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John F. Kennedy Administration: Feldman's Meeting with Israeli Officials on Refugees and Missiles

(August 21, 1962)

This is a telegram from the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic informing the Embassy of Feldman's meeting with Israeli officials

The two points raised by Israelis were 1) Nasser should agree resettle those refugees who the Administrator directed should be resettled in the UAR and 2) Nasser should agree not to direct propaganda to the refugees urging repatriation but should permit them express preference without danger of being considered a traitor.

Re (1) and (2) we informed Feldman Ben-Gurion's attempt to place conditions on his acquiescence and to put us in position of seeking prior commitments would be inconsistent with Johnson Plan and unacceptable to us.

Re (2) however we also informed Feldman that Johnson had refined his letter of transmittal by inclusion of paragraph 27 (in text you have with you) addressed specifically to this point. We felt this should suffice meet Prime Minister's concern since it would enable operations under the plan be halted if UAR were found to be conducting propaganda pressing refugees into choosing repatriation. (Although we hope this will have taken care of Ben-Gurion's concern we think that, without distorting balance Ambassador Badeau's eventual presentation to Nasser, this presentation should emphasize our conviction implementation of plan would require all parties exercise restraints. Avoidance incitive propaganda is one of most important of these.)

Feldman was scheduled meet Mrs. Meir August 20 and again, for concluding session, morning August 21. We have as yet no further report from him of these meetings but he is still under instructions trigger Cairo approach at earliest possible opportunity and we are hopeful you will be hearing from him and/or Department soonest.

Since talks in Israel have taken slightly longer than anticipated, you should extend your deadline for departure from Cairo proportionately.

At August 19 meeting Feldman also informed Ben-Gurion of our willingness provide Hawk missile. (In response urgent representations by UK he referred to fact Great Britain might make a competitive offer of the Bloodhound and emphasized that we recognized Israel's need of a ground-to-air missile system in absence of arms limitation but were not deciding for Israel whether it should seek US or British system.) Feldman told Ben-Gurion we would inform Nasser of our decision hoping that escalation of weapons in Near East could be prevented. Ben-Gurion replied that he would gladly agree to no missiles at all if Nasser could agree to arms limitation and controls. In fact, he said, he would like to exclude weapons of every kind from the area.

In light of Ben-Gurion's remarks preceding paragraph your remarks should clearly indicate that our readiness provide the Hawk to Israel is a statement in principle in the absence of arms limitation. It is not an undertaking for delivery at specific time of specific number of missiles. It might well be that Israel will in the long run prefer purchase some other missile system such as the British Bloodhound.


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