222. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1
- Next Steps in the Mid-East
Sisco confirms that the Israeli position described to Ball resulted from a Cabinet decision that Israel had to be more flexible to keep us with them. Our next job is how to capitalize on their shift. These are the follow-up steps now being taken:
- Ball will brief Jarring in New York tonight. He will try to find out whether Jarring wants any further help right now.
- Rifai is in Cairo urging the Egyptians not to react negatively to the questions Israel put to Jarring for the UAR. He will suggest that Cairo at least come back with questions of its own.
- The British are also going to try to prime the Egyptians for a constructive answer to Israel’s questions.
While we shouldn’t crow about this minimal shift in Israel’s position, we can claim credit for it—for whatever it turns out to be worth. It was basically the result of our plugging away at them here, but apparently our decision to send Ball is what finally shook them into action.
We still have plenty of work ahead of us, but maybe we should ponder the fact that even a small move by us can inject new flexibility into this molasses-like situation.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East, Vol. II, 4/68-1/69. Secret; Exdis.↩