1961-1963, Volume XVIII, Near East, 1962-1963|
Released by the Office of the Historian
45. Memorandum From the Ambassador to Iran (Holmes) to the Shah of Iran
45. Memorandum From the Ambassador to Iran (Holmes) to the Shah of Iran/1/
Tehran, September 19, 1962.
/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 76 A 2, 6.111, 1962 Aide-Mémoire, Iran. Secret. Attached to the source text is a copy of a memorandum, dated September 19, to Holmes from Hussein Ala, Minister of the Court of the Shah of Iran, which conveyed the Iranian Government's confirmation of the understanding reached orally that morning and agreement to the Five-Year Military Program presented in Holmes' memorandum. Ala's memorandum also affirmed Iranian desire that the United States provide three more tank battalions and two additional radar stations, and noted: "Should the international situation develop during the five-year period envisaged by the Program, in such manner as to pose threats to Iran not now foreseen, it is understood that the Program may be reviewed."
The United States at the request of His Imperial Majesty The Shahinshah of Iran has completed a study of matters pertaining to the defense of Iran. A military planning team representing the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff consulted with His Imperial Majesty and the Iranian military staff and made a study of the defensive terrain and of Iran's military forces. Having considered all aspects of the defense of Iran, the team submitted a detailed report thereon.
This report together with the views expressed by His Imperial Majesty during his visit to the United States and in his subsequent letter to the President of the United States has been given full consideration at the highest levels in the Government of the United States. The resulting recommendations have been reflected in the development of a comprehensive and well-rounded multi-year program of military assistance to be provided to Iran by the Government of the United States. The basis for and general content of this program are outlined below.
Iran's security involves military, economic and political aspects. The development of a defense concept for Iran takes into account the necessity for assuring military security within the broader context of the need for strengthened political unity and internal capacity to resist subversion, and the need for continued economic development accomplished in an orderly and efficient manner.
The concept for the defense of Iran must provide for all contingencies, insuring a balance of capabilities to meet each threat. It recognizes the capability of the United States and its allies to deter Soviet aggression and, should deterrence fail, to defeat it. It also takes into consideration the collective security arrangements embodied in the CENTO Treaty, on the agreement of March 5, 1959, between Iran and the United States/2/ and takes into account Iran's need for improved capability for self-defense in the event of aggression not envisaged by these agreements.
/2/TIAS 4189; 10 UST 314. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1959, pp. 1020-1022.
The concept further anticipates that Iran's armed forces could be called upon to support other Iranian security forces, directly responsible for Iran's internal security. Finally, it assumes that Iranian armed forces would participate in suitable civic action programs designed to contribute to the welfare of the Iranian people and to engender national recognition of and respect for the essential role of the armed forces in the preservation of Iran's security.
The concept for the defense of Iran against external threats is based upon a forward strategy utilizing the national mountain barriers on the northern border. Military operations in support of such a strategy should be conceived and conducted in a manner visualizing the mutual support of ground, sea and air arms. Essential also to the implementation of such a strategy is the provision of an adequate measure of mobility to the ground force elements conducting the defense.
The concept for ground defense based upon this forward strategy contemplates making maximum use of terrain to achieve economy of force. It would be implemented by the provision of specially tailored frontier-type forces capable of effecting defense of border areas as a necessary contribution to deterrence, furnishing timely and accurate reporting of border incursions or threats thereof and carrying out the forward defense and delay along avenues of approach with emphasis on critical passes and defiles. Heavier units of divisional size, so located as to take maximum advantage of their mobility and firepower, would execute the defense in depth along main avenues of approach. These divisions and their supporting forces should be afforded sufficient mobility to permit rapid employment from more centralized locations to designated primary or alternate defense or delaying positions. Armor units would be disposed and employed so as to maximize their use along likely avenues of armored approach. To reinforce critical areas and to respond to contingency situations, including enemy airborne operations, maximum utilization of available airlift is envisioned.
Within the overall defense concept the mission of the Air Force would involve the execution of tactical air, air defense, and air transport operations including interdiction of key routes of ingress and the air defense of key target areas. The mission of the Navy would involve surveillance and reconnaissance, protection against infiltration, the conduct of mine warfare operations, and the protection of shore facilities including ports to assure vital logistical support through the Persian Gulf and the Shatt-Al-Arab.
The force structure designed for the Iranian armed forces should take into account not only the concept for defense, as set forth above, but also the capabilities of the forces and the equipment and resources which can be presumed to be available to these forces. The development of the force structure is influenced by the necessity to provide increased mobility to the divisional units and necessary support units charged with executing the defense, by the necessity for additional and more effective training efforts and for the provision of substantial numbers of highly skilled personnel needed for the maintenance and operation of increasingly complex materiel, and by the high cost of creating and maintaining an efficient modern armed forces. If due consideration is given these factors, the most effective Iranian military force which could be supported for the next five years is one limited to a total strength of approximately 160,000 personnel.
Within this total force there should be an army of seven infantry divisions of 10,000 personnel strength, each with necessary combat supporting units, a frontier force to provide visible defense, specially tailored and equipped totalling approximately 10,500 personnel, and necessary force-wide logistical support; an air force of approximately 12,000 personnel strength including eight tactical fighter squadrons, three transport squadrons, one tactical reconnaissance squadron, and one air defense wing including personnel necessary to man an aircraft control and warning system; and a navy of approximately 3,000 personnel, including two patrol frigates, four patrol boats and six minesweepers.
The United States in recognition of the need for improvement of the patrol and escort capability of the Imperial Iranian Navy in the Persian Gulf proposes to furnish two patrol frigates. These frigates would replace the two obsolescent ships of this class now in service in the Iranian Navy.
To permit effective utilization and employment of fighter and transport aircraft now available and those planned for the Iranian Air Force, expansion of operative airfield capability and development of an aircraft control and warning system is visualized. Steps to provide for each of these capabilities are necessary for implementation of the concept for defense.
It is proposed that an airfield development program be undertaken giving consideration to the capability and radius of operation of existing and planned aircraft to accomplish assigned missions, while at the same time giving consideration to the resources which can be made available to construction requirements. The concept envisages three main operating bases consistent with permanent base maintenance and support requirements; the use of a forward operating base in northeast Iran with minimum essential facilities for extension of operating radius; and the utilization of existing commercial airfields as emergency forward operating bases. Within this concept one main operating base would be developed at Hamadan in addition to those now existing at Teheran and Dezful and a forward operating base would be constructed in Northeastern Iran at Mashed.
The United States proposes to contribute to the development of the aircraft control and warning system by construction of radar stations at Hamadan and Dezful. The development of the system would be facilitated by construction of a radar station within the CENTO early warning system at Mashed by the Government of the United Kingdom and subject to CENTO agreement thereto. The United States would also provide an adequate and reliable communications system linking all existing and proposed radar stations and the air defense operations center.
The United States' proposal to undertake the airfield expansion and construction projects at Hamadan and Mashed and the aircraft control and warning radar stations at Hamadan and Dezful, as set forth above, anticipates that the Government of Iran will undertake to provide from its resources necessary ancillary facilities. This combined effort should vastly improve the operational effectiveness of the Imperial Iranian Air Force.
In furtherance of its intent to assist Iran in providing for its defense, the U.S. is prepared during the next five years to provide equipment and other support for Iranian forces as set forth in the attachment hereto. It is understood that provision of this support by the United States will be dependent (A) upon the transition of the Iranian armed forces over the next two or three year period to the agreed manpower level; (B) upon the demonstrated ability of the Iranian armed forces to absorb and effectively utilize and maintain existing and newly delivered equipment; and (C) upon maximum effective utilization of existing troop housing and support facilities.
Qualitative improvement in the Iranian armed forces, particularly in the army, is essential to effective implementation of the concept for defense set forth herein and for the effective utilization of equipment to be furnished. To this end procurement and training of long-term technicians, specialists, and non-commissioned officers in all areas should be accomplished on an accelerated basis; a personnel management system to assure full and appropriate utilization of skilled personnel should be established; a sound fiscal management system should be employed to assure effective utilization of resources; maintenance and logistic support capability should be broadened; and command structure and force organization should be tailored to the requirements of the force structure being developed. In accordance with the wishes of His Imperial Majesty the United States/ARMISH/MAAG is prepared to assist in the accomplishment of these improvements through the provision of detailed recommendations and guidance, as required.
This undertaking of the Government of the United States is, of course, subject to the approval by the United States Congress of annual appropriations of the necessary funds. The United States Government believes that the above force level and proposed equipment and supplies for the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces together with the qualitative improvements visualized would substantially improve the capability of the Iranian forces to carry out their missions.
The Government of the United States proposes that, if the program outlined above is acceptable in principle, that designated representatives of His Imperial Majesty and the Chief of ARMISH/MAAG undertake discussions for the purpose of arriving at the details of the program for the defense of Iran.
Summary of proposed deliveries of military equipment to Iran July 1, 1962 through June 30, 1967 (Note A).
[Here follows a detailed list of 13 types of military equipment and weaponry.]/3/
/3/Another copy of this memorandum indicates that Holmes signed the document. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 67 A 4564, Iran 000.1-91.31 1963)2
46. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic/1/
Washington, September 19, 1962, 11:31 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B43/9-1962. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Duncan; cleared by Gaud, Strong, Little, and Swank; and approved by Grant.
292. Following based on uncleared memcon:/2/
/2/Rusk's conversation with Kaissouni on September 18, which began at 10:15 a.m., was recorded in five memoranda of conversation: 1) Cairo Economic Conference (ibid., 398.00-CA/9-1862); 2) Multi-Year PL 480 (ibid., 611.86B41/9-1862); 3) Pending Economic Assistance Requests (ibid., 811.0086B/9-1862); 4) UAR Accession to GATT (ibid., Secretary's Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330); and 5) Preservation of Nubian Monuments (ibid.). A briefing memorandum from Talbot to Rusk sent prior to this meeting is ibid., Central Files, 611.86B/9-1762. Additional documentation relating to Kaissouni's visit is ibid., 811.0086B/9-1162.
Secretary told Kaissouni September 18 that while US intends sign multi-year agreement soon, we prefer not take action on any large scale agreements pending completion Congressional action on AID appropriation./3/ Secretary suggested that if Kaissouni's plans would keep him in US perhaps until early October we would hope sign here. Otherwise signature could be shortly after his return Cairo. Kaissouni indicated intention remain until after first October. (Consultations third countries still in progress.) Meanwhile, we plan sign stabilization loan amendment either September 20 or 25 for $10 million with disbursement contingent conclusion matching arrangements. With reported signature German agreement September 17, $9 million would be available immediately while matching final $1 million allowed through December 31.
/3/On September 16, Bundy advised Kennedy that the Department of State, in order to reduce the likelihood that Nasser would react violently when the Hawk deal with Israel was officially announced or that he would prematurely attack the Johnson Plan, proposed that Kaissouni be informed during his visit that the United States was prepared to sign an agreement giving the UAR the final $10 million stabilization credit and sign as soon as the aid bill became law the 3-year P.L. 480 agreement with the UAR. Bundy advised delaying the announcement of the latter so as not to affect passage of the aid bill. Bundy added that Feldman saw no undue complication on the domestic political front from these moves. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, United Arab Republic, 9/62-12/62)
47. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff/1/
Washington, September 20, 1962.
/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Palestine, Refugees, 8/62-9/62, Vol. II. Secret. Copies were sent to Feldman and Kaysen.
Mike and I talked with the President yesterday afternoon about the Johnson plan, and as I am leaving today I want you to know where things stand.
Mike reported to the President the deep concern of the Israelis and the pressure which they are mounting against the Johnson plan in its current form. There was inconclusive discussion of the degree to which the plan has in fact changed since Mike presented it in Israel, and the President took the view that Johnson must take the responsibility of pressing with the Israelis a discussion of the current status of the plan. The United States is not prepared to defend with the Israelis any modifications on what was agreed before Mike went to Israel and what he explained to Ben-Gurion. The President's view was that we should stick with the position which Mike explained in Israel and that the Israelis should also stay where they were when Ben-Gurion talked to Mike.
The President also said that we should not get way out front on this one, especially between now and the election, and I take this to mean what I have argued before--that the Department should not shower the Middle East with telegrams in praise of the Johnson plan.
/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
48. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot) to Secretary of State Rusk/1/
Washington, September 20, 1962.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2062. Secret. Drafted by Strong and cleared by Cleveland.
For your information the following explains developments with Israel, which is strongly opposing the Johnson Plan. The Arabs are continuing to reserve their position and are avoiding publicity.
