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


  • Progress Report from George Woods

George has completed his review of previous work on the proposed Israeli desalting plant. His brief letter to you enclosing a more detailed memorandum is attached.2

He suggests two lines of action over the next three months:

He would like to lay on a couple of further studies because prices this spring in the nuclear desalting field have jumped sharply. At the same time, the price of fuel oil has gone down, making oil-fueled desalting more competitive. Our large planned plant in California is up in the air until we can reconcile problems created by these increased costs. Woods believes we should have the benefit of that analysis before we go any further.
He would like to go to Israel later in the summer. The Israelis have taken important new steps to meet their electric power needs with a large oil fuel plant. Woods feels this may change some of the ground rules for the desalting plant, and he would like to hear latest Israeli thinking first hand. This would not involve negotiations at this stage.3

If this is satisfactory to you, he will press ahead with his proposed studies over the next 90 days and, in late August or early September, would go to Israel. I think this is a good idea. I might say that I have talked to George several times about this project and am happy to say he is fascinated with it and has a positive attitude toward desalting. He is realistic about the unresolved problems but thinks we ought to keep pushing ahead.

I am also attaching a letter just in from Prime Minister Eshkol 4 expressing his appreciation for George’s appointment. He would welcome George whenever George is ready. George had a chat last week [Page 398] with his old friend, Israeli Finance Minister Sapir, and asked him to let Eshkol know that he is hard at work.

Walt Rostow

Approve Woods’ course of action5

Call me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Desalting Projects, Vol. II. Confidential. A handwritten notation indicates that the memorandum was received at 3:15 p.m.
  2. The letter is dated July 2; neither the letter nor the memorandum is printed.
  3. Rostow added the last sentence by hand.
  4. Dated June 14, not printed.
  5. President Johnson checked this option.