468. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • Secretary McNamara’s Agreement with Eban (as per my barber-shop conversation)2

Bob feels he worked out the following procedure with Eban:3

1.
We will proceed immediately on the items which Israel now has on order and which have been held up by our military aid freeze. At the [Page 895]same time, we will proceed with parallel shipments to moderate Arab states (excluding Jordan).
2.
We will deliver the Skyhawks from the 1966 contract4 on schedule, beginning in December. This requires a decision before the weekend to arrange shipping.
3.
Secretary McNamara will write Eban a letter explaining the above and expressing his (McNamara’s) understanding that Israel does not object.5 (This will have to be delicately worded.)

In addition Bob made a hard pitch to the Israelis to get to work on the aid bill conferees.

This is for your information. I will send you the formal recommendation from Secretaries Rusk and McNamara (they did not want to sign until after today’s meeting) spelling out the equipment we would be moving. They will presumably want to consult on the Hill once they have your tentative OK to this course of action.

McNamara warned Eban that, while we are not moving shipments to Jordan now, we may well in about a month.

Walt

This sounds all right

I’ll hold my decision till I have the formal paper6

I still think you should have a word directly with Bob & check also with Sect. Rusk. W7

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. VII. Secret.
  2. The words in parentheses were added in Rostow’s handwriting.
  3. A memorandum of McNamara’s October 12 conversation with Eban is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ISR–US.
  4. For information concerning the 1966 agreement to send Skyhawks to Israel, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XVIII, Document 283.
  5. McNamara’s October 12 letter to Eban states that the United States was able to release the existing backlog of spare parts, components, and other items and would be able to proceed on schedule with the shipment of the 48 A–4H aircraft on order together with the requisite support materiel. It notes that the ability to respond to Congressional inquiries was crucial to U.S. efforts to preserve the legislative authority to make future credit sales and continues: “In response to such inquiries we plan to state that we have reviewed with officials of your Government our intention to resume some arms shipments in discharge of existing commitments to the moderate Arab states. We will also state our understanding that your Government does not regard as contrary to its interests the resumption of such arms shipments to moderate Arab states that were not participants in the recent hostilities.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 12–5 ISR)
  6. This option is checked.
  7. This postscript appears in Rostow’s handwriting.