1. Arguments Used by Israel
On September 13 Israel reacted violently to the plan which Dr. Johnson presented to Ambassador Comay in New York on September 10 as his personal thinking only. The burden of Ambassador Harman's forceful remarks to Mr. Feldman and to me is that Israel has been betrayed, that the plan as presented in writing by Dr. Johnson bears no resemblance to the plan as described by Mr. Feldman in Jerusalem, that the written plan is stacked against Israel, that there is nothing in writing which protects Israel, that in pushing the plan we have worsened Israel's position in the Near East and have given the Arabs a club with which to beat Israel, and that Israel would like to be informed that the United States Government does not associate itself with the plan and will kill it in the PCC.
The ostensible basis for the Israeli attitude is the absence in the plan and the accompanying explanation of language unqualifiedly reserving to Israel ultimate decision how many refugees would be repatriated. They also object that they had not been informed of other language such as "impartial bodies to give advice on controversial matters", which is objectionable to them because they interpret it to limit their sovereignty and to remove their control over repatriation.
2. Language Change in the Plan
About two weeks before giving the plan to the parties Dr. Johnson decided he must also hand them a written explanation, reversing a previous decision. With a view to reducing to a minimum controversy over detail and to achieve as even a balance as possible in dealing with Arab and Israel concerns, he undertook a revision of the explanation. He presented most of these drafting changes to the PCC members with an attitude of finality. He did accept several counter changes made by the Department and USUN. The more controversial points he planned to make orally. From the plan itself he deleted the key sentence: "Governments would retain the ultimate right to decide on the acceptance of refugees." It was considered that there were sufficient explicit and implicit safeguards for Israel in both the plan and the explanation, and the clear intent of the plan would be stated orally to the parties. Dr. Johnson did inform the Arabs on September 10 that Israel had the last word on repatriation and the ensuing discussion made plain the Arab representatives understood this. The Plan and Explanation, showing the changes made, are at Tab A./2/
/2/Tab A, not attached to the source text, is identified as "The Plan and Explanation showing changes made."
3. Efforts to Persuade Israel
I have urged on Ambassador Harman that Israel seek clarification and reassurance from Dr. Johnson, and I have affirmed the validity of the guarantees which Mr. Feldman gave Israel in Jerusalem. When it became apparent after several days that Israel had no intention of talking with Dr. Johnson (it seemed ominous at the time that when receiving the plan the Israeli representative wanted Dr. Johnson to know that no matter what transpired the Israelis respected him), at our suggestion Dr. Johnson saw Ambassador Comay September 19 to offer him a chance to discuss Israeli concerns. Ambassador Comay made no substantive comment, asked no significant questions, and remarked that Mrs. Meir would give us the definitive Israeli position next week (presumably to you). Ambassador Harman equally shows no interest in my affirmations of the guarantees given by Mr. Feldman.
4. Estimate of the Israeli Position
We consider that Israel, undesirous of repatriating any refugees and having finally been persuaded of a serious US intent to seek implementation of the Johnson Plan, is making an all-out effort to scuttle the plan while the US is still not fully committed to it and while there is a possibility that the scuttling can be accomplished without public onus for Israel. We believe that Israel is charging bad faith and is interpreting the language of the plan and the explanation in the blackest light as pretexts useful to achievement of its objective rather than as causes. If the Israelis were sincere they would be willing to engage in serious talk with Dr. Johnson. Perhaps having now received assurance of the Hawk missile the Israelis feel free to take a hard line in the hope of obtaining more benefits in the pre-election period. At least one leak on the Johnson Plan has appeared in the Israeli press with an expression of hostility to it.
Mention by Ambassador Harman of the absence of any guarantees for Israel in writing and his rejection as worthless of a suggestion that Dr. Johnson's letter of transmittal could include language explicitly safeguarding Israel's interests leads us to think there is a possibility that Israel has a fall-back position; i.e., a written guarantee by the US of the safeguards Israel wants plus a written statement of the upper limit of repatriation the US expects Israel to accept.
5. US Position
We consider the substance and intent of the plan to have been unaffected by the changes made in the language and we consider the Israeli reaction and charges of bad faith to be unjustified and contrived.
We plan to provide you a talking paper on the Johnson Plan for your meeting with Mrs. Meir on September 26. Tentatively we think it might be worthwhile for you to arrange to explore with her the possibility of an exchange of written undertakings. Also, since Mr. Feldman did not raise with the Israelis the possibility of a more explicit security assurance than that given by the President in an earlier letter to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, it might be worthwhile for you to explore this possibility with Mrs. Meir. If these two attractions should fail, we would not at present see other possibilities unless the Administration is willing to tell Israel that continued intransigeance will force us to reduce the priority we had planned to give Israel for training on and delivery of the Hawk and to be "tough" in other ways.
6. Our Internal Problem
As a result of Israeli pressure on him Mr. Feldman has told me he considers he has been "doublecrossed" by the fact that language was changed, without his clearance, so that Israel received from him an account not borne out by the documents. He says he thinks we have gone further and faster on the plan than the President authorized (untrue), and adds he understood us to tell the President our prestige was not engaged (untrue), whereas now he hears from us that US prestige is engaged. He had been informed that US and UN secretariat officials were working together on administrative plans for the projected field operations, and suggested that we cease to so involve ourselves. (Actually, no US official has been so engaged. Last week Dr. Johnson and his immediate staff commenced some contingency planning in order to be prepared in the event of a decision to commence field operations soon. At our insistence, this contingency planning was to be severely restricted within the UN secretariat, and with regard to scope.) Mr. Feldman has proposed another meeting with the President next Tuesday to assess where we are. On September 19 he apparently spoke with the President on the trouble we are having. The President telephoned me to explore means of reassuring Israel, to request that we not press forward urgently, and to explain that he does not want to have trouble with American Jewry at this time. We have instructed USUN not to participate in further planning and preparatory efforts for the time being.
At our suggestion Dr. Johnson arranged to meet Mr. Feldman at 4:30 p.m. September 20 in New York. For his dinner with Mrs. Meir that evening we have given Mr. Feldman the talking paper (Tab B)/3/ prepared for the use of those of us talking with the Israelis here.
/3/Tab B, "Talking paper for Mr. Feldman," is attached but not printed.
a. In light of the Israeli reaction we have carefully examined the plan and the explanation and have determined to our satisfaction that neither the substance nor the intent of the plan has been altered. Likewise, the guarantees given Israel by Mr. Feldman remain valid: i) governments would determine the admissibility and numbers of refugees to be admitted; ii) the US would not permit the process to evolve in a manner dangerous to Israel and would bring the implementing process to a halt if danger signals developed; and iii) Israel would not have to bear an intolerable financial burden. Both we and Dr. Johnson are stressing in our talks with the Arabs, as requested by Israel, that the refugees must not be subjected to pressures and propaganda. Therefore we cannot accept the validity of Israeli arguments.
b. Obviously contrary to our earlier optimism we are now at an impasse with Israel and time will be required to test out the depth of Israeli resolve and whether, and at what price, Israel can be induced to fall back from its principal objective. It seems unlikely that the issue with Israel can be resolved before the election on November 6. If it is to be kept out of the GA debate early decision thereafter will be necessary. Meantime we must endeavor to find means to keep the issue open with the Arabs.
c. Somehow it must be gotten across to Israel that it is essential that Israel not be the one to cause the plan to fail. For Israel to do so would allow the Arabs to say they had acquiesced and would probably lead to Arab introduction of contentious resolutions in the GA, such as expansion of the membership of the PCC, which would be more difficult to defeat. It would render far harder our plan to begin to throw responsibility for the refugees increasingly on the host governments and thus to commence liquidation of the problems by other means if Paragraph 11 of Resolution 194 cannot be implemented. At the time the Jordan waters issue becomes heated Israel would be in a much less favorable position and our defense of Israel's water withdrawals would be more difficult. As a result of failure of the plan caused by Israel new life might well be breathed into proposals for a "Palestine entity" or competing Palestine entities, and pressure would probably increase for "Algerianization" of the Palestine problem. Finally, Dr. Johnson would be obliged to resign as Special Representative and would be under compulsion to state the reasons for his failure./4/
/4/Talbot added the following handwritten note: "We hope to discuss this situation with you on Friday [September 21]." A copy of the talking points was forwarded to the White House for Komer on September 22. (Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2262) Additional talking points for use by Feldman, prepared by Strong, are ibid., IO/UNP Files: Lot 72 D 294, PCC--Johnson Mission.
49. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State/1/
Baghdad, September 20, 1962, noon.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/9-2062. Secret; Limit Distribution; No Foreign Eyes. Repeated to Ankara, Damascus, London, Paris, and Tehran.
150. Kurdistan Democratic Party officer, known to be responsible for Baghdad, following instruction from Mulla Mustafa called on Embassy officer privately September 18. Kurd made strong plea for US support of revolution movement. Said it needs money now and possibly arms later. Claimed most Communists have been eliminated from KDP and remainder will be removed soon.
In return for support, Mulla Mustafa would promise (1) purge movement of any persons we consider suspect, (2) cooperate with conservative Arab Iraqi elements and bring Iraq back into Baghdad Pact if we wish, (3) give us immediately full information on internal political or military developments in Kurdistan or Arab Iraq. KDP official claimed Kurdish intelligence extensive and accurate. Said this offer would be binding on Kurds in Syria and Iran as well as Iraq.
Kurd said that KDP maintains "close and friendly" contact Iranians both in Baghdad and Tehran. Iranians have agreed not interfere with border crossings or to stop aid given revolt by Iranian Kurds. Mulla Mustafa pleased but also wants material support from Iran. KDP official said Mulla Mustafa believes proposal bring Kurdistan into Iran as "autonomous republic" is attractive to Shah.
The Kurds also maintain regular contact with the UAR, which is "friendly but unhelpful", and USSR Embassy Baghdad. He said Kurds were not willing "burn all bridges to Russia" unless they have assurances USG will support their movement. He said that he personally is given ID 1,000 per month by Soviet Embassy for certain Communist sympathizers in KDP but money goes into KDP coffers. Mulla Mustafa does not consider this small sum as assistance to movement.
Kurds have asked Kuwait for assistance but Kuwait refused. British Embassy Baghdad confirms this. Said British have advised Kuwait give no money to rebels.
Israel has offered assistance to Kurds in Europe but this refused--not because Kurds are anti-Israel but because they fear Israel might purposely reveal information and "movement" would be harmed throughout Arab countries.
KDP official said that Mulla Mustafa knows that after downfall Qasim, which he believes imminent, USSR will be anxious help them with money and arms. Kurd said Mulla Mustafa prefers cooperate with West rather than with USSR, "which he does not trust." However, "all Kurds are nationalists" and must win autonomy now or be prepared for racial extinction. Before Kurds will permit this they would take help from USSR or from "devil himself".
KDP official was clearly told that USG policy toward Kurdish rebellion has not changed./2/ He replied that if it does he should be contacted and message can be transmitted immediately to Mulla Mustafa.
/2/A September 11 memorandum from Strong to Talbot describes the public U.S. position on Iraq's Kurdish problem as follows: "The United States considers the Kurdish problem in Iraq an internal matter which should be resolved internally. Our Government does not support Kurdish activities against the Government of Iraq in any way and hopes an early peaceful solution will be possible. It is our understanding that some of the Kurdish demands include requests for the reinstitution of certain constitutional guarantees. While the United States' position is clear on the desirability of democratic constitutional life, any comment on these demands in Iraq would be an intrusion into that country's internal affairs. We believe the future well-being of Kurds in Iraq, as well as those in Iran and Turkey, is inseparably tied to the well-being of the countries in which they reside. We know Turkey and Iran share this view, and believe the Iraq Government feels the same way." (Ibid., 787.00/9-1162)
50. Editorial Note
On September 20, 1962, Israeli Acting Foreign Minister Abba Eban informed Ambassador Barbour of reactions to the Johnson Plan expressed at a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet on September 16. The consensus of the meeting, according to Eban, was that Johnson's plan was the worst of all plans dealing with the refugee question and gave the greatest support to repatriation. Eban also told Barbour that the plan lacked integrity and realism, because it offered contradictory things to each side, that is, free choice to Arabs and final say on acceptance to Israel. (Telegram 304 from Tel Aviv, September 21; Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2162)
During the evening of September 20 in New York, Feldman met for dinner at the apartment of Abraham Feinberg, Chairman of the Bonds for Israel Committee in the United States, with Israeli Foreign Minister Meir, Ambassador Harman, and Philip Klutznick of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations. Meir informed the gathering of Israel's unalterable opposition to the Johnson Plan, which she said challenged Israel's sovereignty and had a pro-Arab bias. She declared the plan to be non-negotiable. According to Feldman's account of the meeting, he urged her to discuss Israel's specific differences over the plan with Johnson. (Memorandum of conversation, September 20; ibid., 325.84/2062)
During the afternoon of September 21 in New York, Foreign Minister Meir met with Joseph Johnson to deliver Israel's response to his proposals. Among other points, she said that the plan was shocking to Israel and that its whole basis was unacceptable. The U.S. Mission in New York transmitted an account of this conversation to the Department of State in telegram 857, September 21. (Ibid., 325.84/9-2162) See the Supplement, the compilation on the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Later that day in Washington, Ambassador Harman officially informed Talbot that Meir had told Johnson that his proposals, given to Israel on August 31, were not negotiable. According to a memorandum recording the exchange with Harmon, "The Ambassador said he had also been asked to say that:
"1. The nature of Dr. Johnson's proposals came as a complete surprise since they were not compatible with the talks which took place between Dr. Johnson and Israel in the past.
