138. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel 1

143620. Ref: Tel Aviv 3159;2 Amman 4199.3

We fully concur in Embassy Amman’s 4199 and are becoming deeply disturbed by continuing evidence that elements in GOI seriously considering possibility of toppling Hussein as means of somehow improving current situation for Israel. We have particularly in mind statement made by chief of IDF naval intelligence reported Tel Aviv DAO 06264 (para 1A) and report in Tel Aviv 31465 that only one-third of opinion in Foreign Ministry is opposed to “solutions” involving the toppling of Hussein. We fail to see how the departure of Hussein could do anything other than put prospects for peace further in the background. We are further concerned that Israelis do not seem to have received message that regime’s survival is important to US interests quite apart from interests of Israel. Given nature of our relationship with GOI, we believe that we are entitled to Israeli consideration of these interests.
You may inform Fonmin officials that we believe King Hussein is still in control of the situation in Jordan, but that recent Israeli reprisal actions have made his task of maintaining internal security much more difficult. You should also inform them that the US Government is becoming increasingly concerned over indications that Israel may be contemplating [Page 271] further military actions against Jordan as such actions will only weaken Hussein and further augment the prestige and support for the terrorists among the Arab population.
You should also emphasize that preservation of Jordanian regime is a major US interest. We believe he still represents the best prospect for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli problem. In addition, Hussein is important to our overall position in the Arab world and his fall or further weakening would likely have most unfortunate repercussions for our interests throughout the area. We trust that the Government of Israel will realize that the relationship existing between our two countries justifies our expectation that Israel will respect our interests even when Israel may not think them identical with its own.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Confidential; Limdis. Drafted by Wiley and Houghton on April 5; cleared by Atherton, Davies, and Battle; and approved by Eugene Rostow. Repeated to Amman.
  2. The Embassy reported on April 2 that it had responded to requests from the Foreign Ministry for an assessment of the internal situation in Jordan. Embassy officials had indicated that they had no information to confirm press reports that the collapse of the Jordanian Government was imminent. (Telegram 3159 from Tel Aviv; ibid.)
  3. In telegram 4199 from Amman, April 4, the Embassy noted, in response to a request from the Embassy in Tel Aviv, that offering assurances to the Israelis that Hussein’s government had reserves of strength might not have the desired effect in light of the fact that the Israelis had excellent sources of intelligence of their own to assess Jordan’s internal situation. (Ibid.)
  4. Not found.
  5. In telegram 3146 from Tel Aviv, April 2, the Embassy reported that information obtained from the Foreign Ministry indicated that a debate was taking place within the Israeli Government as to how to deal with the terrorism problem and the Jordanian Government. The telegram indicated that the weight of opinion within the Foreign Ministry inclined toward doing whatever was necessary to keep Hussein on his throne as the best hope of containing the terrorists, but others in the Israeli Government advocated the overthrow of Hussein. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. IX, Cables and Memos, 3/68–5/68)