185. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Sandstorm: Israeli-Jordanian Negotiations


  • Eugene V. Rostow, Under Secretary of State
  • Lucius D. Battle, Assistant Secretary, NEA
  • Joseph J. Sisco, Assistant Secretary, IO
  • Rodger P. Davies, Deputy Assistant Secretary, NEA
  • Alfred L. Atherton, Jr., Country Director-Israel and Arab-Israel Affairs
  • Hon. Itzhak Rabin, Ambassador of Israel
  • Ephraim Evron, Minister, Embassy of Israel
  • Nissim Yaish, Counselor, Embassy of Israel

During a discussion of other matters, Ambassador Rabin alluded to the question of Israel-Jordan peace talks.

Rabin said that Nasser had given Hussein a green light to go further than the UAR. Nasser had said, however, that Hussein could make no agreement affecting Jerusalem without the approval of the Arab world since Jerusalem belonged not only to Jordan but to all Arabs.

Rabin continued that the GOI had good information about the thinking of King Hussein and his entourage. Israel was committed not to discuss this matter in detail and he was therefore limited in what he could say. He could tell us, however, that Hussein was ready for a peace treaty through secret, direct negotiations under cover of the Jarring Mission. There was an argument in Israel as to whether Hussein could be relied upon. Government policy, however, was to maintain the Jarring Mission while trying to make progress secretly with Hussein.

Elaborating on the foregoing, Rabin said that Israel’s official public policy was as set forth in Eban’s four points: (1) Face to face negotiations, (2) Agreement on the issues, (3) Conclusion of peace treaties, and (4) steps to carry out the agreements set forth in the treaties. All Israeli Government spokesmen would hew to this line but their purpose now was to advance secretly toward an agreement with Jordan. This cover was necessary in view of the basic differences between Hussein and Nasser. Israel knew what kind of settlement Hussein wanted and there was hope in Israel for a settlement with Jordan. There was no more talk of overthrowing Hussein. All key members of the Israel Cabinet agreed that “everything will be adjusted to this policy.”

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In response to Mr. Rostow’s question whether Prime Minister Talhouni would support King Hussein on this course, Rabin said he thought so-providing Nasser concurred.

Mr. Sisco asked how Israel planned to keep the Jarring Mission alive in the interim. Rabin said that Tekoah would seek to enlist Jarring’s cooperation, explaining why negotiations with Jordan made this necessary. In this connection Rabin indicated that Israel was thinking in a time frame of about another six weeks.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. X, Cables and Memos, 6/68-11/68. Secret;Nodis. Drafted by Atherton.
  2. Walt Rostow summarized the Israeli policy on negotiations with Jordan in a June 4 memorandum to President Johnson. In light of this information, which he noted was confirmed from sources in Jordan, “we have been standing down on any effort to become more active on the fringes of Jarring talks.” He added that Hussein might ask the United States to intervene with the Israelis on substance at some point. (Ibid.)