"2. Dr. Johnson's proposals are incompatible, also, with past discussions between the United States and Israeli governments.
"3. In the light of the foregoing and U.S. assurances on this issue, Israel strongly hopes that the United States, as a PCC member, will reject the Johnson proposals, take all necessary steps to PCC rejection and preclude the PCC's giving further currency or circulation to them." (Memorandum, September 21, attached to memorandum from Talbot to Rusk, September 20; Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2062)
On September 21, at President Kennedy's request, Captain Tazewell Shepard, the President's Naval Aide, obtained a report from Feldman on Johnson Plan developments. Shepard reported that during the previous day Feldman had met with Meir, Joseph Johnson, and three groups of Jewish community leaders from Boston and New York and that Feldman "cannot stress too strongly his firm conviction that the faster you disengage from this plan the better. Otherwise he feels there will be a violent eruption both domestically and in our relations with Israel." Shepard added that "Feldman has suggestions as to how this should be done which he is prepared to discuss with you." (Memorandum from Shepard to the President, September 21; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Palestine, Refugees, Vol. II, 8/62-9/62) A handwritten note by Shepard on his memorandum indicates that Kennedy subsequently talked with Feldman and that Kennedy had a Komer memorandum (presumably that of September 22, Document 52) that took a contrary position.
An undated handwritten note from Schlesinger to Kennedy sent at approximately this time reads: "Apparently we are again going to have trouble at the U.N. on the Israeli matter. A large delegation of Jewish leaders called on me today expressing concern about the situation. Would you have a few minutes after lunch to talk about this? We ought to avoid a repetition of last year's problem with Adlai." (Ibid., President's Office Files, Countries Series, Israel)
51. Paper by the Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula Affairs (Seelye)/1/
Washington, September 20, 1962.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786H.11/9-2162. Secret. Cleared by Harold W. Glidden of INR. Forwarded to Bundy on September 21 under cover of a brief memorandum from Brubeck indicating that the paper might be of interest to President Kennedy. An attached summary noted that the Imam's death could cause severe disturbances in Yemen and that Crown Prince Badr, who had expressed partiality to the Soviet bloc but proclaimed "positive neutralism," was weak and had little support. It advised: "We believe the U.S. should avoid involving itself in a Yemeni power struggle unless Yemen should veer too far in the direction of the Sino-Soviet Bloc."
DEATH OF IMAM AHMED BIN YAHYA
1. Implications. We have long feared that the death of Imam Ahmed might prove to be the spark setting off severe internal disturbances in Yemen. The Imam had controlled successfully an explosive situation: the low level of economic activity, frustrated pretensions to the Aden Colony and protectorates, the impecunious state of the treasury, the Islamic sectarian schism, reformist discontent, and tribal restiveness are built-in factors which have long threatened internal stability. The UAR, the USSR and the UK have fished in these troubled waters. The Imam barely managed to keep the lid on by force of personality, a ruthless policy of divide and rule, clever manipulation of various factions in the country, and a repressive police and legal system.
Crown Prince Badr has neither exhibited the stature of the Imam, nor commanded much of an internal following nor displayed qualities of leadership. Those who know him claim he is weak, and fearful of internal opposition. Nevertheless, in recent months Badr has toured Yemen in an apparent effort to win semblance of popular support. He once was thought to be beholden to the Soviets and their potential tool. However, in the last year-and-a-half Badr has made a determined effort to be impartial in his relations with Eastern bloc and Western representatives. He has conveyed word to U.S. Government representatives that he would like to lean more in the direction of the West, but needed tangible evidence of our friendship before doing so.
2. The Succession Question. Badr has evidently assumed power in accordance with his "acknowledged" position as Crown Prince. However, this appears to run counter to the basic Zaydi position that the Imamate is not hereditary; that the Imam cannot be designated prior to his predecessor's death; and that a new Imam must be chosen by the Ulema (religious elders) on the basis of 13 legally specified criteria and must receive the homage of the prominent tribal and other leaders. It may be that the Ulema have so designated Badr, but, if not, this may invite some resentment in conservative Zaydi circles.
How long the Crown Prince can hold on is a moot question. The key to Badr's success is the support of the dominant conservative Zaydis, an offshoot of the Shi'a sect of Islam that has long held preponderant influence, and the tribes, who are unreliable and opportunistic. If Badr cannot win over the Zaydis, they may give their support to his more conservative uncle, Prince Hasan. Hasan, who has served as head of the Yemen UN delegation, is reportedly considering leaving the U.S. to organize the opposition to Badr. A dynastic struggle for power could well ensue. Badr must also reckon with the Shafi'i community located in the south and southwest. The latter are anti-Zaydi and comprise 60 percent of Yemen's population.
The loyalty to the Imamate of the military and security forces who surround the Imam will be put to test over the coming weeks. For his immediate protection the new Imam must rely on his royal bodyguard of between 500 and 600 men (the al-Ufka), the 5,000-strong tribal irregulars (the Barrani), a special battalion of troops called the "Badr Battalion," a regular Army of some 9,000 men and a reserve force of some 3,000. The loyalty of none of these groups is assured.
So far reports indicate that he has summoned cabinet ministers and princes to the Palace to seek their undivided support. After accepting the resignation of Army commanders, judges and other high officials, he has reportedly reinstated them. He has also given an address over Sanaa radio promising inter alia to "issue regulations" assuring the rights and privileges of all citizens. The latter is no doubt an effort to appeal to reformists, and is in character with Badr's earlier efforts to persuade the Imam to undertake reform in Yemen.
3. U.S. Role. In the past, the late Imam's brother and Chief Yemen delegate to the UN, Prince Hasan bin Yahya, has sought U.S. Government support in his aspirations to succeed Imam Ahmed. We will no doubt now come under pressure to provide such support which, for the time being, we must resist. We do not believe that we should involve ourselves in a Yemeni power struggle unless Yemen should veer too far in the direction of the Soviet Union.
There are two basic reasons why we should not support Hasan: in the first place, we question the advisability of placing our support behind a member of the Ruling (Hamid al-Din) Family, which is so discredited in Yemen and which, being out of step with modern times, may not last for long. Prince Hasan enjoys the support of some elements in the Royal Family, as well as certain tribes, but we are unaware that he has any significant support from the more enlightened elements. (On the other hand, Badr's announced reformist intentions may enlist the following of at least some of the reformists.) Prince Hasan is over 50, was once a religious zealot, and is not possessed of a particularly strong or magnetic personality. The only thing that commends him is that he is pro-American and anti-Communist. There is the outside possibility that by becoming known to be actively associated with Hasan--these things cannot be kept secret in the Arab World--we shall alienate the very elements who are likely to assume power in Yemen sooner or later.
Secondly, there is some question as to whether our "limited support" of Prince Hasan would have the desirable effect, i.e. put him in power, let alone keep him there. There are several cliques competing for power in Yemen and in the conflict which may ensue, any one or combination of cliques has a chance to take over, but probably not for long. Even if we helped Hasan into power, we could probably not keep him there short of full-scale support. Military allegiances in Yemen are reportedly more with elements which might support Crown Prince Badr (i.e. the UAR or the Soviets). For example, the Soviet bloc has been reported to exercise considerable influence in the air force and among the paratroops. Thus it is probable that Prince Hasan could not long retain power once gained and that the USG would once again be "exposed" (by whoever took over from Hasan) as having connived in the power politics of another country.
52. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kaysen)/1/
Washington, September 22, 1962.
/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Palestine Refugees, Vol. II, 8/62-9/62. Secret. This memorandum was apparently forwarded to President Kennedy by Kaysen on September 23 under cover of a note that reads: "Attached is Bob Komer's review of the present state of our discussions with the Israelis on the Johnson Plan. Phil Talbot takes the same view of the situation, and he has asked Rusk to call you on it. Rusk will probably call today (Sept 23). Since Komer finished the note, the Israeli Ambassador called on Talbot to tell him that Israel cannot accept the Plan. This need not be final, but we must act now if we are to avoid the blame for scuttling the Plan and double-dealing with Nasser. Part of the problem is Mike Feldman's tendency to take only the Israeli side of the problem into account; hence the need for turning dealings with the Israelis over to the Secretary of State for the time being." (Ibid., President's Office Files, Countries Series, Israel)
Let me register my strong conviction that (1) we should not give up too soon on the Johnson Plan; and (2) even if we do disengage, it will cost us heavily unless we do so slowly and cautiously, letting the onus fall on the Arabs and Israelis, rather than appearing to cave ourselves.
As I see it, Israel (having gotten its Hawks) is making an all-out effort to sink the Johnson Plan. It is scared of the Plan and worried about the political repercussions in Israel, where BG heads an unstable coalition. In their concern over appearing to show weakness, however, the Israelis are ignoring the fact that this is the best chance in years for at least a start toward an overall Arab/Israeli settlement (which is emphatically in their interest).
Mike Feldman buys the flat Israeli contention that the Plan is "unacceptable"; I am not so sure. At a minimum the Israelis are properly quite anxious that the onus for sinking it not fall squarely on them. In fact, there is at least a chance they might buy a version of the Plan, if we gave them specific (probably written) assurances that carrying out the Plan would not be permitted to imperil their security (e.g. upper limit on refugees, protection of Israel against any UN contentions of non-compliance, etc.)
I further doubt that US determination to continue low-key exploration of Johnson Plan possibilities (though without pressing the Plan any further) will seriously complicate our relations with Israel or adversely affect US Jewish opinion just before elections. The reason is that Hawk offer will leak shortly; it is so pro-Israeli a move (and will be so blasted by Arabs) that it will largely blanket Johnson Plan.
In any case, I see no reason why we should deprive ourselves of any leverage with the Israelis by telling them now that we're withdrawing US support of the Johnson Plan. If we do so, they will want to tell the French and Turks, and then the word can easily get out to the Arabs.
Let's have clearly in mind what this might cost us:
(1) US prestige is already committed to at least a fair try at selling Johnson Plan. After all, JFK himself sent Mike to tell BG and wrote Nasser and Hussein that we think Plan fair and practicable. Our Ambassadors in key Arab states have put in initial plugs for Plan. For it to get out now that we reneged so soon under Israeli pressure will make us look a little sick.
(2) If we cave too precipitously under Israeli pressure this time (especially after just offering Hawks), they'll think they can lead us around by the nose.
(3) If Arabs find out (as they well might), they'll simply say it proves again the US is exclusively pro-Israel (especially coming right after Hawk deal).
(4) Hawks will cause enough Arab/Israeli furor; if it gets out Israel and/or US also sank Johnson Plan, Arabs can have a field day in UN. Having the Plan now, they could even introduce it as their own. Or they could shift back to custodial resolution in UN debate, forcing Israel to counter with Brazzaville "direct negotiation" gambit. In any case, there'd be a donnybrook in UNGA.
(5) This fight will inevitably leave bitter taste affecting far more serious battle next year when Israelis get ready to divert Jordan waters.
(6) Joe Johnson, having been beat over head by Israelis, might just throw up his hands and resign right now (after reporting to PCC that Plan a non-starter because one of parties won't buy). Then fat would be in fire. Rusk is lunching with Joe Sunday to dissuade him.
The hell of it is that initial Arab reactions suggest they may buy the Plan; even the Syrians are divided in their counsel. This makes it even more important we not cave now.
So we must get across to Israel that it too will lose heavily if it incurs onus for sinking Plan. There are indications Israelis are well aware of this, and we should drive it home to them.
Only sound strategy at this point is:
(1) to keep probing Israeli position to see if indeed they might buy Plan with appropriate US assurances. We must do precisely what Mac tells me President said last Wednesday;/3/ i.e. "We should stick with the position which Mike explained in Israel and Israelis should also stay where they were when Ben Gurion talked to Mike." We simply cannot afford to accept their contention that Plan has been changed since then; this means in effect that we are guilty of a breach of faith!
