126. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Jordan1

137662. Ref: State 136930.2

In your discretion you may draw on report of Rostow-Evron conversation reported reftel to give GOJ flavor of present Israeli attitudes and indication of our efforts forestall further Israeli attacks. We shall continue those efforts, as we oppose retaliatory raids just as we do terrorism, but we are not sanguine that these efforts will prevail with GOI for long in the absence of a serious and successful effort on the part of the Arabs to reduce sharply the incidence of terrorist activity. Although we appreciate Hussein’s problem in controlling terrorism in the absence of progress towards a settlement, we at the same time believe that no Israeli Government can resist internal political pressures for military action if terrorism continues in Israeli territory. Underlining this assessment is British report that Eban told Foreign Secretary Stewart in London on March 25 that he realized March 21 raid conflicted with Israel’s long-term aim of negotiated settlement, but, given growing intensity of terrorism, security considerations were overriding for GOI.
Just settlement acceptable to both sides is obviously only real solution to terrorist problem and we are actively studying ways we can assist Jarring’s efforts towards settlement. However, if terrorism retaliatory raids cycle continues, situation will quickly degenerate to point of no return. We have and will continue to work for more flexibility in Israeli position, but it is imperative that Jordanians demonstrate significant measure of control over terrorist activity. Unfortunately, we have no blueprint to offer the Jordanians for controlling terrorism, but would suggest renewed offer of early secret talks between senior military officers, if necessary under UN auspices, might be a means of expressing GOJ’s desire to control terrorism as far as its capabilities permit. We urge Jordan consider advantages of UN presence along cease-fire line.
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We most strongly hope if a Summit Conference is held that GOJ would make unmistakably clear need for curbing terrorism. In stressing the necessity of stopping terrorism, we are not unmindful of efforts GOJ has taken or of moderate and constructive course GOJ has followed. We have particularly in mind the King’s press conference on March 23. We are concerned by present situation in which dangerous trend away from peace appears to be unfolding and are using what influence in concerned capitals we have to reverse trend. We hope conclusion arms negotiations will be considered an earnest of US interest in providing support for King in his effort chart course through these troubled waters to a just settlement so urgently needed by the peoples of the Near East.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Drafted by Atherton and Houghton on March 27, cleared by Davies, and approved by Battle. Repeated to Tel Aviv and USUN.
  2. Under Secretary Rostow debated how best to respond to terrorism with Israeli Minister Evron on March 26. Rostow warned that another retaliatory raid such as the March 21 raid into Jordan would further weaken King Hussein, undermine the Jarring peace mission, and increase the chances of another regional war. (Telegram 136930 to Tel Aviv, March 27; ibid.)
  3. The Embassy responded on March 30 that, while Embassy officials had been and would continue using these kind of arguments with the Jordanian Government, expectations were that Jordan would not be able to control guerrilla activities in Israeli-occupied territory. The only long-term solution to the terrorism problem, from the Embassy’s perspective, would derive from Israeli implementation of the terms of UN Resolution 242. (Telegram 4119; ibid., POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR/SANDSTORM)