Created: 4/13/1967

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national intelligence estimate

The Arab-Israeli Dispute: Current Phase

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the problem

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


Arabs and Israelis are no closerolution ofdifferences than they ever were.

and disputes among the Arabs reduce theirdoing anything significant about their quarrel with Israel;also create some danger of precipitating crises fromArab-Israeli hostilities could develop.

Israelis seem likely lo continue existing policies,retaliatory action; they would resort to force on aonly if they felt their security seriously endangered.

Soviet leaders almost certainly view the Arab-Israelias promoting their interests. But they do not wish to seeinto armed conflict. While continuing to supply armsArab friends, they probably wish to keep the arms raceout of hand.

and when the Arabs nnne to believe that the Israelisthe point of deploying strategichase of sharplyArab-Israeli tensions will probably arise. This is likelywithin the next two to three years. In this event, theprobably press the Soviets for help.

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F. To such an appeal the Soviet leader? would probably feel that they had to respond in some way. They would probably pledge to help Egypt or other Arab states if attacked and would probablytoken technical aid on tbe Egyptian missile program. They might go so far as toissile system, but we believe they would not supply nuclear warheads or assist in the developmentuclear weapons program.

C. Although periods of increased tension in the Arab-Israeliwill occur from time to time, both sides appear to appreciate that large-scale military action involves considerable risk and noof leadingolution. In any event, the chances are good that the threat of great power intervention will prevent an attempt by either side to resolve the problem by military force.




I. The put >i" months have seen an increase in the recurrent cycle of temions in the Palatine dispute. Their have been irvrnl dozen Arab terroristumber of dashes along the luaeJ-Syrian border, and an liraeVI retahatnryihook the in Jordan. Yet there have been no rrtoblllritlrms by hraeli or Arab armies and no ultimata of the tdnd which lead to mujor hoiHhtiaa.

2 Tha general state of aftairit has for many yean, becauseither willing or able to make coecrsnoni to the other on tbe csaantuil elements of therecognition ol the Iwacll nate. settlement of the refuge* question, and estalillshinent of boundaries. Nor doe* either itdc preaently regard war atfeasible alternative. In thesefbiwiH between Israel and its Arab neighbor* perforce torus on UsucjerTphrral nature, whether on the day-to-dty problems of cuVuva-tion in diipiitea border areas. frkrvorw on the demarcation line, and the Arab boycott, or on more critka) one*Arab terrorist activities and the arms race. Arid ovm lb*'. has evolved which, while failing toolution to any of the bask issues, haseneral military conflict Recent events raise tha fjueatton whether thu moduroming to an end


3 The Arabs seem unlikely lor many years to come to accept Israelegitimate state. They viewreation and outpost ol the Western imperialism whkh should b* eaprlled from the Arab world. Most of them appear to recogiiire that elimination of Israel is very far off, but this recognition does little ro diminish their political aod psychological hostility toward Israel The Arab stales try to maintain economic and political pressures On rt. both tn hamper Hs development and to vent their own frustration.

he Arabs generally resent the US relationship to Israel, but they alio, especially the stales bordering on it. look to the US to prevent IsraeliAbo the UNrlcorae butler against Israel, particularly *or Nasser. He and other revolutionary eastern Arab leaders look to the USSR to restiulnnd lome of them may believe that the Soviet* will help them eventually to eliminate it.

5 Whir ih* Arabs are untied in their rurally toward Israel, thereide divergence among them in dUplaymg ihii enmity. ThoseUAH andann. tunnndeis for tha teadCTihip ofTne Arab uriiry"


movement take the initiative on the Israel issuea mean* ol promoting such daunt to leadership Thr Syria na forong time hate taken the lend hi Vllieosity. Ihey have Wn involved In mosl of ihr boider mctderrti.racticalSyriaore .ui irmporuible knitairirriojs miliary threat to Israel. Israeli leal potential adversary isgypt.

atter, however, knows ihatit not how adrtputely prepared for military net ion against Israel and willor year* In tome. He realizes also that Ihe VS would uppriM' any aggressive acts, and hi- (tars Ihal ihr USSK would no) support him. In any event, he is unwilling to riskorder cLuhrsoncerned lest other Arabs hecwrnc invoked in ronCict with Iirael In which he might be obligedarticipate, lie want* theol leading the anli-Israeli cause and leelt that Egypt's power entitles It to this IcadVrOiip, but he Iran the iKcumpanving liabilities. Accordingly, he hat tried tn ritabfch collective responsibility among the Arahaolicy ofcloaking this policy in the garb of defiance This policy has opened hrm to chargesnglow^rd Isr.tcl. but the fact ttut hit military force Is indispensable to any effective antl-lsraell action lorttfiea his position