/2/September 19. See Document 47.
(2) We must get across to Israelis that, whatever happens to Plan, neither we nor Israel should let ourselves be maneuvered into being chiefly responsible for failure. This means we must keep negotiating, consulting, talking (Plan isn't even approved by PCC as yet, much less Arabs or Israel), counting on Arab hotheads to begin reacting and thus sharing the blame. By this means Plan can just be allowed to peter out in welter of conflicting views, interpretations, etc., thus fuzzing up the blame.
(3) Meanwhile neither US nor UN should move ahead on any steps toward implementation. This stop order is already in.
Plan of Action. We've got to speak with one voice to the Israelis, and that voice must be Rusk, speaking with authority from President! We can't let them keep whipsawing us.
(1) Rusk should tell Harman Israel is being much too precipitous in rejecting Johnson Plan, and should do nothing till Rusk talks with Golda Meir Wednesday.
(2) He should tell Golda: (a) US not prepared see best hope in years for movement toward Palestine settlement go down drain so quickly; (b) on other hand, we stand by version of Plan Mike gave BG regardless of later verbal changes; (c) we prepared talk out any problems and to consider giving Israel any assurance to this effect it needs; (d) in any event, neither Israel nor US can afford take onus for sinking Plan, so imperative all parties keep talking. Longer we talk, bigger the chance Arabs will blow thing up, especially once Hawk offer leaks.
(3) If Rusk needs help to keep Johnson from resigning, President should call Joe.
(4) Everybody should keep lip buttoned about Johnson Plan. Let's not give Arabs a free ride.
Carl, I've reviewed the bidding at length because I feel you should acquaint JFK with full flavor of problem. I've urged that Rusk get in touch with President, but JFK is entitled to our two cents worth too. This Johnson gambit has been very poorly handled tactically (Joe should never have put so much on paper, or changed wording after Mike talked to BG). But I'm convinced that if we cave now it will cost US and Israel even more than if we play out hand further, and disengage gradually if we must at all.
53. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot) to Secretary of State Rusk/1/
Washington, September 22, 1962.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2262. Confidential; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Strong and cleared by Cleveland, who added the handwritten note: "Adlai Stevenson has also seen and approved." Secretary Rusk initialed the memorandum.
We believe the following to be appropriate next steps.
1. You speak with the President saying it is in Israeli and United States interest to keep the plan alive. We are too deeply engaged simply to drop it, and the consequences would be bad if we did so. The Israelis have not shut the door to negotiating with the United States Government, though they do not want to talk seriously with Johnson. In fact, one of them has urged two United States officials to get into negotiations with Israel to see how we can meet Israel's concerns. Our estimate is that if the Israelis find they cannot scare us out of the plan and cannot get us to take the blame for scuttling it, their fallback position is to get from us in writing the guarantees given orally by Mike plus a precise upper limit on repatriation. Through their conversations they have dwelt on the absence of anything in writing protecting their sovereignty, their security and against a flood of refugees.
2. You request the President to agree to your effort to get us into a negotiating situation and to your telephoning Harman asking him to tell Mrs. Meir that Israel is acting precipitately, that they should keep their shirts on, that he will be talking with her on Wednesday,/2/ and that it should be possible to find a way to handle the problem. A suggested talking paper for a call to Harman is at Tab A./3/
/2/September 26. See Document 57.
/3/Attached but not printed. The "Suggested Telephone Statement by the Secretary to Ambassador Harman" indicates that the call would be in response to Harman's call of September 21 to Talbot (see Document 50). In it, Rusk would reaffirm U.S. support for the Johnson Plan, ask Israel to re-examine the proposals and consider the consequences of a hasty rejection, and propose discussing the subject at the forthcoming meeting between himself and Meir on September 26.
3. You then inform Mike Feldman you have the President's agreement to your effort to get into a negotiating position with Israel and advise him nothing should be said to give the Israelis the impression we have backed out on the plan.
4. You buck up Joe Johnson at lunch Sunday but not try to see Mrs. Meir before your regular appointment Wednesday.
A. That you follow the above course.
B. That you authorize us to inform the French and the Turks that we are working to keep the door open and we request them to do likewise.
54. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kaysen)/1/
Washington, September 25, 1962.
/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Palestine, Refugees, Vol. II, 8/62-9/62. Secret. Komer forwarded this memorandum to Kaysen on September 25 under cover of a note that reads: "Attached is my summary of President's views. I suggest that you show it to him. I also urge you show him Rusk's briefing memo as evidence that State's judgment on Israeli position is much different from Mike's. In any case I don't see how we lose, even domestically, by holding firm a little longer. We've got to consider cost to our whole effort with Arabs if on top of Hawk deal we back out on Johnson Plan without being able to avoid the blame. State and Joe Johnson sure handled tactics on this one poorly (they couldn't have picked a worse time). I'm damn sorry that I was off keeping VP honest while this went on." Komer added a handwritten note: "Ball thinks Dept's. position is 'protected' and will call Rusk in morning. I don't think George realizes what's at issue." (Ibid.)
The President's view on the Johnson Plan, as I understood it, was as follows:
1. Rusk should try to shake Golda Meir's opposition to the plan, pointing out that whatever Israelis think the plan means we stand foursquare behind the assurances given by Mike Feldman.
2. If Mrs. Meir remains adamant, Rusk should propose a strictly controlled experiment with 10-20,000 refugees. If this pilot project works we can go further.
3. If this too is rejected, we tell Israelis we recognize plan is a non-starter, but insist that they and we so handle its demise that onus for its rejection can be laid at least partly at Arab door. US does not propose to assume primary responsibility for plan's failure.
4. US should then seek to gin up a negative Arab reaction as quickly as possible (this is going to take some doing, in order not to be too transparent).
I suggest that we show this to the President to make sure that it fairly reflects his thinking.
55. Memorandum of Conversation/1/
Washington, September 26, 1962.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 784A.5612/9-2662. Confidential. No drafting information appears on the source text.
Mr. Talbot called in the UAR Ambassador to inform him of our decision to inform Israel of our willingness in principle to sell short-range defensive surface-to-air missiles. He stressed that this represented no change in our policy or in our desire for long-range cooperation with the UAR. He also said we continued to oppose an arms escalation in the area and to deplore the waste of economic resources entailed in arms acquisitions. Mr. Talbot said he was aware of the UAR view that it could not undertake an arms limitation arrangement until there was progress on general arms limitation at Geneva. However, the process should start somewhere and he hoped the UAR would give further serious thought to the problem.
The Ambassador received the news in restrained fashion, though expressing regret that he had been in the dark and had been unable to help in dealing with the problem. He said he continued to believe as in the Bible "that it was essential to freeze the Arab-Israel conflict, and to remove it from internal American politics. He said he had struggled for four and a half years to build an atmosphere of mutual confidence, and was thus very sensitive to any action which would derogate from that confidence. He said he had mentioned in a meeting with President Kennedy that it was dangerous to formulate policy in the Middle East from documents and reports. It was necessary rather to have a feeling for the situation. He was concerned lest the impression be created in the Arab World that the United States was really not free to follow a neutral policy as between the Arab States and Israel.
The Ambassador also referred to President Nasser's meeting with President Eisenhower in September, 1960, in which, according to Kamel, President Eisenhower had assured Nasser that the U.S. did not want to get into the business of providing arms to Israel, since Israel's friends were providing arms./2/ The Ambassador asserted that rather than Israel needing to fear the Arabs, the contrary was true, since Israel's policy is basically expansionist and that it would not hesitate to undertake aggression to achieve its aims if at any time it felt this could be accomplished with impunity.
/2/The two Presidents met in New York on September 26; see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. XIII, pp. 600-607.
He stressed that the UAR had never objected to the US pursuing friendly relations with Israel, but at the same time the UAR could not seriously believe that Israel thought it was being threatened by the Arabs. He said the Israelis are losing sight of the fact that the Communists are a bigger danger to Israel than the Arabs. If the Communists should ever control the area, Israel would not exist "for longer than five days." He said that it was difficult to understand why Israel should insist on destroying every attempt at rapprochement between the Arabs and the United States. He assumed, however, that the reason for this Israel policy was to create an image of a beleaguered Israel which would help Israel obtain additional funds from the U.S. The Ambassador took strong umbrage at a speech made by Levi Eshkol, the Israeli Minister of Finance, in which Eshkol dwelled on the so-called UAR missile threat. The Ambassador said that Dr. Kaissouni who was here on the same mission as Eshkol, namely to attend the IMF-IBRD meetings, had never uttered a single word against Israel nor had he, the Ambassador, ever done so in a public forum. He said that the UAR would consider that it was abusing the hospitality of the US if it used the US territory as a platform for attacks against a country with which the US has friendly relations.
In another context, the Ambassador said that the UAR basically had nothing against the Shah of Iran, but how did Iran expect the UAR to react when it invited the Israeli Minister of Agriculture to Moslem religious celebrations in that country? By such actions, the Shah is stirring up trouble for himself, both internally and among Moslems everywhere. He said the Syrians were also making a big mistake in putting Murtada Maraghi (ex-Egyptian Minister of Interior under Farouk widely known for his connections with anti-Nasser opposition movements) on display. He reiterated his familiar theme that the UAR has no wish to perpetuate quarrels and only responds to attacks from other states. He also said, in connection with activities by Israel, that one could be sure that, despite their quarrels, the Arabs would unite together to meet any common threat.
Mr. Talbot mentioned a "Voice of the Arab Nation" clandestine broadcast of September 22 referring to the Kennedy-Nasser exchange of letters in 1961 and containing sharp personal criticism of the President. Mr. Talbot noted that in a more recent letter Nasser had stated that there are areas of cooperation and areas of differences between the US and the UAR. The UAR did not agree with all of our policies nor can we agree with all UAR policies. Nevertheless, there was an obligation to keep public discussion of our differences within proper bounds.
The Ambassador asked whether we were certain that the "Voice of the Arab Nation" was in fact a UAR clandestine station. He said that he had recently raised this subject with his government and was told that his government believed that the station was in fact operated by Israel. He asked that the US recheck its information. He would be interested in whatever facts we might be able to uncover regarding the source of these broadcasts. Mr. Talbot stated that we would institute a further inquiry.
Mr. Talbot took the initiative to mention Crown Prince Faisal's forthcoming visit, stating the Crown Prince was coming to have a medical checkup, and to attend the U.N. General Assembly, but would also have talks with US leaders./3/ Mr. Talbot said we could not forecast the nature of the talks, but he could assure the Ambassador there would be no change in our policy toward the UAR. The Ambassador stated that the UAR has great respect for Crown Prince Faisal and considers him a sincere patriot. Mr. Talbot remarked that Faisal had also spoken to him of his feeling for President Nasser and of his regret that differences had arisen. The Ambassador expressed confidence that these differences would soon be resolved.
/3/On September 26, Seelye, acting as an emissary of Secretary Rusk, met with Crown Prince Faysal in his suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York to provide him with advance notice of an expected news story of the U.S. decision in principle to allow Israel to buy the Hawk missile, which Seelye stressed was a short-range missile only suitable for defensive purposes. According to the memorandum of conversation, Faysal took the news philosophically and indicated that he had heard an intimation of it earlier that evening. While acknowledging that the United States could do what it liked, he criticized the timing of the announcement and its impact on the Johnson initiative. (Department of State, Central Files, 784A.5612/9-2662) Faysal had arrived in New York on September 22 to head the Saudi U.N. Delegation. (Circular telegram 613, October 6; ibid., 786A.11/10-662)
The meeting concluded in friendly fashion with the Ambassador suggesting that publicity on the missiles be kept at a minimum. He said he fully understood that the US has internal problems in connection with the forthcoming Congressional elections. He said he had gone to great length to explain the situation to Foreign Minister Fawzi whom he had seen a few days earlier in New York. He noted that November was not far off, and hoped that the US could avoid succumbing to pressures before the election.
56. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts/1/
Washington, September 26, 1962, 8:53 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2662. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Strong, cleared by Cleveland, and approved by Talbot. Sent to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, London, Paris, Ankara, Tel Aviv, and USUN and repeated to Baghdad, Khartoum, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, Rabat, and Jerusalem.
529. Depcirtel 384./2/ Current unwillingness of Israel to acquiesce in Johnson Plan creates uncertainty whether process envisioned thereunder can actually be gotten under way. Until both Israel and Arabs willing let process start USG wishes avoid openly placing full weight behind plan. Arab attitude still unclear.
Posts therefore instructed take no further initiative press for acceptance plan. In responding to initiative by local officials posts authorized describe plan as fair, reasonable and beneficial for refugees as well as for governments concerned. However, USG should not be portrayed as strongly supporting plan.
