227. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1
Amman, August 3, 1968, 1505Z.
- On third I met with FonMin Rifa’i to urge that Jordan respond to Israeli overtures such as Eban points conveyed through Ball during [Page 444] his recent visit to Amman. Using general line in State 212831 I said we hoped Jordan would lose no opportunity to be responsive to any indirect Israeli overtures so that progress on substance could be achieved between now and the UNGA meetings in the autumn. I stressed our belief that Eban’s use of Ball as indirect channel was further evidence that Israel is no longer insisting on direct negotiations as precondition for the discussion of substance. I referred also to Ball’s impression of policy disarray in Israeli Govt and our view of importance of using all possible means to keep pushing the Israelis to adopt substantive positions.
- Rifai responded that Jordan very much wants to see progress between now and the UNGA. In fact, as far as Jordan is concerned, progress must be made well before the UNGA meetings because of the Arab League Council meeting now set for Sept 3. Jordan and the UAR must have something tangible to present to the Arab FonMins at that time. Rifai said he could speak for the UAR also in stressing the “eagerness” of both the UAR and Jordan to get down to substantive issues. He again recounted his various discussions of the Jordanian substantive position with Jarring. He said he is not trying to be obstructive when he says that the questions put to the UAR and the points brought by Ball from Eban are too general and too vague to justify specific comment. We could not see what could be said in response except that Jordan still wants to know what actual boundaries Eban has in mind when he talks about “not all but a great deal” of territory. What specifically are the “certain territorial concessions” that Israel would give? He had put these questions to Jarring on several occasions and Jarring had promised to get specific substantive responsive from Eban. So far, these were not forthcoming.
- In the course of reviewing Jordan’s position, Rifai stated that Jordan remains ready to enter into joint meeting (with Jarring present) if it finds there are substantive matters that can profitably be discussed. These would have to be something more than generalities like the points that Eban gave to Ball. Moreover, Rifai said once again that he believes he would be able to show that progress in getting substantive details had been achieved before the UNGA meetings.
- After further discussions along these lines, I finally asked Rifai if he would authorize me to report that in commenting on Eban points he had said something like the following which might be conveyed to Israel: The GOJ had appreciated Mr. Ball’s helpfulness in conveying Mr. Eban’s points and had been interested in them. The GOJ welcomed the implication in Mr. Eban’s points that Israel agrees in principle to withdraw from the occupied territories. The GOJ has already requested Amb. Jarring to obtain from the Israeli Govt specific statements of what they would consider “secure and recognized boundaries.” Jordan is frank to say it would expect to go back to the June 4 boundaries. If, however, Israel has some specific rectifications to propose, Jordan would be prepared to consider these. It cannot consider them unless they are proposed. [Page 445] Jordan has already stated to Amb Jarring that it would not anticipate stationing its army on the West Bank after a peaceful settlement and would be prepared to limit itself to minimum forces needed for the preservation of public security. The GOJ, of course, found Mr. Eban’s statement of the Israeli position on Jerusalem unacceptable. They would like the GOI to be more specific and forthcoming on Jerusalem and in particular would like to hear these ideas through Mr. Jarring.
- Rifai said he would agree to my reporting the foregoing as a Jordanian response if I believed that this would help to bring about more specific Israeli substantive proposals to Jarring when Eban sees him in the next few days. He said also that I should tell King Hussein about our discussion when I saw Hussein later in the day. After reviewing “Jordan’s response” once more, I told Rifai I intended to inform Washington and USUN that he had made these comments on the Eban proposals and that he had stressed Jordan’s hope that Israel could give Jarring the specifics that had been promised in the last few meetings. Rifai said he had no objection.
- With regard to the Israeli questions put to the UAR, Rifai told me he had now learned that Jarring had received the two questions brought by Ball in the form of three with the same substance. He said he did not believe the UAR would be responsive to these questions since they had already been forthcoming in much more detail to Jarring. As in previous discussions I again urged Rifai to recommend to the UAR that, notwithstanding their belief they have already given Jarring substantive details, they keep the ball rolling. If necessary let them restate what they have already said to Jarring as a response to the Israeli questions. Rifai seemed to buy this idea.
- Comment: On the basis of this discussion, I believe we have enough to go back to the Israelis with a substantive reaction from Jordan. I think we could stress to the Israelis that we think it is now up to them to give Jordan through Jarring some specifics with regard to what they mean by “secure and recognized boundaries” and “certain non-territorial concessions.” If they could say to Jarring that they are ready to withdraw to such boundaries, this could be used as evidence of their acceptance of the principle of withdrawal and would give added stimulus to continuance of indirect discussions. I think it is especially significant that Rifai stated that Jordan is still willing to proceed to joint meetings if some substantive details can be developed before the UNGA meetings.4
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Policy; Exdis. Repeated to London, Tel Aviv,USUN, Jerusalem, and Cairo.↩
- In telegram 212831, August 1, the Department commented on Foreign Minister Rifai’s concerns about Eban’s proposals that Ball conveyed to the Jordanian Government. The Department instructed Symmes to point out that Eban’s proposals represented the starting point of an indirect process that Jordan could influence constructively or otherwise depending on how it reacted to Eban’s overtures. Symmes was further instructed to warn that Jordan’s failure to respond would halt the beginning of a constructive process. (Ibid., UN 7)↩
- Telegram 5934 from Amman, July 30, reported on Foreign Minister Rifai’s reaction to the Israeli proposals as conveyed by Ball. Rifai felt that the Israeli positions that had been transmitted through Jarring, while less specific, were more encouraging than those outlined by Ball. He pointed in particular to the Israeli concept of a role for Jordan in a united Jerusalem which would remain the capital of Israel. Rifai reminded Symmes that Jordan had recently reached an agreement with the UAR that stipulated that any Jerusalem arrangement would have to be part of an overall peace settlement. (Ibid., POL 27 ARAB-ISR)↩
- On August 5 the Department authorized Barbour to convey to the Israeli Government Rifai’s position as outlined in this telegram. Barbour was instructed to urge Eban to make the most of the opportunity to help get the negotiations process going when he met with Jarring in London later in the week. (Telegram 215386 to Tel Aviv; ibid.)↩