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John F. Kennedy Administration: Memorandum on Johnson Plan and Forthcoming General Assembly Debate

(November 12, 1962)

This is a memorandum from Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy analyzing the current situation and planned action regarding the Johnson Plan and the forthcoming UN General Assembly debate.

Since other items on the United Nations Special Political Committee agenda have been disposed of more quickly than expected, we have at most only a week or ten days before debate commences on the future of UNRWA. This will inevitably include discussion of broader aspects of the refugee problem, particularly the actions (Johnson mission) taken by the Palestine Conciliation Commission in response to the specific directives of the last three Assemblies.

Following a middle ground tactical approach generally similar to that employed successfully last year, we wish to use this forthcoming debate to advance the extremely valuable work which has been done. The first task will be to use our influence with Israel to move its position away from its private (but incipient public) opposition and into parallel with the objection-but-no-rejection stance of the Arabs. In exchange for this shift, we would agree that the general elements of the Johnson approach should from now on be carried forward by the PCC rather than continue with the Johnson label. This metamorphosis should help Israel off the horns of the dilemma on which it finds itself by virtue of the opposition it has generated to the Johnson Plan per se. It will also help deal with Arab objections.

The enclosed "Analysis of Current Situation and Proposed Actions" describes the present state of play and our planned actions designed to utilize the coming debate to greatest advantage.

Dean Rusk

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