May 23, states that Eugene Rostow had informed Harman of the decisions with the understanding that there should be no publicity until mutually agreed upon. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 19–8 US–ISR)