At such time as we able determine final Israel and/or Arab position further instructions will be provided.
All communications on this subject are to be slugged "Limit Distribution--S/S" until further notice.
57. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State/1/
New York, September 26, 1962, midnight.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2662. Secret; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Tel Aviv. Documentation relating to Secretary Rusk's attendance at the 17th Session of the U.N. General Assembly is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 2150-2163.
Secto 22. Johnson Mission. Following based on uncleared memcon of Secretary's talk with Israeli FonMin Meir today (other aspects of talk inconsequential):/2/
/2/At 9:26 a.m. on September 26, Ball telephoned Rusk and reported concerning the Johnson Plan: "B[all] said after mtg Feldman started talking to the Pres about the Johnson plan and B stuck around as it looked like a bilateral conversation. The upshot was Feldman insists no possibility of negotiating anything with the Israelis and it will do no good to try to modify it. They are in a hysterical mood over it, etc. Pres left it on the basis of this fall-back: Suggest this plan be put on a trial basis of running 10-20 thousand refugees through and then looking at it again. It seems to be about the only fall-back anyone can think of. B thinks the Sec can look forward to a warm session with Mrs. Meir." (Ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations)
1. Mrs. Meir said from first she and other Israeli officials had made no secret of their belief it impossible make any real progress on refugee question at this time. Last year when Ben Gurion had discussed matter with President, former had said Israel willing to go along with attempt repatriation and resettlement but did not expect any results. Johnson had undertaken impossible mission. Arabs and Israelis agreed on one thing, i.e., question of refugees could not be separated from overall question of Arab-Israel relations. She had told Hadassah Convention in Pittsburgh recently that until Arabs agreed to negotiate with Israel, there is only one problem, i.e., how Arabs can be brought to acquiesce in Israel's existence. Once negotiations start, then question of Arab refugees, Jordan water and others can perhaps be settled.
2. Mrs. Meir said that when Johnson first came to ME, he had first visited Arabs then had gone to Israel. She had asked him what reaction he had found. Johnson had replied that none of top Arab leaders prepared to accept existence of Israel. Second time Johnson came to area he had come with proposal for test poll of 20,000 refugees. (First time he had come he had mentioned possibility of repatriating 10,000 refugee families per year for 10 years--proposal which Johnson had removed from record when Mrs. Meir told him how shocking Israelis found it.) At time of second visit Johnson had been told basis for any refugee settlement would have to be (A) complete recognition of Israel's sovereignty, (B) careful regard for Israel's security, matter on which Israel itself would have to be final judge and (C) principle that there could be some repatriation but there would have to be much greater amount of resettlement. If matter could be handled in way in which Arabs could indicate lack of aggressive intent against Israel, then some progress might be made. Johnson had been told Israel would expect Arabs to agree to say nothing hostile against Israel for six months in either Arab newspapers or on Arab radio. This was very little to expect from Arabs in return for repatriation. Johnson had put this proposal to Arabs and had found they unwilling agree to moratorium on propaganda. Nor had they been willing make statement that they would implement resettlement aspects of plan. Johnson had indicated he would, nevertheless, go ahead with plan because Israel had not said that they would not allow repatriation of single refugee. At that time, Ben Gurion had repeated basis on which Israel would consider any refugee repatriation plan.
3. Mrs. Meir said Johnson had agreed consult further before launching plan. In fact, however, nothing more heard from him until he presented Comay with "Plan" and "Explanation" recently. Secretary interrupted to recall visit of Feldman to Israel. Mrs. Meir said she had forgotten this. Changing subject slightly, she said she had previously asked Johnson not to put forward plan for poll of refugees unless he first got assurances from Arabs re radio and press propaganda. Again digressing, she said Israelis convinced as long as Arab leaders continue hold present hostile attitude toward Israel it would be impossible speak of free choice among Arab refugees. Therefore, Israelis had not believed rumors they had heard that Johnson had decided that all refugees would be polled. However, when she had discussed plan with Feldman she had found latter to be true. She told Feldman Israel considered plan "fantastic". Feldman had assured her that US anxious preserve Israel's security and, given its commitments, would not be foolish enough to allow any plan to go into effect which would really endanger Israel security. Government had assured her US would not allow plan to go through if large numbers of Arabs chose repatriation as result final interview. Plan would begin with seeking of preference from no more that 1,000 refugees. Ben Gurion had asked what would happen if, of this thousand, 300 requested repatriation. Feldman had said plan would stop. Ben Gurion had indicated that if more than 1 in 10 refugees chose repatriation, danger point would be reached.
4. Feldman had been more patient, Mrs. Meir said, in listening to Israel's case but he in turn had not convinced Israelis. They had told him that if plan were to be implemented it would amount to a rallying of Arab refugees under UN auspices and UN would have succeeded in consolidating refugees where all other means had failed. She said she always [has] nightmares that Arabs might wake up some day and abandon attacks on Israel for simple expedient of pushing refugees across border into Israel. Israel soldiers would be there to insure they did not pass but what would world think of Israelis having to shoot thousands of innocent women and children. In case of Johnson Plan, how could UN guarantee that thousands who might have asked for repatriation would not merely be pushed across borders by Arab leaders whose first objective is to destroy Israel?
5. Mrs. Meir said to her horror she found late in Feldman's visit there was an operative plan under which, beginning September 17, Acting Administrator would start to put plan into effect, working from Government House Jerusalem. Mrs. Meir had told Feldman if this done, Israel would not recognize existence of Acting Administrator. She had urged Feldman to postpone all further action until she could talk to Secretary and to Johnson. However, this had not been way situation had developed and Israel now had to take stand on matter. She had discussed response to be given to PCC members and Johnson with Ben Gurion recently at their meeting in Zurich. Principal Israeli objection was that plan did not pay proper attention to Israel's sovereignty. Johnson seems to be saying that although all countries were sovereign, Israel was somewhat less so. This so since he seemed to put refugees in group apart which should have special handling. Furthermore, Israel's sovereignty compromised by setting up of advisory comites to which refugees could appeal if not admitted. If Israel did not heed comites' decisions, Johnson had indicated UN would have to deal with problem. This could constantly put Israel before bar of international justice.
6. Another gross derogation of Israeli sovereignty was fact that, under Johnson Plan, crossing over of refugees into Israel would not be final act. UN would follow up by seeing that refugees properly treated. This Israel could not allow. Resources in country were scarce and if refugees came back they, like thousands of Jewish immigrants, would be sent into the Negev and other development areas. Why should Arabs want to help develop Israel? What would happen if they refused to go to development areas? Present problem of significant Arab minority would be increased out of all proportions. Only recently Israel had had real troubles with Arabs when some Arab properties confiscated allow building of Negev Canal. [sic] Arab women and children had been pushed by their leaders into path of bulldozers.
7. Secretary asked whether there was group solidarity among Arabs of Israel. Mrs. Meir said there was quite a bit. Many Israeli Arabs didn't want refugees to come back, however, since their own economic and social conditions were excellent and they didn't want any trouble. Troublesome groups are Arab Communist Party members. Israeli Arabs not really Communist but they hate Israel and Communist Party expresses most closely their hatreds.
8. Returning to question of who exactly could return, Mrs. Meir said Israel was best judge since she had everything to lose. Idea of international body giving opinion does away at one stroke with Israel sovereignty. Furthermore, Arabs had given no indication they willing acquiesce in Israel's existence, nor have they given any sign of peaceful intentions towards Israel. No Arab leader would dare acquiesce in resettlement and if this not done, whole plan is dead.
9. Mrs. Meir asked rhetorical question, what should be done next? Should Johnson be instructed to try again? No, she said, this not possible for refugee problem cannot be solved alone. Perhaps she too pessimistic and there would be peace one day, but real problem was not refugees but US willingness maintain arms balance between Arabs and Israel and US willingness give Israel full support on Jordan Water diversion. This more important than 10 humanitarian missions. Sooner Arabs learn there no chance destroy Israel because of strength her friends, sooner there would be peace in area.
10. Secretary said he appreciated frankness with which Mrs. Meir had spoken. He, however, genuinely believed there were many misunderstandings which could and should be cleared up. For example, US for its part had no doubts about sovereignty of Israel (Mrs. Meir made disclaimer of any doubts here). If Israel felt keenly about its sovereignty, maybe it was because she had too much sovereignty. US didn't have much sovereignty in this day and age. Secretary said he would also like to set aside problem of security. US would not act in way which might diminish Israel's security in view of US commitments. However, tension and troubles ahead and water situation likely to add to tensions. If there are any misunderstandings between US and Israel, they should be settled now.
11. Secretary said there are other aspects of refugee problem which he would like to explain. US bearing great burden for refugees, and this not only a financial burden. Israel says there no chance for settlement of refugee question. For US, this impossible to accept for this discloses prospect of endless treadmill of appropriations to keep refugees alive. Congress not likely to accept this. Whether Israel agrees or not, it will have to understand that US must make real attempt achieve progress re refugees. US cannot accept unresolved refugee situation as natural part of Middle East scenery for this much too dangerous. Mere presence of refugees in area provides inflammatory focus for troubles between US and countries of ME. If refugees could be resettled and broken up, this would be to great advantage of US and Israel. Furthermore, Arab acquiescence to resettlement would be first step in acquiescence towards Israel as whole. If Arab governments were to mount campaign of revenge while repatriation going on, then plan would have to be reevaluated.
12. Secretary said key point was to determine what individual Arabs believed. Arab leaders were negative but he not so certain individual refugees would take same stand. They would be told they would not be going "home" but would be going to Israel. Mere presentation of facts about modern Israel would be important. US feels it essential that somehow chance be given to ask refugees real questions rather than phony questions about their future. Disincentives built into plan would, he thought, be effective in discouraging repatriation. US would be surprised if large numbers opted for repatriation. If they did so in significant numbers, plan would have to be readjusted. However, at best plan would be long-term operation. Beginnings would be small, indeed, and would be focused on finding out if there is any interest in repatriation. Secretary said he hoped there could be further talks about possibility of finding out in limited number of cases what a small group of Arab refugees had in mind.
13. Secretary indicated that meanwhile he thought it essential nothing be done by Israel which would bring upon themselves full burden for rejecting Johnson Plan. In interests of both US and Israel, it essential any burden for rejection be shared, for Israel in near future would need strong US backing re diversion Jordan water. Also there was question of Hawk missile. If this issue came up when public openly critical of Israel for rejection Johnson Plan, then US would have problems. Secretary emphasized not equating questions but developments would come in same period. Secretary said US had agreed to look at plan not out of any sense it would be accepted fully, but rather out of feeling something might come out of it which could lead to progress. Johnson Plan was a very reasonable approach and it essential to keep trying to find out what individual refugees would elect to do in light of all facts on situation. Secretary asked Mrs. Meir to think over his remarks and in any event to keep matter in play until Arabs can react, at same time avoiding publicity.
14. Mrs. Meir said she found it necessary to say that as far as Israel is concerned, not only Johnson Plan but entire concept of repatriation is unacceptable. As long as Arab attitudes toward Israel remain same there can be no free choice by refugees. She said she surprised that there had been no leak re Johnson Plan from Israel side. This had been accomplished by taking editors of Israeli papers into confidence. She also did same with Israeli correspondents in New York. However, other side had leaked news in form of release of Kennedy-Nasser letters. As far as she was concerned this was UAR answer to Johnson Plan. Same day these documents released, Radio Cairo had indicated there was no question of refugees coming back to Israel but only question of whole nation returning. Mrs. Meir repeated that Israel had no interest publishing documents, but it miracle there had been no leak so far.
15. Mrs. Meir said she had not lost sight of US burden re refugees. She had not meant that nothing could be done about refugees but only that nothing positive could come from approaching refugee problem in context of Johnson Plan. She agreed something constructive should be tried. Israel had not changed her policy of not saying no refugee would be readmitted to Israel.
16. Secretary said he sorry Israel seemed to feel it could not accept Johnson Plan. It important that two parties should be quite clear about certain points. He thought it would be useful if Ambassador could discuss matter with . . . . At this point Mrs. Meir broke in to say she realized conversations had gone on much too long and it would be useful if she could meet again with Secretary.
Note: Later in day, new appointment was set up for Friday evening./3/
/3/September 28; see Document 61.
58. Memorandum of Conversation/1/
New York, September 27, 1962, 8 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 320/9-2762. Confidential. Drafted by Seelye and Sabbagh on October 5 and approved in S on October 12. The conversation was held in the Secretary's suite at the Waldorf Towers.
