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John F. Kennedy Administration: Assessment of the Submission of the Johnson Plan to the PCC

(August 27, 1962)

This telegram evaluates the U.S. decision to propose the Johnson Plan to the Palestinian Conciliation Commission, in addition to addressing some of the qualms that other countries such as France and Turkey may have with the plan, and the means through which the U.S. can try and push for their proposal.

From the Secretary. Arab refugees./2/

I. If feasible, as next step we would like have Johnson submit his Arab refugee Plan to PCC meeting to be convened for that purpose on August 31. We would also like have PCC authorize Johnson at that time present and discuss his Plan with parties, so that its consideration by them and PCC could proceed concurrently.

From USUN's telegrams and tentative reaction to advance copies of Plan given confidentially by Johnson, we aware there may be resistance to Plan itself and to this procedure on part of our French and Turkish PCC colleagues. Accordingly, we wish undertake high level representations with those governments in order persuade them of merits we now see in Plan, and win their support for above procedure. Later we would wish their support with other governments as appropriate.

II. Highest priority is with French since Dauge, their representative on PCC, will be at Quai on consultation August 27 through morning August 29 before returning to New York. He has suggested and we agree that approach to his Government take place in that period. To kick this off at an appropriately high level, Chargé Lyon should seek appointment with Foreign Minister late morning or early afternoon August 28. Lyon has in hand copies of Johnson's Plan and "Explanation" thereof (Talbot-Lyon letter August 8)./3/ The approach to de Murville should be general in nature and along following lines:

/3/On August 8, Talbot forwarded to various concerned posts in the Near East and Europe the attachments to Document 15. Responses from the posts are in Department of State, Central File 325.84. Talbot's August 8 letter has not been found.

GOF has received through its representative on PCC a draft of Plan for settlement Arab refugee problem [Plan?] evolved after more than one year of highly skillful, quiet diplomatic endeavor by the Conciliation Commission Special Representative, Dr. Johnson. Highest levels USG have examined Plan and consider it best that could be devised in the difficult circumstances surrounding this problem. We are convinced the effort should be made, we believe there is some chance of its succeeding and we see no reasonable alternative. However, there would also be advantages even if it were to fail, for the entire problem and host of UNGA resolutions concerning it could then be re-examined in a new light. We feel there is an urgency in this. If a small start on questioning process Dr. Johnson proposes can be made prior to debate on this matter at the General Assembly (which we would hope to defer until late in the session), our respective tasks in dealing with an abrasive, difficult item will be greatly eased in that we could point to a useful process under way and seek support for its continuation rather than being drawn into prolonged futile discussion of likely Arab and Israeli proposals which can have no useful effect. Additionally, there would be merit in having Johnson's proposals under implementation so that we could avoid a debate on their specifics in the GA, which we are convinced would result in their rejection. We hope GOF, which has cooperated most helpfully in PCC context since start of this initiative, will be able approve Plan and give it GOF support. We understand Dr. Johnson would like to submit Plan to PCC at a meeting to be convened for this purpose on August 31. We think it would be helpful if, after that meeting Johnson were to hand Plan to parties and begin discussions of it with them. In this way, Plan's consideration by Israel and its four neighbors and by PCC would proceed concurrently. This has advantages in that PCC would not be put in position of approving Plan to find it was later summarily rejected by the parties. We believe GOF might find it useful review with us at the working level some of the implications of the Plan. To facilitate this review we have asked Ambassador Stevenson to dispatch Robert Blake to Paris tonight. Blake is the member of USUN who is most fully conversant with its implications as we see them. FYI: While we would regret French reluctance approve Plan, our minimum first objective with them now should be to get their acquiescence that Plan be given to parties. End FYI.

After Lyon meeting with de Murville, Blake and Dauge could undertake detailed review of Plan implications with Quai working level.

III. As regards the Turks, Department would suggest approaches in both Ankara and New York. Stevenson scheduled see Kural in New York August 28. In Ankara, Ambassador Hare should at earliest opportunity speak to whatever level GOT officials he regards as likely be most effective in ensuring that Turks, also, go along with procedure described paragraph I above. Representations in Ankara should take same general line as that proposed for use in Paris.

IV. For London: Embassy should take early opportunity bring Foreign Office up to date on details of Johnson Plan. We doing same with Embassy here.

V. We recognize SYG also hesitant involve his position and prestige in Johnson Plan. However, we hope his objection can be overcome and to this end Ambassador Stevenson should have detailed review with him soonest after SYG's return from Europe September 4.


/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/8-2762. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Crawford; cleared by Talbot, Cleveland, and Slater; and approved by Rusk. Also sent to Paris, Ankara, London, Amman, Damascus, Beirut, Cairo, and Tel Aviv.

/2/On August 27, between 5 and 6:06 p.m., Rusk, Barbour, Talbot, McGeorge Bundy, Strong, and Feldman met with President Kennedy at the White House to discuss the Johnson plan initiative. No account of that conversation has been found. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Books) An August 25 memorandum from Davies (NEA/NE) to Grant delineates several questions for discussion at the White House on August 27. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Palestine, Refugees, Vol. II)

Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000.