it the most ripniedWnirl's Arab neigliiiors. and iliehave long felt lltal their bett hope for peace nnd security by inof restraint ami nonprovot alien toward Israel They have soughtwith Israelas potilleally possible, hut inter-Arabve imposed vrvvre limils on this policy. Theraid on Snmu last November, with its large loss of life andonlyengthened opponents ol the policy of restraint, butown eorUSdersce

ale o( Intar-Arob Diiputas

Thr recent rite in Inter-Arab Icuding hasixed affect upon the Arab-lvrarl dispute. On ihe one hand. It hat preoccupied and rHvtded the Arabs, lliut diminishing tbeii ability lo ad against Israel and reducing the Israeli problemorollary aspect of their main cmhis feuding has ended for all practical purposes ihe Arabs' Jordan waters diversion scheme anil the military lignttst 4itce o( the United Arab Command, and it has replaced wiih mutual suspicion and rancor ihe spirit of cooperation produced by ArabiimmliryW But Ihe (ending has alto treated danger* One is that compeltticti- Ardis may Wad to terrorist aefirihet and border raids and could precipitate srrong Israeli retaliatorynother is that, if this feuding should lead to the overthrow of King lluiayn and hli rrplace-rnentadical Arab regime, the Israelis might conclude that their security was so threatened thai (hey should ore up) Ihc west hank of the Jordan Rim.

Nasser appears clearly to understand the military and pobtkal difficulties he would face should llusayn fall. Moreover, he Is now deeply involved in Southnd hi hb quarrel with Saudi King Faisal. Thua. Naxvci's interest in Jordan is lo cause trouble for Husayn vvithmit destroying him. Tho

Syrians air lest restrained and lecm tn think they would not he sertouily endangered or politically harmed liy lluuyni downfall, llmayn now seems strong enough lo hold out, hut the pwiibllity rrf something occurring which could upset the present political balance willontinuing one. The several Arab stales will use ibe luaeli Issue to attack each othrr. and their an ti-Israeli actions and propaganda will carry wita them the danger ofSenrs of events leading to major military acfiotv

C. rsroali Atrttudan ond Policies

The Israeli's are aware of the advantages to them of Arab disunity and (hey seek to encourage it. They alto realize that as the Arabs seek to outbid each other on the hdestfhe question, they can stir up serious trouble for Israel. Inhere continues to baprevailing belief that fn due course the Arabs will be forced to accept 'he custence of the siate of Israel and lhat they will come to treat whh Israel rm lhe more fundamental problems of their relationship as well as upon tho rnodahuc* of rhe present state of truce. The Israeli* feci CavMatMS would strongly support Israel if in existence were threatened: they probably also believe lhat the USSR does not oppose Israeli independence, despite its arms aid to Israel's enemies. For additionalael also ha< sought lo exploit the interests ol other powers in the area, einardally France and Iran.

Meanwhile, the Israelis have felt that they had two major problems: lhe first was to impress the Arabs sufficiently with Israeli military capabilities ro prevent any serious Arab miliiary adventures, and the second was toirm hand on ihe day-to-day relationship, k> that harassment from the Arabs would be keptinimum Periodic armed retaliation hai been generally regarded in Israel as contributing lo Israeli security on both score*.

The lire and drrrructivrnest of lhe Samu raid hai raised the question whether the Iiraelts may have been testing reactionsora active policy than ihey have pursued in the postears. It could be argued, for example, that theesigned torisis in Jordan which would (ben be used as an excuse for the Israehs to setae additional territory oresounding defeat to Arab arms. Wf do not believe this to be lhe case. We believe that Israeli surprise over the political repercunioni of the raid was genuine and that the raid in itself did notore activo policy.

This doei not mean, of course, that Itrac) haiore active policy for all time. There is dispute in Israel over policy toward the Arabs. While some Israelis believe that retaliatory raids against the Arabs do not serve lirael'j interests, the Urgethe militarythat force ii the only thing the Arabs understand and lhat militaryecessary to discourage Arab terrorism and border harassment. Thus we believe thai the Israeli Government will continue the general policy it has followed to date. Retaliatory raids will continue to occur at carefully chosen lime* and pWes. and Israel will cdfltitiiie Its pressure insane*.

claiming sovereigntyhem contrary hi the armisticehe Israeli* arc unlikely tn yield on any nf the basic questions, such aa the refugee problem, and thry will continue to keep open the option ol major military action ii Ihey heKcvc their security requires it.


Many of the ottimdes and policies descTihed above spring from Israeli military superiorly. Though the Israelis are inferior in numbers ol men and nmipmcnt to ihe combiiied forces nl their Arab neighbors, ihey are supcrior In training, lendmhip, mililary doctrine, and maintenance ofhey could bwl any one of their 'neighbors and probably all ol them collectively. Arab cooperation being what it is. Israel probably would not be obliged to laken nil at once. Both the Arabs and ihe Israeli, know this, and this goes far lo account for both lwach toughness and Arab prudence.

