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John F. Kennedy Administration:
National Intelligence Estimate on the Arab-Israeli Problem

(January 23, 1963)

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The Problem

To estimate present attitudes and future trends in the Arab-Israeli problem over the next few years.


A. Israel will probably retain its overall military superiority vis-à-vis the Arab states for the next several years. As long as the present balance of forces remains substantially unchanged, we believe that neither side is likely to initiate major hostilities. However, the possibility will remain that incidents growing out of such main points of friction as the Israeli-Syrian border and Israel's diversion of Jordan waters could escalate into serious fighting.

B. In general, Israel will probably continue to pursue a hard policy demanding that any settlement be on the basis of essential maintenance of the status quo. Any easing of tensions in the Arab-Israeli quarrel rests primarily on the passing of time, developments in inter-Arab relations, and perhaps to some extent on the influence of the great powers. We believe that there is some chance that sufficient probing and pushing of the principals may in the next few years produce the beginnings of a refugee settlement.

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

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