183. Telegram From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson in Texas1

CAP 81204. King Hussein is again worried by rumors of an imminent Israeli attempt to seize territory on the East Bank in northern Jordan from which some terrorists operate. He has asked Ambassador Symmes for a statement “from the highest authority in USG” of our present attitude toward the independence and territorial integrity of Jordan.2

We do not believe Israel plans such a move, although we can never rule out an attack against terrorist bases. We don’t know why Hussein is being fed these rumors, but it may be an effort to keep him uneasy about trying to deal with Israel. Or it may simply be normal operation of the Arab rumor mill.

Although we do not believe these rumors, we do think it would be a good idea to restate assurances we have given him before as a background for possible negotiation with the Israelis. This, rather than current rumors, may be what is really on his mind in making this request, and we want him to know that our position remains as we described it to him last November.

The one element in this message that would be new is our saying we would oppose any acquisition of territory beyond present cease fire lines. We have not had to face that, but I cannot believe even the Israelis would expect us to sit back quietly if they tried to take new territory across the Jordan River.

Nick Katzenbach recommends that Ambassador Symmes be authorized to convey urgently the following oral message from you to Hussein:

“Your apprehensions concerning future sanctity of Jordanian territory have been brought to my attention. I wish again to assure you, as I did in my letter of February 11,3 that it is our policy and our interest to continue our close relationship and our support of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. As Ambassador Symmes has indicated to you, we have made abundantly clear to the Government of Israel our policy toward the continued independence and integrity of your [Page 364] country. From our talks last November, you know of our position on the ultimate disposition of the West Bank and Jerusalem. You should also know that we would strongly oppose any occupation of territory beyond the present cease fire lines. I recognize that Your Majesty has sought to prevent use of Jordanian territory to mount acts of violence across the cease fire line and urge that continued efforts be made to prevent these actions which promote instability and are an impediment to progress toward peace. I wish also to assure you that we are continuing our efforts to bring about a just settlement in the Near East which is, after all, the only solution to the problem about which we are both concerned.”

Approve

Disapprove4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Jordan, Vol. V, Memos, 3/68-1/69. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Symmes reported this request in telegram 5084 from Amman, May 30. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR)
  3. See Document 77.
  4. Neither option is checked. A handwritten note by Jim Jones apparently records the President’s response: “Talk about this Tues [June 4] if it will wait.” Another note by Jones indicates that he passed this message to Bromley Smith.