405. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1

15897. 1. During Evron call August 2, Under Secretary Rostow reported that Ambassador Burns, on basis his recent talks with King Hussein, thought Hussein still wanted settlement and was attempting strengthen his position as preparatory step.

2. Rostow said our own soundings indicated there was strong feeling about Jerusalem in Moslem world. If formula on Jerusalem could be found which would permit Jordanian-Israeli deal, this could be of crucial importance. It should not be beyond the wit of man to find such formula. Rostow recalled Eban’s statement to Secretary that Israeli stand on Jerusalem represented “negotiating position” and that key consideration for Israel was preservation “unified administration.” This was not excluded by Hussein.2 (Evron interjected to say “you mean unified [Page 749] Israeli administration.”) Rostow said we would continue to explore Jerusalem question and Israel must not exclude consideration of alternative arrangements.

3. Evron said GOI less sure than USG that Hussein wanted settlement. Doubts had been raised, for example, by Jordanian position on refugee questionnaire. If Hussein wanted settlement, it was inconsistent to refuse recognize existence of State of Israel by rejecting questionnaire with that heading. Doubts also raised in Israeli minds by recent Radio Amman broadcasts calling for non-cooperation and resistance to Israeli occupation on West Bank.3

4. Evron continued that further changes on Jerusalem not now on agenda. Eban had made clear that Israel prepared find role for Hussein as custodian of Moslem Holy Places. In Evron’s view, dual sovereignty idea and other such proposals were not negotiable. However, these were matters for Ambassador Barbour to discuss with GOI.

5. Rostow said Eban’s position, as he understood it, was that Jerusalem should be last item on the agenda of the negotiation and could be dealt with if other items settled. Rostow said Hussein had reported that he had been in direct touch with Israelis. Having noted earlier in conversation that Israel had lost some confidence in Hussein, Evron commented only “that is another agreement Hussein has broken.”4 He added “but we have no secrets from you. I now understand what McGeorge Bundy meant when he said to Eban you can’t keep us out of the room.” Rostow commented that this was what he meant when he urged a new relationship of candor between USG and GOI.

6. Re Iraqi troops in Jordan, Rostow said our latest information was that Hussein had requested their removal but was now awaiting Aref visit to discuss question. Evron commented that Hussein was not a free agent so long as foreign troops remained in Jordan. Furthermore, Hussein-Nasser military pact still in force. If Hussein serious about wanting settlement, he should renounce pact with UAR.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/SANDSTORM. Secret; Nodis; Sandstorm. Drafted by Atherton, cleared by Battle, and approved by Rostow. Repeated to Amman and London.
  2. Burns commented in telegram 668 from Amman, August 4, that he hoped all the caveats of Hussein’s position on Jerusalem, as contained in telegram 554 from Amman (Document 393), had been spelled out to Evron. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/SANDSTORM)
  3. Burns commented in telegram 668 from Amman that the Jordanian Government rejected the refugee questionnaire because the form appeared to it to constitute an affirmation of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank and it feared use of the questionnaire would lead to a strong reaction and perhaps riots from the refugees. He commented that the Jordanian Government was “clearly ambivalent” about how to handle West Bank resistance, but he thought it was not necessary to hypothesize outside encouragement to explain the continuation of resistance on the West Bank.
  4. Burns pointed out in telegram 668 from Amman that Hussein had told him he had been in contact with the Israelis only when Burns asked him directly.