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Lyndon Johnson Administration: Telegram on Israeli Concerns About Regional Threats

(September 30, 1965)

Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir outlined a variety of concerns regarding developments in the Arab world and threats to Israel.

Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State1

Secto 10. Secretary's talk with Israeli Foreign Minister Meir.2

Following salient points of conversation held at USUN Sept 29 are drawn from uncleared memcon FYI, Noforn, and subject to change to revision upon review.

Bulk of seventy-minute conversation devoted to exchange of comments on position of President Nasser. FonMin Meir drew parallel current India-Pakistan crisis with Arab-Israel question, noting ominous lesson to be drawn from an adversary's repetition year after year that "this country must be destroyed." She noted that despite well-publicized plans and budget appropriations by Arab command for assault on Israel, nothing being done by world community to head it off. FonMin took little comfort from Nasser's Arab summit announcement that assault on Israel would be delayed four years. She acknowledged that Nasser is having a number of troubles, particularly stemming from frustrations of Yemen adventure, but she warned that Egyptian Army, conscious of having suffered defeat in Yemen, may try to find someone else to fight.

Without stressing point she posed question whether it was wise for us to facilitate food shipments to UAR. She asked that USG make Nasser appreciate that his preparations against Israel are something he cannot be allowed to execute. She noted that Israel was not the only interested party in this question; other Arab states were concerned lest Nasser find ways of strengthening his position. FonMin made repeated references to long-term dangerous effect, especially on young people in Arab world from Nasser's belligerent public speeches about Palestine.

Secretary noted that USG regards Nasser's influence in Arab world as more moderate than GOI gives credit for. He suggested that UAR posture toward Israel more doctrinaire than activist. Secretary recalled that Nasser had exerted a calming influence on Syria and in Jordan waters question. Secretary remarked that in general we are not inclined to be optimistic about Nasser performance but there was some evidence restraint as, for example, in changed UAR behavior regarding supplies to Congo rebels, agitation about Wheelus Base, relations with Saudi Arabia, and some responsiveness to our representations on trade boycott.

FonMin expressed thanks for USG willingness receive IAF General Weizman. GOI was highly satisfied, she said, at our agreement that (1) IAF suffering "disbalance" and (2) US willing consider supplying IAF needs if equipment not available elsewhere. Secretary replied that we would be glad to talk to General Weizman and review this problem thoroughly. He expressed frank hope that GOI aspirations re USG as supplier were based on differences in price and performance and not on political advantage to be gained by Israel having USG agree supply. FonMin assured Secretary that Israeli recourse to USG being resorted to only after thorough exploration other potential sources.

FonMin gave Secretary list of "acts of sabotage" allegedly committed by infiltrators coming from Jordan during July, August and early Sept. FonMin said she knew King Hussein does not want trouble but GOI considered Fattah problem as very serious. Secretary told her we did not consider striking back at Jordan as best way to deal with problem. FonMin emphasized that Israel had struck only at Fattah centers. Furthermore, GOI provided Jordan Govt with information about Fattah activities but lower echelons GOJ were making trouble. She noted that Fattah saboteurs who had been arrested were subsequently sent home by Jordan officials without trial.

FonMin raised question of Moqeiba Dam and said it is not clear whether Jordan intended to stick to allocations provided under Johnston Plan or whether some other diversion was intended. She said we ought to tell King Hussein that Jordan cannot have all sweet water of Yarmuk, Hasbani, and Banyas leaving only relatively brackish waters to Israel. She said it would be helpful if USG could also inform Jordan that if they intend to carry through Meifeidoun crossing of Litani River, Israel position was that this would be inadmissible. Secretary made no commitment to do so.


1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL ARAB-ISR. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Tel Aviv.

2. Memoranda of the conversation are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 66 D 347, CF 2548.

Sources: U.S. Government. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 18, Arab-Israeli Dispute 1964-1967. DC: GPO, 2000. Department of State.