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

Mr. President:

[1 paragraph (2 lines of source text) not declassified]


Jerusalem is the major sticking point. I see no agreement if the Israelis limit Jordan to access to Moslem Holy Places and no agreement if Jordan tries to apply principle of “no territorial acquisitions” to Jerusalem. The best suggestion I know is from an Israeli junior minister: rebuild every church, synagogue, and mosque there ever was in Jerusalem and gradually put 60,000 or so Arabs on West Bank, making old city a tri-religion monument.

Secure borders

It is very difficult to think of Jordan accepting Israeli outposts permanently on its territory along the Jordan. The other alternatives are:

  • —joint patrols;
  • —joint patrols plus UN presence;
  • UN presence, about which Israel would be very skeptical.

Israel might well give on Gaza, as the outlet for a transit road across Israel, leaving the Gaza refugees with Jordan.

To make anything constructive out of these initial positions will take a very great effort in the weeks ahead by Jarring—but, in fact, by us.

It’s the best hope, despite the gap.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt W. Rostow, Arab-Israeli Private Talks. Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten notation indicates that the memorandum was received at 11:45 a.m. Attached is a September 30 memorandum to the President from CIA Director Helms with a subject heading that reads: “Israel-Jordan Secret Talks.” See also Document 186.
  2. Rostow added a handwritten postscript that reads: “Helms tells me a supplementary report will be along shortly.” The supplementary report, in the form of another September 30 memorandum from Helms to the President, [text not declassified]. (Ibid.) Rostow commented on this supplementary report in a note he sent to the President on September 30. [text not declassified] Rostow concluded that “there may be some play for negotiation on the two really critical issues (Jerusalem and secure borders) in the weeks ahead.” (Ibid.)