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

SUBJECT

  • Background on Jordan Arms Package

The attached from Harry Symmes2 is the best background I could give you for your decision on the arms package for Jordan, which will be coming up in the next day or two. It also provides a useful backdrop for Harman’s farewell call tomorrow.

What strikes me is not the familiar point about buying Soviet arms if we can’t meet Jordan’s needs but the increasing Jordanian conviction that we are bowing out of the Middle East and only the USSR can bring justice to the Arabs.

We told our Arab friends last fall that, if they went along with a balanced UN resolution, we’d do all in our power to help bring Israel around. Until last Thursday,3 the Israelis had refused to tell Jarring they accepted that resolution. In addition, they keep making their own changes in Jerusalem, either feeling they have us in their pockets or discounting our view entirely. The Arabs are beginning to believe that we aren’t even trying to press Israel.

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In fact, we can take some credit for Eban’s acceptance of the resolution last week.4 But we haven’t made a dent on his Jerusalem position, and we are trying today to keep the Jordanians from calling a Security Council meeting on Jerusalem.

Our dilemma is that it’s hard to lean on the Israelis until negotiations produce a reasonable proposition to throw our weight behind. But if we can’t persuade the Arabs now that we’re willing and able to get some results, we may not get to negotiations because they may figure the Jarring mission is hopeless without our behind-scenes help.

Walt
  1. Source: Johnson Library, White House Central File, Meeting Notes File, 11/67-4/68. Secret.
  2. The attachment is telegram 3270 from Amman, Document 66.
  3. February 1.
  4. Telegram 2396 from Tel Aviv, February 4, reported that Foreign Minister Eban in his February 1 meeting with Ambassador Jarring put forward the following formula with respect to UN Security Council Resolution 242 to be passed by Jarring to Cairo: “I can affirm that we are ready to seek agreement on the establishment of peace in a negotiation embracing all matters included in the S.C. res. 22 Nov which either side may wish to raise.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR)