260. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

Abe Feinberg is just back from seeing Eshkol. His message is as follows:

The reason the Israelis took the UAR incidents to the Security Council was so as not to complicate your life while the Czech crisis was on.
The Israelis say that Nasser has already made an arms deal with Moscow involving some:
  • —150 MIGs;
  • —450 tanks;
  • —the training of 200 pilots in the USSR;
  • —the sending of an additional 200 pilots to Egypt in mid-1969.
While Abe was here, I checked with our intelligence people and found:
  • —we have no independent confirmation of the alleged Soviet-UAR deal;
  • —the Israelis have reported the deal to us but not shared the source or quality of the intelligence.
In the light of the arms deal, Eshkol is worried about the Soviet proposal to confer with us about a Middle Eastern settlement. I explained to Abe that there was a good deal of nonsense in the Soviet proposal, but two points that deserved serious consideration:
  • —the Arabs signing a “multilateral document;”
  • —the notion of a 4-power guarantee which might be the best security Israel could ever get if the Senate would buy it, since the Senate does not appear about to buy a bilateral security treaty with Israel.
Abe said he would advise the Israelis to share with us fully their intelligence on the Moscow-Cairo deal. He said he was relieved that we were not “buying” the whole Soviet document.
I was in the midst of talking about the importance of the Israeli’s clarifying their border position when I decided I ought to get this memo up to you.
W. W. Rostow 2
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. X, Cables and Memos, 6/68-11/68. Confidential.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.