477. Memorandum of Conversation1

At my request Ambassador Harman joined me this morning to discuss the resumption of arms deliveries to Israel and the associated Israeli support of the resumption of arms deliveries to certain of the Arab nations. After a long conversation during which I expressed our need for their support of our deliveries to moderate Arab states and our understanding that they could not be expected to announce that support publicly, I suggested that we act as though there had been no letter from us to them and hence no reply required in writing from them to us.2 I emphasized that when queried on this subject by Members of Congress, we would say that we had discussed with representatives of [Page 914]Israel the resumption of deliveries to the Arab countries and that Israel recognized the necessity for our taking the actions we did. Harman agreed to my proposal and stated that while even in private he might find it impossible to state categorically that Israel supported our action, he would find a way of indicating, perhaps by silence, that they did not oppose it.

Harman asked, as he did yesterday, whether they could be assured of further consultations on U.S. arms deliveries to Arab countries. I said the future would have to take care of itself and our action would depend upon the circumstances existing at the time, including the support we had had from the Israeli Government between now and then.

Harman also asked whether we would agree now to accept in the future orders from Israel for spare parts, ammunition, and similar kinds of military equipment and supplies. I stated, as I had yesterday, that we would examine lists of whatever they wished to buy and promptly give our answer with respect to each item on the list.

Robert S. McNamara3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. VII. Secret; Sensitive. Rostow forwarded the memorandum to the President with a brief covering memorandum. A handwritten “L” on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Concerning McNamara’s October 12 letter to Eban, see footnote 5, Document 468. An October 16 memorandum from Rostow to the President states that the Israelis had been pressing Goldberg, and Goldberg had been pressing McNamara to change two sentences in his letter to read: “In response to such inquiries we plan to state that we have advised officials of your Government of our intention to resume some arms shipments in discharge of existing commitments to the moderate Arab states. We will also state our conviction that such action is not contrary to Israel’s interests.” The Israelis proposed to reply stating their appreciation for the resumption of shipments and for the consultation and would merely “note” the above paragraph. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. VII)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.