237. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • Ball Mission Down the Drain?

I may be guilty of over-dramatizing, but the Barbour-Eban and Eban-Jarring meetings last Thursday-Friday seem to confirm that the flexibility we thought Ball found in Jerusalem was just a sop the Israelis threw us. I’m attaching the cables which describe the post-Ball Israeli position in detail.2

[Page 463]

Ball’s understanding was that the Israelis would exchange real substance through Jarring. Eban now says the generalities he’s passed are all the Jordanians are going to get, at least through Jarring, until they meet directly. Nor did Eban give Jarring anything encouraging to take to Cairo, as we suggested he do.

Joe Sisco has already reacted, and State has instructed Ball and Barbour to react similarly. This is a fair start, but I think we ought to arrange a small explosion. If we let them get away with this without more than a passing comment, we can write off right now most of the progress Ball achieved.

I am trying to stir State to sharpen and broaden its expression of dismay so the Israelis will get the point. Luke will do so with Rabin and will suggest Nick Katzenbach follow suit. He also agrees that we should include this theme in the President’s reply to Eshkol, but that’s still a few days off. If Eppie were here, I’d suggest you call him, but I guess we’ve lost that channel for the moment. Anyway, you can keep this theme in the back of your mind-the Israelis are slipping away from the position they took with Ball.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. X, Cables and Memos, 6/68-11/68. Secret; Nodis.
  2. The attached telegrams were telegrams 4842 and 4847 from Tel Aviv, both August 9, and telegram 220328 to Tel Aviv, August 13. For telegram 4842, see footnote 3, Document 230. For telegram 4847, see Document 234. Telegram 220328 transmitted to Tel Aviv an account of the August 9 meeting between Eban and Jarring in London, as conveyed to Sisco by the Israeli Embassy. In discussing the possibility of direct contacts between Israel and Jordan, Eban indicated that Jordan could not expect to receive any further clarification of Israeli territorial assurances without engaging in direct talks. Sisco noted that this was at variance with the impression he and Ball had received in Tel Aviv. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR)