109. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1

3770. 1. It is now getting on to four months since the adoption of the Security Council resolution of Nov 22. Most recent reports from Cairo, Tel Aviv, and USUN indicate that we are further than ever away from implementation of that resolution and may soon be back in SC.

2. In late summer we decided at least temporarily to close down “Sandstorm” and began to pursue present policy of seeking a multilateral Arab-Israeli settlement. In making this shift we of course recognized the difficulty of getting individual Arab states which, after all, have quite different interests in a final settlement, to agree on a concerted approach to dealing with Israel. Indeed, the difficulty of obtaining such an Arab consensus has been one of the principal lessons of the past twenty years.

3. Over the years we have also been very much aware of another lesson—that it is impossible for a leader of one of the smaller Arab states, such as Lebanon or Jordan, to make a separate peace with Israel and survive. Particularly in Jordan, the fate of King Abdullah always comes to mind. We doubt that the situation has changed today. A separate peace would still entail extremely grave risks for the Arab leader who appeared to contemplate it. The most moderate and reasonable Jordanians we talk to see separate talks only as a last, desperate resort.

4. We know quite well that King Hussein and many Jordanian leaders want a peaceful settlement. From the very beginning of the Jarring Mission (even though they may have played with words during the first meeting with Jarring in order to save their honor and their reputations with fellow Arabs) we have known that the Jordanians accepted the resolution and wanted to move to practical next steps.

5. Meanwhile, the situation in presently truncated Jordan can only worsen, particularly because Israel continues to follow policies tending to consolidate, at least in Arab eyes, its occupation of the West Bank. Unfortunately, the manipulative strategy followed by Israel (that is retaliatory raids to “teach Jordan a lesson,” official and semi-official threats linked with retaliation, and public surfacing of contacts with [Page 224] Arabs or easing of Arab stands) tends to compound current difficulties faced by Jordan’s leaders. In our view, although terrorism in future may not become any more effective in Israel or in the occupied territory, it seems bound to increase because of policies Israel itself is following. And the post-Feb 15 developments have shown that it is going to become more and more difficult for the Jordan regime to suppress it. Moreover, the terrorists pose a major threat to the Jordanian regime itself. We can only conclude from here that if present stalemate in the Jarring Mission continues, we will not only have failed to achieve a multilateral settlement under Jarring’s aegis, but more important, we will also have substantially diminished the chances for moving successfully towards a bilateral Jordan-Israel settlement. The outlook for a stable and independent Jordan will become even more bleak.

6. Foregoing suggests the time may have come to consider again whether to encourage Israel and Jordan to seek a bilateral settlement. I recognize of course that this is not an either-or matter. It might well be possible and desirable, for example, to encourage Jordan-Israel contacts under a moribund Jarring effort. In other words, we could pay lip service to what might be an obviously dead Jarring Mission but still use latter as cloak for contacts. There would obviously be other possible variations. I am certain we will find considerable resistance to any kind of separate bilateral settlement from many prominent Jordanians. As time goes on I would expect such opposition to increase rather than to diminish, principally because Israel’s position would have hardened. Recognizing there are possibilities for talks short of outright, secret contacts, I believe if as a last resort we were prepared to tell the King we saw no chance of forward motion by other means and that we were prepared to protect him if he moved towards a settlement with Israel, he might decide to take this step. I would be opposed to our making such an approach however, unless we had first obtained from the Israelis a clear and unequivocal statement in detailed terms of what they would be prepared initially to offer Hussein. By this I mean, for example, that we would have to get from Israel a clear minimum commitment as to what they were prepared to give Jordan with regard to Jerusalem. This minimum commitment would have to be specific in terms of lines on the ground, access, economic modalities, and aspects of sovereignty. It would have to be subject to some discussion. In other words, we would need to be able to say to the King that Israel was at least committed to do what it had said but that we would also hope in discussions Israel might have some add-ons to its minimum position. We would also need specifics with regard to where the Israelis expect to redraw West Bank borders, what they actually mean by demilitarization, and whether they would be prepared to consider something like the Joseph Johnson plan for [Page 225] refugees.2 Unless we could obtain such specific statements from Israel, I would be opposed to our approaching the King on bilateral negotiations. In fact, I wonder if we should not now seek to elicit what Israel is prepared to offer against contingencies short of outright, secret contacts.

7. I wish to make clear I am not by any means suggesting we should align ourselves with Jordan to act as Jordan’s agent in the negotiating process itself. I do believe, however, that the King and the officials who might go along with him have everything to lose by moving to anything smacking of separate peace and that they therefore deserve to have from us and from the Israelis through us a guaranteed floor for commencing the negotiations. The substance of such direct contacts that previously have taken place between Jordan and Israel (at least those of which we are aware) largely have been devoid of detail. We gather that the King has found Israeli generalizations brought over by emissaries such as Nuseibeh quite unattractive for this reason.

8. If we were to move towards bilateral negotiations, I think we should be prepared with contingency plans for helping to handle civil strife and efforts by other Arab states to interfere. I would suggest we give thought immediately to this kind of contingency planning in any case because King Hussein might well move towards bilateral negotiations without our encouragement.

9. Finally, we would have to have ironclad assurances from the Israelis with regard to (1) publicity (before, during, and after talks-particularly if the talks should be inconclusive the Israelis would have to avoid surfacing the contacts) and (2) cessation of manipulative activities (such as retaliation and threats) at least during the course of the talks.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR/SANDSTORM. Secret; Nodis; Sandstorm.
  2. The United States supported the 1961 appointment of a Special Representative of the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) to conduct indirect negotiations between Israel and the Arab states toward a resolution of the Palestinian refugee question. After meeting with Arab and Israeli leaders, Special Representative Joseph E. Johnson submitted his proposals to the PCC on August 31, 1962. For an August 7, 1962, memorandum from Rusk to Kennedy summarizing the background of the initiative and Johnson’s proposals, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XVIII, Document 15. Additional documentation concerning the initiative is printed ibid., volumes XVII and XVIII.