SECRETARY'S DELEGATION TO THE SEVENTEENTH SESSION OF THE
/2/Ambassador Hart forwarded suggested talking points for use by the President and/or Secretary of State in their conversations with Faysal in telegram 191 from Jidda, September 22. (Ibid., 786A.11/9-2262)
Isa Sabbagh, Public Affairs Officer, Jidda
(The following discourse took place before and during dinner.)
1. Yemen. The Secretary mentioned that Prince Hassan had been in touch with his colleagues that day and asked Prince Faysal to give his views on the situation in Yemen./3/ Prince Faysal stated that Prince Hassan had seen him before departing from New York that evening. He thought Prince Hassan was the only leader left who could command support in Yemen and criticized Imam Muhammed for having leaned on elements who had betrayed him. The Secretary commented that Prince Hassan had also seen Lord Home. Prince Faysal stated that Hassan would decide whether to return by way of Aden or Saudi Arabia once he had reached Khartoum. The Secretary asked Prince Faysal if he had any late news of Yemen. Faysal replied that the situation is still unclear, but evidently the Yemen military had taken over. It was also unclear as to whether Imam Muhammed had been assassinated or had fled. He wondered whether we had more information. The Secretary commented we had as yet received no communications from our Legation in Taiz. Mr. Talbot recalled that when Imam Ahmad had died 10 days earlier, we had heard nothing for two days. Prince Faysal noted that at that time the new regime of Imam Muhammed had postponed the release of the news of the death for a couple of days.
/3/On September 26, the Yemeni Army High Command overthrew Imam al-Badr and killed numerous members of the Royal family, abolished the monarchy, and announced the establishment of a "free republic."
2. Arab League and Arab Unity. The Secretary asked whether the pact recently signed between Jordan and Saudi Arabia would lead to a larger Arab grouping, perhaps eventually including Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. He wondered whether such a grouping would not be conducive to Arab solidarity. Prince Faysal replied that the joint Saudi-Jordanian announcement left the way open for any other Arab country to join. At the moment, however, circumstances precluded the entry of the three countries the Secretary had mentioned: Lebanon maintains its traditional position of neutrality; Syria is preoccupied with its own internal political problems; and Iraq is in too precarious a state. The Secretary said that while his lack of full background information prevented him from speaking authoritatively, he had gained the impression that the formation of the Arab League was a step in the direction of Arab unity. Prince Faysal stated that one must look at the League's history in order to evaluate it properly. He noted that the League had been conceived by Great Britain and that, because of this, Saudi Arabia had opposed it from the beginning. Nevertheless, the late King Abdul Aziz was eventually prevailed upon to join the League, and until about 1952 it did achieve some results. The League was weakened, continued the Crown Prince, by the advent of the Egyptian Revolution and Nasser's attitude of condescension toward and "trusteeship" over other Arab states. Egypt, unable to control the League at that time, endeavored to paralyze it. By 1955 Egypt had reversed its posture toward the League, and instead sought to dominate it. The League's end came at Chtaura this year where the U.A.R., in an attempt to crush the League, "destroyed itself." The Secretary expressed the view that two factors had impaired the League's success: the U.A.R.'s masterminding of the operation and the offsetting pull of the North African countries. Prince Faysal noted that if the League could operate in the normal fashion--each League member having equal status and influence--the organization could be successful despite North African polarity.
3. Baghdad Pact. The Secretary said that he did not intend to cast aspersions on his predecessors but wished to inquire if in retrospect Prince Faysal thought it had been wise to bring Iraq into the Baghdad Pact. Prince Faysal recalled that at the time of the Pact's inception, he had advised the Turkish Foreign Minister against singling out only one Arab state for inclusion in the Pact. He said he had emphasized the importance of having several Arab states join a defense pact of this nature and the necessity that such an organization be fostered from within rather than from without. He recalled how "Nahas Pasha" of Egypt and Prime Minister Nuri Said of Iraq had discussed the possibility of a military pact composed of most of the Arab states. However, other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, had refused to acquiesce because of British inspiration. Faysal went on to state that the Baghdad Pact had been poorly timed.
4. Kuwait. The Secretary commented that Mr. Gromyko had said to him a few days before that the Soviet Union was reviewing its stand on Kuwait's membership in the UN. Prince Faysal noted the difference between "reviewing" a position and "changing" a position and wondered how the Secretary interpreted this remark. The Secretary said his experience with the Soviets led him to conclude that when the Soviets speak of reviewing a position, they usually end up making modifications. Accordingly, he was optimistic that the Soviets would not veto Kuwait's application the next time it is proposed.
5. Syria. Mr. Talbot recalled his visit to Riyadh several months ago when Prince Faysal had mentioned the importance of U.S. aid to Syria. He hoped the Prince was pleased that the U.S. had since provided Syria with a stabilization loan. Prince Faysal said he welcomed this because of the importance of Syria's stability to the area. He hoped the U.S. would contribute more assistance, especially now that Syria had established a constitutional government.
(The following discourse took place after dinner.)
6. U.S.-U.A.R. Relations. The Secretary reiterated his admiration for the wisdom, quiet approach and clarity of expression which had been demonstrated by the Crown Prince during his appearances at the United Nations in 1948 when the Secretary had been a member of the U.S. delegation. For this reason particularly he welcomed this opportunity for a frank exchange of views with the Crown Prince. U.S. friendship with Saudi Arabia, as well as the mutuality of interests between our two countries, requires close and frank consultation. The Secretary noted that U.S. attitudes are often misunderstood by contending parties in the area (such as Pakistan and India) and we do not want Saudi Arabia to misunderstand our posture toward the U.A.R. Basically, the U.S. supports the independence and integrity of all states. In the case of the U.A.R., we are fully aware that the U.A.R. is doing things vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia which we do not approve and we would like to have the benefit of Crown Prince Faysal's thinking on the U.A.R. The Secretary mentioned three possible alternatives in the conduct of U.S. policy toward Egypt: (1) we could have nothing to do with the U.A.R.; (2) we could place our full support behind the U.A.R. and prop up the regime; or (3) we can maintain a form of American presence in the U.A.R. as an alternative to the Soviets. He noted that we had elected the latter course, so that the U.A.R. would not be abandoned to the Soviet Union and in order that we can be in a position of exercising moderate influence. On the latter, he said, we are not always successful.
Prince Faysal noted that his frankness has often been his weakness. He said it pained him to discuss inter-Arab problems with an outside power. (Note: A further exchange between the Secretary and Prince Faysal clarified the fact that the Prince was pained not at the Secretary having introduced the subject but by the fact that the state of Arab relations had reached such a turn.) Prince Faysal stated that there is no problem at issue between Saudi Arabia and Egypt--unlike the relationship between India and Pakistan. It is only that the U.A.R. has chosen to attack Saudi Arabia with the evident sole aim of destroying it. Prince Faysal stated that no Arab would wish to deny any Arab people the kind of support the U.A.R. is receiving from the United States. With regard to the three alternatives cited by the Secretary, he, too, would dismiss the first two alternatives. He favored the U.S. conducting normal relations with the U.A.R., including economic aid, providing the U.S. uses its influence to deter the U.A.R. from a policy of intransigence and subversion of other Arab countries. Prince Faysal stated of all Arab countries, only Saudi Arabia has been consistent in its policy toward the United States. In spite of occasional differences of opinion between our two countries, he said, Saudi Arabia has always considered friendship with the U.S. a cornerstone of its policy.
The Secretary expressed concern at the development of an arms race in the Middle East, and expressed the view that Nasser's arms program seemed beyond his defensive needs. He feared that Nasser would one day use the arms against other Arabs in the area. Prince Faysal stated that Saudi Arabia is not afraid of the U.A.R.'s military strength since he found it inconceivable that Nasser would attack with military force. (The Secretary interjected a note of personal satisfaction with this assurance from Prince Faysal.) Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia was concerned with U.A.R. infiltration tactics as employed in Yemen. In response to the Secretary's question, however, he expressed confidence in the loyalty of the Saudi Army and in the absence in Saudi Arabia of effective U.A.R. subversive groups. Prince Faysal emphasized that he had not come to the U.S. to advocate any severance of relations with the U.A.R. nor did he wish harm to the Egyptian people. He stated that while he was speaking personally, he wished to emphasize that the directives from King Saud did not differ from the views he was expressing.
7. U.S. Global Responsibilities. The Secretary expounded on U.S. responsibilities in the world: the confrontation with the Soviet Union (Communism) on every continent and in different ways, e.g. militarily in Europe where we are forced to keep 400,000 soldiers, guerrilla type of Communist tactics in Viet Nam and more subtle tactics in Africa. In certain places, such as Ghana, we have with difficulty not "given up" and kept our pride; but the overall consideration has made it imperative that we maintain our presence until, hopefully, the situation changes and Ghanians look for an alternative. The Secretary stated that throughout the globe our policy has had one thread of consistency; namely, our concern for the welfare, independence and security of people. The Secretary expressed optimism that if the countries outside the Communist World managed to live through the danger, we would see more and more people turning away from Communism. The greatest danger lies in the Communists' resorting to violence at moments when, and at places where, they felt they are losing, e.g. their failure in East Germany caused their intransigence on East Berlin. He noted that it was no accident that the North Vietnamese who were witnessing the contrast of prosperity in South Viet Nam chose to attack the latter.
Prince Faysal expressed gratitude for this obvious mark of personal confidence in making the Prince privy to U.S. policy considerations. He assured the Secretary that Saudi Arabia stands against Communism for traditional and religious reasons. He stated that Saudi Arabia is doing everything possible for its people. Education and health are free and, recently, social security regulations have been promulgated in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is not afraid of Communism as an ideology. This, however, does not mean that Saudi Arabia might not establish diplomatic relations with the USSR at some point. He expressed the hope that Saudi Arabia will not be compelled to do so in the near future.
8. Arrangements for Luncheon with the President. The Secretary informed Prince Faysal of the President's invitation to him to lunch at the White House on Thursday, October 4, and of the informal briefing session which the President's confidential advisors would give him at the Department. Faysal expressed gratitude and said he looked forward to both events.
59. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Rusk, in New York/1/
Washington, September 27, 1962, 8:03 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786H.00/9-2762. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Barrow; cleared by Killgore, Breisky, Strong, Holloway, and Hewitt; and approved by Grant. Repeated to Cairo, Jidda, and London.
Tosec 43. Pass Talbot from Grant. Repeating separately Cairo Embtel 510/2/ containing "word of advice" from UAR that USG avoid supporting Prince Hassan or acceding to Saudi advice to intervene in Yemen. Dept uncertain degree UAR influence on new regime or whether regime has and can maintain effective control,/3/ but we should reply in following vein at Ali Sabri level or higher:
/2/In telegram 510 from Cairo, September 27, Badeau reported that Presidential Adviser Anwar Sadat had raised the subject of Yemen during a meeting. Noting that the Yemeni coup leaders believed that the United States had been supporting Prince Hassan, Sadat offered the United States a "word of advice" that it would be a grave mistake for the United States to back Hassan, because most of Yemen's intelligentsia supported the coup and the republic. (Ibid.)
/3/An Intelligence Note from Hilsman to the Acting Secretary on September 27, entitled "Turmoil in Prospect in the Yemen," noted that UAR involvement in Yemen was suspected and that the UAR strongly supported the new regime. The note predicted: "If the UAR is clearly seen to be directing affairs in the Yemen, conservative internal resistance to the new regime will increase. The UK, Saudi Arabia, and the Bloc will be disposed to oppose UAR control over the Yemen." (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Yemen, 8/61-9/62)
Begin proposed message to Cairo:
USG does not plan interfere Yemeni affairs on behalf Prince Hassan or any other Yemeni faction. US recognition of a new Yemeni government must await further information permitting assessment of popular acquiescence in and effectiveness of government's control and evidence of government's willingness and ability to respect international obligations.
Nature of relationship between new Yemeni government and UAR is not a matter for US concern. We wish UAR understand, however, USG has vital interest in maintenance security in Persian Gulf area, which dependent continuation UK position in Aden area. USG could not accept campaign mounted from Yemen against this position. In fact UK position in Aden and Persian Gulf directly promotes UAR interest in security of Kuwait. US thus looks to UAR to exert influence with new Yemeni regime to insure that efforts directed at internal stability and development rather than at external adventures. End proposed message.
