Tense Meeting Over Israeli Raids On Jordan

(December 9, 1966)


This memorandum describes a heated meeting between Special Assistant to President Johnson Komer and Abba Eban concerning Israel's actions in Jordan.


As instructed, I called Abe Feinberg pronto. I told him I wanted to clue him privately so he could head off a developing problem which, otherwise coul

Jordan was still very dicey. We were working day and night to overcome a crisis which Israel itself had created. As usual, we had to pick up the pieces. It was imperative--in our own interest, in Jordan's, and above all in Israel's--that we strengthen Hussein's position and his support from his army. This would almost inevitably require expediting some arms already contracted for, and quite possibly some added sweeteners.

But when we told Israel's Embassy this, we had gotten a lot of backflap about why we hadn't consulted Israel first before talking with Jordan, about bad faith if we sold new arms to Jordan, etc. I wasn't up on these matters any more, but wanted him to know that such rejoinders had caused much high level annoyance here.

So I urged that Abe tell his friends to keep their shirts on, and not start telling us how to handle Jordan again. Their credentials were hardly very good on this subject; the very time when we were being forced again to clean up their mess was no time to start hitting us from the flank and souring relations. Abe should pass this word in spades, as coming from a friend.

Abe said he'd see Eban (now in New York) pronto. But he wondered whether more arms to Jordan would create a new arms imbalance; in this case he urged a formula to help Israel out too. I retorted that asking us to compensate Israel would leave a very bad taste just now. In any case I doubted that any significant military imbalance was likely; we weren't foolish. The problem was rather one of preventing the truly major imbalance which would result if Jordan went sour.

Abe wanted me to know the "domestic political angle." The entire US Jewish community felt it was isolated after Israel's censure by the US. To add another pinprick by announcing arms to Jordan alone wouldn't sit well. I said I'd pass on this message, but urged he pass on the full flavor of mine. This was just the wrong time to "rock the boat"; Eban would be wise to pour oil on troubled waters.

R. W. Komer/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature and an indication that the original was signed.

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. VI. Secret.


Source: Schwar, Harriet Dashiell (Ed.). Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 18, Arab-Israeli Dispute 1964-1967. DC: GPO, 2000.