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John F. Kennedy Administration: Meeting with Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres

(April 5, 1963)

This is a memorandum of telephone conversation between the Assistant Secretary State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Talbot, and the President's Deputy Special Counsel, Feldman, reporting of talk between President Kennedy and Shimon Peres on Near East danger points and the importance of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Feldman telephoned today to say that when Deputy Defense Minister Peres of Israel had called on him in the White House they were walking along a corridor and "bumped into" the President who later said he would like to see Mr. Peres. At a subsequent meeting the President asked Peres what danger points he saw in the Near East. According to Feldman, Peres said that the major danger point could arise in Jordan, where officials are not loyal to the King who consequently could be upset. There were three possibilities. 1) If there should be outright intervention by the UAR, this would certainly call for a reaction by Israel. 2) If the King should be overthrown by internal subversion this would be very difficult for Israel which would have to watch the situation very carefully and take what measures would be necessary. 3) If the King were assassinated and succeeded by a purely Jordanian Government, Israel probably would take no action as it supports the idea that each Arab country should choose its own government.

In response to another question by the President, Peres according to Feldman, said that the UAR is the only Arab country that Israel really fears. He launched on a discussion of UAR rockets, etc. The President, Feldman said, took the opportunity to say that the United States is very very concerned about any proliferation of nuclear weapons and that he, the President, would strongly hope that Israel would not develop or obtain this kind of weaponry. In reply Feldman said that Peres had given an unequivocal assurance that Israel would not do anything in this field unless it finds that other countries in the area are involved in it.

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