We believe foregoing more profitable line of action than attempt manipulate Yemeni internal situation which possibly would fail or at least would entail being drawn too deeply into unpredictable Yemeni affairs. In our view, heart of problem is not in Sana'a but in Cairo and we are only Western power possessing possible capability of influencing situation there. Foregoing approach, while tending to shore up flank of UK position, would leave UK free to deal with Yemeni situation as deems best suited its interests. Suggest consultation with Lord Home./4/
/4/Telegram 335 to Cairo, September 29, instructed Badeau to deliver the message and informed him: "Secretary discussed Yemen situation with Lord Home and during course conversation indicated we considering sending message, without showing him text. In response to Secretary's query, Home indicated such a message would be useful." (Department of State, Central Files, 786H.00/9-2962)
Request comments London,/5/ Cairo,/6/ Jidda./6/
/5/In telegram 1311, September 28, the Embassy in London affirmed its agreement with the action and line proposed in this telegram. (Ibid., 786H.00/9-2862)
/6/See Document 63.
/7/In telegram 209 from Jidda, September 28, the Embassy advised that while the Saudi Government would welcome a cautionary word by the United States to the UAR regarding Yemen, the proposed message would not reassure the Saudis, who would view it as giving Nasser a free hand in Yemen up to the point where his actions infringed on British interests. The Embassy recommended inclusion of language affirming importance to the free world of stability in Yemen. (Department of State, Central Files, 786H.00/9-2862)
60. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts/1/
Washington, September 27, 1962, 8:14 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786H.00/9-2762. Secret. Drafted by Killgore and Strong; cleared by Strong, Bergeson, and Breisky; and approved by Grant. Sent to Jidda, London, Asmara, Cairo, Taiz, Aden, and USUN for Secretary Rusk.
539. Following is roundup on Yemen developments:
Department has received no communication from Taiz since wireless report received of overthrow of Monarchy and establishment Republic.
Reports now clearly indicate revolutionaries working with UAR. At our suggestion UAR Ambassador Kamel has telegraphed his Government to lend any influence it may have in Yemen to ensure protection American citizens Yemen. Kamel said UAR officials may call at Legation Taiz. Destroyer USS Perry due Aden from Bahrain September 30. Pentagon trying through Kagnew pick up any transmissions from Taiz.
Yemen Charge Zabarah speaking for Prince Hassan by telephone from New York requested USG declare against outside intervention Yemen and extend recognition to Hassan as new ruler of Yemen. Latter obviously not possible now. Hassan apparently planning return to area to contest for control. We shall continue in close consultation with British Embassy here on future developments and wish to concert our position with UK. FYI. Hassan has seen Ambassador Stevenson and expected see Assistant Secretary Talbot who will convey position USG./2/ Hassan also seeing Lord Home. End FYI.
/2/During the afternoon of September 27, Prince Hasan, son of Imam Yahya and leader of the Yemeni Delegation at the U.N. General Assembly, met with Talbot and asked for U.S. support to enable him to return to Yemen, rally Royalist groups, and restore the Imamate. Talbot told him it was virtually impossible to assist him because the United States did not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. (Telegram 117 to Jidda, September 29; ibid., 786A.11/9-2962; and memorandum of conversation, September 28; ibid., 786H.11/9-2862; see the Supplement, the compilation on Yemen) Late on September 27, Hasan flew to London in search of British assistance. (Telegram 1312 from London, September 28; Department of State, Central Files, 786H.00/9-2862)
For London: Request closest consultations with Foreign Office be maintained. Separate telegram transmitting tentative US position on overall Yemen problem for comment./3/
61. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kaysen)/1/
Washington, September 29, 1962.
/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Palestine, Refugees, 8/62-9/62, Vol. II. Secret. A handwritten note on the source text reads: "(Taken from Pres. week-end reading dtd 9/29)"
Rusk's second round with Golda Meir went fairly well./2/ At least we wound up with agreement to keep talking. But there was no agreement as to whether these talks should be on Johnson Plan (however modified or supplemented by US assurances) or on something else.
/2/Secretary Rusk transmitted to the Department of State an uncleared memorandum of his September 28 conversation with Meir in Secto 50 from USUN, September 29. (Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2962) For text, see the Supplement, the compilation on the Arab-Israeli dispute. A supplementary briefing memorandum from Talbot and Cleveland was transmitted to Secretary Rusk in New York in Tosec 51 to USUN, September 28. (Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2862)
Golda showed Rusk another BG memo saying Johnson Plan totally unacceptable./3/ She then began talking about what Israelis would do, e.g. take a number of refugees in certain categories such as reunion of families, agree to some repatriation if Arabs agreed simultaneously to resettle majority of refugees, etc. All these were reversions to pre-Johnson ideas and all, in State's opinion, are total non-starters.
/3/Reference is to a September 17 letter from Ben Gurion to Harman. A retyped copy of the text, bearing a typed signature, is in the Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Countries Series, Israel Security.
The Israelis are clearly probing hard to get a clear signal that we have abandoned Johnson. To pick up any of their ideas at this point would be tantamount to admitting this, and shouldn't be done yet. Reasons are:
1. Hawk offer has simply laid ghost that Administration pursuing an anti-Israeli policy. We have room to maneuver now.
2. We've told Arabs we back the Plan. To start talking now about less satisfactory alternatives will inevitably reveal that we've caved to Israeli pressure.
3. Such an open capitulation at this point (on top of Hawks) would risk a disastrous Arab reaction. We're already in plenty of trouble with Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. Let's not give the Soviets another free ride.
4. We've got to force Israelis to cooperate with us more, not only on Plan but on Jordan Waters, border policy, etc. So we can't afford at this juncture to let them conclude they can browbeat us if they put enough pressure on.
Arab attitudes toward Johnson Plan are still unclear. FonMin Fawzi told Rusk that UAR might just buy the Plan, but if UAR does I'm half convinced Syrians, Iraqis, and Saudis will try and hang Nasser for it. Yemen revolt will increase inter-Arab acrimony. Indeed we have some reports Syrians already rejecting Plan (Saudis and Iraqis probably don't know about it yet). Therefore, Nasser (plus Jordan and Lebanon, which would also like to buy Plan) may find it politically impossible to do so. At any rate, let's keep cool till Arab stand matures. They may yet bail us out.
In sum, we've got to stand by Plan a while longer yet, while displaying full willingness to protect Israelis against the risks. We can't afford to let Israel or Arabs pin onus for Plan's failure on US.
So whether or not Johnson Plan is a dead letter, I think President will want to back State's play. If so, it remains imperative that US not speak with two voices./4/
/4/On September 29, Rusk instructed the Department of State as a followup to his conversation with Meir to initiate a dialogue with Ambassador Harman in Washington. Rusk directed that correspondence from and memoranda of conversations with Israeli officials be examined to determine as many common elements of agreement as possible on the refugee question. Rusk predicted that the outcome would be something similar to the Johnson Plan, although it could not be called that, because that plan was "anathema to Israelis." He also indicated that conversations with Harman should focus on how to handle the situation in the General Assembly and PCC so that onus for the lack of immediate progress was not placed on Israel. (Secto 48 from USUN; Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2962)
/5/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
62. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot) to Secretary of State Rusk/1/
Washington, September 30, 1962.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-3062. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Crawford and Grant. Handwritten notes on the source text indicate that Secretary Rusk was given the original and that a copy was sent to Ambassador Stevenson.
This is a personal comment, uncleared with anyone.
We stand at the crossroads not only of the Johnson Plan but also of the Palestine refugee issue and of our relations with the Arabs and Israel.
So far as I can assess your talks with Mrs. Meir, Israel is preparing to go into the promised Washington discussions with the objective of getting the Johnson Plan decently buried, free of the primary responsibility for killing it.
In analyzing where we go from here, it is important to remember that it is the Israelis, and not Johnson or we, as the Israelis would like us to believe, who have changed their posture on the Johnson Plan. When the President talked with Ben Gurion last year, Ben Gurion said Israel was willing to go along with an attempt at repatriation and resettlement though it did not expect any results. Then the Israelis gave Johnson to believe they were not rigidly opposed, despite their scepticism as to the Plan's feasibility. Even so we did not make our decision until after sending Feldman to feel out the Israelis.
In my opinion, Israel has taken the hard line in the past month for at least three reasons. Some of the wording in the Plan and Explanation evokes old symbols of a fourteen-year-old fear of inundation by returning refugees. (Our interpretation of these sentences differs sharply, but the Israelis have not yet stood still long enough to examine our appraisal.) Israel, which has always felt that the Arabs would reject a reasonable refugee rehabilitation plan, has now been frightened out of its complacency by the thought that the Arabs might just possibly go along with this one. Finally, Israel has recently obtained from us all that it now wants, e.g., water assurances, Hawks, etc., and now feels it can safely be adamant on the one issue on which we seek its reciprocal cooperation.
I do not discount the political discomfort that Ben Gurion's government could experience if this plan should proceed on the basis of Arab acquiescence, rather than with prior explicit commitments by the Arab governments. My colleagues and I firmly believe, however, that the Israeli Government could, if it wished, give a clear lead to the Knesset and the Israeli public, especially in view of the current Israeli jubilation over the Hawk decision and the implications they draw from it.
When Mike Feldman went to Israel we were persuaded that the Johnson Plan offers Israel a fair shake and a chance to unfreeze at least one major aspect of the Arab-Israeli impasse. We are still so persuaded, particularly since the Arabs have not rejected the Plan out of hand. We are also persuaded that the destruction of the substance and the skillfully devised balance of the Johnson Plan, mainly at Israeli initiative, would rob us of the contingency advantages that the United States could have obtained out of Arab rejection of the Plan (i.e., getting off the hook of Paragraph 11 of Resolution 194). To go along with the present Israeli ploy would, therefore, in my view, put our over-all Near Eastern policies in jeopardy.
The alternative is to bargain the Israelis into acceptance of the basic, two-page "Plan" intact. The procedure would be to develop "amplifications" or "clarifications" of the Explanation thereof, to meet both Israeli and Arab objections to the final sanitized version of the Explanation which Johnson handed to the parties. As a fall back objective (but not one of your oft-quoted fall backs that promptly become negotiating positions) we would wish to have it appear that the Plan has been rejected by both the Israelis and the Arabs. This cannot be induced, however, by teasing, say, Syria into a quick, snarling rejection of the Plan. If in the end some of the Arabs should reject the Plan for their own reasons, our position would remain untarnished only if we had made a record of serious efforts to convey to the parties our understanding of the constructive and practical features of the Plan.
In line with the President's desire not to commit U.S. prestige at this stage to this particular Plan, our Ambassadors and Departmental officers in all contacts with the parties have held to the approved formula that we regard the Plan as "good for the parties." The Israelis have caught the distinction and in a major campaign through White House and other channels are pressing hard to get us to reject the Plan so they won't have to do so. The time has come, therefore, for us to understand clearly what the Plan means to the United States.
I submit that our interests call for the following judgments:
1. The Plan obviously cannot succeed if any party rejects it out of hand, but
2. There is no practical present alternative to the Johnson Plan, because
a. Johnson himself explored every alternative that had previously been suggested during the fourteen-year-old impasse and for cogent reasons--with which we agree--rejected each one;
b. Mrs. Meir's specific suggestions--e.g., that limited repatriation be conducted under such a rubric as "completing family groups" and that repatriation begin only after the Arab governments have explicitly agreed to the resettlement of the bulk of the refugees--reassert long standing Israeli positions which both the Israelis and we know will make impossible any advance on the Palestine refugee question. They cannot be regarded as a basis for progress consistent with the UN resolution we are pledged to support;
c. If the Plan and Explanation are tampered with, beyond the point of amplification, to meet Israeli objections, we can be quite sure the Arabs would have nothing to do with it.
3. During the upcoming Washington discussions we should actively press the Israelis to accept the Johnson Plan (with amplifications and assurances), because
a. There remains a substantial possibility that if they are convinced we seriously support this Plan as the best available device to make progress on the refugee problem, the Israelis will acquiesce in the Plan, on the basis of adequate assurances on points of concern. We have received repeated signals, mainly through Minister Gazit of the Israeli Embassy, that written assurances on such matters as a fixed ceiling on the number of repatriates and Israel's sole determination of its sovereign rights would make a difference in the Israeli reaction to the plan. Such commitments in writing could be tricky, if Israel should ever leak the assurances to the Arabs. As a price for a reciprocal commitment by Israel to acquiesce with the Plan in good faith, however, the idea is well worth examining. As it happens, we can explore this idea effectively only if the Israelis understand that the U.S. is determined to give the Johnson Plan a reasonable trial;
b. After the Hawk deal, even if the rest of our careful Near Eastern policies be ignored, neither Israel nor its supporters in this country can seriously impugn U.S. motives or charge us with undermining Israeli security. Furthermore, given freedom to talk about the advantages of the Plan as we see them, we can do much to answer the questions that have been put into the minds of Congressmen and of Israel's American supporters by distorted descriptions of the Plan, and thus blunt and possibly erase what otherwise would be a wave of domestic criticism embarrassing to the Administration.
c. The adverse consequences of failing to achieve our primary objective would be very serious even assuming that the failure of the Johnson Plan were in the context of rejection or difficulties by both the Arabs and the Israelis. No other acceptable formula for solving the Arab refugee problem is in sight. There is a serious danger that Congress would exacerbate the problem in FY '64 by taking action into its own hands and cutting drastically the funds for UNRWA.
d. On the positive side, we have made more progress with the Arabs in terms of accepting realities than at any time in the past fourteen years. Frankly, the Arabs have so far been more rational and forthcoming by far than most of us have really dared hope. They have been brought a very long way on the road to acquiescence in a proposal which recognizes Israel's existence, and the implementation of which will, as they well know, eliminate the largest single obstacle to peace between themselves and Israel. If this present opportunity is allowed to pass, a similar one is unlikely in this decade.
