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John F. Kennedy Administration: Issue Over Eric Johnston's Return to Israel

(March 22, 1961)

This editorial note pertains to issues concerning Israel's plan to divert the Jordan waters, and the Johnston's desire to revisit Israel.

On March 22, 1961, Secretary Rusk reported to his staff meeting, according to the minutes of the meeting, "that Eric Johnston has suggested that he return to Jordan to help ease the tension building up as a result of the Israeli plans to divert the Jordan waters. Mr. Labouisse felt that this (Johnston's return) would not be helpful. Mr. Labouisse will talk with Mr. Jones further on this subject and then will speak to Johnston about it." (Department of State, Secretary's Staff Meetings: Lot 66 D 147)

A memorandum from Evan M. Wilson of the Policy Planning Council to McGhee on "Israeli Plans for Jordan Waters," dated March 30, indicates: "As you may know, Johnston saw the Secretary a few days ago and apparently suggested that he be sent out again to try to get agreement on the Unified Plan. I gather the Secretary did not make any definite reply, but NEA is reluctant to send Johnston because of presumed Arab opposition (I am told Harry Labouisse shares this view)." (Ibid., PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Chron File--E.M. Wilson) No record of Secretary Rusk's meeting with Johnston has been found

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