494. Memorandum From the President’s Special Counsel (McPherson) to President Johnson 1

For the President

I had lunch with Eppie Evron today. These points emerged:

  • Eshkol was “trying to strengthen his position at home” with his tough speech to the Knesset yesterday.2 The Times report made it sound tougher than it was, but it nevertheless took an adamant line on the West Bank and Gaza.
  • —What the Israelis mean is, until Hussein talks with us about the West Bank, we’re sitting still. If Hussein or his representatives will talk with us, our position will automatically change.
  • —Though they differ on many other points, Eban and Dayan are pretty much together on this.
  • —They are both willing to give up the West Bank to Jordan if it is demilitarized.
  • —The Israeli press reported that Eban was “quite satisfied” with his talk with you. Eppie believes we should now leak the story of the Sixth Fleet turning toward the Eastern Mediterranean when the Elath was sunk. An unaccredited story in the Post or Times would be helpful both with the Israelis and with American Jews.3
  • —Fulbright, through Carl Marcy, let it be known that he is “burned up” about Israeli efforts to eliminate the Church amendment to the foreign aid bill.
  • —As to Eshkol’s trip here, Eppie and Abe Harmon tried to dissuade him from coming this summer and fall, but he persisted. He now wants to arrive immediately after the General Assembly adjourns; he is thinking about Dec. 21.4 Eppie wonders if a dinner here could be arranged, with a guest list supplied in part by Feinberg, Krim, and Ginsburg.
  • —He hopes some practical step forward can be arranged for the Eshkol visit, such as a desalination offer that would include “such other states as desire to join with us.”
  • —Eppie himself has pretty much had it here. The stresses on policy between the Israeli embassy and Jerusalem have been severe. (He said he and Abe would have written a “very different” speech for Eshkol yesterday. The one real benefit of Eshkol’s visit here, he said, would be to “expose the Prime Minister to the world of Washington—to let him see and feel reality as Washington sees it. They have a very insular view—a very narrow, parochial view of the world in Jerusalem. A conversation with the President should open his eyes.”)

At any rate, Eppie will leave next summer, after he helps Gen. Rabin get started as Ambassador. He has been offered the American desk in the Israeli foreign office, but will probably decline it and leave the government for a while. Between now and next summer, he plans to speak to Jewish groups most weekends, helping you wherever he can.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. VII. No classification marking. McPherson forwarded the memorandum to Walt Rostow on November 1.
  2. Excerpts of Eshkol’s October 30 statement in the Knesset are printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 603–605.
  3. A note in the margin in President Johnson’s handwriting reads: “No, no, no! This starts trouble with Russia.” No further documentation concerning a move by the Sixth Fleet at the time of the Eilat sinking has been found.
  4. A note in the margin in President Johnson’s handwriting reads: “Not Xmas week. I’ll be in Texas.”