In considering what direction to take next, we must keep in mind that the heart of the Israeli position has no relation to any late changes in the Explanation accompanying the text of the Johnson Plan. Rather, Israel is still seeking, as it has done for fourteen years, to avoid repatriating any significant numbers of Palestine refugees. By intensive effort we got Ben Gurion to agree in the spring of 1961 to go along with some plan for refugee repatriation and resettlement, and, in the late summer of 1962, to go along with the main outlines of the Johnson Plan as described to him by Mike Feldman. Only a similarly intensive effort now stands a chance of persuading Ben Gurion to honor his earlier commitments to the President. Israel's deliberately hard line, which is being pursued through political as well as diplomatic initiatives, looks very much like a last effort to avoid implementing these promises. Unless we are free to be similarly firm, however, we cannot hope to test the route to Israel's fall-back position, which I believe to be acquiescence to the starting of the Johnson Plan in return for a written U.S. commitment to the assurances given by Mike Feldman.
The Johnson Plan is a good plan for Israel, as it is for the Arabs and therefore for us. It is an honest effort, despite Israel imputations, to dissolve this intractable dispute. It is the only Plan that has any chance of progress now or, probably, in the next several years. To cave in at this stage, through less than full-scale effort in our negotiations, would be a tragedy straining our relations with both the Israelis and the Arabs for some years to come.
Recommended Next Steps:
1. It is important that we have authority to make it very clear with the Israelis from the outset that our objective is still the Johnson Plan, and that what we are prepared to talk about are explanations and interpretations and assurances that will (to use the words of one Israeli diplomat) give Israel sufficient confidence so that it can be guided by our words rather than those to which it takes exception in the Johnson Plan.
2. It is also necessary that we have authority to begin talks with selected Congressional and Jewish leaders to build up understanding and support for the Johnson Plan, lest the Israelis get to these people to persuade them to fight us rather than support us. With news of the Hawk now public, we can be persuasive in our protestations of interest in Israel's security and well-being, and we need to capitalize on this quickly.
3. Finally, our Turkish and French colleagues on the PCC, who have been importuned by the Israelis, need to be stiffened to hold with us in avoiding giving any indication that the Plan is dead or dying during the talking process and until after elections.
63. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Arab Republic to the Department of State/1/
Cairo, October 1, 1962, 2 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files 786H.00/10-162. Secret; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Jidda and London.
538. Deptels 323 and 335./2/ Called on Vice President Saadat September 30 and delivered substance reference telegrams. Saadat's official response expressed gratification USG not supporting Hassan or any other Yemeni and concern that phrase "respect for Yemen's sovereignty" sounded suspiciously like ultimatum. On latter, Saadat stated UAR had no intention of seeking unity with Yemen or any other Arab country, citing Syrian debacle as sad lesson not to be repeated.
/2/Telegram 323 to Cairo was sent for action to USUN as Tosec 43, Document 59. Regarding telegram 335, see footnote 3 thereto.
Unofficially Saadat held long conversation regarding Yemeni affairs and US position. Expressed great concern lest USG fail to "develop its own position" but be misled into acting as tool for British aggressive interests. Whatever announced British attitude re Yemen might be, he said, Britain would privately twist situation to further its own policies which might include support of Hassan or other Monarchical factions.
In response I stated US Government was approaching Yemen situation in light of its own national interests in Near East, which I carefully outlined. Tranquility in Persian Gulf, including maintenance of Kuwait independence against Iraq military threat, necessitated in our opinion support general British position and we would be deeply concerned if new Yemen Government undertook campaign against Aden protectorate and British flank. I urged that internal progress in Yemen most urgent task of regime and most likely to rally international respect and support.
Saadat stated that UAR, whatever its position re British, had warned Yemen Junta along same lines and considered it highly inadvisable for them to mix in any way in current British difficulties in southern peninsula. He then inquired as to whether USG non support of Hassan would include dissuading Saudi Arabia from such support. In answer I stated US non support meant refraining from both direct and indirect action, but wrong to assume that we were in position to prevent Saud from following what might appear to him to be his natural interests. Saadat then lightly dismissed effectiveness of any Saudi action and returned to urge USG not unwittingly be twisted around British finger.
Saadat requested I keep in close touch with him on situation and promised to give me further information as received.
Comment: From other and completely reliable sources we know Saadat has had some UAR responsibility for liaison with Yemen coup. Immediately after my return from call, "Foreign Minister" Ayni of new Yemenite Government telephoned at Saadat's request to meet with me this morning./3/
/3/On October 1 in New York, Foreign Minister Fawzi told Secretary Rusk and Ambassador Stevenson that his government was anxious that there be no outside intervention in Yemen. Fawzi indicated that both the United States and the United Kingdom were susceptible to such accusations, particularly given the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. He also accepted Rusk's view that the UAR could also be so accused. (Telegram 123 to Jidda, October 2; Department of State, Central Files, 786H.00/10-262) A record of the conversation was transmitted in Secto 69 from USUN, October 1. (Ibid., 700.5611/10-162) For text, see the Supplement, the compilation on the United Arab Republic.
64. Memorandum From the President's Deputy Special Counsel (Feldman) to President Kennedy/1/
Washington, October 2, 1962.
/1/Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Staff Memoranda, Feldman, Myer, 1962. No classification marking.
I called Ambassador Harman to re-emphasize our concern over the direct negotiations resolution now being circulated by Israel at the United Nations. I reminded the Ambassador of the commitment by his Foreign Minister not to introduce the resolution and to prevent any other nation from introducing that resolution. Ambassador Harman acknowledged this commitment, but made these points:
1. It was also agreed that Israel could continue its efforts to solicit support for the resolution.
2. If the United States took a position on vital questions that might be introduced in the United Nations which made it necessary to introduce the direct negotiations resolution, they would have to do so.
When I pressed Ambassador Harman to state specifically what Israel regarded as matters vitally affecting them which would require resort to the direct negotiations resolution, he mentioned these three:
1. The custodian resolution--which we have always opposed.
The Ambassador said that if the Johnson Plan was not supported by the United States it would not be presented to the United Nations. He did agree, however, that it would be appropriate to discuss other solutions to the refugee problem. Israel regards the Johnson Plan as non-negotiable but is perfectly willing to discuss other solutions, including the kind of proposal I described in Jerusalem, if the poll of refugees was attended by a cessation of Arab propaganda and the consent of the Arab States to resettlement. They would also accept the numerical limitations I indicated of one in ten being repatriated.
In any event, I said, if Israel planned to introduce the direct negotiations resolution, we would regard it as very serious if we were not informed in advance. Ambassador Harman promised to convey this information to his Foreign Minister.
In summary, I would say that we have a firm commitment that the direct negotiations resolution will not be introduced provided we do not insist on the Johnson Plan.
/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
65. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Kennedy/1/
Washington, October 2, 1962.
/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Palestine, Refugees, Vol. II, 10/62-11/62. Secret. Kaysen forwarded this memorandum to the President under cover of a note that reads: "You may be getting a memorandum from the Secretary of State requesting guidance on what probable position we should take on the Johnson Plan. The attached from Bob Komer summarizes the situation, which hasn't changed in the last few days."
With the leak of the Johnson Plan, there is now bound to be discussion in the public prints. This is probably an adverse development so far as the Plan's prospects are concerned, because all parties will be more reluctant to accept publicly what they might have acquiesced in privately (an essential element in the Plan).
By the same token the leak may make it easier to let the Plan die in a welter of conflicting criticism.
In any event, the US will now be under public pressure to indicate its attitude toward the Plan. What we say, coming after the Hawk offer (and Yemen), could greatly affect our relations with Arabs and Israel. We have essentially two options:
(1) Say boldly that we consider the Plan a fair and equitable basis for discussion. If we didn't, we wouldn't (as a PCC member) have authorized its submission to the parties. Of course we can add that the Plan is still a working draft, that it has been definitively approved by nobody (not even the PCC), and that it should be further explored by the parties. Saying any less than this might create trouble with the Arabs. After all, we have written Hussein (and our Ambassadors have told the UAR, Syria, Lebanon) that we regard the Plan as a fair and equitable approach.
However, Israelis have passed word three ways that if we say anything favorable about the Johnson Plan, Israel will feel compelled to come out and oppose it. Indeed, Golda Meir threatens that if asked Israel's attitude she'll say flatly it's no good. This would inevitably lead to a public hassle we'd hate to get into just before our elections. Moreover, the Arabs would be smart enough to sit back and let us argue. On the other hand, would the Israelis risk this if they knew we'd stand firm? Would they want to see us publicly linked with the Arabs against Israel? Would the Hawk deal effectively blanket any contention the US was pursuing an anti-Israeli policy? Even so, once the Israelis publicly opposed the Johnson Plan all chance of selling it would be gone.
(2) Try and damp down public discussion of the Plan by adopting a non-committal attitude toward it, arguing that it is improper for the US to comment on proposals just submitted to the various parties, and to which Johnson is even now soliciting their reactions. We don't think it appropriate to comment on the Plan until all parties have had a chance to explore its meaning. The risk here is that such equivocation might be taken by the Arabs as a sign of capitulation to Israel; after all, we've told the Arabs we like the Plan. Therefore, to sustain a publicly non-committal attitude we ought to tell the Arabs privately that we haven't changed our views, but want to avoid forcing them or the Israelis to react publicly. We must tell the Israelis the same thing, so they won't leak that we've abandoned the Plan.
The first alternative tends to kill the Plan by enhancing the likelihood of public debate; it also creates a US/Israeli issue just before elections, though it will gain caste with the Arabs. The non-committal approach buys us more time to work on Israel, and to let Arab reactions generate (which may be hostile in any case, thus spreading the blame). It may at any rate get us through the elections. But it will require, in my view, some sort of assurances to Arabs (and warnings to Israelis) that we're not giving up on Johnson Plan. We'll have to stand firm if we're going to ride this one through.
To give a clear signal to the town on Johnson Plan, I urge that you approve the following plan of action:
1. We privately stick with the Johnson Plan, while showing willingness to discuss modifications which might be mutually acceptable or assurances needed to meet Israeli concerns.
2. We adopt publicly a non-committal attitude along lines discussed above.
3. We press Israelis not to surface their objections but to sit back and let Arab reactions mature. We warn Israelis that if they publicly denounce Plan we'll let them take the full onus.
4. If Israelis lobby against Plan in UN corridors, Congress, or Jewish Community, State counters with appropriate explanations.
I do not believe that the above course will save the Johnson Plan. It is in effect dead unless we put great pressure on the Israelis to buy it. By this time I'm convinced State misreads the Israeli attitude.
But I do believe that the above course is best suited to US interests--it preserves our good faith and integrity with both sides; it neither shows weakness by caving to the Israelis nor permits the Arabs to accuse us of reneging on our own creation. It buys time to let the naturally contradictory attitudes of Arabs and Israelis, plus inter-Arab bickering, generate a petering out of the exercise under circumstances where we can say we tried.
True, US prestige turns out to be semi-committed to a non-viable proposition. But our prestige is already committed, and the loss to us is less if others make the exercise a non-starter than if we abandon it ourselves./2/
/2/An October 5 report from Kaysen to Bundy contains the following regarding the situation in the UAR: "This is mainly the Johnson Plan. If you look at Komer's memoranda you will get a fair feeling for the state of the play. It is fairly clear that the whole thing has blown up and that we have been taken for a ride by the Israelis. At the moment Mike Feldman has been withdrawn from the discussion by the President. Talks are going to continue between Harman and Talbot on what can be done on the refugee issue, but it is understood that the Johnson Plan as such is dead. The only open question is what we say about it. State is to produce a memo today. The President this morning approved the line laid down on page 2 of Komer's last memo, October 2, transmitted October 4 [option 2 in the memorandum printed here], however, we have heard that the Syrians have rejected the plan. If this is so, the issue may become moot." (Ibid., Meetings and Memoranda Series, Staff Memoranda, Carl Kaysen)
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