Tin- future relationship of Arab to Israeli military power i* more important than the present one. Given their fear of each other, both Arabs and Israelis have sought to acquire not only foimidaWe fotces-in-being, but the psychological advantage of modern weapon* wxtcnu. The Israelis have been concerned at the numlwr* and types of modem equipment provided to their potential enemies in Syria, Egypt,, by the USSH and in Jordan by the US and UK. They have in consequence sought and received considerable modern equipment from Frame and the US. As Ihe Arab buildup has proceeded, the Israelis have alsoallistic missile system capable of striking Cairo and other nearby Arab eapilals. |

(or. Ihc Israeli advanced weapons program hat had littleupon ihe Arabs. But once Israeli deployment of missiles begins,(ear aie bound to spread among Israel's neighbors. To minimize thisadvantage, the Egyptum would probably claim that they had.soonimilar capability. There might be renewed interest InArab summit meetings to coordinate the Arab response. While somenf preventive war, the Arabs prnhahry tould not cooperate long enoughIt organized. If they thought the Israelis were beginning the productionweapons, they mighl attempt to bomb or sabotage the IsraeliMore likely, ihey would ask ihe US nr UN to restrain Ihcmaking nuclear warheads; at (he same time ihey would turn to thehelp, both political and materia).


The Soviet attitude in the Arab- Israeli disputeunction of Soviet policy Uk the areahole. Broadly, ihat policy is to reduce and eventually toWestern influence. The Soviets probably recognize tbat attainment nf (his objective involves the dangeronfrontation with the US. which Ihey wish lo avoid. They probably consider ihat it would be grcally lo iheir strategic interestsereise wide influence in the area, and they may al some future dote wish some control over or access to Near Eastern oil. They no duubt look upon iheir objective as one whichong process, and in the meanwhile ihey almost certainly view the present dispute* and pohtK-stl divergencies in the area as contribulmg to iheir objective.

Thus, we believe that the Soviets have no current interest in seeing ihc Arab-Israeli dispute resolved or in tbe emergenceingle Arab nationalist state. Arab feur of Israelonvenient excuse for supplying armi to the Arabs and gaining influence and position thereby. The dbputc, to the degree it has intensified inter-Arab quarrels, is alto convenient; it helps to identify Ihc US not only wiih the Israelis, but also with the "reactionary- Arab regimes. But the Soviets do not want the outbreak of large-scale armed conflict In the area, since this would carry serious riskS-Soviet confront allots and thus threaten ihe positiont which the Soviets have already won in the area,

Wc believe, therefore, ihat the Soviet* have an interest in preventing Ihe arm* rase from getting out ol hand. They want tn provide enough to maintain and if possible to extend their influence, butuch as to encourage or enable their Arab friends tn attack Israel. While this gives the Soviets considerable leeway in providing conventional arms, they would prefer,eneral principle, not lo provide strategico any Arab Hate. Nevertheless, II theshould press the Soviets for help in order lo counter Israeli acquisitions. Ibe Soviets would probably feel that they had to respond in some way in order

the4 an Aiab-ttraellould bepnlil* ofiit |tupoLnlim irMrismJll.iiy ins till jI>iii* ill ihc. iiiluileiange naighlylk*.

lo preserve their position in Egypt and in lhe Arab world. They would probably pledge lo help Egypt or other Arab stales II attacked and would probably pro-vida token technical aid on the missile program. Even if they should decide to provide substantialas actually supplyingbelieve they would not supply nuclear warheads or assist in the developmentuclear weapons program.

USSB might, in the situation projected, alio put pressure bothand the Arabs directly or through the UN; the Israelis, cognizant ofJewish population In lhe USSR, on in fact feel themselves undernot to disregard Soviet interests and pressures. Especiallyrisis situation, lheight make some move towardthe area, luch as moderating the arms race or even making an effort toaspect of the dispute. On the whole, we think such action unlikely;probably feel thai their interests would be better served by keepingsimmering.


Israeli acquisition of strategic missiles will contribute to sharply increased tendons between Arabs and Israelis, though the influence of the great powers wilt probably prevent an outbreak of major hostilities. Other possible causes of increased tension) will persist, including the possibility that changes in Jordan could heighten lwaeii uneasiness and lead to military action. Nevertheless, both sides appear to appreciate lhat large-scale military action involves considerable rbk and no assurance of leadingolution. The chances are good, therefore, that the modus diendi which ha* prevailed in the Arab-Israeli dispute willfor at least another two or three years.

Continuation ol this rnodur vicrrtdi Indefinitely will, of course,ource of frustration to both parilej. It is possible that at some point one side or the other might throw caution to the winds and resort to force. The Israelis, afterean of uruuccessfiilly trying to gain acceptance by their Arab neighbors, must from time to time be tempted to give theood thrashing and hope for the best. At the same time there are Arab elements that advocate similar action against Israel. In any event, the threat of great power intervention hasobering elect upon proposals to resolve the problem by military force, and the chances are good that it will continue to do so.

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