Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rusk 1965

Hoping to work out a resolution, the administration sent U.S. ambassador at large Averell Harriman to Israel and Jordan. The Eshkol government, however, refused to sign off on a deal. So the President offered his own proposal, which became the foundation for the next major U.S. arms sale to Israel.

President Johnson and Dean Rusk, 28 Feb. 1965, 6.50pm

WH6502.06 PNO 17, 6898

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Dean Rusk: [reading from proposed telegram for Averell Harriman to present to Prime Minister Eshkol] “ . . . Our deep concern about unification of Arab world behind Nasser with close working relationships with Soviet bloc is greatest threat to Israel we can imagine. The fact that it would be deeply injurious to U.S. interests in Near East, including the security of Israel, seems to us to require that we and Israel would together to head it off. We agree to a private visit to Washington of [Shimon] Peres and [Yitzhak] Rabin. Must emphasize absence of publicity for such visit, as was accomplished on earlier occasions.” . . .

President Johnson: I had this feeling—I don’t know if it’s any good, but, God, I hate to transfer all those Jews into Washington, though, because I’m afraid that they’ll all move in at the slightest provocation. I wouldn’t be surprised if Golda’s [Meir] not on her way if we don’t watch. But maybe not.

Do you think that we could say to Averell to strike out the “sympathetically,” and say, “We pledge to give you x tanks, and give them the x tanks, plus the little [unclear] tanks—without any planes? It seems that the basis of his [Eshkol’s] objection is that [saying] “we view sympathetically” doesn’t commit us.

Rusk: Uh-huh.

President Johnson: And that he wants a commitment.

It seems that we might, without great danger, raise the ante a little bit to what the Germans are giving them, and say if the Germans don’t complete it, we’ll complete it, plus 20 or something.

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